Buying a new SSD these days is a minefield, but PNY are looking to make things a lot easier. Look, there’s no getting around the fact that M.2 drives are pricey. But the CS30340 can be had for $169.99 with a heatsink, and that’s a terabyte of storage that can perform at outrageous speeds.
Being a Gen 4 x4 drive, this is about as top end as you can get. It’s also a future proof drive, really, and faster than anything we’ve tested before. To get down to numbers, this is an SSD that can transfer at 5600MB per second read speeds. On top of that, it has write speeds of 4300MB per second. This drive, as you can probably guess, is no slouch. This is testing with a PCIe Gen 4 board, of course, and you will get slower speeds with a Gen3 motherboard.
PNY XLR8 CS3040 M.2 NVMe SSD: How fast is it?
For comparison sake, however, that means this drive is faster than a Series X, and about on par, average-speed wise when it comes to a PS5. Dropping your Windows installation on an SSD like this will reduce startup times dramatically. Assuming, of course, the rest of your hardware isn’t old and struggling. Not that we’d suggest spending out on a drive just to make your PC boot quicker. However, it’s worth noting that with a Windows installation on this drive, we were into our system and working within 5-10 seconds. That’s on a clean install, of course, but that’s just how quick an SSD-based system OS can be.
The model we have here has a heatsink attached to it, which means you’ll need to be mindful of case space. Compared to the other M.2 drives we’ve covered it’s a lot bigger, but that’s the heatsink only. The positives and negatives are perhaps obvious, but just in case. The heatsink will ensure that your SSD never overheats, while of course adding real estate to the drive itself. There’s a ten dollar difference, so if you’ve got the space, go for the heatsink model, of course.
Silent running, speed, form factor
There’s so many reasons to switch to a M.2 drive these days. The silent running; the speed, the form factor: the list goes on. From a video editing perspective, having the XLR8 CS3040 as my video editing drive means incredible read speeds for 4K footage captured at high bitrates. Switching it to a game drive and using it exclusively for the likes of Steam and Epic Games Store means phenomenal load times. Buying a smaller one for a cheaper price for a Operating System gives you that lightning fast boot time. I can’t recommend going to M.2 drives enough, and the PNY is the best I’ve tested.
It’s durable, and feels incredibly sturdy (a thing that M.2 drives sometimes don’t do) thanks to the heatsink giving it a larger form factor. You can remove the heatsink, but it’s not particularly easy. And yes, having it there means it won’t fit in things like the FireCuda Gaming Dock very easily. No, it’s not cheap, but PNY is a trusted brand, and the XLR8 CS3040 M.2 SSD is a superb, incredibly fast, durable drive for your PC. The non-heatsink version might even be worth picking up for your PS5, depending on when Sony releases the list of compatible drives.
Robust, durable hardware