What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

PNY CS2030 NVMe M.2 240GB SSD Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
The M.2 form factor is not only making major inroads into desktop systems, but also becoming the de-facto standard of NUCs, Ultrabooks, laptops and other portable computing systems. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to see storage manufacturers rush to fill this new demand. What may come as a surprise is that these market forces have created a strong incentive for solid state drive manufacturers to release high performance NVMe-based M.2 storage devices that are <i>also</i> frugally priced. The PNY CS2030 M.2 SSD is just the latest, and arguably best, example of these market forces at work.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/top_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


On the surface, the CS2030 does not appear to be all that different than a typical M.2 solid state drive. It uses the most common M.2 2280 form factor (in that it is 80mm long and 22mm wide) and only comes in two sizes: small (480GB) and very small (240GB). It's asking price of $180 USD for the 240GB version also does not sound all that impressive. We can almost hear certain internet pundits decrying a 75 cent per gigabyte asking price as a major step <i>backwards</i> for the industry, but as you will see nothing could be further from the truth.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/intro.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Once the buying public starts to actually look closely at this new series a few <i>very</i> interesting facts come to light. First, the reason this model only comes in 240GB and 480GB capacities is that it uses 15nm Toshiba MLC 'planar' (2D) NAND instead of IMFT 3D TLC NAND. Due to the lower density inherent in this planar NAND, PNY could only fit up to 480GB without opting for TLC planar NAND, unproven 3D TLC NAND, or going for the less common and less supported 110mm long M.2 form factor. For many conservative buyers this a trade-off well worth making.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/cont_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


The use of tried and true NAND combined with a form factor that only allows for 4 NAND ICs, a controller, and a RAM IC (or some combination thereof) does explain the lack 1TB plus versions, but the asking price also requires a bit of explaining. This drive is one of the very few models on the market that use the new Phison PS5007 NVMe controller. This 8-channel controller may be very new, but it is already making waves in a market known for radical, seemingly overnight, changes. By all accounts, this new controller by the upstart Phison company is actually superior to Intel's first-generation NVMe controller that graces the Intel 750 series. In practical terms, this means that for a mere 75 cents per gigabyte consumers can now get as good or maybe even better performance than what <i>was</i> one of the fastest drives on the market, and do so in a smaller form factor. Considering the fact that other PS5007 models command a higher asking price per gigabyte than the CS2030 certainly flips the equation and turns this seemingly expensive model into a veritable steal.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/smartFlush.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Now in order to pack all that performance <i>and</i> also reach a pocket friendly price tag a few things did have to tweaked. First, as this is a M.2 drive and there's no room on the already crowded PCB, there is no super-capacitors or other enterprise-grade data loss protection abilities baked. Instead, just like all Phison PS5007-based models released to date, the CS2030 relies upon the controller's abilities to keep data safe in the event of a sudden and unexpected loss of power. In this regard, the new PS5007 is very similar to what the previous 3000 series could do. Not only will it not send an acknowledge command to the host OS until the data is actually written to the NAND – and not just stored in the external 128MB DDR3 RAM buffer like many other competing controllers do - the length of time any data is held in the external buffer is also rather limited.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/ecc.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

This SmartFlush technology really does limit the amount of data corruption that is possible, and it also narrows the window in which data can become corrupted. The controller continuously keeps its internal data logs up-to-date further making data loss less likely. In the event these fail-safes falter, Phison's legendary 0.5% (75 bits per 16000 bits) BCH ECC 'RAID' overhead – or what Phison calls SmartECC – ensures that any data that may have been corrupted due to the sudden power loss will almost certainly <i>not</i> result in any data corrutpion. What this means for home users is that enterprise-grade 'Flush-In-Flight' abilities are not really required and would only needlessly add to the cost of the drive.

The only real disappointment is that PNY does not use a heatsink to cover the controller from physical damage. This too is not overly concerning, as while the M.2 standard does not allow for a metal protective chassis, the motherboard itself is meant to act as a physical protective covering for the drive. In testing, the controller may indeed get warm, but as long as the system has adequate airflow it's not worrisome and is similar to most other M.2 drives.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/steady.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

On the performance side of the equation, the new PS5007 controller takes a page from its predecessors and then turns the dial all the way to eleven. Much like the PS3000 series, multiple cores are dedicated to internal house cleaning and NAND management so that the performance difference between empty a new drive performance and long-term/full drive is rather small. Since this controller is also free of the SATA and AHCI performance shackles, the controller is able to run free. This allows the CS2030 to be rated for an impressive 2750/1500MBps sequential read/write performance and a massive 201K/215K IOPS. That certainly is one heck of a one-two combination, and it is arguably better than what Toshiba's OCZ RD400 series (2600/1600 & 210K/140K IOPS) and Intel's 750 series (2400/1200 & 440K/290K IOPS) can offer. Of course, the way in which these specifications are created does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer so they do need to be taken with a grain of salt.

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/bot_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


Grain of salt or not, taken as a whole the PNY CS2030 is on the vanguard of storage technology. Just as IMFT are doing for NAND, the CS2030 should help usher in a new level of performance and allow the buying public to be able to finally justify getting in on the NVMe revolution. Of course, this is all predicated on the Phison PS5007 and Toshiba A15 MLC NAND combination living up to expectations. Considering that every company who has released a Phison PS5007-based model has claimed different performance specifications, it does remain to be seen if PNY have been able to truly harness the power of this PCIe 3.0 / NVMe 1.1b capable controller.
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Test System and Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason, our testbed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high-end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what the end-user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of, the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup. However, just like with the hardware aspect, most people are not going to do this. For this reason, a standard OS setup is used. The exception to this is for the Windows 7 load test times, where we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive, with the main drive being an Intel DC S3700 800GB Solid State Drive.

For synthetic tests, we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark 7.

For real world benchmarks, we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.

For all testing a Asus Sabretooth TUF X99 LGA 2011-v3 motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using either AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers, or NVMHCI using Intel NVMe drivers.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase or a manufacturers 'Toolbox', and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Processor: Core i7 5930K
Motherboard: Asus Sabretooth TUF X99
Memory: 32GB Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-2666
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, Intel P3700 800GB
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB: 1.33
Vertex 460 240GB: 1.0
Intel 7230 240GB: L2010400
AMD R7 240GB: 1.0
Crucial MX200: MU01
Intel 750: 8EV10135
Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB: 0C34L5TA
OCZ Trion 480GB & 960GB: SAFM11.1
AData XPG SX930 240GB : 5.9E
AData SP550 240GB: O0730A
PNY CS2211: CS221016
PNY CS1311: CS131122
ZOTAC Premium Edition: SAFM01.6
Apacer AS720: PLD1130
Apacer AS330: AP121PD0
Crucial MX300 series: M0CR011
AData SU800: P0801A
PNY CS2030: CS203020


Phison PS5007:
PNy CS2030 - 15nm MLC Planar NAND

Samsung MDX controller:
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

SandForce SF1200 controller:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

Marvell 9183 controller:
Plextor M6e 256GB- Custom firmware w/ 21nm Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell 1074 controller:
Crucial MX300 - Custom firmware w/ IMFT 384Gbit TLC 3D NAND

Marvell 9293 controller:
Kingston HyperX Predator - Custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

Intel X25 G3 controller:
Intel 730 - Custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND

Intel NVMe G1 Controller:
Intel 750 - Customer firmware w/ MLC 20nm NAND

Phison PS3110 Controller:
Kingston HyperX Savage 240GB - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND
PNY CS2211: 15nm Toggle Mode NAND
PNY CS1311: 19nm TLC NAND
ZOTAC Premium Edition: 19nm MLC
Apacer AS330 - TLC NAND

JMicron JMF670H Controller:
AData XPG SX930 240GB - 128Gbit MLC NAND
Apacer AS720 - 128Gbit MLC NAND

SMI SM2256 Controller:
AData SP550 240GB - TLC NAND

SMI SM2258 Controller:
AData SU800 240GB - 3D TLC NAND

Special Thanks to Crucial for providing the memory for this testbed.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


<i>For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and thus we no longer included it. The most important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will feel.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/read.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


Write Performance


<i>For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/write.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

The <i>average</i> read and write speed of this rather small drive is phenomenal. Even when compared to much larger versions of the Toshiba RD400 and Intel 750, this Phison PS5007-based drive is at the top of the charts. While we do not put too much stock in sequential file performance, this is nevertheless a great first impression.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


<i>The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/atto_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" /><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/atto_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

When it comes to read performance this drive behaves similarly to the Intel 750, whereas in write performance it takes more after the Toshiba RD400. That certainly is not a bad combination considering this drive is much more reasonably priced than either, and it blows them both out of the water at larger block sizes. Even though these results are excellent, this drive is fast but not as fast as the paper specifications would lead you to believe.

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


<i>Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows us to measure sequential and random read/write speeds, and also allows us to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and the size at 100MB. </i>





PCMark 7


<i>While there are numerous suites of tests that make up PCMark 7, only one is pertinent: the HDD Suite. The HDD Suite consists of numerous tests that try and replicate real world drive usage. Everything from how long a simulated virus scan takes to complete, to MS Vista start up time to game load time is tested in these core tests; however, we do not consider this anything other than just another suite of synthetic tests. For this reason, while each test is scored individually we have opted to include only the overall score.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/pcm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

With our attention now turning towards the harder tests, the PNY CS2030 does indeed post impressive numbers, but they are not at the top of the charts. Part of this is because both Intel and Toshiba would never sample a smaller and thus slower version like PNY does. Mainly though, it is because Phison puts more emphasis on long-term stability than on short-term performance. By dedicating entire cores to internal house cleaning, and not real-time I/O demands, Phison-based drives can appear to be 'slower' than they will be in 6 months or 6 years from now.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


<i>AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and small 4K read/write speeds as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test Solid State Drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/asd_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/asd_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


<i>Much like AS-SSD, Anvil Pro was created to quickly and easily – yet accurately – test your drives. While it is still in the Beta stages it is a versatile and powerful little program. Currently it can test numerous read / write scenarios but two in particular stand out for us: 4K queue depth of 4 and 4K queue depth of 16. A queue depth of four along with 4K sectors can be equated to what most users will experience in an OS scenario while 16 depth will be encountered only by power users and the like. We have also included the 4k queue depth 1 results to help put these two other numbers in their proper perspective. All settings were left in their default states and the test size was set to 1GB.</i>




Once again, the PNY CS2030 posts numbers that no smaller capacity drive has ever posted before. These results are fantastic and easily compare to what Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, or any other company can offer in the M.2 form factor.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
IOMeter Results

IOMETER


<i>IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server side of things, and since we here at HWC are more end-user centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD/SSD (1, 4, 16, 64, 128 queue depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min with an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k, 4k, 8k, 16k, 32k, 64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that report each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide them by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments. </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/iom.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

Thanks to the aggressive way in which the controller does internal house cleaning, the CS2030 would actually make a pretty decent workstation drive – as it can easily keep up with Toshiba's RD series. By the same token, we did have to remove the Intel 750 as otherwise all the other drives would have simply been a smear at the bottom. What this means is this drive can whistle the workstation tune, but it is not optimized nor intended for true workstation usage.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Windows 8.1 / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 8.1 Start Up w/ Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


<i>When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. We have chosen Windows 8.1 64bit Pro as our Operating System with all 'fast boot' options disabled in the BIOS. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. We have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows start-up and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Adobe CS5 Load Time


<i>Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit fared in the Adobe crucible! </i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

As with most of the synthetic test results, the PNY CS2030 easily keeps up with the larger and more expensive models in the charts. This M.2 model is quickly becoming our favorite and is swiftly proving to be one heck of a value, irrespective of its high price per gigabyte.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Firefox / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


<i>Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worst case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/ff.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Real World Data Transfers


<i>No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it cannot really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/copy_lg.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/copy_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Obviously, PNY and Phison have tuned their new series and controller for lower queue depth rather than deeper queue depth scenarios. Considering that the average home user - even power users - will rarely see queue depths in the double digits this was a wise decision, even if it does handicap the CS2030 in some of our tests.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
Partial and Full Drive Performance

Partial and Full Drive Performance


<i>While it is important to know how a drive will perform under optimal conditions, more realistic scenarios are just as important. Knowing if a solid state drive will behave differently when partially or even nearly full than when it is empty is very important information to know. To quickly and accurately show this crucial information we have first filled the drive to 50% capacity and re-tested using both synthetic and real world tests. After the completion of this we then re-test at 75% and 90% of full capacity. </i>

Synthetic Test Results
<i>For our synthetic testing we have opted for our standard PCMark 7 test.</i>
<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/data_pcm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>


Real World Results
<i>For a real world application we have opted for a modified version of our standard Windows 7 Start Up test. Unlike our standard Windows 7 image this image is based on a working system that has been upgraded numerous times of the past few years and represents an even more realistic real world test.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/PNY_CS2030/data_boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>

This is where Phison-based models really shine, and unsurprisingly the CS2030 is no exception. This drive may not start out as fast as the biggest and fastest from Intel and Toshiba, but its shear reliability and lack of performance drop off is bloody fantastic. We are not exaggerating when we say this is one of the few small drives that could have ever post results anywhere near this good.


 

Latest posts

Twitter

Top