PNY LX3030 SSD review: Incredible durability for twice the price

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PNY’s new LX3030 NVMe SSD isn’t for everyone. It’s marketed directly at Chia cryptocurrency plotting, a very high-bandwidth sustained write task. If you want some info on how much data Chia requires, you can find it here. But if your workload involves something similar, such as continuous large-scale backup, video encoding, or anything else that involves writing lots and lots of data, it might also be of interest.

Why? The LX3030 is the fastest PCIe 3.0-based sustained writer we’ve tested and its TBW (TeraBytes that can be Written) ratings are astounding: 27,000TBW per 1TB of NAND. Seagate’s scorching fast FireCuda 530 is rated for 1,250TBW per terabyte—a lot of data by normal standards, but shy one zero compared to the PNY’s rated durability.

The catch? When I say the LX3030 is not for everyone, I mean it: the 2TB version I tested is priced at $1170—more than twice what the aforementioned FireCuda 530. Gulp.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best SSDs. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Price and design

The rest of the LX3030 story is rather mundane. It’s a four-lane PCIe 3 drive in the standard 2280 (22 mm wide, 80 mm long) M.2 form factor. PNY was extremely tight-lipped about details. Peeling back the label, however, revealed a Phison PS5012-12ES-32 controller, eight unknown 3D NAND chips (I found no Web entry for the chip numbers), and two Kingston 1GB DRAM chips.

So why is PNY willing to offer these super large TBW ratings? To quote the company “The LX family of SSDs utilize Lifextension technology, a combination of an advanced AI Engine, LDPC and Flash I/F to deliver ultra-high plotting endurance.” Okay. That doesn’t really tell us a lot, but for the record: LDPC is Low-Density Parity Checking; AI is the imitation of human intelligence—completely inappropriate in this circumstance so I’ll call it an advanced algorithm; and I/F is simply flash interface.

Just pure speculation: the drive is heavily overprovisioned so more cells are available as replacements, or as PNY claims, there’s special sauce in the controller firmware and the NAND is super reliable. Or…

pny lx3030 flat PNY

PNY’s LX3030 offers outstanding longevity ratings, and is a good performer over PCIe 3.

Truth be told, price, warranties, and TBW ratings are joined at the hip. Drives that carry high TBW ratings and longer warranties are more expensive because the vendor stands a higher likelihood of having to replace it. 

There’s been scuttlebutt around the industry for years that NAND is far more durable than most ratings indicate. Also, controllers have become aces at maximizing speed and/or longevity. Addtionally, it’s a well-known fact that most users don’t write nearly as much data as they think they. 



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