PNY Prevail Elite SATA 3 SSD Review – Performance Meets eMLC Endurance And Consumer Value

The only thing better than being asked to introduce a new solid state drive to market is receiving what could be a game changing SSD out of the blue and from a company we had never dealt with prior.

The PNY Prevail 240GB 6Gbps SSD contains 10K rated eMLC memory, LSI SandForce performance, a five year warranty and value.  Is the fact that its lifespan is rated more than two to three times that of other SSDs worth taking a closer look?

SSD LIFE AND MEMORY EXPLAINED

Having just returned from Seoul, South Korea, where we broke the news that Samsung was to be the first to introduce a TLC SSD, I had no clue that I might be analyzing a consumer attainable eMLC SSD just a week later. To many in fact, knowledge of the difference between SLC, eMLC, MLC, and TLC is no more important than knowing the length of warranty on the SSD itself. Then again, that’s tantamount to believing that both a Jaguar and Ford product are the same as both have three year warranties.

To maintain simplicity in understanding memory types, lets look at memory as having switches where the single level cell (SLC) has one switch with two states, programmed or clear.  Multi-level cell doubled that with two switches and four states but this also added the potential for error so enterprise grade MLC (eMLC) was designed for lower error rates.  Last but not least, we now have triple-level cell (TLC) memory with four switches, or eight states, and a naturally higher error rate or, lower life span.

At least, that all held true until our receipt of the PNY Prevail Elite eMLC SSD we are reviewing today.  It was like someone dropped a baby at our doorstep.

THE PNY PREVAIL AND XLR8 SSD FAMILIES

It is only fair that I start this with a bit of a personal apology to Bernadette Brijlall, Marketing Communications Manager of PNY, as we first met at FMS 2012 where we did speak at some length of PNY’s upcoming SSD products.  To use the excuse of how overwhelming these events can be, or even that we were blown away with our recent Seoul experience, would be wrong.  Simply, if I knew then what I know now having reviewed this SSD, I would have paid more attention in class Bernadette.

PNY has recently introduced two new SSD Series , the XLR8 and the Prevail.  The XLR8 Series is divided into the XLR8 and XLR8 Pro, NAND flash memory, and warranty length, being the determining factor between the two.  With the Prevail series, we have the Prevail and Prevail Elite.  With these, the  differentiating factors seems to be that of MLC versus eMLC NAND flash memory, but also, it appears that we may also be seeing use of the SF-2282 Flash Storage Processor, vice the popular SF-2281, in some model numbers and prices are reflected accordingly for this when checking internet resources.

Our sample is the PNY Prevail Elite ‘Ultimate Endurance’ 240GB SATA 3 SSD.  It contains eMLC NAND flash memory, has typical LSI SandForce performance, a five year warranty and, at least until I took a quick look at pricing on the internet, I wouldn’t have believed this to be within the consumers grasp.  Was I wrong!

Not only is it available at a great price, but PNY seems to have followed the advise I have been affording manufacturers for years now and this will definitely result in huge benefit to the company. In the very short time since release, PNY has hit just about every popular e-tailer and brick-and-mortar technology store that we can find and in several different countries.  From Best Buy to Circuit City, Staples, Amazon, NewEgg, Tiger Direct and even Shopbot.ca, PNY SSDs are everywhere.

31 comments

  1. Good one Les! Looks like a super good SSD. Hmmm, this or the 840 Pro???

  2. I AM IN LOVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Wow… performance aside, 10K P/E eMLC, 5 year warranty at $1/GB? Unreal… Excellent review, Les.

  4. I do not see the 480GB yet for sale. Soon I hope!

  5. need more high performance eMLC and SLC SSDs at large capacity thats for sure. please bring out the 1tb version soon!

  6. Are these eMLC NAND considered a ‘toggle’ type?

  7. You can drop this baby on my doorstep any time – even the used and abused test drive 😉

    A 1TB version of this would be perfect for my daily laptop.

  8. so I have heard, 10k PE is great and all but without proper functioning Trim it’ll just reduce life span of this thing.

  9. Got this one instead of an xlr8k pro by mistake. But i can’t get the same writespeeds as this bechmark. About 150 MB/s in seq write. Any thoughts? I have an asus p8p67 pro (i5 2500k). And I don’t use any of the marvell ports.

  10. The Prevail Elite I received has firmware 5.0.2 and PNY refuses to provide a update to fix the broken TRIM. It was returned. Shame on PNY! After staring at those warehouses full of Elite’s maybe they’ll get the point.

    • First and foremost, TRIM is not broken where it doesn’t work; it simply does not work at full capacity. Next, it takes time for companies to roll out updates as they have to validate the upgrades in house. Considering the PNY Prevail Elite is the ONLY consumer level SSD to use this memory…I might understand such.

      • Hi Les, great review. Considering one of these drives to replace my main
        desktops boot drive, however Yankee495’s comment has got me worried.
        What are the implications of running with FW 5.0.2 on a main boot drive?
        I’m also concerned that because PNY is not yet classed as main stream
        SSD supplier that FW updates may be slow to come (or worse still never
        come). Any thoughts on that….? Quick check on their website today shows no FW or any downloads to support this drive, although granted it is early days..

      • I spoke with PNY last week who stated the new FW will be present in the new drives ordered. I cannot answer with respect to their site but they are updating it continuously. IMHO…great drives at a great price. Today on Amazon the Prevail Elite eMLC drives were miss priced and a bunch of guys got them at a steal!

      • LOL that’s cool, wish I saw that.. might have had a few.

        Over here in the UK these are pretty had to find, although they are starting to show. Based on your excellent reviews I’ll certainly be fitting this or Sammy 840 Pro in the next few weeks as I’m out of space on my Tiny 60GB OCZ Agility 3! This drive might be small but it’s been a real trooper with no Sand-force firmware related BSOD or any problems for that matter and I’m running the old 2.15 FW (OCZ are upto 2.25!) You know the old saying, If it ain’t broke….

      • Absolutely…I have been listening to the vocal minority for years now with respect to dying SSDs and BSODs. It is an always has been a very rare occurrence, one I have never experienced in the hundreds we test and use. It’s similar to the SF broken firmware saga where people don’t realize but the firmware is actually not broke whatsoever, but rather, not working at full capability. TRIM still functions and very well for the average user.

      • Got mine yesterday, great drive which is working well. However it did come with FW 502 so hopefully PNY will have an update soon….

      • I just received update that PNY will be posting their update tool within the next week or so.

      • Thanks Les for the update. I’ll keep an eye out. Cheers Andy.

  11. Hej Les! Can you tell me what’s your opinion on the PNY prevail elite 256GB vs. Samsungs SSD 840 Pro series 256 GB? Pricevise they are about the same… What about the durability and performance? As an ssd consumer which do you think is more important ? the PNY in better at durability but samsung has better performance…

    • The Elite has enterprose eMLC memory and this is the first consumer accessible drive to have this, whereas the pro is not yet available. Endurance definitely goes to the prevail Elite, whereas performance would go to the Samsung for high end audio or video work as it moves incompressible data quicker.

  12. Sorry to hear that. We were told by PNY there would be no FW update as I posted here. I actually posted on the PNY blog which was never posted publicly by PNY but got an email response that PNY was up to 5.0.4 FW. So we bought one, FW 5.0.2, then PNY said no updates and then ignored further emails. In my book if it doesn’t work right, then it is broke. The shame of it is that none of the reviewers are admitting this. CALL THEM BEFORE YOU BUY to verify this yourself!

  13. Hi, I purchased one of these and just installed and formatted it. I was a little surprised I was unable to find any firmware for this device anywhere, and judging from the comments here, I am correct.

    I installed on Windows 7, just did a standard format. It shows up as a SSD2SC240GE2DA16B-T ATA Device. But the driver is Microsoft, 6/21/2006, version 6.1.7600.16385.

    I’m a little concerned that what I’ve got installed is effectively the equivalent of running a nice video card under the standard VGA driver.

    I plan to clone my system drive onto this later, but I want to wait until I know I’m not missing a step entirely. I am shocked as to how little information is on the PNY site.

    Any advice would be awesome!

  14. puts links of firmware because the site is no longer required

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