PNY LX3030 M.2 NVMe SSD Review: Chia Plot Master Flex – Tom's Hardware

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PNY’s LX3030 is a Chia-plotting workhorse that delivers fast, consistent performance to handle the rigorous demands of plotting and also has the high endurance needed to survive the wear it causes.
PNY’s LX3030 is a Chia-plotting workhorse that delivers fast, consistent performance to handle the rigorous demands of plotting and also has the high endurance needed to survive the wear it causes.
+ Fast PCIe 3.0 performance
+ Write speed does not degrade until full
+ Very high endurance ratings
– Costly
– Limited availability
– Short warranty for 1TB model
While standard-grade SSDs will serve the average PC user for years on end, they typically can’t handle the rigorous performance demands of plotting Chia. PNY’s LX3030, on the other hand, is built specifically with Chia plotting in mind. As a result, it provides both high-performance and enterprise-level endurance, making it a perfect pick if you’re starting or still building multi-petabyte Chia coin farms.
The PNY LX3030 is an interesting piece of hardware. It comes powered by Phison’s PS5012-E12S SSD controller but it is outfitted with Micron’s 96-Layer QLC flash to take on the grizzly challenges of Chia plotting. Now, you may think to yourself, ‘wait a minute, QLC flash on a supposedly high-performance and endurance SSD?’ In short, yes.
Although the SSD is built with QLC flash, it doesn’t behave like one. To handle the heavy workloads, the flash is programmed to function in SLC mode, much like the technique we described in our FuzeDrive review. However, instead of limiting that to a small region of flash, the company uses 8TB of QLC flash as 2TB of usable SLC.
This means that, unlike conventional consumer storage, the PNY LX3030 is closer to being an enterprise SSD because its write speeds won’t degrade much at all, even after hammering it with multiple terabytes of sustained write workloads. Therefore, the LX3030’s consistent performance profile should be very appealing to storage enthusiasts just as much as Chia farmers, but it is expensive and is a bit limited by its PCIe 3.0 interface compared to newer PCIe 4.0-equipped SSDs. 

PNY’s LX3030 is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, and even though it’s a PCIe 3.0 x4 device, each is more expensive than your average PCIe Gen4 SSD. The drives weigh in at $819.99 and $1,169,66, respectively. Due to the LX3030’s specialized application and high cost, the drive won’t sell in large volumes. As such, it is primarily available as build-to-order through PNY.com, though a few will be available at select retailers.
The LX3030 is rated for up to 3.2/2.4 GBps read/write, but it lacks random IOPS ratings. As for warranty, strangely, the company only backs the 1TB LX3030 with a short two-year warranty but gives the 2TB model a lengthier five-year warranty. PNY rates the LX3030 with two endurance ratings, too; one for Chia, and one for anything else. If you use the LX3030 solely for Chia plotting, the company backs it for up to a monstrous 54,000 TB of writes, but only 20,000 TB for other workloads.

PNY provides a downloadable SSD Toolbox. It isn’t as extensive or polished as something like Samsung Magician or WD’s SSD Dashboard, but it provides basic functionality such as SMART data monitoring. It also allows you to manually Trim your SSD, secure erase it, and update the firmware if an update is available. 
PNY LX3030
PNY LX3030
PNY’s LX3030 comes in an M.2 2280 double-sided form factor due to the amount of raw flash onboard. 
PNY LX3030
PNY LX3030
The LX3030 is powered by Phison’s PS5012-E12S, a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3 SSD controller that supports four NAND packages on each side of the PCB. The E12S leverages a dual-core CPU that clocks in at 666 MHz along with a dual-CPU co-processor to sustain high write performance with minimal degradation. It also takes advantage of two 8Gb packages of Kingston DDR3 clocking 1,600 MHz for accelerating FTL mapping table access and snappy performance.
The SSD is built on a 12nm process for efficiency and to keep it cool under load. It also features ASPM, ASPT, L1.2, and has thermal throttle support for further energy efficiency and maintaining cool temperatures under load. It also supports Trim, SMART data reporting and can be securely erased via the Format NVM command. The company even says it is compliant with OPAL hardware encryption specifications, a nice bonus for those who want to lock down their data.
PNY LX3030
PNY LX3030
PNY LX3030
The 2 TB drive has a total of eight terabytes of Micron’s 96L QLC flash, and each die measures 1024Gb and interfaces at 666 MTps. Since the controller features 32 chip enables, these dies are arranged as two dies per chip enable, and the controller uses multi-die select bits to manage each.

The LX3030’s factory overprovisioning is 7.4% for bad block management, garbage collection, and other background processes. It also takes advantage of an AI engine and Low-Density Parity-Check (LDPC) ECC to achieve its multi-petabyte endurance ratings.
MORE: Best SSDs
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