by Lyle Smith

PNY Elite-X USB 3.1 Gen 1 Review

The PNY Elite-X USB 3.1 Gen 1 is the company’s newest portable flash line that is available in a wide range of capacities. As its name indicates, it uses a USB 3.1 interface, supports both Windows and OSX and is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connections.

Performance-wise, the Elite-X is quoted to deliver read speeds of up to 200MB/s while write speeds are expected to hit upwards of 100MB/s. Though these numbers certainly do not set any new bars, PNY’s focus is solely on the pricing/performance ratio for this USB drive and are adamant that it is one of the best on the market. As for how durable this stick is, PNY certainly went for a basic design and build. They also do not give any information on how water, shock and impact resistance it is, so we are not sure if it is built to withstand accidental drops and the like. 

The PNY Elite-X USB 3.1 Gen 1 is available in capacities of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB priced at roughly $23, $44, $100, and $204, respectively. All models are backed by a 1-year warranty.

PNY Elite-X USB 3.1 Gen 1 Specifications

  • Capacities: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • Read Speed -up to: 200MB/s
  • Write Speeds: 100MB/s
  • Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1 enabled (USB 3.0, 2.0 compatible)
  • Compatibility: PC & Mac
  • Warranty: 1-year

Design and build

As we indicated above, the PNY Elite-X USB 3.1 Gen 1 looks like your average consumer USB flash drive and features a blue and black casing. It is a sliding USB drive, meaning you can easily pull the top of the Elite-X to cover the connection from the elements and every day use.

The casing itself it branded with the PNY logo and indicates the capacity size and interface.

Performance

For performance, we ran IOMeter on our Lenovo ThinkStation P920 and will be comparing the PNY Elite-X USB 3.1 Gen 1 to the following drives:

When looking at sequential speeds, the Elite-X posted 248.03MB/s read and 141.77MB/s write. For the comparables, the BAR Plus posted read and write activity with 283.48MB/s and 61.84MB/s while the SanDisk Extreme Pro reached 415.4MB/s read and 353.7MB/s. 

With 2MB random speeds, the Elite-X recorded 230.67MB/s read and 51.75MB/s write. The BAR Plus hit 269.31MB/s read and 56.01MB/s write, while the SanDisk posted a leading 321.92MB/s read and 187.19MB/s write. 

For 4K random, the Elite-X showed 551.52 IOPS write and 2,224.15 IOPS read. The BAR showed a performance of 3,009 IOPS read and 1,884 IOPS write. 

We also put it through the Blackmagic disk speed test using a current generation MacBook Air, which boasted 233.4MB/s read and 100.8MB/s write.

Conclusion

The Elite-X USB 3.1 Gen 1 is portable thumb drive and an overall solid release from PNY. Though it features a very basic design and just a 1-year warranty, it comes in a wide range of capacities as high as a massive 1TB model.

For performance, the Elite-X handily surpassed PNY’s quoted speeds of 100MB/s write and 200MB/s read. For sequential transfer rates, we saw 248.03MB/s read and 141.77MB/s write, while 2MB random speeds gave us 230.67MB/s read and 51.75MB/s write. Our 4K random reads showed 551.52 IOPS write and 2,224.15 IOPS read and, lastly, the Blackmagic disk speed recorded 233.4MB/s read and 100.8MB/s write. So all in all, a good showing.

PNY indicates that their USB drives essentially have the best pricing/performance ratio on the market, but that is not necessarily the case (at the time of this review, anyway). For example, the 256GB Samsung BAR Plus 3.1 goes for roughly $45 and the best of class 256GB SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.1 (which essential is 100MB/s faster in reads and triples the write speed performance) is available on Amazon for 77$. The new Elite-X is priced at $44 for the same capacity point, so it's obvious that it has some good competition out there as far as price per performance goes. Nonetheless, the Elite-X is a solid release that surpasses expectations in the performance category. We will also likely see a price drop in the future to make it an even better option for consumers.

PNY Elite-X USB 3.1 on Amazon

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