PNY Slashes SSD Endurance Rating By Up To 80 Percent Due To Chia Crypto Mining Mania

Is cryptocurrency mining the reason why we can't have nice things? You could make that argument in some instances, even with solid state drives (SSDs). Case in point, PNY has significantly reduced the endurance rating on its high-performance XLR8 CS3030 SSD family, and by extension, potentially slashed the warranty period.

That's because when it comes to SSD warranties, most manufacturers (including PNY) typically guarantee a drive for a set period of time or when a certain write threshold has been reached (labeled as terabytes written, or TBW), whichever occurs first. For most people, it is the former. But for people who mine Chia, which taps into unused storage space, the latter happens much faster.

PNY offers several capacity options for its XLR8 CS3030 line, including 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and a newer 4TB model. These are PCI Express 3.0 offerings rated to deliver up to 3,500MB/s of sequential read performance and 3,100MB/s of sequential performance, depending on the SKU. Those are fast speeds for PCIe 3.0—to put it into perspective, the best performing SATA-based SSDs typically top out at around 580MB/s.

The warranty period for each SKU runs five years or until the endurance rating is met, which PNY recently slashed by up to almost 80 percent. Here's how it now shakes out...
  • PNY XLR8 CS3030 4TB: 5 years or 6,070 TBW
  • PNY XLR8 CS3030 2TB: 5 years or 660 TBW, down from 3,115 TBW (79% reduction)
  • PNY XLR8 CS3030 1TB: 5 years or 360 TBW, 1,665 TBW (78% reduction)
  • PNY XLR8 CS3030 500GB: 5 years or 170 TBW, down from 800 TBW (79% reduction)
  • PNY XLR8 CS3030 250GB: 5 years or 170 terabytes written, down from 380 TBW (55% reduction)
We strongly suspect this is at least partially a result of the Chia mining craze. Back at the beginning of May, Chia crypto mining surged to over 1 exabyte amid soaring SSD sales. Not long after, controller maker Phison warned that the Chia cryptocurrency boom could drive SSD prices higher. Turns out it is likely affecting warranties, too.

Officially, however, PNY says a shortage of NAND is to blame. In light of the shortage, PNY claims it has sought out alternative NAND flash memory chips that maintain the same level of performance as originally advertised, but have lower endurance ratings, which are reflected in the updated warranty terms (PDF).

It all feels a bit shady, for lack of a better term. These are significant reductions in write endurance, especially with PNY touting on its product page that "with no moving parts, the PNY XLR8 CS3030 M.2 NVMe SSD is highly durable, less likely to fail, and supports a 5 year warranty."

That said, if you purchased an XLR8 CS3030 SSD before May 17, 2021, your warranty terms are as originally outlined. The adjusted TBW ratings and subsequent warranty coverage applies to drives purchased on or after May 17, 2021.