PNY XLR8 PS5 Designed SSD Heatsink Review – Cool Stuff?

The PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink Review

When PNY announced they were releasing a PS5 designed SSD heatsink for their gamer XLR8 range, they did so into a market that just half a year ago would have been completely devoid of competition! It has been quite an educational period for many PS5 owners in the last 6 months, as they begin to get to grips with understanding a new and high-performance tier of storage in M.2 NVMe SSDs. Indeed, the learning curve for some console gamers who chose this gaming platform for its ease of use has been notably higher than most and although the range of solutions available for PS5 compatible storage is pretty wide and easy, the necessity of purchasing a heatsink and understanding what makes one better than another is a different story entirely. These new PCIe NVMe SSDs get hot, quite worryingly hot (under excessive use) and it is for that reason that whether you are a PS5 or PC user, it is highly advised that you employ a means of removing the heat from the SSD in an as efficient way as possible – namely, heatsinks. These are metal plates (arriving in aluminium, copper and more) that draw the heat away from the SSD components and then release that heat into the surrounding air. So, what makes a PS5 specific designed one different? Well, that is largely down to the architecture of the console itself and internal cooling is conducted. In a PC, the M.2 SSD will be in a much larger area that has active fan cooling surrounding it, therefore a more modest and generic M.2 heatsink (for as little as $8-10) is sufficient for general use. However, with the PS5, the m.2 expansion storage bay is in a remarkably tight, close slot. This is done to ensure that the console can draw air through its vents (using negative pressure in a closed casing) and ensure highly efficient system cooling at all times. This all means that an SSD heatsink for the PS5 has a very different physical space and surrounding directional airflow to work around. And here is where the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD heatsink arrives on the scene, designed around the physical spacing of the PS5 and it’s internal vents, it replaces the m.2 metal cover that the system features in favour of a full drive cover and heatsink combined. PNY is not the first company to release an m.2 SSD heatsink that is designed for the PS5 (we have reviewed several PS5 SSD heatsinks in 2021), but with already very popular PS5 SSD compatible SSD ranges in the CS3140 and CS3040, this heatsink presents a unique bundle/single purchase that only Sabrent currently offers. So, let’s review the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD heatsink and see if it deserves your data.

PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink – Quick Conclusion

The PNY XLR8 SSD heatsink for PS5 cannot really be faulted! There have been quite a few PS5 designed heatsinks released in the last few months and for the most part, they fall into two categories. There are the ‘overkill’ ones which sadly make up the bulk of them (such as the INEO, Graugear and ElecGear) that do the job, but at a high price tag, still require SSD research and unless you are an e-sports or heavy gaming streamer, as never going to even come close to their full utility (think of driving a Ferrari to pop to the corner shop for bread). The other PS5 designed SSD heatsinks like the Sabrent and the PNY XLR8 in this review very much fall into a smaller but much, MUCH more desirable category. The PNY XLR8 finds an impressive middle ground between keeping your PS5 SSD at an ideal ongoing usage temperature, whilst keeping a low profile and not interrupting the airflow/air temp that is running through the rest of the PS5 cooling system. Add to this the ease of buying in together with your PNY XLR8 PS5 compatible SSD and what you have here is an affordable and effective means to store more games, play for longer and maintain the lifespan of your SSD longterm. It may seem the pinch more expensive than a regular M.2 heatsink, but it’s about having the right tool for the job – have you ever tried spreading butter with a steak knife? Or stirring soup with a teaspoon? The same applies to comparing a PS5 designed heatsink with a PC designed one, they are both heatsinks, but for very different deployments. It get’s my vote!

EFFECTIVENESS - 10/10
HARDWARE - 9/10
PERFORMANCE - 9/10
PRICE - 8/10
VALUE - 8/10


8.8
PROS
👍🏻Very high-quality build
👍🏻VERY Easy Installation
👍🏻Option of SSD+Heatsink Bundle with the CS3140 Series
👍🏻Less potentially impactful on the system temp than the Elecgear or Copper Pipe Heatsinks
👍🏻On par with Sabrent H/S Price
👍🏻Full 22110 NVMe SSD Coverage
👍🏻High-Quality Thermal Padding pre-attached
CONS
👎🏻Quite pricey for a heatsink compared with PC designed m.2 models
👎🏻No spare thermal pads

PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink – Packaging

The external packaging of the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink is noticeably larger than many of the heatsink’s that I have reviewed before, arriving in a chunky box that you would be excused for assuming also contains an SSD. Likely this is due to PNY having plans on bundled purchases down the link. The actual contents are only two items, but the retail box is quite pro-gamer centric.

Using the familiar livery of their XLR8 professional gaming brand, if we open up the retail box, we find that inside contains a rigid foam frame holds both the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink and an m.2 screw in place. There are no additional instruction manuals present, though details of installation are covered on the rear of the box.

The PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink arrives with a preattached thermal pad on the base of the aluminium plate, which turns out is a pinch thicker than the typical pads we see with these heatsinks. It is a shame that this heatsink does not feature an additional thermal pad for the underside of an installed SSD, but given that the base of the SSD typically only has further NAND and perhaps 50% of the memory, these components can actually run better when they are a little warmer. Additionally, when deployed onto an SSD, the thermal pad made full contact with the SSD components (ink tested).

PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink – Design

The design of the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink is something that I think puts it high above its competitors in terms of aesthetics and appeal. Given that this heatsink is going to be largely unseen when it is doing its job, it does look remarkably pretty! Arriving with the XLR8 gaming livery once again, it has a design that leans a little towards F1 racing cars and gaming laptop chic. With the logo highlight visible, as well arriving in a colour scheme that is a cut above the usual dull black or silver that 99% of other heatsinks arrive in. Again though, this is still a component that is going to only be seen during installation, then largely invisible afterwards.

One interesting thing to note though (and something that many will have missed when PNY first showed this heatsink off on its official site) is that although it looks like the top of the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink is ridged (appearing very similar in physical design to the Sabrent PS5 SSD heatsink), that top panel is actually flat/flush, without the logo being embossed/raised either.

In fact, it is only when you view the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink at an angle that you notice that the heatsink has many, many raised ridges to capture airflow through the PS5, BUT they are covered by that top panel. Now, this is an unusual move for a heatsink, given that the main advantage for a heatsink to occupy/sit-above the PS5 M.2 slot, is so it can capture the airflow of the console’s from vents, as the system pulls air in and then out the back of the chassis.

The PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink certainly fully occupies the PS5 M.2 slot, as well as raises out of the available bay a few millimetres, so it is capturing that air to assist SSD dissipation as you would hope. Nevertheless, this is a very discrete bit of design/airflow that you would not expect and whether this is for reasons of avoiding introducing warm air into the console OR for reasons of patent/design uniqueness – it is hard to say. I will say that compared with the Sabrent H/S and Elecgear SSD heatsink‘s reviewed previously, the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink will almost certainly have the lowest impact on the system general temperature.

Another interesting element is that the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink occupies the full length of the PS5 22110 m.2 slot. The bulk of modern M.2 NVMe SSDs are 2280 in length, but the PS5 arrives with the longer 22110 SSD support (which is arguably a bit wasted, given the PS5 has a maximum capacity of 4TB supported in this m.2 slot) and if you were to install a longer SSD in this slot (perhaps so you could get an SSD with a better distribution of NAND chips on it’s physical PCB to improve performance and/or durability), then having a heatsink that can amply dissipate heat from even the larger SSDs in the market is going to be a good thing.

The PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink fits on top of the SSD in a much similar way as the official M.2 expansion cover plate, with a lever hinge at its base that allows you to lower the heatsink over the SSD and the screw hole will perfectly align with the one on the PS5 (you will need to reuse the official screw that features the square, triangle, circle and cross symbol).

In short, it is very hard to get this wrong! The SSD cannot be damaged in this installation and the lower, protruding aluminium 22110 length area of the heatsink will always make contact with the SSD.

The heatsink, once installed, will make zero contact with the PS5 side plates and although the aesthetic design of the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink doesn’t quite look as uniform as the Sabrent H/S and Elecgear SSD heatsink, It still looks rather easy on the eye. Next up, we need to do some temperature testing of the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD, see how it compares against budget $10 heatsinks for PC and whether it negatively impacts the ambient airflow of the PS5 when in use.

PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink – Temperature Tests

IMPORTANT – Temperature Testing is still IN PROGRESS and although early testing clearly indicates that the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink works very well, the FULL details, readings and results in comparison with a generic M.2 SSD heatsink will be updated in this article in the next few days when the test stages are completed. Apologies for the delay.

Temperature testing for the PNY XLR8 PS5 Designed SSD heatsink has been broken down into several areas. The main aims here are to work out the following things:

  1. Does the PNY XLR8 Heatsink Keep the Temperature low on the SSD in sustained use?
  2. Does the PNY XLR8 Heatsink Interfere with the PS5 Internal System Temp negatively?
  3. Does the PNY XLR8 Heatsink provide a significant improvement over PC designed M.2 SSD heatsinks (eg the Eluteng M.2)

In order to do this, I have installed a temperature sensor on the M.2 SSD itself, UNDER the heatsink AND the thermal pad, directly on the controller chip of the SSD.

When the temp node is on the SSD Controller, I then place the thermal pad down, closed and screw down the heatsink, then attach the 2nd node just underneath the PS5 fan point, in the open air. This second temperature sensor will tell us the surrounding system temp that the internal fan will be used to cool the rest of the system.

The testing consisted of 6 different elements. 4 gameplay sessions of 25mins each, with 2 sessions focusing on the SSD temp and 2 focusing on the system temp (in that order, with 1-2 mins reboot between each, in order to see how the system temp is affected over the combined power-on time).

Then a sustained read and write activity of 350-380MB/s to/from the PS5 internal PS5 SSD and M.2 NVMe SSD (the tests were conducted with the PNY CS3140 2TB) and how it impacted the SSD controller only. We are NOT looking at performance/framerate/MB/s etc, ONLY temperatures. Below were the results (video will be published shortly).

Note – BOTH PS5 Side plates were on during the tests 

Test Type Starting Temp (C) Finishing Temp (C) Change (C)
Red Dead Redemption 25min Play (Controller) TBC TBC TBC
Red Dead Redemption 25min Play (System Temp) TBC TBC TBC
GTA V 25min Play (Controller) TBC TBC TBC
GTA V 25min Play (System Temp) TBC TBC TBC
Heavy Read (350GB) TBC TBC TBC
Heavy Write (350GB) TBC TBC TBC

As you can see, in almost all tests, the PNY XLR8 PS5 Designed SSD heatsink results in very, VERY small increases in temperature over time, much, MUCH lower than most of the other heatsinks that I have tested. To put that into perspective here is how this PS5 styled heatsink compared in those same tests versus the Eluteng M.2 at just $10 (at least $15 less than the PNY XLR8 H/S):

NOTE – There tests were performed on different days and ambient temp AND general environmental conditions can undermine these results. Watch the video published soon to see these results in much, MUCH greater detail)

Test Type Eluteng H/S Change PNY XLR8 H/S Change
Red Dead Redemption 25min Play (Controller) 5.9℃ TBC
Red Dead Redemption 25min Play (System Temp) 1.5℃ TBC
GTA V 25min Play (Controller) 0.5℃ TBC
GTA V 25min Play (System Temp) 0.3℃ TBC
Heavy Read (350GB) 6.2℃ TBC
Heavy Write (350GB) 15.4℃ TBC

So, as you can see, it certainly did a great job. These are still very small differences though and it is worth remembering that an NVMe SSD is designed to run perfectly well at between 30-50 degrees. Anything higher than that (headed towards 70 degrees) can result in throttling. Overall I still think the PNY XLR8 definitely does exactly what it says it will and does it very well – it is a question of whether you play your PS5 for long enough /regular periods that you need that level of protection/cooling. Let’s conclude the review and give my verdict.

NOTE – The FULL video of the Temperature tests for the PNY XLR8 PS5 Designed SSD Heatsink, as well as how it compares against the Eluteng M.2 Heatsink, the Sabrent PS5 heatsink and the PNY XLR8 Heatsink Heatsink is available soon.

When I previously compared the INEO / Graugear PS5 Hetasink against the Sabrent, Elecgear and Eluteng Heatsink, the main takeaway was that enterprise PS5 heatsink’s like these DEFINITELY keep the SSD/Controller much cooler, as well as have minimum impact on the system temperature too. The PNY XLR8 PS5 Heatsink can be compared easily against the Sabrent model and much like that model, unless you are a particularly hardcore gamer, the 3-4x price point of these prosumer copper pipe SSD heatsink’s are a little unnecessary.

PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink – Conclusion & Verdict

The PNY XLR8 SSD heatsink for PS5 cannot really be faulted! There have been quite a few PS5 designed heatsinks released in the last few months and for the most part, they fall into two categories. There are the ‘overkill’ ones which sadly make up the bulk of them (such as the INEO, Graugear and ElecGear) that do the job, but at a high price tag, still require SSD research and unless you are an e-sports or heavy gaming streamer, as never going to even come close to their full utility (think of driving a Ferrari to pop to the corner shop for bread). The other PS5 designed SSD heatsinks like the Sabrent and the PNY XLR8 in this review very much fall into a smaller but much, MUCH more desirable category. The PNY XLR8 finds an impressive middle ground between keeping your PS5 SSD at an ideal ongoing usage temperature, whilst keeping a low profile and not interrupting the airflow/air temp that is running through the rest of the PS5 cooling system. Add to this the ease of buying in together with your PNY XLR8 PS5 compatible SSD and what you have here is an affordable and effective means to store more games, play for longer and maintain the lifespan of your SSD longterm. It may seem the pinch more expensive than a regular M.2 heatsink, but it’s about having the right tool for the job – have you ever tried spreading butter with a steak knife? Or stirring soup with a teaspoon? The same applies to comparing a PS5 designed heatsink with a PC designed one, they are both heatsinks, but for very different deployments. It get’s my vote!

PROS of the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink PROS of the PNY XLR8 PS5 SSD Heatsink
  • Very high-quality build
  • VERY Easy Installation
  • Option of SSD+Heatsink Bundle with the CS3140 Series
  • Less potentially impactful on the system temp than the Elecgear or Copper Pipe Heatsinks
  • On par with Sabrent H/S Price
  • Full 22110 NVMe SSD Coverage
  • High-Quality Thermal Padding pre-attached
  • Quite pricey for a heatsink compared with PC designed m.2 models
  • No spare thermal pads


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