PNY Pro Elite SSD review: A fast, affordable external drive with nice extras

This near-physical twin to the Samsung's T5 is just as fast in our real-world tests, and less expensive.

Credit: PNY

The PNY Pro Elite (CS2060) is a portable SSD that doesn’t break the bank. In real-world testing, it performed on a par with the Samsung T5, and even the newer T7 Touch, but it costs about $20 to $70 less. It comes with the requisite cables and Acronis True Image (one of the best backup programs you can buy), perhaps surpassing Samsung’s amenities, so you miss out on nothing. It's a great value that earns our Editor's Choice.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best external drives. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

Design and features

The Pro Elite is available in three flavors: 250GB (currently $55 on Amazon), 500GB (the capacity we tested, currently $80 on Amazon), and 1TB (currently $192.70 on Amazon). It’s a USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) drive that measures 2.5 x 2.25 x 0.43 inches and weighs just a few ounces. It’s available in a “black” that looks more like a dark slate-gray, if you care about such things.

PNY includes both Type-A- and Type-C-to-Type-C cables, as well as a serial for Acronis’s True Image backup software. Two musts and a generous add-on. As I said, you’re not giving up any perks compared to the Samsung T5. The drive carries a three-year warranty and uses a Phison controller, though PNY wasn’t disclosing the type of NAND employed. Given the capacity and state of the industry, it’s likely layered TLC.


The Pro Elite is a good performer. It didn’t match the competition’s numbers in CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD, but actually surpassed three of the four competing drives in real-life transfers. Go figure. We’ll take real-life anytime.

pny pro elite cdm 6 IDG

CrystalDiskMark 6 didn’t think all that highly of the Pro Elite, but that didn’t stop the drive from gathering very nice read and write times in our 48GB transfer tests. Longer bars are better.

The news above didn’t seem particularly positive, but our transfer tests, shown below, were rays of golden sunshine piercing the synthetic benchmark gloom. 

pny pro elite 48gb IDG

Though the Pro Elite didn’t measure up in the synthetic benchmarks, it outpaced everything but the SanDisk Extreme Portable Pro in our real-world copy tests. Shorter bars are better.

When it comes to the real world, you give up nothing with the PNY Pro Elite SSD except when compared to the SanDisk Extreme Portable Pro, which is easily the fastest external USB SSD we’ve tested. 

Testing is performed on Windows 10 64-bit running on a Core i7-5820K/Asus X99 Deluxe system with four 16GB Kingston 2666MHz DDR4 modules, a Zotac (Nvidia) GT 710 1GB x2 PCIe graphics card, and an Asmedia ASM2142 USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) card. Also on board are a Gigabyte GC-Alpine Thunderbolt 3 card and Softperfect’s Ramdisk 3.4.6, which is used for the 48GB read and write tests.

A great deal

The PNY Pro Elite SSD offers more bang for the buck than the Samsung T5 and it’s actually a little smaller. It’s a great little portable SSD. That said, the Samsung T7’s fingerprint scanner will be a nice perk for some, and the SanDisk Extreme Portable Pro offers a speed advantage for power users. Buy according to need.

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Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
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