Potential Kingston & PNY Scandal: Switching SSD Components After Reviews!

/ 2 years ago


Over the last few months, evidence has been gathering that storage manufacturers Kingston and more recently PNY have been pulling a bait and switch tactic on their consumers. What this means is that after the initial hardware release and of course the reviews of their products have been written, the companies are then changing the hardware configuration. This has left many customers venting that they’ve been cheated into buying a product they may not have wanted had they known the hardware had been changed. This can be especially true for those who buy their hardware based on reviews, such as the reviews we do here at eTeknix. If we tell you a product gives X amount of performance based on its specifications, then those specifications are secretly changed, then our review is worthless and you as a consumer may end up with an inferior product.

According to a Tweaktown blog post, the new PNY Optima drive should feature the Silicon Motion controller, but the user who bought it later discovered that it features a different firmware and a different SandForce based controller. TweakTown investigated this issue and contact PNY who responded with; “yes we did ship some Optima SSD’s with SandForce controllers, but only if they meet the minimum advertised performance levels.”

Unfortunately minimum performance levels is about as vague as things get, especially when manufacturers usually use the term “up to” for their performance figures. Such as the PNY drives spec sheet which reads “up to 60,000 IOPS”, not to mention the level of change that their testing equipment and methods can mean when recording those figures.

The same can be said for the popular Kingston V300 drive, a product that has been on the market for around a year now, but appears to have been switched from synchronous to asynchronous NAND. The downside of this being that the latter can be slower than the other in certain situation, dependant on the configuration, than the parts that were initially installed in these drives. This is reflected in the charts below, which compares the standard hardware to the asynchronous NAND hardware.



In short, this isn’t acceptable, selling one product under the pretence that it’s actually made of different components is bad for business and I suspect that now the alarm has been rung, more issues like this will soon be discovered, perhaps even from several other brands. If the issue isn’t resolved soon, then it could mean that many of the storage reviews that have already been published, could now be a complete waste of time, or at least require the modified products to be re-tested.

Thank you ExtremeTech, Tweaktown and NordicHardware for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Extremetech and NordicHardware.

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  • Unite2014

    This is more than just unacceptable, its contract fraud. Marketing claims are a component of any contract. Intentionally misleading someone is criminal fraud punishable in most countries with jail time.

  • h5mind

    Don’t hold your breath waking for manufacturers to “do the right thing”. This issue isn’t limited to electronics- virtually everything has undergone the “cheapification” treatment. This is why one-time reviews from outfits like Consumer Reports aren’t as useful as ongoing feedback from sites like Amazon. Of course, what’s the point in comparing Brand X and Brand Y when they both came out of the same Asian sweatshop?

    This is one reason brand names have become largely irrelevant, where things like North Face are now sold in Wal-Mart.

    Case in point: my brother-in-law worked for the battery maker A123, whose products became famous (or infamous) in the Tesla sports car. An elecrical engineer from MIT, he traveled many times to their various Chinese plants specifically to ensure what they had engineered matched what the Chinese were actually building. Recall the stories about burning Tesla battery packs and you’ll understand he often caught his Chinese counterparts deviating from spec. It was a constant source of frustration.

    As to the reasons, it’s the same for all manufacturers- profit. If the folks running plants like Foxconn (where they build Apple) can shave a few pennies off component quality here and there, while still (almost) complying with minimum specifications, it means more cash in their pockets. As long as the finished products look and act the part while just barely exceeding warranty periods, everyone is happy except the customer.

    Speaking of the customer- we now have an entire generation of consumers who assume things like shirts whose buttons fall off before you get home, or cellphones dead out of the box have “always been that way”. “Quality is Job #1” has become “Throw it out and get another one.” There used to be laws regarding ‘merchantability’, or fitness for an advertised purpose, but unless it explodes and kills someone, there is little repurcussion for making really crappy stuff.

    I often tell people the Chinese make the most expensive products in the world. They have perfected the “Sell cheap, sell twice” school of economic thought. See ‘The Lightbulb Conspiracy’ documentary for historical context.

    The worst part about building things designed to fail is not just the decline in value (utility + longevity), or envrionmental impact, or loss of consumer confidence, satisfaction, and loyalty. It’s simply not sustainable in a world of finite resources. Did you know there are now more cars on the planet than people? Yet manufacturers continue to churn out millions of new units each year, which are parked, never to be sold, at docks and abandoned airfields. Eventually, they’re crushed, never having ventured as far as the dealer’s lot.

    In Dr. Seuss’s story ‘The Lorax’, the environment and economy are both destroyed due to rampant over-production and mindless consumerism. The titular creature leaves one word of admonishment- ‘Unless’. Unless people care enough to do what’s right, nothing will improve, and that’s obviously where we are today.