HARDWARE REVIEW: PNY XLR8 2TB NVME M.2 drive & SSD cover with integrated heat sink

This will be the last post for Gamejunkie for 2021. What a year it’s been, eh? I want to thank all of you who took the time to visit and comment. I really do appreciate your support. Here’s to 2022!

Those of us that own a PlayStation 5 are going to face, at some point, the prospect of the paltry available storage space on the console running out. It’s an undeniable reality.

There’s only something like 667Gb of storage available on the PS5’s 1TB drive once the operating system and associated system files are taken into account, so if you plan on expanding your PS5 game library then you’re going to eventually have to buy more storage space.

PlayStation has updated the PS5’s software to let you install third-party SSD drives that will expand the available storage and today, I’m looking at Taiwanese tech company PNY’s XLR8 gaming series 2TB M.2 SSD drive and its PS5 cover with integrated heat sink. The SSD, which can also be used to upgrade the storage in your PC, is an excellent option to boost your PS5 storage capacity, providing ample storage for games.

PNY claims the M.2 2280 form factor PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe drive can provide a sequential read of up to 7500MB/second and a sequential write speed of up to 6550MB/second. The drive comes in capacities of up to 4TB of storage and according to PNY exceeds PlayStation’s speed requirements of 5500MB/second for an SSD drive. It comes with a 5 year warranty.

PNY’s SSD cover and integrated heat sink doesn’t come with the SSD drive – you’ll need to buy it separately – which I suggest you do for use in your PS5 as it’ll help dissipate the heat that is generated inside the console. PlayStation recommends a heat sink for any SSD upgrade to your PS5.

The aluminum heat sink attaches to the SSD via a thick adhesive thermal pad and has a rather fetching finish with the XLR8 logo etched into the left hand side. Another nice feature is that the heat sink is big enough that you won’t need to use the PS5’s stock (and rather flimsy) heat sink cover (that’s it in the photo below).

Removing the PS5’s heat sink cover that reveals the SSD bay.

Installation of the SSD and heat sink themselves was super simple and probably the toughest job was actually removing the PS5’s cover to access the SSD drive bay (you have to lift from one corner and slide from another to pop it off).

Once the PS5 cover is off, you use a screw driver to remove the SSD cover and the M.2 holding screw and spacer. You insert the SSD drive carefully into the mounting bracket (it’s a little fiddly), screw it down using the M.2 screw and spacer, press on the SSD heat sink then secure that using the supplied screw from PNY. You then replace the PS5’s side cover.

The PNY XLR8 CS3140 SSD installed in the expansion bay of the PS5.
The XLR8 PS5 SSD cover & integrated heat sink fitted to the SSD drive.

Powering on my PS5, it immediately recognised the new SSD and advised me that it needed to be formatted. Once formatted, I was told there was 2TB of usable storage space available. The PS5 did a speed test, returning a read speed of 6346MB/second, exceeding PlayStation’s minimum required minimum read speed.

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I copied four games from the PS5’s internal storage to the XLR8 SSD: Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart, Kena Bridge of Spirits, Death Stranding Director’s Cut and Ghost of Tsushima. In total, 181GB of data was transferred from the internal SSD to the PNY drive, taking 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Overall, I am really impressed with the load times and speeds that PNY’s XLR8 CS3140 SSD offers. While I haven’t checked internal temperatures, the drive is doing what it should and at times load times on the XLR8 drive actually seem faster than that of the PS5’s own internal drive, which is definitely a win-win in my book (the XLR8 actually offers a faster read time than the internal PS5 drive, too).

Prices weren’t available at time of posting so I will update the post when they become available. I’ll also keep you updated on the reliability of the drive over the coming months.

A big thanks to PNY’s Australian PR for supplying the review units

Halo Infinite campaign: Thoughts and impressions

I thought I’d do something different with this review for Halo Infinite. I thought I’d write what someone else thought of the game as they played it as well. My 22-year-old son Mitchell, who I think has helped with reviews on this site over the past few years, has played all the Halo games so has a good idea on what to expect and what they deliver. Together, we give our thoughts on the latest Halo game from Xbox.

Thanks to Xbox PR in Australia for the game code for Halo Infinite. The game was played on an Xbox Series X console and an Alienware M15 R6 gaming laptop.


Somewhere between Halo Reach and Halo Infinite, I feel the Halo series lost its way.

While I’ve played all the Halo games, personally, I’ve always found myself gravitating towards the Gears of War series, to be honest. That said, Halo ODST and Reach (both games not featuring the Master Chief, interestingly) are my standout Halo titles.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t finished Halo Infinite yet and I’m struggling to complete it. It’s competent enough, and I feel that developer 343 Industries have looked back at what made the original Halo Combat Evolved good, but it just feels to samey so far. It seems a lot closer aligned to Bungie’s Halo games, though, which is a good thing.

The game opens with Master Chief battling Atriox, the leader of an army of Covenant forces called the Banished that has broken away from the Covenant. The Banished both fear and despise the Master Chief. Following the fight, the Master Chief is assumed dead but is rescued by a friendly UNSC pilot and must gather the splintered UNSC forces, collect a new AI known as the “Weapon”, and stop the Banished activating the Zeta Halo. The game takes place around 18 months after the ending of Halo 5.

It’s during the very first mission – an infiltration onto a Banished frigate – that you’re introduced to the new grappling hook mechanic and it’s a great addition to the Master Chief’s arsenal. The hook can not only be used to propel Master Chief towards to high vantage points but can be cleverly used to pull him towards an enemy, delivering a bone-crushing melee punch on landing.

Or he can use the grapple to grab a just-out-of-reach explosive cannister (which are Halo Infinite’s equivalent of the explosive barrel trope found in video games since almost the dawn of time) that can then be thrown towards enemies, exploding on contact. It can even be used to pick up weapons left scattered around.

Importantly, the grappling hook brings a level of verticality to the Halo games that hasn’t really been a thing previously. It proved invaluable on numerous occasions when I’d miss timed a jump and I would have surely plummeted to my death had I not been able to use the grapple to attach to a wall at the very last moment, pulling the Chief to safety.

The opening two levels are full of tight corridors, corners and plenty of cover and the weapons pack a punch, and Chief will face off against familiar but different enemies in the Banished: Brutes, grunts, jackals, elites.

It’s once you reach the surface that the open world element reveals itself, with the Master Chief able to go off the beaten path if he wants to explore and capture Banished bases, before tackling the main mission again. Think freedom to go exploring for a little bit but not the dearth of content you’ll find in series like Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed.

The narrative is handled well but I felt Infinite falters with the open-world aspect: It lets you tackle a variety of side missions if you want but ultimately they don’t fundamentally add anything to the main story.

I liberated the odd Banished controlled base, provided UNSC marines to support me and supplies, but ultimately, I just felt there was no real necessity to deviate from the main story arc as for the most part the diversions are bases with the same objectives to complete.

The battlefield banter from grunts is amusing – stop every now and then and just listen to the banter – and enemy AI it a challenge at times, especially from the higher skilled Elite Covenant. With Infinite, I think 343 Industries has really found its stride with Halo but the game just lags in the middle section with a lack of variety of mission types. Bosses – at least those I’ve faced anyway – all take place in tight boxy environments, which just aren’t fun.

With some video games, I think about missions and how I could tackle them when I’m not playing the game. I’m not getting this with Halo Infinite: I’m not strategising on how I can defeat an enemy or tackle a problem. I don’t want to play it continuously to completion like like Guardians of The Galaxy did. Halo Infinite just isn’t wowing me.

My son Mitchell, who’s a far better Halo player than I will ever be, reckons game play is up there with Reach and ODST – his two favourite Halo titles – but he, too, agrees that the open-world aspect doesn’t add much to the game. He thinks it falls flat a bit and felt there there was no real incentive to deviate from the main mission.

He felt the that the opening missions were far too easy in terms of a challenge then later some missions were the opposite, with the game at times throwing almost endless waves of enemies onto the battlefield, making things hectic. He also would have liked to have seen more variety in the missions.

Look, Halo Infinite is a solid Halo game with a nice narrative, which is what fans will want, but for me, it just hasn’t “wowed” me like other games I’ve played this year have and won’t remain with me for long.

“The Weapon” from Halo Infinite’s story campaign.

One man, a tractor and Farming Simulator 22!

New Zealander Dylan Beck, more commonly known by his online personna @Rudeism, has made a name for himself by creating crazy and wacky game controllers using a variety of objects – then playing games with them on his streams. However, he meet his biggest challenge yet when Five Star Games in Australia asked him to make a controller for its simulator game Farming Simulator 22 (spoiler alert: He made it out of a real tractor!) I spoke to Dylan about what was involved in his latest build project.

Dylan Beck, aka @Rudeism on Twitter, with the Case IH Magnum 310 tractor he would turn into a game controller for Farming Simulator 22.

Firstly, thanks for your time, Dylan. What was your reaction when Five Star Games approached you about building a controller for Farming Simulator 22? Did you come up with the idea for using a tractor as a controller yourself? How did the collaboration work?

Five Star originally came to me right out of the gate with the tractor idea, but it’s also something I’ve thought about myself for a long time. I’ve always wanted to do it, I just never had the means to source a tractor in the past! They got in contact with Case IH, the farming equipment manufacturer, and they reached out to local farmers in the area that would be willing to let me come to their farm & borrow their tractor over the weekend.

Luckily we found a guy out west of Christchurch (New Zealand’s second largest city) who was willing to help! I already had a rough idea in my head of how I’d do it, on account of having thought about it so much in the past, so luckily I already had a really good starting point to work from.

How do you approach a project like this? What’s the first thing that goes through your mind? Talk me through your creative process.

I don’t tend to do a whole lot of pre-planning when it comes to controller building – my usual process is very trial-and-error based. I tend to go with the first idea that comes to mind, and if I find a problem, I’ll go with the first solution I can think of to get around it. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of building and realise that I could be using a completely different & more effective methodology – nine times out of 10, I’ll scrap the whole thing & start over if that happens. I tend to find that technical ideas come best when I just get stuck in!

Of all the controllers you’ve built, has this been the most ambitious? It’s certainly the biggest, I’m thinking …

Absolutely the biggest! I think the only thing that comes close is the car I used to play Forza Horizon years ago, and that’s probably only a quarter of the size of this tractor. It’s not the most complex in terms of the controls themselves, but in regards of the cost & size of the object I’m using, it’s going to be a LONG time before I can top this! The only two things I can think of that might top it right now are super cars and planes!

Talk me through some of the challenges that you faced over building a controller from a fully working tractor? Did you ever think at any stage you may have bitten off more than you could chew?

It definitely felt daunting at first! I think the main issue was building a control panel that took all the controls of the game & boiled them down to a small set of buttons. There’s a *lot* of different things you can do in the game – different levers to pull, different tools to use, etc. It took a good number of iterations to figure out a layout that worked, but once we had it, it became really easy to use from the get-go.

You have a history of making controllers from a variety of things: a baguette, jellybeans, a Lego Star Wars helmet, a Honda, and you’ve got a Samoyed called Atlas: Have you ever contemplated creating a controller powered by your dog? Would something like that actually be remotely possible? I guess if anyone could make it work it would be you, right?

It’s something I’ve thought about a lot! I think the thing that makes it hard is that I’d need it to be voluntary on Atlas’ part, so he can run off if he wants – I don’t want to force him to play games! He’s in his rebellious teenage phase right now, so maybe in a while, once he’s calmed down. Might make a good Youtube video! I think you could make it work by training him to press certain buttons – the hard part would be figuring out the right cues to encourage him. If you could use cues in the actual video game to make it happen, that’d be perfect!

How important was working with the farmer whose tractor it was? How did his input help with your building of the Tractroller?

The tractor is owned by a guy named Matthew, who lives on his farm west of Christchurch. If it wasn’t for him, the whole project would be dead in the water! He was super helpful – he took time out of his day to show me around the farm as well as the tractor & how it all works. When it comes to a build like this, where the controller is going to be an object that you can use in-game, I do my best to make that functionality line up as closely as possible, so Matthew’s insight was super helpful!

What was the most memorable part of the stream with Farming Simulator 22 using the Tractroller? Are you pleased with how fans reacted to it?

I think it was the moment I first managed to put the throttle to the tractor and having it move forward in-game. It’s a really small thing, but seeing it work for the first time is always super exhilarating. I have a tendency not to test my controllers in-game before I stream, so I can experience it purely on-stream for the first time. (I made sure the right signals were being sent from the controller beforehand though, of course!)

Lastly, were you happy with the final product and was it everything you expected it to be? 

It turned out better than I could’ve hoped! I’ve had a tendency in the past to try and build controllers that are a bit more ambitious or complex than my skills will allow, but considering this is the biggest controller I’ve ever worked on, and it went off without a hitch, I’m feeling a lot more confident in my skills now. I reckon I’d be keen to try more stuff on this scale!

Farming Simulator 22 is out now on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. You can watch Dylan’s Twitch stream from a week ago here

Death’s Door: Reaping spirits on the move

Every once in a while a game comes along that completely engages you with its game play and atmosphere: Death’s Door is one of those games.

Played from a slightly top down perspective, Death’s Door has you control a black crown who collects the souls from vanquished foes for a living (he’s a reaper at the Reaper Commission), but when an unknown creature steals a much needed soul you are assigned to collect, he must hunt down the assailant through a world untouched by death and inhabited by weird and bizarre creatures.

I first played Death’s Door on PC earlier this year and I was just struck with its beautiful art style, the soundtrack and the whimsical charm of the lead character.The world of Death’s Door is full of secrets and hidden passageways, too, and Our hero can uses melee weapons, arrows and magic to dispatch foes as he explores deeper into this strange land.

Bosses are brutal until you learn the attack patterns and if you’re anything like me you will fail at the first attempt, not generally because the foe was too tough (although as you progress they get progressively harder and harder) but for the simple reason that you missed a crucial telltale before it delivered a fatal blow. In Death’s Door, timing your attacks and memorising enemy attack patterns are the difference between life and death.

Death’s Door is challenging, make no mistake, and you will get punished hard for your mistakes, but it’s not as frustrating as, say, Demons Souls or Sekiro and it’s now available on the Nintendo Switch – and it’s bloody good.

If I had any complaints with the Nintendo Switch version of Death’s Door it’s that the text is too small – something I increasingly find annoying on Switch games – and, like the PC version, there is no in-game map to help in your exploration. I’d like to see an in-game map, please.

There’s not much more to say about Death’s Door: It’s was a delight to play on PC and it’s a delight to play on Nintendo Switch (despite the hard-to-read text) – and that’s testament to the skills of developer Acid Nerve.

If you want a game bursting with charm and weird characters and a lead hero who’s a soul-collecting crow, Death’s Door is the game for you. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Devolver Digital for the Nintendo Switch code