this is a chain. With input and output. No marked, no different look, but ends are not the same.
Why does dropping the voltage down to 3V make it happy though? (I assume that's what it's doing)
If you are attempting to drive a genuine ws2811 strip with esp, I recently overcame that problem with help from forum member grumpy_mike. Use a 74hc14. Use two of the chip's 6 inverter gates in series, powering the chip with 5V.
Probably that 470ohm resistor really is needed in the data line to protect the WS2811 as much as the Arduino.
NB: 74HCT14 is an *inverting* device, hence the need to use two of its gates in series. Also, that's a 14-pin chip with 6 channels... wondering if there's something smaller since I really only want one channel? e.g. would this device work?