Mushkin has recently launched a few new Greek-inspired SSDs, including the Alpha, Delta, and Gamma. Today we look at the best of these, which is somewhat counterintuitively the Mushkin Gamma. Powered by Phison’s E18 NVMe SSD controller, Mushkin’s Gamma can deliver speeds in excess of 7GBps and is priced slightly lower than comparable SSDs, making it a pretty good value for those looking for fast storage.
We know that Mushkin has been a fan of Silicon Motion controllers over the years, releasing affordable SATA SSDs for advanced NVMe drives, capable of multi-gigabyte speeds. However, since our last review of a Mushkin SSD, the company has moved away from Silicon Motion and is now working with Phison to develop its latest SSDs. Why switch to another SSD controller manufacturer when Silicon Motion controllers treat Mushkin so well? The answer is simple: performance and availability.
Unlike Silicon Motion, Phison is in a much better position in the eyes of most SSD vendors today, with not only PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD controllers, but also high availability of much faster PCIe 4.0 x4 versions. On the other hand, Silicon Motion is facing more difficult times due to difficulties in putting the next-gen SM2264 PCIe 4.0 SSD controller into production. While the design work is complete, the controller is still not available for companies to integrate into their next-gen SSDs.
So when Mushkin started looking for a supplier for its next-generation PCIe 4.0 SSD, Phison was the obvious choice. After seeing Phison’s PS5018-E18 with blazing fast performance, Mushkin was sold, and apparently the Gamma was born. Mushkin’s Gamma isn’t a very fancy SSD, nor does it come with a heatsink or value-added software, but what it does have is solid PCIe Gen4 performance at a low cost within its market segment.
|Capacity (User / Raw)||1000GB / 1024GB||2000GB / 2048GB||4000GB / 4096GB|
|form factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4|
|controller||Phison PS5018-E18||Phison PS5018-E18||Phison PS5018-E18|
|Memory||Micron 96L TLC||Micron 96L TLC||Micron 96L TLC|
|Sequential Read||7,150MBps||7.175 MBps||7,200MBps|
|Consecutive writing||5,600Mbps||6,800MBps||6,890 MBps|
|Random reading||360,000 IOPS||640,000 IOPS||660,000 IOPS|
|Random writing||645,000 IOPS||630,000 IOPS||1,250,000 IOPS|
|Security||AES 256-bit encryption||AES 256-bit encryption||AES 256-bit encryption|
|Endurance (TBW)||700 TB||1,400TB||3,000TB|
|part number||GAMMA 1TB – MKNSSDGA1TB-D8||MKNSSDGA2TB-D8||MKNSSDGA4TB-D8|
|Guarantee||5 years||5 years||5 years|
Currently, the Mushkin Gamma comes in only two capacities: 1TB and 2TB, but a 4TB model is planned. The Gamma, which is a few dollars lower than most of its competitors at $188.99 for the 1TB capacity and $378.99 for the 2TB capacity, is a value in its market segment, but it still packs a punch. premium price tag compared to slower PCIe Gen3 devices. Muskin rates the Gamma to deliver sequential performance figures up to 7,200/6,890 MBps for read/write and up to 660,000/1,250,000 random read/write IOPS.
Thanks in part to Phison’s fourth-generation LDPC ECC, Mushkin supports the Gamma with respectable durability ratings of up to 700 TBW at 1TB, 1,400 TBW at 2TB, and 3,000 TBW at 4TB, all within a five-year warranty. The Gamma supports AES 256-bit hardware encryption, making this SSD not only responsive performance, but also data protection in case of theft if activated.
A closer look
Mushkin’s Gamma is one of the few Phison PS5018-E18 powered SSDs without a preinstalled heatsink, but based on most of our testing, it isn’t necessary. And even without one, the Gamma looks pretty cool with its red-and-black design and black PCB. Our 2TB Mushkin Gamma comes in an M.2 2280 double-sided form factor, packed with components.
Phison’s PS5018-E18 is a popular controller that we’ve covered extensively over the past few months. With an 8-channel, penta-core architecture built on a 12nm process, it is a powerhouse for flash mastering. It eats up the workload and spits them out, especially when combined with the fastest flash in the industryI
Unfortunately, the Mushkin Gamma doesn’t come with the fastest flash we’ve tested so far. Instead, it comes with Micron’s B27B 96L TLC. Still, this flash is fast enough to keep up with some of the best, depending on workload, with eight NAND flash packs on board. Each of the Mushkin Gamma’s NAND flash packs contains four 512Gb chips, which communicate with the controller at speeds of 1,200 MTps. There are also two DRAM ICs on our 2TB copy, both manufactured by SK hynix, operating at 1,600MHz and with a density of 8Gb.
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