Round-Up: 10 mSATA SSDs From Adata, Crucial, Mushkin, And OCZ

Mushkin Enhanced Atlas mSATA SSDs

Unlike Adata's XPG SX300 family, Mushkin's Enhanced Atlas line-up is available in three more familiar (at least for SandForce-based SSDs) capacities: 60, 120, and 240 GB. The Enhanced Atlas centers on the same second-gen controller, but Mushkin maintains over-provisioning on its models to help improve the speed with which these drives recover their performance, even when they're full.

Based on that distinction alone, we'd suspect the Atlas drives to be more performance-oriented than Adata's XPG SX300s. However, we also see that Mushkin arms its SSDs with Toggle-mode NAND from Toshiba. Based on that fact, these things should be quicker (at least in theory) than what we've already seen from Adata using the same controller.

Unfortunately, our first test, 4 KB random reads, don't support our supposition. All three models perform slightly worst than what we saw from the XPG SX300 family. And while we might have expected the impact of interleaving to lend the 120 GB drive better numbers than the 60 GB configuration, it's only at a queue depth of 32 that it differentiates itself. Mushkin's 256 GB version, in contrast, is faster at every queue depth.

It should come as no surprise that the Enhanced Atlas line-up yields results similar to Adata's XPG SX300s in our 4 KB random write test. If you hit these SSDs with compressible data, they're super-fast at high queue depths (though not notably more than the Adata models with synchronous NAND).

Unfortunately for Mushkin, performance in the face of incompressible data is actually worse from its Atlas drives than the competition from Adata. What makes this unfortunate? Well, as the fastest NAND interface available Toggle-mode-capable flash is supposed to be the most expensive. Technically, you'd pay more for a Mushkin Atlas with less usable capacity than a comparable Adata XPG X300. However, a quick spot check on Newegg reveals that, although Muskin's 60 GB model is more expensive, as we'd expect, its 120 and 240 GB SSDs actually cost less than the competition (by $20, in the case of the 240 GB drive).

Toggle-mode NAND does facilitate slightly better numbers in our 128 KB sequential read test, compared to the synchronous-equipped XPG SX300s. At all three capacity points, the benchmark results are similar.

That's not the case for sequential writes, though, where the Enhanced Atlas drives are a little slower than Adata's models when faced with compressible data.

Turning to incompressible information, the 120 and 240 GB models are slower than what we saw two pages ago, while Mushkin's 60 GB SSD is actually a bit faster than the 64 GB XPG SX300. Notice that all three Enhanced Atlas drives fall much closer to each other than the Adata versions did.

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  • trumpeter1994
    I just got a 256GB Crucial m4 msata SSD for the laptop I'm typing from. I love the thing its so nice to have in my y580
  • weatherdude
    Nice to see mSATA SSD's performing so well. Looks like laptops can now benefit from SSD's without having to compromise on storage space by giving up HDD's.

    Also the award is something new. I guess the "Recommended" and "Approved" awards are gone for 2013?
  • cangelini
    weatherdudeNice to see mSATA SSD's performing so well. Looks like laptops can now benefit from SSD's without having to compromise on storage space by giving up HDD's.Also the award is something new. I guess the "Recommended" and "Approved" awards are gone for 2013?

    Approved is still one of the awards we're using. Recommended Buy is replaced by Smart Buy to better-convey the emphasis on value, and Best Of is replaced by Elite to better convey the emphasis on "this is the best damn product in the segment that we can recommend." Elites will continue to be something you rarely ever see, except when we want to make a point to honor a piece of hardware.
  • abbadon_34
    Seems kinda underwhelming, seeing only 4 in the market, 2 of them years old. Ironically puts Intel's SSD and OCZ's in the same boat.
  • tsnor
    Excellent article. Nice. Much better than typical.

    Some discussion of trim, and the effects of using drives with a few days of use would have been good. The assumption is that the 'clean drive' performance tested is a good indicator of what people will see when they've used the drive for a month needs to be tested, the perforamnce order might change sharply. A 6 hour random write workload would go a long way to showing what to expect. Especially given the broken TRIM on SF 5 firmware and the slow speed of the fixes to existing SF drives.
  • jaquith
    Yep, no argument the Crucial m4 mSATA 256 GB stole the show. It's both the fastest & cheapest -- what's the catch? I hope none.

    BTW - $179.99 or $0.70/GB (Promo Code: EMCYTZT2757) NewEgg - Just noticed the sale from a NewEgg email.
  • Onus
    I've got a 256GB Crucial M4 in the little clip on my Maximus V Gene as the boot drive. It's been performing flawlessly there for months.
    That's a bit crazy I know, but I had originally had it on the underside of an AZRock Z77E-ITX board until that board died.
  • sna
    May I ask why is the Samsung 830 msata drive not present in this review?

    as I recall it outperforms the M4 and all the drives here.
  • edlivian
    oh great, now newegg and crucial are going to jack up the prices on the m4 line.

    I love the m4 drives, but now its going to get too much attention.
  • jacobdrj
    snaMay I ask why is the Samsung 830 msata drive not present in this review?as I recall it outperforms the M4 and all the drives here.

    Because they are pretty much EOL with the 840 series out.

    I want to know when AMD laptops are going to start including msata slots... It is the budget laptop guys that would get the best benefit from msata with a standard HDD together...
  • bigcyco1
    Crucial m4 FTW!
  • hytecgowthaman
    Intel is slower than crucial M4 and above 2$ per gb. Interesting !!!
  • acku
    snaMay I ask why is the Samsung 830 msata drive not present in this review?as I recall it outperforms the M4 and all the drives here.

    Cause it's not available in retail.

    Andrew Ku
  • zilexa
    I don't understand why a full blown Samsung 830 SSD needs HALF the energy power compared to Crucial mSATA 64GB.. The mSATA thingie is soo small but needs twice as much power (0.89watt compared to Samsung full SSD 0.4 watt) when idle!?

    Can anyone explain this please? Would be great if you could also test the Samsung 830 mSATA drive (it exists).
  • slicedtoad
    ^different controller. Size is mostly unrelated to wattage in ssds. And anything under a watt is tiny.
  • Pegger 3D
    my 2 cents:

    I think this comparison is flawed. The Mushkin SSD test is the Atlas model, which is slower and cheaper than the Mushkin DX-7 Deluxe. The DX-7 would be near or at the top of the list.

    Pegger 3D
  • Pegger 3D

    My bad, It is late and I did not see you were comparing mSSDs.

    Pegger 3D
  • medeiom
    I'm still a bit puzzled as to why Crucial m4 is considered faster than the Mushkin and AData mSATA ssd's. Mushkin and AData have both Read/Write well over 500 MB/s....and the Crucial is around 500 Read to 244Write. How is that considered the best?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
  • msahni
    Hi there,

    I am contemplating buying mSATA drives 240GB-256GB range. It is really becoming confusing to purchase a drive considering so many different specs.
    My options are
    1) Crucial m4 mSATA 256GB

    2) Plextor M5M 256GB

    3) Intel SSD 525 240GB

    4) Mushkin Enhanced Atlas 240GB

    I have not been able to get a head to head comparison of the drives anywhere. Most of the tech spec shootouts are of these drives against SSDs or older models.
    Could you please advise which of these drives in your opinion would be the most eligible buy in a real world consumer scenario..

  • Onus
    The Crucial M4 has the advantage of not being a Sandfarce drive, so IMHO its reliability is likely to be higher. I am using one as my boot drive (yes, it's mSATA, on my Asus mobo's mSATA card), and it works quite well. Before putting it there, it was the boot drive on the underside of an ASRock Z77E-ITX, and worked well there too until that board died of unrelated causes.