Mushkin is an American company known for its memory products, including DRAM and SSDs, USB flash drives, and memory cards. Outside of the realm of enthusiasts, most of their existing drives aren't particularly well-known, though the Pilot-E was a popular choice at 2TB for some time because it traded blows with ADATA’s SX8200 Pro and the popular HP EX950. Mushkin’s upcoming Vortex also looks promising.
As the naming convention suggests, the Mushkin Delta sits beside its Alpha and Gamma lines. All three use Phison SSD controllers, a popular source for controllers, with the Alpha using the popular E12S, the Delta coming with the faster E16, and the Gamma coming with the fastest E18. The Alpha and Delta use QLC flash that trades off endurance and performance for better capacity and cost, while the Gamma comes with TLC flash that's typically the faster alternative.
Phison was an early adopter of the PCIe 4.0 interface for AMD’s X570 chipset launch, and the E16 has found popularity recently. Prices for E16-powered SSDs have come down, and these drives have found new life as a suitable budget choice for the PlayStation 5, even when coupled with QLC flash. Many drives share this hardware, so if you’re someone who may be tempted to grab something similar, consider this more of a blanket review.
|Capacity (User / Raw)||1024GB||2048GB||4096GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 4.0 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 4.0 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 4.0 / NVMe 1.3|
|Controller||Phison PS5016-E16||Phison PS5016-E16||Phison PS5016-E16|
|Memory||Micron 96L QLC||Micron 96L QLC||Micron 96L QLC|
|Sequential Read||4,700 MBps||4,975 MBps||4,975 MBps|
|Sequential Write||2,100 MBps||3,750 MBps||3,975 MBps|
|Random Read||195,000 IOPS||380,000 IOPS||700,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||510,000 IOPS||650,000 IOPS||650,000 IOPS|
|Endurance (TBW)||200 TB||400 TB||800 TB|
The Mushkin Delta is rated for up to 4,975/3,975 MBps of sequential read/write throughput and up to 700K/650K random read/write IOPS. The drive comes in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB flavors, which is unsurprising as this drive is based on QLC flash. Availability for this drive is hit and miss at the moment, but you can find the smaller SKUs at around $0.12 a gigabyte. The 4TB’s MSRP is also around this range. Unfortunately, this price is higher than some competing products.
Endurance is also fairly typical for QLC flash — the drive can absorb 200 TB of data per TB of capacity. Most users will probably not write this much data, but the ratings are low for those expecting the typically high endurance that comes with Phison controllers. It’s nice to see a five-year warranty, though. Of course, drives from competitors should share these characteristics, so this is simply a baseline.
Software and Accessories
This drive comes packaged alone. You'll need to use free software to clone your existing drive.
A Closer Look
The Mushkin Delta has a somewhat attractive top label, if that’s your thing, and the back one lists basic information such as the model number and capacity.
Here we have the venerable Phison PS5016-E16, or E16, SSD controller, which is ostensibly a mid-range PCIe 4.0 design. This controller leverages eight channels and supports DRAM. Entry-level designs will usually lack DRAM and have lower performance in sequential workloads due to the quad-channel design, while the higher-end options can push the interface's limits.
The SK hynix DDR4 DRAM is labeled H5AN4G8NBJR. The “4G8N” tells us these are 4Gb packages in an 8-bit configuration (512MB). As there is another package on the back, the total DRAM capacity weighs in at 1GB. This is surprisingly ample and good to see.
The flash is labeled IA5BG66AWA, so it's 96-layer Micron QLC. These are 1Tb dies, meaning the drive has two per package. So the drive has two packages on each side, for a total of four. This QLC was a bit of a last hurrah for Intel and Micron’s cooperation, and we’re beginning to see better QLC from all manufacturers, for example, Intel’s 144-layer flash in the 670p. We will see 176-layer QLC this year from Micron and Solidigm (Intel's newly-sold SSD business).
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