It’s strange to look at all the high-performance NVMe SSDs out there and think that SATA used to be the limit. Even the cheapest NVMe SSDs are significantly faster than what the SATA 6Gbps interface can deliver. As an entry-level NVMe SSD, Mushkin’s Helix-L is a solid option.
While it features a DRAMless architecture, Silicon Motion’s latest firmware and the new HMB feature seems to provide ample performance in most consumer workloads. Silicon Motion optimized 4K QD1 access on this controller config. When gaming, we saw load times that were up there with the best SSDs. When transferring files around, it even copied at a faster rate than the Kingston A2000, which features DRAM, while being much more power-efficient than that drive.
It's only when the Helix-L is stressed with heavy writes that it lags behind that of a SATA based SSD, though not by too much. When writing constantly to the device, it can absorb upwards of 137GB of data before it falls into a degraded state. Even then, write performance is significantly better than the Intel SSD 660p.
Overall, Mushkin’s Helix-L is a decent buy for those looking to save money while still getting a taste of NVMe speeds. It’s priced to sell and has a 3-year warranty. Although it lacks any software or accessories, with competitive prices and Samsung 970 EVO Plus-like endurance, the Helix-L offers a lot of bang for the buck.
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