Mushkin Pilot-E M.2 NVMe SSD Review: Taking Flight

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Compared to most other Silicon Motion SM2262EN based SSDs, Mushkin has chosen an alternative PCB design we have yet to come across on other drives. Mushkin places the Pilot-E’s controller closer to the NAND rather than the host connector. But this difference in controller and DRAM placement may have led to some subtle performance differences.

In testing, it was clear that while the Pilot-E performed admirably overall, under our application tests it lagged behind the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro time and time again. And, when it came to efficiency, the Pilot-E’s performance leaned more towards optimized power consumption rather than raw speed.

The Pilot-E features hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption, a handy high-class security feature many other drives lack, which provides no penalty to performance if you opt to enable it.  It's a great addition to cater to those security-conscious people upgrading their storage.

Competitors like the Samsung 970 EVO Plus and Kingston’s recently reviewed KC2000 feature this as well. The Pilot-E’s main advantage against those two is price. But while it is much less costly than these two at the time of writing, it is not without its drawbacks or lack of other competition.

Its value is weakened by its shorter-than-average 3-year warranty coverage. As well, Mushkin’s product lacks any value-add software support such as an SSD toolbox or cloning software. But these are minor complaints. The Pilot-E will function the same regardless.

If you are not in need of the added security feature, the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro may be a better buy. While the Adata is roughly $10 more at the 1TB capacity, it offers bleeding-edge burst performance that outranks the Pilot-E and even surpasses the Samsung 970 EVO Plus and WD Black in various workloads. Not only that, those few extra dollars get you a slick heat spreader to help cool the device and a longer 5-year warranty.

Alternatively, the HP SSD EX950 is priced practically the same as the Pilot-E and it comes with a 5-year warranty, too. And, if you are looking to spend a bit less, the popular Phison E12-based SSDs like the Silicon Power A34A80, similar to the Corsair Force MP510, is a great value at just $115.  

Overall, the Pilot-E is a solid choice if you are on the hunt for your next OS drive or just wanting to add more high-speed storage to your build. It scores style points with its black PCB, and while it isn’t the fastest SSD on the shelf, it is still plenty fast, with impressive endurance rathings, and quite efficient too.

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Sean Webster
Storage Reviewer

Sean is a Contributing Editor at Tom’s Hardware US, covering storage hardware.