Mushkin’s Pilot-E takes flight
Mushkin’s top-tier M.2 NVMe SSD is finally available. Like the lower-end Pilot, we reviewed a few months back, Mushkin’s new Pilot-E brings some heat with it, not only because of its competitive pricing. This variant features an updated NVMe controller for even better performance and efficiency.
Unlike the company’s Helix-L, an entry-level DRAMless SSD, the Pilot-E was built for speed. At the heart of Mushkin’s Pilot-E is one of the fastest NVMe controllers available, Silicon Motion’s SM2262EN. The SM2262EN features a DRAM-based architecture with eight NAND channels that link up to some of Micron’s 64-layer 3D TLC. Together, this combination is rated to hit some impressive speeds -- up to 3.5GBps read and 3.1GBps write.
It is actually very similar in design to both the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro and HP’s SSD EX950 overall. Our sample even features a black PCB, which improves the looks of the device dramatically over the base Pilot before it. But what helps to differentiate the Pilot-E from these two high-performance competitors as well as many other alternatives is the inclusion of hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption support. If you have sensitive data or just want to keep your files secure in case you lose your device, this feature will help keep it away from prying eyes.
|Product||Mushkin Pilot-E 500GB||Mushkin Pilot-E 1TB||Mushkin Pilot-E 2TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||500GB / 512GB||1000GB / 1024GB||2000GB / 2048GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3|
|Controller||SMI SM2262EN||SMI SM2262EN||SMI SM2262EN|
|Memory||Micron 64-Layer TLC||Micron 64-Layer TLC||Micron 64-Layer TLC|
|Sequential Read||3,500 MB/s||3,500 MB/s||3,500 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||2,300 MB/s||3,000 MB/s||3,100 MB/s|
|Random Read||344,000 IOPS||331,000 IOPS||339,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||180,000 IOPS||353,000 IOPS||358,000 IOPS|
|Encryption||AES 256-bit SED / TCG Opal 2.0||AES 256-bit SED / TCG Opal 2.0||AES 256-bit SED / TCG Opal 2.0|
|Endurance||350 TBW||650 TBW||1300 TBW|
The Pilot-E is available in capacities of 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Priced at $138.99, the 1TB is the sweet spot when looking to get the best price per GB. In terms of random performance, the Pilot-E is rated to deliver up to 344,000 read IOPS and 358,000 write IOPS, depending on the capacity.
Along with high performance, this SSD also offers competitive endurance figures. At 500GB, it's rated for up to 350TB written and up to 650TB at the 1TB capacity. But the 2TB capacity takes the cake as the most enduring device in the line-up with a rating of up to 1,300TB. Unfortunately, while endurance is high, Mushkin outfits the Pilot-E with a shorter than average 3-year warranty
Additionally, the Pilot-E is covered by M.E.D.S., Mushkin’s Enhanced Data-protection Suite. This is just marketing speech for some of the controller’s various management features, like end-to-end data path protection, LDPC error correction code, and an endurance-improving data-shaping algorithm. Additionally, the controller supports StaticDataRefresh to ensure data performance and integrity over time, as well as wear-leveling algorithms to help improve the NAND’s lifespan.
And there’s also S.M.A.R.T. data reporting, and NVMe Deallocate function support (NVMe equivalent of TRIM command), and support for the Format NVM / secure erase command to wipe the drive clean of any data.
Software and Accessories
The Pilot-E lacks software support and any accessories, save for a Mushkin Enhanced sticker.
A Closer Look
Aesthetically, the Pilot-E is a step up from the Pilot it succeeds. Our 1TB sample comes in an M.2 2280 form factor with components on both sides of the black PCB, accented with a black and blue sticker over top. This SSD will blend in with more gaming systems than the Pilot ever could.
The overall design is different from previous SN2262EN-based SSDs we reviewed. Rather than set close to the M.2 connector, the NVMe controller sits more centered on the PCB, with the DRAM lying between the two. As well, the NAND is arranged in a different layout on the PCB: Two NAND packages lay horizontal and two vertical.
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