500GB Performance Results
Entering the ring against the Mushkin Pilot we have a few other popular 500GB class SSDs. For starters, there's the more-expensive Intel 760p, Adata SX8200 Pro, and Samsung 970 EVO Plus. As well, we have results from the more affordable MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro, WD Blue SN500, and Crucial P1. Additionally, we threw in results from a Samsung 860 EVO for good measure to see just how much -- or how little -- these high-performance NVMe devices outperform a SATA SSD.
Trace Testing – PCMark 8 Storage Test 2.0
PCMark 8 is a trace-based benchmark that uses Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, World of Warcraft, and Battlefield 3 to measure the performance of storage devices in real-world scenarios.
Mushkin’s Pilot eats through PCMark 8 and spits out a score of 5,064 points and an average bandwidth of 465MBps. This easily outperforms the Crucial P1, which features QLC NAND, as well as the SATA based 860 EVO. The WD Blue SN500 gives the Pilot some tough competition as well as the 760P, which utilizes a similar NAND controller, but Intel’s own firmware.
Game Scene Loading - Final Fantasy XIV
The Final Fantasy XIV StormBlood benchmark is a free real-world game benchmark that easily and accurately compares game load times without the inaccuracy of using a stopwatch.
As it is with most Silicon Motion-based SSDs, the Mushkin Pilot delivers one of the fastest total load times. While it may seem slower than most of the other PCIe 3.0 x4 devices on paper due to lower specs, real-world performance is quite impressive. At 20.19 seconds, it even outperforms the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, for a fraction of the price.
Transfer Rates – DiskBench
We use the DiskBench storage benchmarking tool to test file transfer performance with our own custom 50GB block of data. Our data set includes 31,227 files of various types, like pictures, PDFs, and videos. We copy the files to a new folder and then follow up with a read test of a newly-written 6GB file.
File transfer performance is also very impressive. Again, while it seems like an underdog, an average transfer speed of 337MBps says otherwise.
Here, the Pilot scored second place in our file transfer test, second only to the Intel Optane based 905P. Read performance could have used some improvement, however. With a read speed of 1.6GBps, the Pilot scored 6th place here. The Adata SX8200 Pro, which flaunts the newer SMI SM22562EN controller, is capable of reading at a faster pace of about 1.9GBps.
SYSmark 2014 SE
Like PCMark, SYSmark uses real applications to measure system performance. SYSmark takes things much further, however. It utilizes fourteen different applications to run real workloads with real data sets to measure how overall system performance impacts the user experience. BAPCo's SYSmark 2014 SE installs a full suite of applications for its tests, which includes Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, Corel WinZip, several Adobe software applications, and GIMP. That also makes it a great test to measure the amount of time it takes to install widely-used programs after you install a fresh operating system.
ATTO is a simple and free application that SSD vendors commonly use to assign sequential performance specifications to their products. It also gives us insight into how the device handles different file sizes.
Mushkin’s Pilot flaunts read and write speeds of up to 2.7/1.7GBps in ATTO. Most newer drives are now pushing past 3GBps, but these are still rather respectable speeds. That said, Intel was able to push the SM2262 a little more with read performance of up to 3.2GBps.
CrystalDiskMark (CDM) is a simple and easy to use file size benchmarking tool.
Mirroring the performance seen in ATTO, the Pilot delivers sequential performance of about 2.7/1/7GBps read/write when at a high queue depth. Bringing down the queue depth to a single request reduces performance to about 2.0/1.5GBps read/write, which is still pretty good and roughly four times faster than any SATA SSD.
4K random performance isn’t the best, but with up to 235K/295K IOPS read/write performance, the Pilot is much more capable than any HDD or SATA SSD. At a low QD of 1, it delivers 14K/41K IOPS read/write, which is again, much better than anything in the SATA field.
Sustained Sequential Write Performance
Official write specifications are only part of the performance picture. Most SSD makers implement an SLC cache buffer, which is a fast area of SLC-programmed flash that absorbs incoming data. Sustained write speeds can suffer tremendously once the workload spills outside of the SLC cache and into the "native" TLC or QLC flash. We hammer the SSDs with sequential writes for 15 minutes to measure both the size of the SLC buffer and performance after the buffer is saturated.
Mushkin’s Pilot features SLC caching to help boost write performance, but just how much does it help? Overall, the Pilot comes in sixth place, just behind the SX8200 Pro. But it wasn’t until it wrote for 5 minutes straight that the SX8200 Pro overtook it. Before that, the Mushin Pilot actually absorbed more data at a faster rate. This helps to explain the high performance we saw earlier in our 50GB file copy test. The Mushkin Pilot’s SLC cache implementation is one of the best for most consumer workloads.
We use the Quarch HD Programmable Power Module to gain a deeper understanding of power characteristics. Idle power consumption is a very important aspect to consider, especially if you're looking for a new drive for your laptop. Some SSDs can consume watts of power at idle while better-suited ones sip just milliwatts. Average workload power consumption and max consumption are two other aspects of power consumption, but performance-per-watt is more important. A drive might consume more power during any given workload, but accomplishing a task faster allows the drive to drop into an idle state faster, which ultimately saves power.
Not only is it quite fast, but the Mushkin Pilot is quite power efficient to boot. It consumed an average of 3 watts during our 50GB file transfer, and that helped to propel it to second place in efficiency overall. Idle power consumption is very well regulated too. With ASPM disabled, we measure it consuming 657mW of power, but when it was enabled, that number dropped to just 11mW.
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