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Mushkin Pilot M.2 NVMe SSD Review: Speed on a Budget

Conclusion

Mushkin has a reputation of delivering quality and competitive components, and the Pilot carries on that legacy. But that doesn’t exclude it from criticism.

Mushkin Pilot NVMe M.2 Controller ( (Image credit: Tom's Hardware))

Aesthetically, the Mushkin Pilot is one ugly drive. With a green PCB and bright blue sticker, it most definitely will clash with many of the good-looking motherboards and systems being built today. But this is nothing an aftermarket heatsink won’t remedy. And of course laptop users or desktop builders without a case window won't care how the drive looks.

Currently, Mushkin doesn’t offer any value-add software like an SSD toolbox, nor any cloning software like some others do. As well, the Pilot comes with a 3-year warranty, while many other premium drives offer  five years of coverage. But, while the Pilot comes with a shorter warranty, customer service from an American-based company helps differentiate Muskin's drive, at least if you live in the US.

Performance wise, the Pilot isn’t bleeding edge. It only hits 2.7/1.7GBps read and write speeds. But even so, in most real-world use it can keep up with some of the best. In SYSmark it outperformed the WD Blue SN500, Crucial P1, and BPX Pro and was within a few points of the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro. Furthermore, it bested every other competitor in our 50GB file transfer test, through its read performance could have been better. The Intel 760p with a similar component layout was able to read the 6GB file much faster. Still, the Pilot doesn’t disappoint.

250GB500GB1TB
Crucial P1X70129
WD Blue SN5005270X
Mushkin Pilot5072135
Samsung 860 EVO5780150
Adata XPG SX8200 Pro5780160
MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro4580150
WD Black SN75070105228
Intel SSD 760p53119218
 Samsung 970 EVO Plus68127248

With such performance, and competitive pricing, Mushin’s Pilot delivers on value. Our 500GB sample comes in at just $72 and the 1TB model just $135. While that is a few dollars more than the Crucial P1 and WD Blue SN500, it's cheaper than the SATA based Samsung 860 EVO, and significantly cheaper than the WD Black SN750 and Samsung 970 EVO Plus. The Pilot is great for those looking to break free of SATA and save a few bucks while still attaining respectable NVMe speed.

Image Credits: Tom's Hardware

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  • g-unit1111
    Ugly is a con? I mean if you have a motherboard with a giant M2 cover then you won't see it.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    "The total usable space to the end user once formatted is 465GB. "

    You should update the table above, it misleadingly says 500GB is available to the user. 35GB is a lot of missing space.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    Giroro said:
    "The total usable space to the end user once formatted is 465GB. "

    You should update the table above, it misleadingly says 500GB is available to the user. 35GB is a lot of missing space.

    The space isn't actually missing. 500GB is available to the user. Drives list their capacity in "gigabytes", as in 1,000,000,000 bytes, and have done so for decades. The number Windows reports would actually be the binary-based unit "gibibytes", as in 1,073,741,824 bytes. 500 GB / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 x 1000 x 1000 x 1000 = 465.66 GiB. This is normal for drives, and if you check the properties for whatever drive you are using in Windows File Explorer, you will likely see the same discrepancy.

    More often than not, "gigabytes" is used to refer to both units interchangeably, and the binary prefixes like gibi, mebi, and so on are less commonly used, which is where the confusion stems from. Until the late 90s, those separate prefixes for 1024-based units were not available, so the standard metric SI prefixes were improperly borrowed for that purpose. Hard drive manufacturers used the prefixes correctly when referring to how many bytes their drives contained, since there was no real need for platter-based drives to follow binary capacities. The same goes for network transfer rates and Internet plans. However, RAM manufacturers improperly used the prefixes to refer to binary capacities, and various operating systems like Windows ended up using them that way to refer to both storage and memory. Some operating systems, like recent versions of OSX and Linux, will use the correct terms though, and should describe the available capacity of this drive as being either 500GB or 465GiB. Technically, the review should be using "GiB" there when referring to the formatted space available to the user, but they are simply following what Windows is reporting.

    Just after writing this, I happened across a post in the Optane 905p review where you were in fact pointing this difference out, so it's kind of odd that you would post this here, unless you somehow think the drive manufacturer is in the wrong for using the same standard metric prefixes to describe capacities that drives have been using since home computers became a thing. If anything should change, it's arguably the way Windows is reporting the capacity of the drive, not the way the manufacturer is reporting it.

    g-unit1111 said:
    Ugly is a con? I mean if you have a motherboard with a giant M2 cover then you won't see it.
    I initially thought it was a bit funny when seeing that listed in the cons, but to be fair, most motherboards don't cover their M.2 slots, and it would have likely cost the company very little to make the drive look better. A black PCB would have gone a long way toward helping the drive match other components in the system.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    Unlike most SSDs out these days, the Pilot doesn’t have any official endurance ratings that we could find. So, significant write endurance shouldn't hold back its 3-year warranty coverage.
    I didn't find this at their official site, but a search turned up some numbers in a recent PCMag review for the drive. According to them, the endurance is rated at 75 TBW for the 120GB version, 225 TBW for the 500GB and the 450 TBW for the 1TB. They describe that as being "low" and counted it as a con against the drive, but assuming those numbers are accurate, they are higher than many other similarly-priced drives at those capacities, and I certainly wouldn't see them as being a limitation for the vast majority of usage scenarios. If you were to write 20GB to the drive every day, the 500GB model could last over 30 years, as long as some other component didn't fail first.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    cryoburner said:
    The space isn't actually missing. 500GB is available to the user. Drives list their capacity in "gigabytes", as in 1,000,000,000 bytes, and have done so for decades. The number Windows reports would actually be the binary-based unit "gibibytes", as in 1,073,741,824 bytes. 500 GB / 1024 / 1024 / 1024 x 1000 x 1000 x 1000 = 465.66 GiB. This is normal for drives, and if you check the properties for whatever drive you are using in Windows File Explorer, you will likely see the same discrepancy.

    More often than not, "gigabytes" is used to refer to both units interchangeably, and the binary prefixes like gibi, mebi, and so on are less commonly used, which is where the confusion stems from. Until the late 90s, those separate prefixes for 1024-based units were not available, so the standard metric SI prefixes were improperly borrowed for that purpose. Hard drive manufacturers used the prefixes correctly when referring to how many bytes their drives contained, since there was no real need for platter-based drives to follow binary capacities. The same goes for network transfer rates and Internet plans. However, RAM manufacturers improperly used the prefixes to refer to binary capacities, and various operating systems like Windows ended up using them that way to refer to both storage and memory. Some operating systems, like recent versions of OSX and Linux, will use the correct terms though, and should describe the available capacity of this drive as being either 500GB or 465GiB. Technically, the review should be using "GiB" there when referring to the formatted space available to the user, but they are simply following what Windows is reporting.

    Just after writing this, I happened across a post in the Optane 905p review where you were in fact pointing this difference out, so it's kind of odd that you would post this here, unless you somehow think the drive manufacturer is in the wrong for using the same standard metric prefixes to describe capacities that drives have been using since home computers became a thing. If anything should change, it's arguably the way Windows is reporting the capacity of the drive, not the way the manufacturer is reporting it.


    I initially thought it was a bit funny when seeing that listed in the cons, but to be fair, most motherboards don't cover their M.2 slots, and it would have likely cost the company very little to make the drive look better. A black PCB would have gone a long way toward helping the drive match other components in the system.

    I understand the difference very well. It's a huge pet peeve of mine and a dirty practice in the industry that I firmly believe should be illegal....
    But, since legislative types will never understand the difference, that's where I think reviews should be picking up the slack.
    So, what I don't understand here is that Tom's isn't using the table to accurately tell people what their OS is going to report the capacity as. Isn't that the only real number that is going to matter to most users? Furthermore, If Tom's is going to continue mixing GB and GiB in the same article, then at a minimum they need to be using the right notation instead of writing in a way that perpetuates the "capacity changes during formatting" myth that hasn't been true since the days of floppy disks (another pet peeve, 1440KiB being marketed as 1.44MB). The file system reports as space that exists, but is occupied, which is why a freshly formated disk is never 100% empty.

    But at least Tom's is giving the 'formatted' capacity at all, which they didn't always used to do. So kudos on baby steps forward.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    I have to disagree that their use of the terms should be illegal, for the simple fact that drive manufacturers are ultimately using the standard kilo, mega, giga, and tera prefixes as one would expect, and it's Windows that has been using them "wrong". If RAM manufacturers are fine with using terms that imply their products offer less capacity than they really do in order to simplify marketing, that's up to them, but storage companies shouldn't be required to do the same.
    Reply