I'm not going to tell you that the Mushkin Chronos Deluxe is the very best SATA III SSD on the market today, or that it has a leg up over every other Team SandForce drive on the market. I am going to give you some really compelling reasons why I think it's in the top three or four. Then we'll start talking about pricing and you can put it all together.
Other than a few really oddball entries, SF-2281 'consumer' SSDs come in three flash flavors. Starting on the low end, you have IMFT 25nm asynchronous flash, a budget flash used in the Agility 3, Force 3, Chronos (non-Deluxe model) and a few other drives that in our testing perform at around the same level as last year's SF-1200 controlled drives when filled to 50 percent capacity. A majority of drives use IMFT 25nm synchronous flash; Vertex 3, Force GT, S511 and so on.
Synchronous flash, also called ONFi 2.x is really the first step for enthusiasts, especially now that prices have really dropped. The final flash type used is 3Xnm Toggle Mode flash from Toshiba, a form of ONFi 2.x without the JEDEC classification. 25nm IMFT is rated for around 5K P/E cycles and 3Xnm Toshiba Toggle Mode flash is rated for around twice as many. Even though we are talking about writing a lot of data for a very long time, the 3Xnm flash will still last even longer.
At this time there are very few consumer SSDs that use Toshiba Toggle Flash; you can count those available in the US on one hand - Vertex 3 Max IOPS Edition, Patriot WildFire, OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G (240GB capacity size only) and what we looked at today, the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe. That said, the Chronos Deluxe is in a very limited class of products right from the gate.
The next stop along our comparison trail is pricing. While cleaning up this article for print, Mushkin removed their direct buy pricing on their website for an unknown reason. In its place there it now states to email them for current pricing and order information. I dropped a line over and was told the current prices are as follows for the Chronos Deluxe; 60GB 139.99 USD, 120GB 259.99 USD and the 240GB for 484.99 USD. Even though we are reviewing the 120GB model today, we can't help but focus on the 240GB price. Here's why, the OWC 240GB Toshiba Toggle drive is listed at 519.99 USD, the Vertex 3 Max IOPS is listed at Newegg for 529.99 USD (499.99 after a mail-in-rebate) and the Patriot Wildfire 240GB is listed at Newegg for 499.99 (no mail-in-rebate). So in this very limited class of Toshiba Toggle Mode flash offerings, Mushkin has a price advantage over the competition in the 240GB capacity side.
It's just too bad the 120GB Chronos Deluxe doesn't share the same crown. In this capacity size the Mushkin drive bests the Vertex 3 Max IOPS at Newegg by 7 Dollars, but takes it on the chin from Wildfire which after a mail-in-rebate costs just 239.99 in the 120GB capacity side. Mail-in-rebates are such a pain in the butt, though, and that is the savior for the Chronos Deluxe since you can avoid the hassle and walk away mail free for 260 USD, roughly 20 Dollars less than the 120GB Wildfire before the rebate.
To sum it all up with a bow on top, you get amazing performance, extremely long service life and a hassle free low price point on a drive that literally has very little competition in the marketplace. The only problem I see is that we don't have a stack of them for RAID testing.