The Mushkin Source is one of the best DRAMless SSDs we've tested. The 500GB size gets close to what companies promised us with the technology several years ago. The drive is fast enough to consider it a mainstream product with enough endurance, and a low price point to make it into the new mainstream-class of products shipping today.
3D NAND has given new life to DRAMless SSDs. These products are not like the previous generation where users would actively watch the amount of data written to the drives due to low endurance from planar TLC. The performance is also much higher than the last generation of DRAMless models. In time, given the high cost of DRAM, these products will make up the mainstream market, or at least make us a sizable portion of it.
Falling flash prices spur companies to widen their product range. Company that spent the last couple of years with one or two SATA SSDs will expand the lineup back to a good, better, best cadence even with new NVMe products also using the same three-tier scheme. The difficult part will be to put enough pricing difference between the models, and that's where the Mushkin Source has an issue.
Amazon currently shows the Source 500GB we tested today at $104.99. That is just $5 less than the Crucial MX500 500GB, one of the best SATA SSDs shipping today. An even bigger issue comes just one tier up, where Mushkin has the premium SM2262 NVMe SSD. The Mushkin Pilot 500GB sells for just $134.99, also at Amazon. We haven't tested this drive but it uses the same hardware configuration as the Adata SX8200 and HP EX920, two of the best values in NVMe SSDs shipping today. The Pilot costs less than both drives and is potentially one of the best NVMe SSD values available today.
On one hand, the Pilot costs around 30% more, but we're only talking about $30. In performance terms, it's like paying just $30 more for an AMG over a base Mercedes instead of twice as much for the supercar experience. If you are not limited to just SATA due to an aging motherboard or lack of M.2 slots, we suggest spending a little more to get the full user experience. The Pilot should deliver a 2x increase in random read performance. It's an upgrade you will notice even if coming from a premium SATA SSD.
Last updated: Sep 25, 2019 at 12:26 am CDT
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