The Mushkin Pilot-E is just now really coming to market, and that poses a few issues that impact this review. The first is the tech-pricing decline that naturally occurs. At this time, the ADATA SX8200 Pro and HP EX950 both sell for right around $130 for the 1TB capacities. The Pilot-E hasn't been online long enough to "adjust" from the MSRP, so it costs around $10 more.
If we just had a small pricing issue that would (potentially) sort out over the coming weeks, we wouldn't have much of an issue at all. Sadly, other hurdles make the Pilot-E less desirable than similar products on the market today. The Pilot-E ships with a three-year warranty when other flagship products, hell even several mainstream NVMe SSDs, ship with a five-year warranty. The warranty is a much larger issue for many shoppers than we usually make it out to be in most reviews. When a drive is on the wrong side of the line, it doesn't go over well with many shoppers.
Mushkin failed to do anything exciting with the Pilot-E even though the company had ample time to spruce the flagship up. The SX8200 Pro and EX950 get most of our attention, and both use the same basic design with a bare drive, although the SX8200 Pro does ship with a thin metal strip cooler/shield. HP hasn't done anything to build a "special" model, but we've lost count of the different models from ADATA's XPG design team with similar 3500/3000 MB/s performance including the Gammix S11 with the SM2262EN controller.
The lack of "fancy" designs doesn't come as a surprise. Mushkin knows its place in the market has a formula and follows it. That usually includes equal performance across the board and a slight price advantage. The Pilot-E misses the mark in both (current) pricing and performance.
Most of Mushkin's SSD designs focus solely on "gamer" features that often carry over to other user types. The Pilot-E does add support for TCG Opal for business and notebook users. This is a big win for a very small slice of the market. Gamers often don't encrypt drives with Opal but businesses rely heavily on the software in notebooks and desktops to secure data should a drive go missing. Very few consumer-focused NVMe SSDs support the advanced encryption technology. Samsung tries to make this a standard feature on most high-end consumer products. It's nice to see Mushkin add the feature to the Pilot-E series. Our research tells us the Pilot-E is the lowest-priced high-performance NVMe SSD with Opal shipping today.
If Mushkin lowers the price enough of the Pilot-E to compensate for the slightly lower performance and shorter warranty it could be a strong value for shoppers. We expect to see some adjustments as the series hits the market in full force. There are so few drives shipping right now we can't call this the full release. Expect to see more 500GB and even 2TB Pilot-E drives shipping in the near future and hopefully by then the series becomes a better overall value for shoppers like most of Mushkin's other SSDs.
The Bottom Line
The Mushkin Pilot-E doesn't offer the same value as some of the other SM2262EN controlled drives, nor the exact same performance. This is still one of the faster NVMe SSDs shipping today, but there are better options available.