Introduction & Drive Details
Mushkin is a well-known memory brand amongst enthusiast circles. For what must be going on a decade now, they have built a well-deserved reputation for delivering premium memory and solid-state storage products at pricing typically a little better than the competition. Sometimes Mushkin builds their own SSDs, and sometimes they partner with other companies to bring forth storage products.
The SSD we have on our bench today is a result of just such a collaborative effort between Mushkin and Phison Electronics. These days whenever you hear the name Phison mentioned, you know it's likely to involve Phison's flagship PS5018-E18 Gen4 x4 SSD controller, capable of delivering well over 7 GB/s throughput. Mushkin's newly launched Gamma Series is just such an SSD. Its hardware configuration is intimately familiar here at TweakTown.
Mushkin's newly minted Gamma SSD is their newest consumer performance flagship offering. The Gamma is powered by a Phison E18 8-channel controller overseeing a Micron 96-layer TLC flash array. This hardware combination is currently the most prolific for hyper-class (7 GB/s) SSDs in the consumer space and comes in the form of many retail brands of SSDs. Mushkin has put its name and reputation onto its own version of Phison's powerful and prolific E18 SSD. The Mushkin Gamma.
Mushkin's Gamma SSD is another bare-bones offering like we typically see from the Mushkin brand. Mushkin employs the simplest packaging possible to help keep costs low. There are no software value-adds included with Mushkin SSDs, again to keep costs low.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9-11900K - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 420 - Buy from Amazon
- RAM: Thermaltake TOUGHRAM XG RGB DDR4 4600MHz 16GB (8GB x 2) - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2070 Overclocked 8G - Buy from Amazon
- Case: PrimoChill's Praxis Wetbench - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1000 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Free SSD Software
Third Party Freeware
As mentioned, the Mushkin Gamma does not come with any complementary software. Not a problem because you can use the free tools below to accomplish what a typical SSD toolbox will do for you.
CrystalDiskInfo free monitoring software, which you can download here.
If you need to clone, there is freeware for that here.
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM & Anvils
The Gamma's advertised sequential speeds are based on CDM results taken from an empty secondary volume. We don't believe in testing that way, so our sequential read/write speeds come up a bit short of advertised speeds. Not a problem, as the Gamma still delivers the goods plenty well enough when running as our system disk half-filled with data. 7 GB/s throughput is easy for Mushkin's Gamma. Excellent.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
The Gamma manages to shred our Anvil testing, producing a lab record write score, and the highest overall score we've gotten from a 2TB flash-based consumer SSD to date. Impressive.
As expected, 1.5 million random write IOPS comes easy for the Gamma via our new Intel-based test rig. Max random read IOPS are in line with what we expect from an E18 SSD with Micron 96L flash, and that's below factory spec because of our more demanding user state, also because of an overstated spec.
Synthetic Benchmarks: AS SSD & ATTO
Again, the 2TB Mushkin Gamma shows itself to be capable of delivering results that are lab records or right on the edge of a lab record.
Although not charted, we are looking for 50 MB/s read/write at 512 B transfers. We get what we are looking for there. Again, not charted, we are looking for full speed at 128K transfers, and again the Gamma delivers. Now taking a close look at our 128K read chart, we find the Gamma delivering the second-best performance we've received to date.
Real-World Testing: Transfer Rates & Gaming
The 2TB Gamma can write our extremely hard-to-swallow 100GB data block at a near-record clip. Excellent.
Although not a lab record for our Intel test rig, it is a record for a retail Phison E18 powered SSD running on our Intel test bench. Impressive.
Game Level Loading
The Gamma does it again. It snatches the Intel gaming crown for a 7,000 MB/s capable SSD from the GIGABYTE AORUS 2TB and does so in spectacular fashion. Gamers take notice.
Real-World Testing: PCMark 10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.
The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with user experience. Of the two tests, we feel that the Quick System Drive Test most accurately replicates a typical user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
This has become a familiar sight regarding E18/96L SSDs tested on our Intel test rig. Lower than expected PCM10 storage performance. We believe it to be a firmware-related issue and don't find it to be as much of a concern as we typically would because we know it does far better on AMD systems.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
Again, lower than we would expect for how powerful this drive actually is. It does far better on our AMD test rig, so again we will consider this somewhat of an anomaly more than a concern.
Mushkin hasn't made a lot of noise on the storage front for a while now, and it's good to see that they are still doing SSDs with class-leading performance like the Gamma we tested here today. Mushkin is the retail arm for Avant Technology Inc, similarly to Crucial being the retail arm of Micron. We mention this because we want to convey that Mushkin is not some fly-by-night company that won't be there for you if and when you need them. Avant, Edge, Mushkin, and Avant de Mexico operate under the Avant Technology Corporate Umbrella. The company has a presence in all of the Americas.
We rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience (performance where it matters most) as expressed by PCMark 10 storage tests. As with other E18 powered SSDs on our chart, the 2TB Mushkin Gamma is not reflecting its true colors as it relates to our user experience ranking. We consider this an anomaly related to our Intel test system, and as such, won't read as much into it as we normally would.
As we look back at our testing, we need to mention some stand-out performances delivered by Mushkin's Gamma 2TB we need to mention again. The Gamma delivered a new lab record for write scoring with Anvil's. Then it followed up immediately with a record performance for an E18/96L when serving data to the host via our DiskBench testing. Lastly, and most importantly, the Gamma snatched our gaming performance crown for a 7,000 MB/s capable SSD.
Overall, we are pleased with what Mushkin's Gamma is dishing out and find it worthy of one of our highest awards.
- Sequential Speeds
- Write Performance
- Consumer Workloads
- Random Read
The Bottom Line
Mushkin's Gamma is a true Hyper-Class SSD that deserves a close look.