At a Glance: Mushkin Pilot-E 1TB M.2 Review

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Mushkin’s Pilot-E SSDs were designed to be budget-friendly solutions that also don’t compromise performance. Although these aren’t the cheapest SSDs you can currently buy, their strong performance relative to their price makes them highly appealing.

Design

As a simple M.2 SSD without a heatsink, the Pilot-E drives don’t stand out from an appearance perspective. The PCB is outfitted with Micron second-gen 64-layer 3D TLC NAND, which is connected to a Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller. Mushkin also equipped these drives with DDR4 SK Hynix RAM to further enhance performance. The 1TB model that we will focus on in this review comes with 1GB of RAM.

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All told, this hardware is capable of achieving data speeds as high as 3,500MB/s while reading data and 3,000MHz while writing. The 1TB model also carries a 650TBW durability rating, which is a significant improvement over Mushkin’s older 1TB Pilot.

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Charging between 13 to 15 cents per GB, these drives aren’t exactly the least expensive SSD solutions available on the market today. The slightly higher price and the theoretical performance of these drives place them into more of a middle ground in the wider SSD market.

Benchmarks

Our sister site PCMag tested out one of Mushkin’s Pilot-E 1TB drives with a handful of benchmarks. Kicking things off with Crystal DiskMark 6.0’s sequential read and write test shows the Mushkin Pilot-E performing extremely well against the competition. It turned in the second-fastest read performance with only the more expensive Samsung SSD 970 Pro edging it out by a negligible amount.

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The Mushkin’s Pilot-E also showed strong write performance. Seagate’s FireCuda 510 blew everything else out of the water in this area, but the Pilot-E did manage to come in second.

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Random read/write performance appears to be the Pilot-E’s Achilles heel as it came in dead last. It doesn’t hold a candle against the Samsung SSD 970 Pro or WD Blue SN550 on this test, but it’s just a small step behind the tested Adata and Seagate drives.

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Finishing things of with the AS-SSD File Transfer benchmark leaves us with a rather mixed view of the Pilot-E. Mushkin’s performance here is probably best described as unremarkable. It didn’t offer the worst performance in any of AS-SSD’s three tests, but its ISO File data transfer results were rather poor. At the same time, however, it did well while transferring the program folder and its game folder transfer performance was essentially dead center average.

Conclusion

Mushkin’s Pilot-E may not have blown us away with its benchmark results, but neither did it disappoint. Its performance is roughly on par with many of the fastest PCI-E 3.0 M.2 Key M SSDs currently available.

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With the market the way it is, it’s difficult to give a definite recommendation for one SSD over another, especially when they are hitting roughly similar performance levels. This makes price the biggest deciding factor in which drive to buy, and this is where the Pilot-E holds an advantage.

The Pilot-E isn’t available yet, but at its MSRP of $ 138.99, it’s set to undercut the competition on price. As such, I’d recommend as a strong option as long as it enters the market at or under its MSRP and the competition doesn’t adjust their prices to compensate.

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