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Mushkin Source 500GB Solid State Drive Review

Solid State drive pricing keeps on getting lower and lower, but we still see 2.5-inch drives distinguished into three segments, entry-level, mainstream, and high performance. New entry-level drives more than likely do not have a DRAM chip for caching. That is the case with the Mushkin Source, which sits at the bottom of Mushkin’s solid state drive product stack. This drive is powered by the Silicon Motion SM2258XT controller teamed with Micron 3D TLC NAND. Mushkin tells us this combination boats sequential read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 520 MB/s respectively. The 500GB version we are checking out today sells for only $89.99! Let’s jump in and see what it can do!

Special thanks to Mushkin for providing us with the Source 1TB Solid State Drive to review.

Specifications:
Form Factor: 2.5″
Capacity: 500GB
Memory Components: 3D TLC
Interface: SATA 6Gb/s
Controller: Silicon Motion SM2258XT
Height: 7mm
Width: 69.85mm
Depth: 100.45mm
Max Sequential Read: 560MB/s
Max Sequential Write: 520MB/s
4KB Random Read: 75,000
4KB Random Write: 81,000
Seek Time: <0.1ms
MTBF: 1,500,000 hours
Warranty: 3-year limited warranty

Packaging
The Mushkin Source drive comes in a clear clamshell-type package. This allows us to get a look at the drive.

Flipping over the package we can see that there are some details on the drive, but they are covered up a little bit by whats inside the box.

Getting everything out of the package we have the Source Drive, a small Mushkin sticker, and a little note from the Mushkin CEO.

Mushkin Source Solid State Drive Overview
The Mushkin Source drive looks just like any other ordinary 2.5-inch solid state drive. On the front of the drive there is a sticker that lets us know that we do indeed have the Source Drive and that it is the 500GB version.

Flipping over to the back we find the serial number and some information on the drive. Mushkin has gone with a metal enclosure, sometimes we see a plastic one on lower-end drives. You’ll find four mounting holes on the bottom of the drive.

This is a 7mm-thick drive so it can easily fit in laptops and smaller devices. On the side are two more mounting holes and you have your typical SATA power and data connections on the end.

While we did not open the drive up (which voids you warranty), we do know that this drive makes use of the Silicon Motion SM2258XT controller and Micron 3D TLC NAND. This controller does not have a DRAM cache chip and is typically designed for products with low write environments.

Drive Information & Testing Procedures
Once you have the Mushkin Source installed and formatted we can see we have 465 GB of usable space.

Opening up CrystalDiskMark we can see that we are running firmware R0327B0 and that the drive supports SMART, APM, NCQ, TRIM, and DevSleep.

For testing the drive we will be using the following benchmarking programs, we have provided links to each so you can run the benchmarks on your drive for comparison.

Sisoftware Sandra Physical Disks Benchmark (download)
ATTO Disk Benchmark (download)
CrystalDiskMark 64bit (download)
AS SSD Benchmark (download)
Anvil Storage Utility Professional (download)
PCMark 8 – Storage Benchmark (download)
AIDA64 Storage Benchmark (download)

We also made these optimization changes…

– No power saving options in the BIOS
– ACHI enabled in the BIOS
– Windows 10 User Account Control (UAC) is disabled
– Windows 10 power saving settings are disabled

So let’s get into testing!

Testing – Sandra & ATTO
Keep in mind for testing the advertised speeds for this drive are 3200 MB/s read and 1700 MB/s write.

Our first test is SiSoftware Sandra’s Physical Disks benchmark. We run both the read performance and write performance tests. Click on the images below to see the full-size results.

The read test yielded 534.61 MB/s whereas the write score was 468.49 MB/s.

ATTO Disk Benchmark also measures transfer rates across specific lengths. ATTO uses RAW data, our transfer sizes ranged from 0.5 to 8192kb. ATTO is usually our definitive benchmark for solid state drives.

Here we see the drive maxing out at around 533 MB/s for the read and 484 MB/s for the write.

Testing – CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark is our next test and it has a sequential read / write test as well as a 512k and 4k random read / write test.

AS SSD Benchmark is next. This benchmark contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The main benchmark will give you scores in MB/s as well as IOPS.

The AS SSD Copy Benchmark gives you the speed and time it would take to load an ISO, Program and Game.

Finally we have the AS SSD Compression benchmark.

Testing – Anvil, PCMark Vantage & AIDA64
The next test is Anvil Storage Utilities, which is a really great piece of software. The SSD benchmark gives you scores for both read and write as well as a combined score.

Next up is PCMark 8, we will be running the typical Storage Benchmark.

We have added back AIDA64’s Disk Benchmark to our testing. The linear test will actually scan from the first physical sector to the last on the test drive. This gives a good representation of sustained read/write operations. We will be running the linear read and write tests using a 1MB block size.

We can see that SLC caching is in place by the write test. As we write to the drive it performs great up to 35% and then after that the performance drops.

Final Thoughts
When we talk about entry-level solid state drives we typically expect really bad performance, but that was not the case with the Mushkin Source. Even with its DRAM-less design it performed good enough for us to not really consider it entry-level, or at least put it at the top of the list for entry-level solid state drives. The big reason for the great performance is the 3D NAND, which really improves on the poor performance of planar TLC NAND.

In our tests the drive averaged around 500-530 MB/s in reads and 470-490 MB/s writes. In ATTO Disk Benchmark, the drive maxed out at 534.57 MB/s read and 484.16 MB/s write. In AIDA64’s Write test we saw the drive perform pretty great until 35% of the drive was written. So like most drives that make use of SLC caching as long as you are not doing a ton of writes you won’t even see this degradation in write performance.

If you are looking at an entry-level solid state drive or maybe you might be replacing that older game drive, which is a normal hard drive the Mushkin Source is a great choice. Right now you can pick it up at our favorite online retailer for $89.99, that is $0.17 per GB. Overall ThinkComputers gives the Mushkin Source 500GB Solid State Drive a 9 out of 10 score.

Pros:
– Price
– Great overall performance
– Metal chassis (many entry-level drives are plastic)

Cons:
– No DRAM cache