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Mushkin STRIKER 480GB SATA III SSD Review

We haven’t tested many Mushkin products on Overclockers.com, so it’s about a time to present more from this well-known manufacturer. Today’s review will be based on the latest STRIKER SSD series in 480GB SATA III version. It’s one of the new products which was on display at CES a couple of weeks ago. Soon we will also show other products like DDR4 memory kits from Redline and Blackline series in brand new Ridgeback heatsinks!

Now back on the track to start the Mushkin STRIKER 480GB SSD review.

At the beginning couple of words about Mushkin:

Founded in Denver, Colorado in 1994, Mushkin Enhanced MFG has since become one of the nation’s most recognized Manufacturers of performance computer products worldwide and has well established relationships with all of the top computer component companies in the world including Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, LSI, as well as top retail channels globally. Exceptional quality, enhanced performance and unparalleled customer support are what make our products the best in the industry.

With a strong team of over 25 years experience, we have focused around cutting edge technology including digital storage devices and a complete selection of memory upgrades for desktops, servers and notebooks – we offer something for everyone; from business user to gamer.

Made with Pride

Not many manufacturers can say they design, assemble and test their products in North America. But Mushkin has been designing its products in the U.S.A. since its inception in 1994. That means, for more than 20 years, we have been uniting all aspects of performance to engineer something you can’t get from a spec sheet.

Engineering

Some words from Mushkin:

What if? Two simple words. But when combined, the possibilities are endless. At Mushkin, we’ve stopped simply asking what if the impossible was possible and started manufacturing it.

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Specifications and Features

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The review sample we have is a 480GB SSD in 2.5″ SATA form factor. It simply means you can install it in any desktop and most laptop computers. Since it’s 7mm thick then it will also fit into ultrabooks.

Soon we will probably see premiere of STRIKER SSD with M.2 interface. I hope we will be able to test one of them here at Overclockers.com.

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Mushkin offers a 3-year limited warranty on all of their SSDs, including the STRIKER series. Below you can see list of other features which Mushkin pointed out on their website. Let’s say that most of them we can find in most other SSDs on the market. However Mushkin cares to provide something extra so they optimize firmware for additional performance boost.

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The Mushkin STRIKER 480GB SATA SSD has arrived in a retail, blister-type package. It’s transparent so we can see what is inside. Actually there is not much – only the drive, but at the same time we don’t need anything else to install our brand new SSD.

As usual in this type of products on the package is a short description with basic specification, product name and support contact. Not much, but this is all we expect to find in the first place. More detailed data about the SSD is available on the Mushkin website. A couple of years ago we could say it should be added to the product but now internet access is a standard part of our life so why waste materials to print additional specification and description?

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The SSD itself is based on the latest Phison PS-3110-S10 controller, which is one of the best performing controllers on the market. As we can read in the controller’s specification, it’s a quad core, eight channel chipset so it is pretty advanced compared to most other controllers. At the same time I have a feeling that its price and reliability is good as many manufacturers have recently moved to the Phison controller. Actually Mushkin STRIKER looks similar to Patriot’s highest SSD series based also on Phison controllers. Results of that SSD are in the performance comparison.

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Mushkin STRIKER looks similar to any other SATA SSD on the market. Simple build with a product label where we can find serial and product numbers, required voltage and info about capacity which is of course 480GB. Again, not much but all we need to know.

Performance

Performance has been measured on the latest Intel Skylake platform, which contains i7 6700K processor and ASUS Maximus VIII Hero motherboard. Used operating system was Windows 10 Pro x64 with the latest updates. Mushkin STRIKER has been tested on Intel and ASMedia SATA controllers. However ASMedia stuck at about 420MB/s so I decided to present results on the Intel SATA controller which wasn’t limiting SSD bandwidth.

Let’s begin from ATTO Disk Benchmark:

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ATTO Disk Benchmark results presented on the above graph are showing maximum sequential bandwidth achieved during the test so the same which most manufacturers use to describe declared SSD performance in the product specification.

As we see in the above comparison, the STRIKER performs nearly as Mushkin declares. It’s slightly faster in read and slightly slower in write bandwidth. A lot depends from the test platform and used drivers so on other motherboards results can be different. At least on our test platform all looks good and I can say that general performance in ATTO is great. Maximum bandwidth of the STRIKER is about the same as maximum SATA bandwidth. Probably if it was available with PCIe interface then it could show higher bandwidth.

Next benchmark is CrystalDiskMark. It’s one of the most popular storage benchmarks and it includes random bandwidth tests what are often the most important in daily work.

Let’s take a look at the results.

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In sequential bandwidth tests, results are similar to what we could see in ATTO. Slightly lower but it’s an effect of a different test files. In a random 4K read test we can see that Mushkin STRIKER is the second fastest SATA SSD in our comparison. However random write results are not so good. I had to check it couple of times on a various test file sizes but CrystalDiskMark was always showing similar results.

Write bandwidth is not really important if we are talking about performance in home environment so games and other popular applications. Most data is cached anyway so we can’t see any difference. However 20MB/s difference in random write says that firmware could be still improved. HyperX Savage SSD has on exactly the same controller as the STRIKER so I think that Mushkin can still provide similar if not better performance.

In AS SSD benchmark we can see about the same situation as in CrystalDiskMark. Sequential bandwidth and random 4K read are great while random 4K write isn’t any special.

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I thought I will show something different in the next benchmark which is Anvil’s Storage Utilities but results are about the same as what we could see in previous tests. Mushkin STRIKER is the best in this benchmark if we focus on a results which affect target users so gamers and other more demanding home users. On the other hand it’s again losing in random 4K write. I’m not really sure why we see that performance drop only in this test but I assume it’s a matter of early firmware and it will be fixed soon.

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Even though all above benchmarks seem to perform similar tests, there are differences in test file sizes and the way how benchmarks use that files. I was expecting bigger variety of results while we see the same pattern in every each of them. There are of course little changes but nothing that will affect users.

At the end PCMark8 and its storage performance suite.

I was thinking adding this benchmark is a good idea and I will tell you why. Futuremark has designed this benchmark to show performance of storage in various, popular applications and it includes tests based on games and older 3D benchmarks. We could say it’s a great idea but for some reason results are not always realistic and on some drives are not repeatable. I’ve still added this benchmark to the review as some readers can be interested what performance is showing PCMark8.

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As you can see, Crucial SSD are the best in PCMark8 and both of them are based on Marvell controllers, while all other drives have the highest series of Phison. Hard to say what is causing such a big difference in general storage bandwidth. PCMark8 clearly prefers Marvell controllers over Phison.

Conclusion

Mushkin STRIKER 480GB is a great performing SSD. Even though performance in some tests was lower than expected, I think it will be fixed in firmware updates. If not then I wouldn’t worry as random write bandwidth isn’t really important in a typical home environment. All games and other popular applications should perform great as after installation, it would only read the files.

The STRIKER is also inexpensive, what is really important for many users. 480GB version costs as low as $160 on the Newegg which is about $40 less than Kingston SSD which is using the same controller and performed almost the same as Mushkin.

Mushkin offers a three-year limited warranty on the STRIKER SSD. Let’s say it is already a market standard, though some manufacturers offer five year or more on the highest SSD series.

I can recommend Mushkin STRIKER as a great option for all who are looking for well-priced and great performing SSD. I guess we can find faster SSDs but would be really hard to find anything with as good performance to price ratio as Mushkin STRIKER.

 

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~ Bartosz Waluk (Woomack)