Following in the wake of the Mushkin IMPACT review we come in today with the Mushkin atom! Instead of looking at a flash drive built for raw speed we take a bit of a detour today. The atom is an absolutely tiny 128GB USB 3.0 flash drive which is meant to be ultra portable without sacrificing capacity. Who’s ready to see how much punch Mushkin packed into the atom?
Specifications and Features
Once again I have no official word from Mushkin on what controller is being used in the flash drive, but I suspect this is actually based on a 128GB microSD card in an adapter which isn’t meant to be used for swapping cards. Even so, especially for the size, the atom lays down some impressive specs. The largest dimension is just over three quarters of an inch (it’s barely bigger than my thumbnail), sequential read and write are 130MB/s and 20MB/s respectively, and there is a pretty typical two year warranty.
The specifications and features below come directly from the Mushkin website.
|Mushkin atom Specs and Features|
|USB Technology||USB 3.0|
|Dimensions||19.8mm x 16.5mm x 7.5mm (0.78in x 0.65in x 0.30in)|
|Rated Read Speed||Up to 130MB/s|
|Rated Write Speed||Up to 20MB/s|
Unparalleled speeds to save time and money while transferring content rich data.
|Optimal Data Flow|
Optimized for dependable and reliable data flow.
|Ideal for Photography|
Both amateur and professional photographers alike can rely on Mushkin SD/microSD products for fast, reliable storage.
|Ideal for Video|
Exceptional choice for video capture and storage.
Quality guaranteed – we offer a 2-year warranty on this product and genuine, unmatched service and support.
The atom is packaged in the same enclosure as the IMPACT, only smaller. The packaging is a folding plastic shell with snaps. It shows off the product and product card on both sides. The front of the product card shows the brand, series, and a very basic description. The rear shows Mushkin’s overview of the atom, an ad for the Ventura Ultra flash drive, a barcode, and a model number.
The Mushkin atom
Popping open the package we find the atom. This thing is so small it’s adorable. The case is white plastic with a green trim piece where the lid separates from the body. There is black and green text denoting the flash drive is indeed the 128GB Mushkin atom with a generic symbol for an atom. In the body of the flash drive is a small hole for a strap to be tied through, though this will need to be one that attaches with the small string instead of a keyring or something similar. Over time this loop could potentially crack, it is only plastic after all, but it seemed plenty solid to me.
Testing and Benchmarks
Listed below is the test system used for benchmarking.
|CPU||Intel 6700K @ Stock (for the motherboard – 4.0 boost to 4.2 GHz)|
|Cooler||CoolerMaster Glacer 240L|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z170 Extreme7+|
|RAM||2×4GB DDR4 GSKILL RipJaws4 @ 3000MHz 15-15-15-35 2T 1.35v|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GTX 750Ti FTW|
|Solid State Drive||Samsung 850 Pro 256GB|
|Power Supply||EVGA SuperNova G2 850W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64|
All of the benchmarks seen below are run with the atom plugged in to the rear USB 3.1 port of the motherboard. Before testing the drive was quick formatted to exFAT with the default allocation size to make sure everything was clean and consistent.
CrystalDiskMark (CDM) is run at its standard settings. The beauty of this benchmark is that the data is completely incompressible. This makes these tests more like a real-world situation instead of attempting to maximize throughput for a spec sheet. The atom performed amazingly here. It actually exceeded specification, and not by a little. In both sequential tests, it put up 4K read speeds the fastest of any drive I’ve tested. The 4K write speeds were low though, much like the IMPACT and Magnum 2 were.
AS SSD is next up on the list and shows a very similar story to the CDM results above. Sequential blew past the specifications, 4K reads were the best I’ve tested, but the 4K-64Thrd reads slipped from the top slot. 4K and 4K-64Thrd writes, along with the write access time were all the worst I’ve tested, though.
Third up in our test suite is HD Tune Pro. Here we test with the Random data pattern, this shows more real-world information than a steady stream of the same compressible data. Sequential testing here also blew away the specifications (I’m liking this trend) with the highest 4K read IOPS I’ve seen to date as well. 4K write IOPS though, that was rough, we can all see the dips in the graph which caused these two parts to score so low.
ATTO Disk Benchmark is typically used by manufacturers to showcase their drive specs as it uses compressible data in a sequential test much like AS SSD does. This being said, the atom performed very well in ATTO, it exceeded sequential specifications on this test as well. 4K read was definitely solid and 4K write wasn’t bad either!
As a “baseline” to compare the atom with I pulled out my trusty 16GB SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive. This is a flash drive I’ve used since August of 2013.
For the second of comparison data I pulled a 16GB SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB Flash Drive. This is a flash drive I’ve used since August of 2014 for the radio in my car.
Results in the graphs are normalized to the Mushkin flash drive numbers, so they all show 100%. All results except the Access Time are “higher is better,” those are “lower is better.”
As a second comparison a real world situation was approached. A backup folder from my server was copied to each flash drive and timed, so this result is “lower is better.” By my stopwatch, the atom finished the transfer in 12:53.56. (mm:ss) while the Sandisk Extreme finished in 5:42.84 and the Sandisk Cruzer Fit finished in 46:44.33. The folder is 5.50GB and contains 6,670 files in 1,080 folders. Notice the time of the Cruzer Fit? The atom absolutely trounced this drive! This tiny drive hung with the Patriot Magnum 2 and Mushkin IMPACT in the real world testing.
In synthetic benchmarking the sequential speeds are always exceeding the specifications, and not by a little! In the real world testing it hung with the Magnum 2 and IMPACT just fine. Similar to those drives, though, the small file writes could use some work. The drive itself is an attractive design which stands out from the rest of the pack. Themed with a base color of white with green accents, I haven’t seen another like the atom.
Reflecting on all the benchmarks, as a whole, the atom is seriously fast. As a cherry on top the drive is atomic in size! Coming in at only $39.99 on Newegg as well? Overclockers Approved is the only way I can go here.