Mushkin Gamma: High-Performance SSD
PC Magazine|August 2021
In recent years, computer memory producer Mushkin has made a name for itself in the market for low-priced internal SSDs, but with its Gamma drive, the company has tried a change in tack—and largely pulls it off.
TONY HOFFMAN

The Gamma is a mid-priced M.2 PCI Express 4.0 SSD. It costs considerably more per gigabyte than the also-tested Mushkin Delta, or the ADATA XPG Gammix S50 Lite—our budget PCI Express 4.0 SSD darling of the moment—and is designed for elite performance. Although it falls short of unseating the Editors’ Choice-winning Samsung SSD 980 Pro as our favored high-end PCI Express 4.0 drive, it proves its mettle as a speedy 4.0-capable entry nonetheless.

LIFE IN THE PCI EXPRESS 4.0 FAST LANE

A four-lane PCI Express (PCIe) 4.0 drive, the Mushkin Gamma comes in the M.2 Type-2280 “gumstick” form factor common among today’s internal SSDs. It employs the NVMe 1.3 protocol over the PCIe 4.0 bus and features a Phison E18 controller. The on-module memory is based on Micron’s 96-layer 3D triple-level-cell (TLC) NAND flash.

Although the Gamma is backward-compatible with motherboards that support PCI Express 3.0, to get anything like the peak read/write speeds discussed below, you need a system with a motherboard whose chipset supports PCI Express 4.0. This includes a select group of late-model AMD desktop motherboards for Ryzen chips, as well as Intel Z590-based boards, designed for 10th Generation and 11th Generation (“Rocket Lake”) CPUs. Laptops with upgradable and reachable M.2 slots supporting PCIe 4.0 are pretty thin on the ground. On the desktop side, you’ll probably have to upgrade your motherboard if it’s a prebuilt system more than a year or two old, as few apart from the very newest currently support PCIe 4.0 on their M.2 slots (unless they are top-shelf and AMD-based).

Mushkin Gamma

PROS

Fast sequential read/ write speeds. High PCMark 10 Overall Score and copy-test performance. AES hardware-based encryption.

CONS

Lacks SSD management software.

BOTTOM LINE

With the Gamma, Mushkin steps away from its budget-drive roots to deliver a highly capable, high-performance PCI Express 4.0 M.2 SSD— albeit without frills in the blister pack.

The Gamma lacks a heat spreader, but its firmware—the Mushkin Enhanced Data-protection Suite (MEDS)—includes thermal monitoring and power management, a host of data protection features, and AES 128-bit and 256-bit hardware encryption. You don’t get any software with the drive, though. The Gamma lacks an SSD-management software suite and tools like Samsung’s Magician and Data Migration app. You’ll have to supply your own utilities for tasks such as copying drives.

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