Last week I took a look at Mushkins new flagship SSD. Well it just so happens I also had another Mushkin SSD floating around the office to review. This one isn’t anything like the Striker. The Chronos is a little older but with that it is also a little better value when you are shopping. Our sample is the big guy with a 480GB capacity but it is priced to compete. So today I’m going to see what is inside of the Chronos and most importantly I am going to figure out if the aging Sandforce controller is still fast enough to justify a purchase for someone who is on a budget.

Product Name: Mushkin Chronos 480GB

Review Sample Provided by: Mushkin

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

Capacity

480GB

Dimensions

100.2 x 70.0 x 7mm

Temp. Range

0-70°C

Read Speed

up to 540MB/sec

Write Speed

up to 430MB/sec

Shock Tolerance

1500G

Vibration

20G Peak, 10-2kHz, 3 axis

MTBF

2 million hours

Controller

SF-2281

Interface Type

SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s)

Warranty

3 years limited

IOPS

37,000

 


Packaging

As expected the packaging for the Chronos isn’t anything different from the Striker or any other Mushkin SSD over the years. In fact, this is similar to how they have always sold their RAM as well. That isn’t a problem though. The drive is sealed up in a formed plastic clamshell. Up top are two reclosable latches that let you open and close the clamshell and is a major plus over having a sealed package for example. The drive sits in full view with basically a piece of paper in between. The paper has the black and green theme across it with the produce name and Mushkin’s logo across the top. On the back you basically just have three short general notes that don’t tell you anything repeated multiple times in multiple languages. I would really love it if they used this space to put a short list of specifications or some actual information on the drive, but the design they use is general enough they can use it on any Chronos drive.

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Our Testing Procedures and Test Rig

Procedures

PCMark

Disk benchmark

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

SSD Benchmark set to 46% compression. Use Read and Write numbers from the 4K QD16 IOPS results

CrystalDiskMark

Read Seq and Write Seq tests

AS SSD 

Copy Benchmark with ISO, Program, and Game results

Passmark 

Advanced disk benchmark file server, Web Server, Workstation, and Database benchmarks

Test Rig

Motherboard

Asus X99-Deluxe

Live Pricing

Ram

Corsair Vengeance LPX 2666MHz DDR4 4x4GB

Live Pricing

CPU

Intel i7-5960X Haswell-E

Live Pricing

Heatsink

Noctua NH-U12S heatsink

Live Pricing

Power Supply

Thermaltake Grand 850W PSU

Live Pricing

Video Card

Nvidia GTX 780 Video Card

Live Pricing

Test Bench

Dimastech Test Bench

Live Pricing

 


Photos and Breakdown

The drive is fairly basic. You have a black brushed aluminum shell on the Chronos, this is a little different than the rough black finish on the Striker. On top is a sticker with the product name and capacity. This is also where they slip on the serial number and all of the logos that you are required to have on an electronic device. They also slipped a small “assembled in the USA” logo down in the corner as well.

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The drive is a thin 7mm drive that will fit in thinner devices like Ultrabooks. It hooks up with a standard SATA power and SATA cable and supports SATA 3 for the best performance.

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The underside of the Chronos doesn’t have to much going on. Here we can see though that the drive has mounting holes both on the bottom and on the side of the drive. You shouldn’t run into any weird mounting issues. If your case doesn’t support 2.5 inch drives you will however have to get an adapter because they do not include one with the drive. Most modern cases should have you covered though.

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Getting into the Chronos required a small Philips screwdriver. I just had to remove the four silver screws on the bottom of the drive and then the drive split in half. From there to get the PCB out I had to remove four more screws that attach it to the base on the inside.

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With the PCB out we can finally get a better look at what makes the Chronos 480GB tick. For starters, this drive is surprisingly bare. On the backside of the PCB there is only the SandForce SF-2281 controller and nothing else. A lot of you might remember this controller because it has been around for around 4 years. Mushkin is using the unthrottled firmware on the controller to get the most out of it but I wouldn’t expect to see the same performance as their new Striker for example. For NAND the drive only has four Toshiba based chips giving them each a capacity of 120GB each.

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Performance

Next, I ran the Mushkin Chronos through our standard benchmark suite. This includes a variety of tests to touch on different situations that you will run into when using an SSD. To start things off I did both read and write speed testing in CrystalDiskMark. Here I was able to get a feel for the drives raw performance in sequential rear/writes. This includes testing at 512KB, 4KB, 4KB with a queue depth of 32 as well. So how did it do? Well the sequential read speeds weren’t too bad with an average of 509.8. This is slower than the last few drives tested but given the Chronos’s dated controller I was surprised it kept up so well. With a queue depth of 32 it actually pulled ahead of today’s drives even. But the 512KB results were MUCH lower. On the write side of things the numbers were a lot less impressive though. In fact they were concerning with the best result being 187.3MB/sec. The rest went down from there, not being anywhere close to what a modern SSD can do.

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In AS SSD the Chronos held its own well. The results are all well above the Striker but faster than some of the drives that the Chronos struggled to keep up with in CrystalDiskMark.

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In Passmark, I ran the drive through their Advanced Disk Benchmark to get an idea of its performance in four different business environments. Here its performance wasn’t really up to par, even compared to a few of the older SSDs. That said it still performed with the Striker in the File Server test, but the Striker didn’t exactly do well there. This is obviously not an enterprise drive, but no shock there.

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Next, I ran through PCMark 8 with its HDD Benchmark. Here I actually finally was able to see  little change in our results. I have been questioning the use of this benchmark because the results have been nearly the same for every drive, even when they are noticeably faster or slower in other tests. Here though we can see that the Chronos is coming in lower than the others.

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Lastly I ran through our newest test, Anvil’s Storage Utility. Here we cans see that on the read side of things the Chronos can still hold its own. It is really just the write speeds that are holding things back.

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Overall and Final Verdict

So the Chronos is an interesting drive. For one, it is an old man sitting in a room full of young men. While the capacity is right up there with everything else on the market right now the older Sandforce controller is without a doubt aged. This really showed in some of our performance testing where it struggled to keep up. The biggest problem was with its write speeds. Oddly enough, the read speeds are in a few cases right up there with today’s drives and in one case even faster. The problem is the Chronos has to stand next to the Striker that I tested last week. As far as performance goes the Striker blows it out of the water. That isn’t a surprise though, the Striker is a flagship drive and the Chronos is a budge drive, so with that in mind it really comes down to pricing.

This is where the problem is. At this price point, on its own, the Chronos is a good buy. The problem is currently the Striker in the same 480GB capacity can be picked up for just a little more. To be specific currently the striker is $10 more. So the question is would you pick up the Chronos at what is a great price or pick up an even faster drive for less than a ticket to go see a movie. If I’m picking a drive for my personal build I’m going to get the Striker, the exception to this is if you just don’t care about the additional performance. In that case, you might go with the Chronos and pick up 7 apple pies at McDonalds with the extra money. Overall, this is a decent drive at a great price that is just a little overshadowed by a great drive that is also at a great price. If the price drops a little more this is going to be a steal though. 

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Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld replied the topic: #36488 25 Mar 2015 15:36
Continuing with the storage theme, today I take a look at a 480GB Chronos drive from Mushkin!

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