The best SSD for gaming doesn't have to be a SATA-based drive, and with pricing between the two types of drives approaching parity, it's easier than ever to justify buying an NVMe SSD. To wit, Mushkin's new Helix-L SSDs are rated to run three times faster than the best performing SATA SSDs, and don't cost a ton more.
"Mushkin fully embraces the adoption of PCIe NVMe SSD technology in gaming, professional, and embedded vertical market environments," said Brian Flood, director of product development at Mushkin. "We believe that with features like HMB, capacities up to 1TB and the aggressive price point of the Helix-L our customers in these market segments will find our Helix-L to be a very attractive offering."
The new drives are available in three capacities: 1TB, 500GB, and 250GB. They pair 3D TLC (triple-level cell) NAND flash memory chips with a Silicon Motion SM2263XT controller. Rated performance scales by capacity, with the 1TB model rated to deliver up to 2,110MB/s of sequential read performance and up to 1,700MB/s of sequential write performance. The 500GB model is not far behind at 2,105MB/s and 1,670MB/s, respectively, while the 250GB is said to offer 2,010MB/s reads and 1,250MB/s writes.
On paper, Mushkin's Helix-L drives are faster than Intel's 660p SSDs, though we haven't tested them for ourselves. As for the "aggressive" pricing that Flood mentions, here's what the new drives are going for on Amazon:
- Mushkin Helix-L 1TB: $117.99 (~$0.12 per gigabyte)
- Mushkin Helix-L 500GB: $62.99 (~$0.13 per gigabyte)
- Mushkin Helix-L 250GB: $40.99 (~$0.16 per gigabyte)
To put those prices into perspective, 1TB SATA-based drives can be commonly found for around $100, give or take a few bucks depending on the brand. For example, this 960GB Adata Ultimate SU650 SSD goes for $95.99 on Newegg, while this 1TB Crucial MX500 sells for $119.99.
Mushkin is not alone in pushing aggressively priced NVMe SSDs. There are several alternatives that cost around the same. One of the more compelling options is the Corsair Force MP510 960GB for $119.99. It offers slightly less capacity, but is rated to deliver up to 3,480MB/s reads and up to 3,000MB/s writes.
Still, it's nice to see companies fleshing out the landscape with more NVMe options. It wasn't that long ago when NVMe SSDs commanded a hefty premium over SATA drives. The added speed of NVMe versus SATA doesn't really come into play when gaming, though it's nice not having to fuss with SATA and power cables. With the gap in pricing quickly narrowing, it's getting harder to justify SATA over NVMe rather than the other way around.
As for the Helix-L drives, they are available now and backed by a 3-year warranty.