As solid-state drive (SSD) prices have come down, the attractiveness of an SSD upgrade in both desktops and laptops has gone up. SSDs are one of the most effective means of improving system performance on the market, and even older systems can benefit from the acceleration. The Mushkin Chronos GO Deluxe 240GB is a 1.8-inch mSATA drive that’s designed to fit into a laptop—though you could theoretically use it in a desktop, too, provided you attach an appropriate adapter. If you need a drive that fits a 1.8-inch mSATA enclosure or subnotebook, the Mushkin Chronos GO Deluxe 240GB is a great option—even in an older system. It’s our new Editors’ Choice for internal SSDs.
The Chronos Go family uses the same SandForce SF-2281 controller as the other Mushkin drives we’ve reviewed recently. The SF-2281 is a SATA 6G controller that has become increasingly popular in lower-end consumer drives. While it’s several years old, performance is still excellent and the newer drives that use it typically target sub-$1 per GB price points. In that regard, the Chronos Go 240GB is something of a standout. The drive’s list price is about $329—significantly higher than you’d pay for a standard 2.5-inch SSD. However, 1.8-inch SSDs aren’t nearly as common as 2.5-inch models, which may account for the price difference.
If you own an older laptop, the Chronos Go could be an attractive upgrade. Slim laptops from 2008 to 2011 typically shipped with 1.8-inch HDDs to save battery power and minimize system thickness. These drives had slow, 4200 RPM spindles, small caches, and were optimized for low power, not high performance. Sizes ranged from 80GB to 250GB, with most systems falling at the lower end of that range. Performance was strictly mediocre, even compared to other spinning disks.
A modern 1.8-inch SSD will bury any such hard drive, while using very little power. Alternately, you can still use this drive in a typical desktop or small form factor (SFF) system. Since it’s an mSATA drive, you’ll need an adapter cable (typically available online for $8 to $12). We tested this drive with a StarTech Model MCSATAF12S mSATA-to-SATA adapter. The mSATA connector is physically different from a SATA cable and integrates power and data into a single cord rather than two separate connectors.
We tested the Mushkin Chronos Go Deluxe 240GB using a Gigabyte mini-ITX motherboard, 8GB of DDR3-1600, and an Intel Core i7-3770K. Normally we use an Asus motherboard based on Z75, but in this case, we were evaluating a mini-ITX case, heatsink, and the Mushkin SSD at roughly the same time. Since the Asus and Gigabyte board use the same chipset and we used the Intel SATA controllers on each, there should be no problem with comparing results.
The performance figures for AS-SSD reflect a drive’s performance in a particular type of data workload. Sequential read/write tests measure an SSD’s capabilities when reading or writing a large block of contiguous data. A single large movie or ISO image will test a drive’s sequential performance (assuming that the target drive isn’t badly fragmented). We compared the Mushkin Chronos Go against the Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120GB MKNSSDCR120GB-DX (a standard 2.5-inch model SSD that uses the same SF-2281 controller) and the Samsung 840 Series 250GB. The Samsung 840 is a budget drive that uses Samsung’s Triple-Layer Cell (TLC) NAND, compared with the MLC NAND in both Mushkin drives.
In AS-SSD’s sequential read/write tests, the Chronos Go 240GB turned in results of 489MBps and 263MBps, compared to 466MBps and 263MBps for the Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120GB and 517MBps/244MBps for the Samsung 840. The TLC NAND Samsung uses for its budget drive offers lower write performance than the MLC NAND Mushkin uses for both Chronos drives. This popped up again in our 4K read/write tests with 64 threads enabled—the Chronos Go was slightly faster than the Chronos Deluxe in reads (216MBps vs. 182MBps) but slower in writes (201MBps vs. 215MBps). The Samsung 840 again outstripped both drives in read performance at 320MBps, but slipped behind them for writes, at 187MBps).
AS-SSD’s also includes a real-world file copy test with three presets—ISO files, program files, and game files. Each type of file is a different size and includes a different amount of compressible data. As in the other tests, the Chronos Go and Mushkin Chronos Deluxe were generally tied—the Chronos Go hit 278MBps on ISO copies, 154MBps for program files, and 207MBps for game data, with the Chronos Deluxe at 265MBps, 144MBps, and 198MBps, respectively in the same tests. The Samsung 840 excelled at ISO copying at 339MBps, but fell back to second place in program and game files (152MBps and 194MBps).
Finally, there’s PCMark 7, which is a different type of test. The benchmark test uses real storage workloads created by recording traces of hard drive activity when playing games, loading music or video, or copying files. These traces are used to measure the performance of storage products in comprehensive real-world scenarios. Here, all three drives ended up in the same area—the the Chronos Go 240GB hit 5,368, Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120GB scored a 5,244, and the Samsung 840 turned in a score of 5265. The performance difference between these drives, in other words, was fairly small.
Ultimately, the Mushkin Chronos Go Deluxe 240GB is a hair faster than the 120GB Chronos, thanks to its higher capacity and greater internal bandwidth. This is exactly the opposite of what used to be the case—1.8-inch hard drives were never as fast as 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch units, due to fundamental limitations on their power consumption and heat. The flip side to this, however, is that the Chronos Go Deluxe’s price tag of $329 is nearly twice what you’d pay for a 250GB Samsung 840.
The price premium between 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch drives means that it makes no sense to buy the latter unless you really need one. If you do need an mSATA drive, however, the Mushkin Chronos Go Deluxe is priced reasonably against the other SSDs in this space. It’s a purchase that could breathe new life into an older notebook with a conventional hard drive, or serve as a suitable replacement for a failed SSD that’s fallen out-of-warranty. All this is why we award it an Editors’ Choice for internal SSDs.
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||260 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc