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The Mushkin Atom is without question the physically smallest flash drive I’ve had a chance to review, it’s just a bit larger than the “nano reciever” shipping with  some of the modern wireless mice on the market and that mostly comes down to cosmetic decisions and the physical requirement that we be able to actually unplug something from a usb port. It’s available in a wide range of capacities(8gb-128gb) and the unit we have in for review is the largest in the series. The drive ships in a fairly standard blister pack listing the warranty at two years but  not much else which is unfortunate considering it’s impressive specifications for it’s size, the specifications do vary based on size and are summarized in the table below.

Capacity in GB Read speed(MB/s) Write speed(MB/s)
8 80 5.5
16 155 11.5
32 155 21.5
64 120 20
128 130 20

Size

I just want to repeat how tiny this thing is, and i think the best way to show that is this photo of it attached to a PC stick, that actually slightly larger blue thing next to it, that’s the 2.4ghz receiver for the remote I use with that pc most of the time. This just highlights how easily it could be installed and left in place something that looking in my flash drive drawer at a 32mb drive I wouldn’t have guessed 20 years ago.

 

 

 

 

Performance

This drive reads quickly in spite of its size, far exceeding it’s listed specs sequentially, blowing past anything else on our test bench so far with an impressive 225.2MB/s sequential read speed(even the OWC external we tested powered by a 7200rpm 3.5 inch hard drive topped out at 200MB/s) Write speeds are lower coming in at 27-31MB/s depending on queue depth and threads, these speeds aren’t a huge problem for read centric applications such as holding media or steam  library. Overall performance is great considering if considered as a semi-permanent expansion to a laptop or device with limited storage such as the Azulle mini pc’s we’ve reviewed(both as desktops and sticks)

Format

  Fat32 ExFat NTFS EXT3 EXT4 HFS+
Maximum File Size 4Gb 16 EiB 16 EiB 16 GiB to 2 TiB 16 GiB to 16 TiB 8EiB
Maximum Volume Size 512 MiB to 8 TiB 64 ZiB 16 EiB 2 TiB to 32 TiB 1 EiB 8 EiB
Name length limit 255 characters 255 characters 255 chars 255 bytes 255 bytes 255 UTF-16 characters
Windows Yes 7 and higher natively, XP and vista via patch Yes Partial Partial Partial
Linux Yes FUSE based due to liscensing Yes with ntfs-3g Yes Yes Partial
OSx Yes 10.6.6 and above Yes with ntfs-3g Partial Partial Yes
Android Yes Yes(5.0 and higher tested on htc m8/10) Yes(5.0 and higher tested on htc m8/10) Yes Yes Unknown

The default file format however leaves something to be desired, especially with larger files such as long videos FAT32 falls short fortunately reformatting a drive is trivial in windows and most other modern operating systems, although this may make more sense for the smaller capacity drives with a 128gb drive this is a very odd choice.  I would encourage mushkin to start shipping the drives above 32gb preformated as ExFat although this is a minor inconvenience at worst.

Closing thoughts

The small form factor of the mushkin atom lends itself well to semi-permanent applications, expanding the capacity of a mini pc is an excellent use of the 128gb model we reviewed with read speeds exceeding that of typical hard drives even making it an excellent choice for a steam library, photo or video storage or any combination of the three. Other users that come to mind are media storage for automotive use(although my 2012 cruze only acknowledges 10,000 tracks so larger than a 32gb drive is overkill for mp3 files) The drive is available on amazon as is all the other capacities(although not all with prime shipping unfortunatly)