Following our review of the 512Gb Mushkin Reactor here I finally got the greenlight to crack it open and check on what’s inside and was generally pleased with what I found.
Starting with a quick tour of the outside we have a fully metallic shell(which appears to be aluminum based on it’s light weight and lack of magnetic properties) with a textured paint finish. The retaining screws that keep the drive assembly held in place are on the sides allowing the drive to be opened easily, although the warranty notice says that removing the screws voids it there are no visible security stickers or other methods to indicate if the drive has been opened(and honestly outside of curiosity there isn’t anything serviceable to open an SSD for)
The first thing we see after opening the drive is a Nanya DRAM module for the page buffer and we get a good view of Mushkin’s edge connector which honestly having seen it in action I’m a bit disappointed we got this far before seeing it used, SATA has been around since 2003 and consumer SSD’s since 2008(there were some early attempts but 2008 brought us the X25-M from intel which opened the floodgates so to speak) There’s also a set of pads that would normally be used for additional NAND modules, with this being the mid capacity model it’s unsurprising to see empty spots for more memory as manufacturers like to reuse the same PCB for multiple capacities, What is surprising is something that I see 12 , capacitor pads. These are a clear indication that Mushkin is reusing this board for an enterprise drive as well, with some adjusted firmware and those in place the reactor would easily be adapted, to fit that role instead.
Removing the 4 screws that secure the PCB to the shell and taking it out, we see the NAND packages themselves, we have 8 packages of 16nm Micron nand although the packages don’t have a Micron part number as Mushkin purchases wafers and does binning/packaging in house, this lets them use the nand in a variety of products based on how it bins(flash drives tend to use lower performance modules than SSD’s for example) This is an advantage some of the other fabless SSD manufacturers don’t have. We also see a pink thermal pad on the controller which very clearly makes contact with the metal shell of the drive helping to ensure the controller doesn’t have to throttle down under sustained load(something we’ve seen on several NVME drives although not as often in SATA products) and is a well considered addition. There is also an additional empty set of contacts for what would be an additional memory module in the 1TB variant of the drive.
Coming the end to this little exploration it seems that Mushkin has laid this drive out in a carefully planned and thoughtful manner including considerations for thermal performance as well as the flexibility to produce an enterprise level drive with only minor changes. The addition of a thermal pad on the controller should ensure consistent performance even in low airflow environments as well overall I’m impressed with the design and performance of this drive. My conclusion from my original review not only stands but is reinforced having done an internal exploration that this drive is an excellent choice especially in light of the flood of TLC based products. The pricing I mentioned in my original review hasn’t changed with 147.99 for the 512Gb model which we reviewed, a solid $20 dollars less than the Samsung’s 850 evo at 169.99 an even greater price disparity exists at the 1Tb class drives with the 1Tb Reactor coming in at 249.99 a full 60 less than the evo at 309.99 (that’s enough to buy one of the smaller ~120gb NVME drives in addition to the reactor) and I’d expect even better performance out of the larger drive especially on the write portion of testing although it would retain the same layout internally.