Mushkin 256Gb IMPACT Flash Drive review

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Alongside the diminutive atom that mushkin sent us we we’re also sent the larger and more imposing sounding IMPACT. This is an interesting drive it’s quite unassuming but claims some of the highest performance numbers i’ve seen out of a flash drive before. It’s available in a range of capacities(64gb-256gb) and the unit we have in for review is the largest in the series. The drive ships in a fairly standard blister pack with some marketing related to the Reactor which we’ve already reviewed. not much else which is unfortunate considering it’s impressive specifications, the specifications do vary based on size and are summarized in the table below. All capacities include a 2 year warranty per Mushkin’s webpage.

Capacity in GBRead speed(MB/s)Write speed(MB/s)
64400105
128400210
256400310

Size

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Physically the impact is quite unassuming beyond it’s bold markings. The drive is light in hand with what feels like an aluminum construction outside of the end which has a loop for a lanyard and is a clear plastic with a red LED under it that blinks during transfers. For a drive of it’s capacity and claimed performance this is quite a refreshing surprise.

Crystal Disk Mark

The sequential performance on this drive is absolutely outstanding and only even approached by the other mushkin drive in this test for the multi threaded sequential read and entirely unparalleled in the single threaded tests. Although performance comes a bit short of the stated sequential read in the specifications the IMPACT still posts a healthy result of 313.9MB/s not something to complain about by any measure for a flash drive. Random performance however is a bit anemic it appears that the design has traded small transfer size performance almost entirely in attempt to push the limits sequentially

ATTO

With such a poor showing in the random transfers I decided a look at ATTO which tests across multiple transfer sizes was prudent. It reveals a few interesting things one of which is that the drive is dependent on transfer sizes above 64kb for write speeds to approach anything close to what we saw in our testing, and that given the right circumstances nearly 400MB/s read and write speeds are possible. This is encouraging as it’s likely ATTO that mushkin used to settle on their marketing numbers although the exact test scenario is unpublished.

Format

 Fat32ExFatNTFSEXT3EXT4HFS+
Maximum File Size4Gb16 EiB16 EiB16 GiB to 2 TiB16 GiB to 16 TiB8EiB
Maximum Volume Size 512 MiB to 8 TiB64 ZiB16 EiB2 TiB to 32 TiB1 EiB8 EiB
Name length limit255 characters255 characters255 chars255 bytes255 bytes255 UTF-16 characters
WindowsYes7 and higher natively, XP and vista via patchYesPartialPartialPartial
LinuxYesFUSE based due to liscensingYes with ntfs-3gYesYesPartial
OSxYes10.6.6 and aboveYes with ntfs-3gPartialPartialYes
AndroidYesYes(5.0 and higher tested on htc m8/10)Yes(5.0 and higher tested on htc m8/10)YesYesUnknown

Once again 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, this does not make sense for any drive in the IMPACT series and is a very odd choice.  I would encourage mushkin to start shipping all variants of the IMPACT as ExFat although this is a minor inconvenience at worst.

Conclusion

What can I say, the IMPACT is fast, light and unassuming in size in any scenario where random data isn’t a primary concern. Other than the edge case of running an OS from the drive this is likely as fast as anything is going to get without being a proper SSD which is an impressive feat. This Performance level does seem to carry a premium with the drive coming in at 135.99 at the time of writing, higher than other race to the bottom 256gb flash drives although skimming through their specs most of those are targeting 100MB/s reads, not 400MB/s.

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Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is a full time IT administrator at a medium sized private business former FRC coach and technology enthusiast.