If you need to pack SSD performance into a small form factor, like a compact desktop or ultrabook, you need an M.2 SSD. The only issue is that these drives have tended to cost a bit more than your standard 2.5″ SATA SSD – until now. Mushkin’s new Atlas Vital SSDs are available in a variety of capacities, and at prices that mirror the more common 2.5″ SATA SSDs.
The M.2 interface is a fairly new one, designed as a replacement for mSATA. There are a number of advantages to M.2 that have led to fast adoption in a range of applications. The port allows for small cards, in the case of the Atlas Vital, 22mm wide and 80mm long, to access SATA 3.0, USB 3.0, and up to four lanes of PCIe 3.0.
Mushkin actually manufactures its own NAND wafers, which enables it to get the price a lot lower than other supply chains. The read and write speeds are quoted at 550 MBps read and 540 MBPs write, which is on the mid-to-high range of speeds for 2.5″ drives.
At the smallest end, the 120GB Mushkin Atlas Vital will only set you back $79.99, but it gets better. Even at the top end, the 480GB drive is only $189.99, which sets it right in the middle of comparable 2.5″ SATA drives price-wise. There’s also a 250 gigabyte version in the middle of the range for $115.99, and the entire line offers a standard three-year warranty.
The Mushkin drives are still 6 Gbps SATA, so you won’t see the massive read and write speed increases that are a result of PCIe connectivity. However, the manufacturer is planning a series of SSDs in the near future that will boast four lanes of PCI connectivity.