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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Monday, 20 July 2009 11:49

Patriot TorqX 128GB SSD tested

Written by Slobodan Simic

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Review: Lightning fast SSD with a decent price tag


Solid State Drives are no longer reserved for the highly privileged part of the market that is willing to spend over €500 for a 32GB SSD. Prices have gone down dramatically, and although SSDs are still far from being competitive with traditional HDDs in capacity/price segment, they excel in speed/price department.

Another good side of the SSD is its lack of moving parts, so you end up with noiseless operation, higher shock resistance and improved reliability. These features make an SSD a perfect candidate for any notebook. The write and read speeds are something that you must not overlook as SSD easily beats an HDD, especially a 2.5-inch laptop HDD.

With its Warp series, Patriot became a very serious player on the SSD market and it is clear that Patriot is intending to stay and become the one to look at if you are shopping for an SSD. The TorqX line is no exception either, as 64MB of DRAM cache and rated speeds of up to 260MB/s for read and up to 180MB/s write for 128 and 256GB versions and 220MB/s and 135MB/s for a 64GB version, are a proof that Patriot is definitely here to impress.

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During the process of writing this review, Patriot has informed us that its entire TorqX line now has a ten year warranty. This is a great plus that you must have in mind when you are shopping for an SSD, and as far as we know, Patriot is the first company to make such a move.

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Patriot TorqX comes packed in a simple and small but rather practical box that contains the drive, a jumper for firmware updates and a 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch adapter bracket. Drive and adapter bracket are packed and secured in separate compartments.

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At this year’s CeBit show, Patriot showed us this adapter bracket and we were hoping that Patriot will include these with any SSD as a lot of consumers use SSDs in their desktops systems.

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Case manufacturers have only recently started to include 2.5-inch bays or brackets and these are also quite rare.

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We honestly think that if you are paying premium for such high end and expensive product it is at least fair that you get an adapter bracket for free and that you do not have to buy it or waste time looking for it.

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Unlike some SSDs on the market that are made using plastic, Patriot has decided to use aluminum on this one, as it is much more sturdier and should help reduce temperatures a bit. Do not be fooled by marketing talk that Solid State Drives do not produce much heat, as there are no moving parts. Solid State Drives do produce heat, they might be cooler than most HDDs, but they are still not stone cold.

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Patriot TorqX shares the same specifications as OCZ’s Vertex and other various SSD on the market because it is equipped with Indilinx controller and a single Elpida 64MB SDRAM cache memory chip that is one of the key parts that removes the famous stuttering effect that occurs with MLC-based SSDs.

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Next to it is the Indilinx IDX110M00-FC “Barefoot” chip controller that supports capacities of up to 512GB.

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As you can see from the picture below, Patriot has used Samsung’s K9HCG08U1M-PCB0 memory chips. These are lead-free RoHS-compliant 48-pin multi-layer chips with an operating voltage of 2.7-3.6V and a 25ns speed rating.

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Our Patriot TorqX 128GB sample came with ver. 1370 firmware, and shortly after we received a notice from Patriot about the new ver. 1571 firmware which should bring additional performance gains for TorqX. Patriot also noted that this new firmware will be available soon on their web site for download. It was also a perfect opportunity to try out that “firmware upgrade” jumper and to get a good look at the actual upgrade firmware procedure.

The procedure is quite simple and all you have to do is use the included jumper, boot into Windows and use the firmware upgrade applications and sit back for a 1-minute show. The only negative point is that it wipes out the complete data from the SSD which is well noted in the firmware upgrade manual.




As we mentioned earlier, solid state drives are way faster than traditional hard drives and we included results of our own Samsung F1 1TB drive as well as the results of previously tested OCZ Apex SSD. We also included the results of Patriot’s drive before and after the firmware update.

Our first tests with an early firmware ver. 1370 left us with a dilemma as Patriot TorqX simply failed in achieving the rated read speed of 260MB/s, as HD Tune Pro showed a maximum read speed of 200MB/s and a maximum write speed of 189.9MB/s.

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ATTO disk benchmark, was kinder to Patriot TorqX and maximum read and write were hovering around 247MB/s and up to 200MB/s depending on the file size. As you can see from these screenshots, minimum read and write speeds were 186.5MB/s and 147.4MB/s, and average was showing 188.7MB/s and 171.4MB/s.

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Even thought that read speeds were below the rated ones, write speeds certainly surprised us, as they were good 20MB/s over the rated maximum value.

We were pleasantly surprised when Patriot contacted us about the new firmware as we hoped that the read speeds would jump, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case, and it looks like we’ll have to wait for the next firmware update in order to get those up to rated speeds.

It did raise the read speed to up to 214.5MB/s in HD Tune which left it at an average of 201.3MB/s but it was still short from those rated 260MB/s. The write speed got up from a maximum of 189.8MB/s to 193.3MB/s which isn’t that much but it is still over the rated 180MB/s.

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ATTO Disk benchmark also felt a slight bump from the new firmware as this time we were seeing a maximum read of almost 250MB/s and a maximum write speeds of over 205MB/s.

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Just for fun, we compared it to Samsung’s F1 1TB traditional hard drive, and as you would suspect, even thought Samsung’s F1 is a decent hard drive, it came nowhere near Patriot TorqX 128GB SSD. Of course, this is not that fair as this HDD can be bought for as low as €70 while you have to spill over €350 for Patriot’s SSD.

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We decided to try these drives in SiSoft Sandra benchmark as well and as you can see from the results below, Samsung’s Spinpoint F1 is simply no match for the SSD. Samsung’s Spinpoint F1 1TB hard drive had a random access time of 13 and 2ms in write and read, while Patriot did 1ms in both.

We didn’t want to bother with copying files as it is clear that Samsung’s SpinPoint F1 is no match to the Patriot TorqX SSD drive and it would just be unfair.

Conclusion

SSD technology is still far away from being affordable, but it has always been that way with premium products and new technologies. Even Western Digital’s first Raptors were more expensive than the regular hard drives, and we don’t even want to start talking about SCSI hard drives.

When compared to the traditional HDD like 1TB Samsung Spinpoint which costs around €70, SSD sounds like a really expensive product. On the other hand, if you compare the read and write speeds the price of an SSD is pretty much self explanatory. Due to its “low capacity” SSD’s are most commonly used as an OS drive while the bigger and cheaper traditional hard drives are left for storage which is a great combination.

Patriot’s TorqX is currently listed for around €350 (US $379.99) which is not that expensive if you compare it to other solid state drives on the market, especially if you consider the fact that it has 64MB of cache and uses Indilinx controller which has proven to be a really good combination with MLC memory, as it gets rid of the “stuttering” problem.

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In addition to the 128GB model, Patriot also has 64GB and 256GB TorqX M28 256 and 128GB models which have 128MB of cache. So if 128GB is too much or too little you can always go for a different model, but bear in mind that 64GB model has somewhat lower read and write speeds.

Patriot’s TorqX is the fastest SSD that we laid our hands on so far, and we must compliment Patriot on the bundle and the firmware update ease of use. The lower than rated read speeds are not a big issue as it will probably be fixed by a next update, and higher than rated write speeds are certainly a plus, one plus that we really liked. 

When you take the whole picture into account, especially the fact that this is the first SSD that has 10 years of warranty, Patriot’s TorqX sounds like a great catch. We are more than happy to give it our recommended award.

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Last modified on Monday, 20 July 2009 11:03
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