It wasn't long ago that Solid State Drives were new to the market and only within reach of wealthy early-adopters. Capacities were small and prices were high, with many of the earliest drives fetching prices as high as $3000. As is the norm in the computer industry things have changed. SSD's are now becoming ubiquitous and capacities have increased as prices have fallen.
Performance has also increased and SSD's are now offered in every flavor imaginable from budget-conscious models with average performance to fully fledged pocket rockets that can achieve some pretty impressive data transfer rates.
Today we will be looking at Patriot's newest drive line Wildfire and more specifically the 120GB model. Wildfire ushers in a new era of performance and really amps up Patriots already impressive array of SSDs with a host of new features. Perhaps the new features that have the largest impact on the line's improved performance are the SandForce SF-2200 processor and full support for SATA-III and its full 6.0Gb/s connection interface. Now not only do you have the processor necessary power through data tasks with blistering speed, but also the nice fat data pipeline to carry all that information traffic.
At launch Patriot will be offering up three sizes to handle your storage needs, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities. All the standard features you would expect to find on a drive of this class are included.
- SandForce SF-2200 series SSD processor paired with qualified MLC NAND flash for best performance, value and reliabilitySATA 6Gb/s, 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s
- TRIM support (O/S dependent)
- DuraClass technology
- DuraWrite technology extends the endurance of SSDs
- Intelligent Block Management and Wear Leveling
- Intelligent Read Disturb Management
- Intelligent "Recycling" for advance free space management (Garbage Collection)
- RAISE. (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements)
- Intelligent Data Retention optimization
- Best-in-class ECC protection for longest data retention and drive life.
- Power/Performance Balancing
- Thermal Threshold Management
- Native Command Queuing (NCQ) - Up to 32 commands
- ECC Recovery: Up to 55 bits correctable per 512-byte sector (BCH)
- Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 555MB/s read | 520MB/s Write
- Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)
- O/S Support: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / Mac OS / Linux
The Patriot 120GB Wildfire arrived in a classy looking retail box. Finished in a soft matte black, the packaging features a front flap that opens to reveal a small window that displays the drive itself. Inside the box we find the drive as well as a aluminum mounting bracket that allows the 2.5"drive to be mounted in a standard 3.5" drive bay, definitely a handy addition as most desktop cases to not yet have dedicated 2.5" drive bays.
For comparison purposes we will be testing the Wildfire against the Intel 160GB X25-M SSD. As usual, we here at BSN* like to shake things up a little bit and provide you with an alternative to the same old tired review. Pitting the Wildfire against the Intel X25-M is not our attempt at a toe-to-toe fight. The Wildfire is a much newer drive and offers somewhat of a different feature set, so we are not looking to call this is an apples to oranges comparison. What we are providing is a showcase of the advancements in SSD technology and how rapidly improvements are being implemented. Not too long ago the mentality was that an SSD was an SSD. If you simply had an SSD (regardless of manufacturer etc) you were pretty much guaranteed performance gains. Now that the industry has progressed, SSD's have gone the way of other components like video cards and processors, performance gains seem to be around every corner and vendors are working overtime to kick out drives with ever increasing performance. You may be happy with your current SSD or you may be wondering if an upgrade is a worthwhile investment. Read on to see what we have to say.
In order to test this SSD we will be using our Lab test rig.
- Intel Core i7 2600K Processor at 3.4GHz (Supplied by Intel)
- MSI Z68A-GD80 B3 Motherboard
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Video Card
- 2x 2GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 MHz Memory
- Enermax Revolution 1kW PSU
- Samsung SyncMaster 2443BW 24" 1900x1200 display
ATTO Disk Benchmark
The ATTO disk benchmark is about as straight forward as you can get. The benchmark is a no frills solution that forgoes fancy graphics and UI's, instead it focuses on providing you with the hard and fast performance numbers for your hard drive. In order to provide the most standardized and therefor comparable data we test with the applications default settings.
Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD ATTO Benchmark Results: 559MB/s read, 512MB/s write
ATTO serves us up with our initial performance numbers. Clearly the Wildfire is on top in terms of performance with roughly 2x Read performance and over 8x write performance. This test also partially validates Patriots performance claims of "Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 555MB/s read | 520MB/s Write". With recorded The drive actually exceeds the claims made on Read performance and just narrowly misses the claim of 520MB/s write.
SiSoft Sandra 2011 SP2b
SiSoft Sandra acts as a system wide benchmark, allowing you to test the performance of the system as whole or simply test individual components. For the SSD test, we chose the Physical Disk module, and more specifically we ran the Read test to illustrate the Read performance of each drive. Sandra's official description of the test module is as follows:
"Benchmark hard disks (i.e. the disk itself, not the file system). Shows how your physical disks connected to the storage adapters or hosts compare to other disks in a typical computer. As the test measures raw performance it is independent on the file system the disk uses and any volumes mounted off the disk."
Right out of the chute we see the Patriot drive establishing a strong lead in Read performance. At 513MB/s the Patriot drive is more than twice as fast as the Intel drive.
AIDA64 Average Read Access shows that SandForce SP-2200 controller and SATA-III interface reduced the latency by massive 30%
AIDA 64 can be deemed as the most recent iteration of the original Everest benchmark suite as AIDA 64 has replaced this time honored system benchmarking utility. AIDA offers a myriad of benchmarking test but what we have chosen to focus on here is the Average Read Access benchmark. Results are measured in ms and are akin to latency. In this test the thing to remember is lower the number, the better the performance.
Unsurprisingly we see that the advancements made by the Wildfire result in a 30% reduction in latency resulting in a much more responsive drive.
The recent release of PCMark 7 has provided us with yet another tool to test hardware. PCMark 7 is a little different in that it doesn't truly fit into either the Synthetic or Real World benchmark definition, instead it lies somewhere in the middle. At its core PCMark 7 may be considered a synthetic benchmark, however when it comes to the actual tests it runs, they are all based on real world usage models. For example, the System Storage benchmark is made up seven modules that test day to day usage models. Activities such as importing pictures, starting applications, video editing and more are run to best simulate the types of tasks a hard drive has to routinely perform.
Unlike the other tests, Wildfire 120GB can pull ahead by only 12%
When it comes to the wide assortment of common tasks that PCMark 7 replicates the Patriot drive comes out on top again. The additional performance of the Wildfire shows it's strength here as well. The raw performance gains noticed in previous tests are further validated by real world disk usage scenarios and further illustrate the impact that an upgrade to a high performance SSD drive like the Wildfire can have on increased performance across the disk usage spectrum.
Solid state drives have only truly been commercially available for a few years and in the beginning the performance differences between those early drives were minimal. SSD's have come a long way in terms of performance, capacity and price drops and the Patriot Wildfire 120GB is a testament to that.
The Patriot Wildfire 120GB proved to be a blistering fast competitor. The support for SATA-III and the drive's SandForce SF-2200 processor combined in the Wildfire to create a benchmark shredding drive. The Patriot Wildfire line is proof positive that SSD performance is constantly increasing and that an SSD upgrade can have a great impact on your system's performance, even if you are currently running an SSD that is only a generation or two old.
Initial MSRP for the 120GB variant of the Wildfire will be $299USD, a price that while definitely fair, will also firmly keep this drive out of the budget and mainstream markets for the time being. Pricing is in line with industry standards and is actually somewhat better than some of its closest competitors such as the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS edition that is currently hovering around $310USD at the majority of online retailers.
The Wildfire made short work of our benchmarks posting some jaw-dropping performance numbers and even the little drive even surpassed its rated read performance. The truth of the matter is that with nearly double the performance of previous generation SATA II drives, the Wildfire provides a performance enhancement you can "feel", you don't need a benchmark to tell you that this drive is fast.
Whether you already own a solid state drive or are looking to finally ditch your physical HDD, the Patriot Wildfire would definitely serve you well and with multiple capacity offerings available at launch you are sure to find a drive to meet your needs.