Patriot Fires Things Up with Pyro
Patriot hasn't been as active in the SSD realm as some other companies, focusing instead on their memory products and USB flash media. Recently they released their Wildfire line of SSDs and they follow that up with another flame related theme in the Pyro line. Each features the popular SandForce SF-2281 controller and a SATA III interface but differ in the NAND flash employed. The Pyro line is the more value oriented drive as opposed to the Wildfire line which sports slightly better max performance specifications in terms of MB/s and IOPS. This small difference in published performance puts them both relatively close together but we haven't had a chance to get our hands on the Wildfire so we'll have to save direct comparisons for when one comes across our test bench.
Even without having a similar drive available by the same manufacturer, the number of drives being powered by the SF-2200 controllers is rapidly growing so the
competition is stiff so Patriot is fashionably late to the SandForce party - not the first but far from the last. Sometimes waiting is a good thing because you can learn from the mistakes of others before stepping out onto the ledge with a new product. Given that some other manufacturers have reportedly had quality issues
with their SF-2200 drives, Patriot may have elected to slow things down a
bit to mitigate any such issues. On the other hand, sometimes it's costly because speed to market is a big factor in terms of sales. Either way, with both the Wildfire and Pyro drives having SandForce controllers, Patriot has jumped in with both feet so to speak. Specifications of 550MB/s max reads and 515MB/s max writes for the Pyro seem to put it right in line with its competitors but will that hold true across the full spectrum of benchmarks?
Patriot has set the pricing at $120, $209 & $449 for their 60 GB, 120 GB and 240 GB drives. This is less than their Wildfire drives which makes sense since the performance is lower as outlined by the specifications below.
Patriot Pyro (PP120GS25SSDR) 120GB Features and Specifications
- SandForce SF-2200 series SSD processor paired with qualified MLC NAND flash for best performance, value and reliability
- SATA 6Gb/s, 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s
- TRIM support (O/S dependent)
- DuraClass technology
- DuraWrite 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:
- 240GB & 120GB models; 550MB/s read | 515MB/s Write
- 60GB model; 520MB/s read | 490MB/s Write.
- Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)/240GB & 120GB models
- up to 80,000 (4K aligned)/60GB model.
** Capacities stated are unformatted. The total formatted capacity for the drive will differ, depending on the operating system and file system used.
The overall design of the drive belies the name save for the flame-like orange wisp on the sticker which mirrors the Wildfire design with the aforementioned being red in color. You'd expect with the naming convention that the sheel itself would be a red or orange color but black was chosen. The edges of the top section of the shell are beveled and polished to a shine which is a nice touch. In the packaging, other than the drive, there's only a pamphlet carrying specification and warranty information. No adapter plate or cable adapters, etc are included which shouldn't be an issue for most and help keeps the costs down.
Enough about the exterior, let's have a look inside.
Inside the Pyro
When we kick the tires, we also like to take a look under the hood to see what kind of hardware we're dealing with and it's no different with the Patriot Pyro SSD.
Four Allen screws are all it takes to split apart the shell and reveal the components within. No screws hold the PCB and it pulls away from the shell easily for us to have a closer look.
As usual, one side features a plethora of NAND neatly stacked towards the end of the board opposite of the SATA connectors. Absent are any markings on the PCB in terms of the Patriot name or logo.
A closer look shows the modules to be 25nm MLC flash of Micron manufacture. Each asynchronous modules are 64 Gb (8 GB) in density with eight modules on each side totaling 128 GB of on board storage.
On the flip side we have the remaining eight NAND modules as well as the controller. This is the standard configuration for most of the SandForce drives we've seen.
On the other side lies the remaining NAND modules along with the SandForce controller. As with all other SandForce based drives, there's no cache.
The latest and greatest generation of consumer SandForce SF-2200 controllers sits proudly on the Pyro drive. Relying heavily on real-time data compression to reach peak performance, the controller emplys firmware that is generally customized by each manufacture which can account for variations in performance between each. It's proprietary DuraClass technology handles all of the mundane tasks like real-time compression, wear-leveling, error correction, among other things. It is also responsible for performance maintenance with features like idle garbage collection and TRIM. Overall, most of the drives we've seen with this controller exhibit performance relatively close to their peers of various manufacture. Let's where the Pyro falls in the pack.
Comparison Drives & Test System
Legit Reviews Test System
All tests were performed on a fresh and up-to-date install of Windows 7 Pro x64 with no other applications running while using AHCI mode set through the BIOS. Synthetic Benchmarks were run with the OS loaded on a 40GB Corsair Force SSD. In between every test, the drive was secure erased using the an instance of Parted Magic. As such, all results should be indicative of optimal performance. All components were set to their default speeds and are listed below and we'd like to thank ASUS for their generosity and support in providing the motherboard for our test bench.
P67 Test Bench
|Intel LGA 1155 Test Platform|
|Core i5 2500k
|ASUS P8P67 Deluxe
|Crucial 2 x 2GB PC3-10600|
|Gigabyte GeForce GT 430|
|Corsair Force 40GB|
|Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit|
Comparison Drives & Other Models We Have Tested
Since there are so many SSDs out there now with different controllers, we started a reference table of which controllers are used by each drive to help you compare results. Different controllers definitely perform differently and each has various strengths and weaknesses. Like CPU's, even identical drives will have variations in performance and part of that variance may be attributable to the NAND flash used. Since the tests of the drives listed have spanned different test benches and represent three different interfaces, we have listed them for easy reference.
| SSD MODEL
|OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB
||SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281)x4
|OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G 240GB
||SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281)
|OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB
||SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281)
|OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB
||SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281)
|OCZ Agility 3 240GB
||SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281)
|OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
||SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281)
|PQI S535 256GB
|OWC Mercury EXTREME Pro 120GB
||SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281)||Yes||SATA III|
|Crucial m4/Micron C400 256GB
||Marvell 88SS9174||Yes||SATA III|
|Intel 320 Series 128GB
||Intel PC29AS21BA0 (G3 FW)
|Corsair Performance 3 Series 128GB
|Intel 510 Series 250GB
|Plextor M2 Series 128GB
|Kingston V100 Series 128GB
||JMicron JMF618 (Toshiba branded)
|OCZ Vertex 3 Pro 200GB (beta)||SandForce SF-2500 (SF-2582)||Yes||SATA III|
|RunCore Pro V 120GB
||SandForce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes||SATA II|
|Samsung 470 Series 256GB
||Samsung S3C29MAX01-Y340||Yes||SATA II|
|Zalman N Series 128GB||SandForce SF-1200 (SF-1222)
|Kingston V+100 128GB||Toshiba T6UG1XBG||Yes||SATA II|
|Corsair Force 40GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes||SATA II|
|Intel X25-V 40GB||Intel PC29AS21BA0 (G2 FW)||Yes||SATA II|
|G.Skill Phoenix Pro||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes||SATA II|
|Patriot Inferno 100GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes||SATA II|
|OCZ RevoDrive X2 240GB
||4X Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||No*||PCI-E
|OCZ RevoDrive 120GB
||2X Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||No*||PCI-E|
|ADATA S596 128GB||JMicron JMF612||Yes||SATA II|
|Corsair Force Series 120GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes||SATA II|
|Patriot Zephyr 128GB||JMICRON JMF612||Yes||SATA II|
|Patriot Torqx 128GB||Indilinx Barefoot||Yes||SATA II|
|Kingston 30GB V Series SNV125-S2||Toshiba T6UG1XBG||Yes||SATA II|
|Kingston 128GB V Series SNV425-S2||JMICRON JMF618||Yes||SATA II|
|Corsair Force Series 100GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes||SATA II|
|Corsair Nova Series 128GB||Indilinx Barefoot||Yes||SATA II|
|Intel X25-M 160GB G2
||Intel PC29AS21BA0 (G2 FW)
|Micron RealSSD C300 256GB||Marvell 88SS9174||Yes||SATA III|
|* TRIM is not supported due to the RAID controller.|
In the readout on CrystalDiskInfo 3.10.0, both NCQ and S.M.A.R.T. are enabled, as is TRIM. This is a great free tool to see what version of firmware the drive is running in the event there are updates available and at the time of this review, version 3.1.9 is the latest from Patriot.
On to the benchmarks!
ATTO & Iometer Synthetic Benchmarks
ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes with the total length being 256mb.
ATTO - Intel P67 Platform
Benchmark Results: So far the Patriot Pyro falls right in line with its SandForce peers on the compressible data ATTO benchmark. Compressible data is where the SandForce controllers shine and pretty much where we'll see the peak performance numbers.
This test employs compressible data showing the best case scenario in terms of data throughput for the SandForce drives. Let's have a look at a few others that use incompressible data to see how that impacts the scores.
Iometer 2008 (1.1.0)
Iometer is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation who has since discontinued work on Iometer and it was ultimately turned over to the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL). We chose the file sizes that best reflect many of the Windows transactions. 4KB random read/writes is very common on every day user machines. Large sequential writes represent large file copies. The drive block size is 512kb so it should give a very good indication of peak performance. We set the queue depth to 4 for the tests as generally Windows operations tend to happen at queue depths of 5 or less.
Benchmark Results: The 512kb reads are a little below what we see with the other similarly equipped drives but the other sequential scores fall in line. The random read scores really stand out with a score of 219.48 MB/s that is only bested by the Crucial/Micron drive which uses similar but higher density NAND.
CrystalDiskMark and PCMark Vantage
CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 - Intel P67 Platform
Benchmark Results: Curiously, the Patriot Pyro performance falls off on the sequential runs in comparison to the other SandForce drives except the OCZ Agility drive. Still, the Agility drive outpaces it by a significant margin in the sequential writes department.
PCMark Vantage 7 Professional - Intel P67 Platform
This is our first use of the new PCMark software since they have updated it to version 7 which is specifcially designed for Windows 7. It measures the performance of the latest PC hardware across a variety of common scenarios. PCMark Vantage 7 supports both system level and component level benchmarking and comprises several different test suites but for the purposes of this review, we employed the secondary storage suite. The nice thing about it is that you can submit your scores online and compare against others.
Benchmark Results: All scores except the Start Applications fall in line with the comparable drives where again, it rounds out close to what we saw with the OCZ Agility drive.
AS-SSD Synthetic Benchmarks
We continue on with our battery of benchmarks with the AS-SSD suite.
AS-SSD (1.6.4013.39530) Benchmark - Intel P67 Platform
We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over some time now and found that it gives a broad result set. The programmer has worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love and send him a donation. There are now three tests that are found within the tool and we'll show the results from all of them.
Benchmark Results: Another incompressible data benchmark and similar results for the Patriot Pyro drive. The sequential scores are below what we expected, especially in the writes and the overall score reflects this. It seems this may be a bit of a trend for this drive.
Benchmark Results: As is typical with a SandForce drive, the relationship between the compressibility of the data and the drive performance are commensurate and the scaling ratio is relatively consistent.
Patriot Pyro 120GB - Real World Tests
One of the most common operations performed on a PC is moving/copying files. Using a free application called Teracopy, we copied large numbers of two file types from one folder to another on the same drive. Teracopy allows us to objectively measure the time of transfer and using the same drive prevents other devices from tainting the outcome. The operation requires the drive to perform both sustained read and writes simultaneously. The first set of files is a 5GB collection of JPG's of variable size and compression levels with a few movie (.MOV) files thrown in for good measure since most cameras now take video as well as stills.
The second is a collection of MP3 files of various sizes which totals 5GB collectively. These file types were chosen due to their wide use and mixture of file sizes and compression levels.
Install Results: The performance here by the Patriot Pyro really illustrates the lesser performance on the sequential read/writes with incompressible data. These media files are largely compressed which really impacts performance on the SandForce drives and it shows here on the Pyro times.
We also timed the installation of a few rather lengthy applications/suites as app installs is something everyone does and waiting for completion can be a drag. We used Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, Microsoft Office 2010 Professional and Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage (v1.102.1901) as our test subjects with all install settings at default. Both were installed from an installer located on the target drive itself as installing from another drive, especially an optical drive, would cause a bottle-neck that would corrupt the results. The timing for these had to be done via stopwatch so there should be about a half second +/- error margin. Again, with the source and target drives being the same, concurrent read/write activity is required.
Install Results: Install times were surprisingly good in comparison to the other drives where the Pyro bested most of the drives in the comparison chart.
We'll wrap this with a look at the total drive capacity and our final thoughts.
Capacity, Final Thoughts & Conclusions
As with all the SandForce drives, the Patriot Pyro employs some overprovisioning of the NAND to help wear-leveling and drive maintenance over long term usage. The user finds themselves with 111 GB of usable space to do with as they wish which is what we see on nearly all of the 120 GB drives these days.
Overall, several of the benchmarks didn't turn out the way we expected in the sequential read/write area in comparison to similar drives we've tested. These scores ended up lower than anticipated and were consistent as we ran several iterations of each test with the same results. Likely, this is mostly due to the NAND employed which is a bit slower than what is on other drives and probably ensures that there's enough of a performance gap
between the Pyro and Wildfire lines so sales of one doesn't cannibalize
the other. Our experience with compressible data was much better where the ATTO benchmark showed performance that backed up Patriot's max performance specifications of 550MB/s read and 515MB/s write.
That being said, in practical application and real-world use, we didn't observe any major performance differences from previously tested drives although our real-world file copy tests did show some variation between the Pyro and said competition. For most users, the differences are negligible and if moving from SATA II SSD or HDD, the Pyro is still going to be a significant improvement upgrade. To be fair, most of the drives that have been released have been aimed at the enthusiast whereas the Pyro is more on the value side. Patriot does offer a 3-year warranty against defects so if there are any issues, you're covered. As with any storage medium, be sure to make regular backups of your precious data since no device is 100% infallible as some Intel 320 SSD users recently found out the hard way.
In terms of value, we're looking at roughly $1.88 per usable GB for the 120 GB Pyro drive which is a pretty good value relative to what we see for comparable drives and as compared to the faster Wildfire line. The cost of NAND continues to fall so it won't be long before the broader range of consumers find these in their price range. If you're looking for the fastest SATA III drive, the Pyro is not for you. If the best bang for your buck performance is more your speed, the Pyro is not a bad choice as long as the pricing gap remains between it and drives like the Vertex 3; however, we're already seeing price drops and/or rebates on the drives that have been out for a bit.
Legit Bottom Line: The Patriot Pyro SSD is a capable and affordable SATA III SSD that doesn't have the raw speed across the board like some of its peers but it also carries a lower price tag than most.