Review: New Patriot SSD balances performance and capacity

The Patriot Warp offers better performance than most current SSDs

Although still not mainstream, solid state drives (SSD) are slowly becoming a more practical means of storage. We've already covered Intel's impressive 80GB X25-M SSD. Now, Patriot Memory has introduced its new Extreme Performance Warp series SSD. I looked at the 128GB drive.

One of the main reasons to go with an SSD is battery life: Switching to an SSD can add crucial minutes to your operating time. (Although keep in mind that hard drives, even SSDs, are only one component in an array of power-consuming devices in your laptop -- factors such as CPU usage, the amount of installed memory, screen brightness and Wi-Fi use are more dominant power users than the average hard drive when configured in a reasonable power-saving arrangement.)

Patriot claims the Warp drive's operational power consumption is between 280 milliamps and 330mA. Compared to a fast mechanical hard drive like Western Digital's Velociraptor (Read: 675mA; Write: 675mA; Idle: 425mA; Standby: 70mA), Patriot's numbers are impressive.

See drive comparison chart.

The Warp doesn't really have "idle" and "standby" (there are similarities, but the stats are not exactly the same), so comparing the two as closely as possible means that the Warp uses less power (its maximum of 330mA) under worst-case conditions than the Velociraptor does just sitting around doing nothing (425mA at idle). Assuming that Warp's worst case is when reading and/or writing, it's using less than half the power that the Velociraptor does when doing the same.

But let's be honest -- not many of us are going to buy bumper stickers for our hybrids that read, "My hard drive uses half the milliamps yours does!" Power consumption is nice, but performance is still the mark of excellence. Patriot's Warp won't let you down there -- mostly.

The Warp is heavily biased toward reading: 175MB/sec. (read) compared to 100MB/sec. (write). As a result, its boot time using Windows Vista (for our light boot, with all of but a minimal set of drivers loading) was 1.1 minutes. That's faster than Intel's X25-M or Ridata's 64GB Ultra-S Plus, which both had boot times of 1.2 minutes. However, when a full set of drivers were mixed in, the Warp slowed considerably, to 1.5 minutes, which was well below the 1.3-minute mark set by Intel's X25-M (1.2 minutes) and only a second faster than Ridata's 64GB Ultra-S Plus.

Copying a 4,661 test data block (8.05GB) from the Warp was quite a bit faster (4.4 minutes) than writing that same data to the drive (5.8 minutes). Ridata posted slower "copy from" and "paste to" times (6.1 minutes and 4.6 minutes, respectively), while Intel showed somewhat more even performance at 4.4 minutes and 3.7 minutes to copy from the X25-M and paste data to it.

Patriot Memory's 128GB Warp SSD is a reasonable compromise between performance and capacity. Pricing hasn't quite settled down yet, so you'll see the Warp's cost fluctuate between about $440 and $500 in the channel, which is still quite expensive compared to mechanical drives but in the ballpark for the SSD genre.

The SSD market itself (unlike the drives), is highly volatile and is still evolving. For example, Toshiba's just-announced 256GB SSDs should be quite interesting. If you're not in a hurry, you might want to wait and see what happens.

Bill O'Brien is a freelance writer who has written a half-dozen books and more than 2,000 articles on computers and technology, including Apple computers, PCs, Linux and commentary on IT hardware decisions.

Functional Drive Data Comparison

  Capacity Buffer size Spindle speed Interface
Intel X25-M SSD 80GB N/A N/A SATA 3.0Gbit/sec.
Ridata SSD Ultra-S Plus 64GB N/A N/A SATA 3.0Gbit/sec.
Patriot Memory Warp SSD 128GB N/A N/A SATA 3.0Gbit/sec.
Western Digital Velociraptor HDD 300GB 16MB 10,000rpm SATA 3.0Gbit/sec.

HD Tach Throughput Speed Tests

  Burst Speed Average Read Random Access CPU Utilization
Intel X25-M SSD 256.7MB/sec. 230.2MB/sec. 0.1ms 2%
Ridata SSD Ultra-S Plus 138.7MB/sec. 112.4MB/sec. 0.4ms 3%
Patriot Memory Warp SSD 177.1MB/sec. 135.5MB/sec. .2ms 4%
Western Digital Velociraptor HDD 250.3MB/sec. 105.6MB/sec. 7.0ms 2%

Boot-Up Times (in seconds)

  Cold Boot Restart
Intel X25-M SSD 1:19.0 1:10.8
Ridata SSD Ultra-S Plus 1:28.2 1:14.3
Patriot Memory Warp SSD 1:27.5 1:04.2
Western Digital Velociraptor HDD N/A N/A
Testing software: Simpli Software HD Tach

Transferring 8.06GB (in seconds)

  Copy To Copy From
Intel X25-M SSD 264.3 221.4
Ridata SSD Ultra-S Plus 363.4 274.5
Patriot Memory Warp SSD 345.5 263.3
Western Digital Velociraptor HDD 264.0 242.4

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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