Patriot Inferno 120GB SSD Review

ajmatson - 2010-08-27 10:56:49 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: October 13, 2010
Price: $289.99

Introduction:

Since the SandForce SSD controller was introduced there has been a rush of drives on the market taking advantage of the increased speeds that the chip offers. The first round of drives released had a huge chunk of the storage area used for provisioning which hurt capacities, but manufacturers and SandForce have worked on the issue with new provisioning and tweaked firmware.

With the tweaks and additions of new firmware, comes new and improved drives. The SandForce controller boasts read speeds of up to 285MB/s and write speeds of up to 275MB/s. The SandForce controller supports all of the latest technology including TRIM and has integrated DuraClass Technology. The Inferno drives have been out for some time with SandForce controllers, but with new firmware the provisioning was lessened to only 8GB instead of the original 28GB. This gives a higher capacity to the series and a better cost per gigabyte ratio.

The capacities of SSD drive are still at a premium though, so there is a trade off between capacity and speed which make these great for OS installs but not for mass storage. With the 120GB version you are looking at about a price of $2.42 per gigabyte which is high in storage terms, but when speed is a concern it is right on the money. Patriot has a long line of SSD products under its belt and the Inferno is aimed at the top. Without wasting much more time how about we go dig in and tear this baby apart?

 

Closer Look:

The Patriot Inferno 120GB comes packaged in a sleek black box with a window to show off the fiery red design of the drive. On their front there is also the SandForce logo quoting "Driven by SandForce". The front also states some of the specifications of the Inferno drive such as being a 2.5 inch Solid State Drive with a SATA I/II Interface for 1.5Gbps and 3Gbps respectively. On the rear of the packaging Patriot lists some of the features for the Inferno 120GB such as being a 1.5" form factor, low power consumption, and SATA I/II compatible. When you open the packaging there are two blister packs on the inside. The first blister pack contains the 120GB Patriot Inferno SSD drive, the second blister pack has the 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch converting bracket so that you can mount it easily in your case that does not have a 2.5 inch drive bay available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned above, Patriot has included the bay converter for convenience when installing the drive. The converter comes with all of the screws needed for installation. Just line up the drive and screw in the four mounting screws into the bottom of the bracket to the drive and it is ready to go. Then you just mount into the your empty 3.5 inch bay and connect the cables.

 

 

Now that we have the Inferno out of the package we can take a closer look at the drive itself.

Closer Look:

The Patriot Inferno drive comes cased in a fiery red aluminum enclosure. The housing is a 2.5 inch form factor making it suitable for both desktop and notebook use. The Inferno is available in 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB capacities to fulfill all your SSD needs. On the front of the drive is the same information that was shown on the box including the specifications and the "Driven by SandForce" logo. On the rear there is a stamp of the model number and information about the drive.

The Inferno is an SATA drive supporting both SATA I 1.5Gbps and SATA II 3.0Gbps connection speeds. There is the SATA power and data connector on the front edge of the drive. One nice thing about the Patriot Inferno is that it comes with a three year warranty to protect your investment should anything go wrong. Since this is an SSD, there are no moving parts which means lower power consumption. As always, my inner geek wants to see how things work on the inside however, there are two tell-tale stickers placed over two of the screws that hold the drive together. If removed they leave a honeycomb pattern, as shown in the second picture below that alerts the manufacturer that the drive has in fact been opened. Doing this will void your three year warranty so never remove them. I will do this for you so that you can see what makes the drive tick, thus keeping your warranty intact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the housing removed you are left with the parts that really matter. Inside is the PCB with the memory and controller chips that make it run. On the front side is where the controller chip and half of the NAND flash chips reside and on the reverse are the rest of the NAND chips that make up the 120GB storage space. The controller used to run the Inferno series is the SandForce SF-1222 SSD processor, which supports TRIM, built-in ECC, NCQ (up to 32 commands) and SMART. For storage the SandForce controller is paired with 16 MLC NAND flash chips, all 8GB each making up the 128GB size before it is provisioned to the 120GB capacity. The NAND flash chips are manufactured by Intel and are model 29F64G08CAMDB, which we have seen in a number of recent solid state drives including the Mushkin Callisto, OCZ Vertex 2, and the Corsair Nova.

 

 

 

Now that we have taken a good look at the Patriot Inferno 120GB drive I am going to put it all back together and put it on the testing bench.

Specifications:

Product Name:
Inferno
Patriot Part #:
PI240GS25SSDR (240GB)
PI120GS25SSDR (120GB)
PI60GS25SSDR (60GB)
Description:
Patriot Extreme Flash, Inferno SSD
Drive 2.5” SATA
Certifications / Safety:
CE / FCC / RoHS
Product Warranty:
3 year warranty
Unit Dimensions:
.37” (D) x 2.6” (W) x 3.9” (H)
.93 cm (D) x 6.9 cm (W) x 10.1 cm (H)
Unit UPC:
0815530010357 (240GB)
0815530010340 (120GB)
0815530010333 (60GB)
Packaging Type:
Boxed
Packaging Dimensions:
1.14” (D) x 6.14” (W) X 5.23” (H)
2.9cm (D) x 15.6cm (W) x 13.3cm (H)
Net Weight:
.26 lbs / 120 gm
Gross Weight:
.43 lbs / 194.9 gm

 

Features:

 

Product Information Courtsey of Patriot Memory @ http://patriotmemory.com/products/detailp.jsp?prodline=8&catid=21&prodgroupid=178&id=977&type=17

Testing:

To test the Patriot Inferno 120GB drive I will be running a series of disk-based tests, putting it through the paces to measure the overall performance. I will also be comparing it against several other drives including those with SandForce SF-1200 series controllers and a couple with the tried but true INDILINX Barefoot controller. For true comparison I also tossed in a couple of mechanical hard drives as well. One of the mechanical drives in the mix is the Hybrid drive from Seagate which combines an SSD with a traditional platter design which offers increased speeds over straight mechanical drives. This will show us how the Inferno sits among those with higher storage devices, as well as with its SSD kin.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Modules:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 3.50 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2009
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. I/O Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown

Testing:

HD Tune 3.50 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 3.50 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but more precise file benchmarks, and a random access benchmark as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benchmark:

 

 

 

File Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

 

Random Access Benchmark:

 

 

 

In HDTune the Inferno was up and down. The Burst Speed was the worst among the SSD's yet the 4K read and write were amazingly on top. Then in the random access tests, it fell behind again.

Testing:

HD Tach v3.0.4.0: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark will measure the average read speed, the random access time, and the amount of the CPU used during operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP3: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.

 

Physical Disks

 

 

In the HD Tach tests the Patriot Inferno was on par with the SandForce drives, just behind the Mushkin Callisto 120GB.

Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 2.2: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds for the drives in 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test we chose the 100MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Crystal Disk Mark the Inferno started off strong with the 4K write score, but fell behind in the 4K read as well as in the 512K and sequential write tests.

Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.34: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good, hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again in the ATTO tests, it was up and down for the Inferno. Surprisingly though, the 4k read and write scores were the best, blowing away all of the other drives there.

AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark designed for the speeds of solid state drives, however it will also work for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds and access time for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write and overall performance of the drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AS SSD tells the same story of the drive being up at times and down at others. It did receive a high read and write score, which put it just behind the Callisto and Vertex 2 again.

Testing:

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998. Since then, it has become very wide spread within the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read:

 

 

 

Write:

 

 

 

In the IO Meter tests the Inferno had a strong start with the best read scores and held on tough in the write scores, coming in third behind the Callisto and Vertex 2 drives.

Testing:

PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the hard drive test suite. The measurement for the hard drive suite will be the total score, then the scoring for each test will be broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage and all eight will be run to gauge the performance of each drive tested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again the Inferno held on strong in the PC Mark Vantage tests, coming in a close third to the SandForce driven Callisto.

Testing:

In the world of computing, everyone likes a computer that can start up and shut down quickly. The ability to boot into your system as fast as possible allows you to start the tasks you set out to do that much faster. The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. With conventional hard drives it is possible, but very hard to attain this 'golden' 30 second time. With the speed of SSDs it should be easier, but there is only one way to tell and that is test it out. To run these tests, I used a stopwatch to calculate the number of seconds it took from pressing the power button on the case, to having a fully functioning desktop. For the shut down test, I timed from the click of the shut down button in the start menu, until power was off to the system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inferno was on par with the other solid state drives in startup and shutdown times.

Conclusion:

The Patriot Inferno drive was a mix of decent speed with unwanted inconsistencies. There were too many ups and downs during the testing that could not give a definitive look at the performance. We have seen this with a few SandForce based drives in the past and it comes down to how the manufacturers tweak the firmware for the hardware in the drive.

Now don't get me wrong, the Patriot Inferno is a great solid state drive. At the 4k level it seems to just blow past the other drives, but when you look at the scores as a whole it was slower than the Callisto series from Mushkin and would run great on one benchmark and not another. I tried several different methods to try and fix the issues including secure erasing, zero filling the drive, and even trying different allocation sizes during the format and the results were always the same. The write scores were what suffered the most. They were nowhere near the maximum and lacked when pitted head-to-head against the Callisto.

The downfalls point to the firmware and with an update, this drive could well be the leader of the pack. We have seen with other manufacturers drives, when an update is received they regain the performance that was lost with original firmware. Hopefully Patriot will fix this with an update.

Now with all of that out the the way, the SandForce series drives are among the top and even with the inconsistencies, it is still faster then older generation drives and those that use the aging INDILIX controllers. As with any SSD, price and capacity are huge factors and need to be taken into consideration when making a purchase. Patriot has always put out great things and their SSD's show it. If you are into wanting the high speed rush of solid state drives, Patriot should be on your list - just be prepared to pay the SSD premium.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: