Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review

Waco - 2013-02-22 16:00:32 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: Waco   
Reviewed on: June 10, 2013
Price: $269.99

Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Introduction:

There was always a day coming when your old bog-standard USB 2.0 thumb drives were no longer attractive for transferring your ever-growing files around. Has that day come yet? Personally, I'd have to say yes. I have a 16 GB drive I use personally but with its measly 4 MB/s write speeds, it just doesn't cut it whenever I need to transfer something that would actually make use of its large size. Thankfully many companies have stepped up to the plate and now offer blazing-fast USB 3.0 flash drives of varying sizes and speeds. Patriot, the company we all know and love for its multitude of storage and memory products, has come to the rescue with the newest iteration of its Magnum series of Flash drives: the Supersonic Magnum.

The Supersonic Magnum comes in 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB sizes, with all sizes coming with USB 3.0 connectivity, extremely fast write speeds, and rugged cases designed for a fair amount of abuse. If you want a fast high capacity drive, the market is fairly sparse and Patriot is looking to fill in the gaps with this new line of drives. Does the Supersonic Magnum actually deliver? Keep reading to find out!


Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Closer Look:

The first reaction I had to seeing the packaging for the Patriot Supersonic Magnum was something along the lines of "holy crap." It shows 256 GB, 250 MB/s read speeds, and 160 MB/s write speeds. Also, this drive is definitely worthy of the "Magnum" moniker as it is quite a bit larger than your average free-swag thumb drive. The packaging boldly states that the Supersonic Magnum is compatible with Windows 8 and Mac (which means OS X) though I'd be rather surprised if you could find a USB 3.0-equipped machine that couldn't talk to a USB flash drive. The front of the package also brags about the 8-channel controller, which is the magic that allows all of the Flash memory chips to be communicated with simultaneously. The rear of the package rehashes the same information seen on the front in many more languages.









Pulling open the packaging is a quick and easy affair. The drive is branded with the Patriot Memory logo on one side and the Supersonic Magnum 256 GB labeling on the other. The casing itself is what appears to be extruded aluminum with a black anodized coating along with blue accents composed of plastic. The tail end of the drive has a small loop for attaching a string or line to securely attach it to something else. This loop is far too thick to attach the drive to a key-ring although with its size I probably wouldn't advise that approach anyway.



With the cap pulled free you can see just how large this drive actually is compared to your bog-standard Flash drive. The USB 3.0 plug is roughly half of the width of the entire drive. That's not to say this is an overly large piece of technology though – it is many times smaller than a 2.5" external HDD and doesn't require any annoying cables either. The cap itself clicks nicely onto the business end of the drive and conveniently stores on the rear of the drive, assuming you haven't threaded anything through the loop to attach it to something else. Clearly Patriot put some thought into this design!



These next few pictures should really give you an idea of how large this drive is relative to its more mundane siblings. Both my Forza Motorsport 3 and OCZ Diesel Flash drives are dwarfed by the Supersonic Magnum. That's not to say that the Patriot drive is overly large but it is definitely large enough that you'll want to make sure you can actually plug it into your computer! The OCC test case (a Corsair 650D) has a recessed, front panel USB 3.0 connection that the Patriot Supersonic Magnum wouldn't fit into because of its width. I resorted to using the rear ports on the motherboard for testing but that also blocked the adjacent ports from use – so be warned that the additional capacity does come at a bit of a usability hit.


Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Specifications:

Product Name:
Supersonic Magnum
Patriot Part #:
Patriot Supersonic Magnum USB Flash Drive
Product Warranty:
5 Year Warranty
Unit Dimensions:
.36 (D) x 1.06 (W) x 2.83 (H) in
.91 (D) x 2.69 (W) x 7.18 (H) cm
Unit UPC:
Packaging Type:
Blister Pack
Packaging Dimensions:
.41 (D) x 3.91 (W) x 5.31 (H) in
1.04 (D) x 9.96 (W) x 13.5 (H) cm
Net Weight:
.05 lb / 21.9 gm
Gross Weight:
.07 lb / 32.8 gm


Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Features:




Information provided by:

Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Testing:

To test the Patriot Supersonic Magnum drive, I will run a series of benchmarks to provide as accurate a representation of its performance as possible. While the Patriot drive ships with FAT32 formatting by default (which can be slow) I elected to format it to exFAT to full show the true performance in real-world use. Flash Memory Toolkit and SiSoft Sandra will both be used to measure access times and to benchmark read and write speeds in various circumstances. Remember that FMT and Sandra are synthetic benchmarks. To gauge real-world performance, I will also use a set of compressed files of various sizes to measure write speeds under typical usage. These compressed files correspond to those that are used in our product reviews that use the WinRAR benchmark. Let's begin!


Test Setup:



Flash Memory Toolkit 2.0

The first benchmark will use the low level benchmark from Flash Memory Toolkit 2.0. Higher read/write speeds and lower access times are better.


Low-level Benchmark:






I have to admit, making these charts was fun. Not only does the Patriot drive win every test but it does so by such a huge margin that the other drives aren't even in the realm of competition. Pure dominance is what this is. You won't be waiting on the Patriot drive to write your files or read them back. This is SSD-like speed here.

Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Testing:

The next benchmark will be FMT's 'File Benchmark' that will write files of varying small sizes to the drive to more accurately gauge real world performance. Higher read and write speeds are better.











File Benchmark:








The Patriot drive again completely takes the crown. While the speeds aren't quite up to the ratings on the packaging (or what was seen on the previous page) they're still quite good for a single file transfer.

Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Testing:

SiSoft's Sandra 2012 features a specific benchmark for thumb drives and other externally-based flash media. Similar to Flash Memory Toolkit's testing method, Sandra 2012 writes files of varying sizes to the drive multiple times to measure performance. A sub-benchmark is also conducted that focuses more on sector use. Higher read and write speeds are better.











Removable Storage Benchmark:















The Patriot Supersonic Magnum is again a standout leader through the tests. At small file sizes it's not incredibly quick but with anything larger it absolutely will not leave you waiting. In the random sector write test it blows away the fastest Flash drives I have on hand.

Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Testing:

Nothing reveals true performance more than actually using the hardware as it was meant to be used. That's why this last benchmark is very simple and something anyone can do. Files of varying sizes, small and large, are transferred to the memory cards and the time taken is recorded. Time measurements are taken using a stopwatch. The stopwatch is started as soon as the Windows file transfer window appears and stopped after it closes. After an individual file is tested, it is then deleted before the next file, and the preceding steps are taken again until testing is complete. Average transfer speeds are then calculated by dividing the real file size by the recorded transfer time. Lower transfer times and higher speeds are better.












Custom File Transfers:





Can you say domination? Clearly the Patriot drive takes full advantage of the 8-channel controller and USB 3.0 connectivity here. Just for fun I also timed a 20 GB file transfer and came up with the result of 165 MB/s sustained write speed over the entire file transfer period. That's faster than almost any HDD could easily feed it!

Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Conclusion:

Well what can I say here? The Patriot Supersonic Magnum literally wiped the floor with the comparison drives. That's not a real surprise since I only had USB 2.0 drives on-hand to compare it with – but that's a bit of a good thing I think. Anyone looking to finally upgrade from their pokey USB 2.0 Flash drive can look at these results (which are fairly typical in terms of USB 2.0 drives) and see just how much faster the Supersonic Magnum really is in real use. The real impressive feat here is that in almost every use case I can imagine it's quite unlikely you'll even be able to read or write to the Patriot drive at its maximum speeds! Most HDDs have trouble sustaining an even 100 MB/s on larger files and this drive can exceed those speeds quite handily without breaking a sweat.

So let's get down to brass tacks. Is the Patriot Supersonic Magnum worthy of its relatively high (in terms of dollars / gigabyte) cost? Honestly it really depends on how you're intending to use it. The Magnum could easily serve as a high-speed backup drive, a LAN-friendly drive that holds game ISOs, or a storage device for high-speed dumps of raw HD video footage. There's also the inherent shock and vibration resistance of Flash-based media that makes the Magnum far more rugged than any external HDD. If you need fast, reliable, and spacious storage on the go, this drive is certainly worth a few moments of your time to consider. After all, a few moments are all it needs to transfer your data anyway.