Patriot Wildfire 120GB Review

ccokeman - 2011-06-09 15:56:34 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: July 11, 2011
Price: $279

Introduction:

As Patriot's first SATA 6Gb/s drive, the Wildfire looks to follow the strong performance by last year's Inferno and TorqX 2 drives. Equipped with the latest controller from Sandforce, the Patriot Wildfire series of SATA III drives looks poised to make a run for the title of fastest drive on the market. On paper, the Wildfire features specifications that include sequential read speeds up to 555MB/s and writes of up to 520MB/s with IOPs performance of up to 85,000. These are numbers it took multiple drives in a RAID array to deliver just last year. The Wildfire will be released in drive capacities of 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB to enable end users to purchase this level of performance in a capacity that fits their budget. Pricing is currently $279 at etailers (for the 120GB version), so this performance comes with a price tag that should drop as more manufacturers step into the arena. If past performance is an indicator, then this drive should prove as succesful as Patriot's prior high performance offerings. Let's see if it is indeed the fastest single drive on the market.

Closer Look:

The Patriot Wildfire 120GB drive we have is a sample that was shipped before the final graphic was ready for shipment. Even so, this is a retail drive, just without the stickers on the front or packaging. The drive housing is made from aluminum instead of a plastic/aluminum hybrid design. The front is where the Patriot logo and Wildfire naming will be located, while the back side of the drive has a label that carries the Patriot logo, model number (PW120GS25SSDR), form factor (2.5"), and the firmware revision of 3.1.9. Inside, the PCB is free-floating without screws to hold it in place — the clamshell design of the drive keeps the PCB securely in place. The aluminum body should not provide any surprises if you decide to use this drive in your laptop. Mounting bosses are standard for the 2.5 inch form factor with mounting points on the side and bottom of the enclosure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The PCB has a total of sixteen 32nm Toshiba MLC NAND modules of 8GB apiece for a total capacity of 128GB. There are eight modules per side. 8GB of this space is used for over-provisioning, wear leveling, and replacement of defective cells. You will notice that there is no DRAM module for caching data to add any latency. The Patriot Wildfire is connected to the system via a SATA 6Gb/s data port and SATA power port mounted on the edge of the PCB.

 

 

The Patriot Wildfire comes out of the gate with the client class Sandforce 2281 8-channel controller that supports SATA 6Gb/s connectivity, has Trim support depending on the operating system, is equipped with Duraclass technology for improved security with AES encryption, Durawrite that optimizes writes to the NAND for improved performance and reliability, and RAISE for improved error correction. The MLC NAND used on the Patriot Wildfire is Toshiba's 32nm toggle mode flash in an 8GB package that is rated for 133 megatransfers/second (MT/s).

 

 

The first drive I tested with Sandforce's SF-2281 controller was a beast and just blew the doors off of drives with aging controllers. The Wildfire looks to be even faster with the use of 32nm toggle mode flash instead of lower cost 25nm MLC NAND.

Specifications:

Product Name
Wildfire
Patriot Part #
PW480GS25SSDR (480GB)
PW240GS25SSDR (240GB)
PW120GS25SSDR (120GB)
Certifications / Safety
CE / FCC / RoHS
Product Warranty
3 year warranty
Unit UPC
0815530011750 (480GB)
0815530011743 (240GB)
0815530011767 (120GB)
Packaging Type
Boxed
Net Weight
.26 lbs / 118.3 gm
Gross Weight
.43 lbs / 194.9 gm
Units per Inner Carton
10
Unit Dimensions
.37" (D) x 2.6" (W) x 3.9" (H)
.93cm (D) x 6.9cm (W) x 10.1cm (H)
Packaging Dimensions
1.13" (D) x 6.14" (W) X 7.22" (H)
2.86cm (D) x 15.6cm (W) x 18.33cm (H)
Description
Wildfire 2.5" SATA SSD Drive

 

Features:

 


All information courtesy of Patriot Memory @ http://patriotmemory.com/products/detailp.jsp?prodline=8&catid=85&prodgroupid=211&id=1077&type=17

Testing:

Testing of hard drives can be done in a couple different ways. One is to leave the drive bare and hook it up as a secondary drive in an already existing system so that you can see the theoretical peaks in performance followed by a cleaning of the drive after each benchmark run through. The second method, which OverclockersClub employs, is to load the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the drive being tested. This more closely emulates how the drive will be used, so that the performance results are real world, not best case scenario results that you may never see unless operating the drive as a bare drive. Testing will be completed with the P67-based system listed below with a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of the testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have been installed for this testing with all tests run on the native SATA 6Gb/s ports on the P67-based motherboard. The connection to the drive from the motherboard is with a 6Gb/s SATA cable to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with the drive's performance.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2011
  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 4.60 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 4.60 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:

 

 

 

Starting out strong, the Patriot Wildfire drive shows that the 120GB drive size is not an impediment to performance. In many of these tests, the Wildfire is on par with the OCZ Vertex 3. One apparent weakness is the 64K random access benchmarks.

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 2011: 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 and Sandra testing, the Vertex 3 is still the fastest drive I have tested, while the Patriot Wildfire easily delivers performance well above that of drives equipped with Sandforce 1222 and INDILINX controllers.

Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: 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 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance of the Patriot Wildfire, with its Sandforce 2281 NAND controller, delivers performance that is close to that of the larger Vertex 3. Against drivers with previous-generation controllers, the Wildfire just blows them away in just about every test in Crystal Disk Mark.

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 the Wildfire keeps up with the larger capacity Vertex 3 and reaches its rated maximum throughput in the read testing, while falling just short on the write testing. Even so, the throughput is huge from a single drive.

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 times for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write, and overall performance of the drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Patriot Wildfire drive delivers excellent read performance in three out of four benchmarks and delivers a score very close to that of the Vertex 3. The use of 32nm MLC NAND and a Sandforce 2200 series controller helps this drive deliver this kind of performance.

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, its use has become very wide spread within the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

While the read speeds are not as fast as the 240GB drives, the write speeds are comparable. The maximum I/O response time and CPU usage with the Wildfire are the lowest of the comparison group.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In five out of eight tests, the Patriot Wildfire delivers a higher level of performance. In two of the three tests that the Wildfire does not perform better than the 240GB Vertex 3, the performance gap is substantial.

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 quicker, not to mention the older you get the greater the chance is that you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. It is possible with conventional hard drives, 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 to 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Startup and shutdown are instances when speed differences between drives can be felt. The Wildfire took a couple seconds longer to start up than the Vertex 3, but surpassed the times delivered by the earlier drives. The time differences between the Wildfire and spindle drive are huge and is instantly noticed when booting up the system.

Conclusion:

Patriot has come to market with a drive that delivers excellent performance characteristics with its combination of Sandforce 2281 controller and 32nm MLC NAND in place of the 25nm delivered on the other 22XX-controlled comparison drives. In much of the testing, the lower-capacity Wildfire delivered performance on par with the 240GB Vertex 3 from OCZ. On paper, the specifications include 555Mb/s read speeds and writes of 520MB/s, along with 4k aligned random write performance of 85,000 IOPs — marks the Wildfire easily delivered. This makes the drive, at times, more than twice as fast as many previous-generation drives controlled by Sandforce 1222 and INDILINX Barefoot controllers — numbers it took previous-generation drives in RAID to achieve.

The Patriot Wildfire is packed full of Sandforce's exclusive technologies, including Duraclass technology that includes Durawrite to effectively manage the write cycles for increased lifespan of the MLC NAND, RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology for an increase in reliability, and full speed AES encryption through the Sandforce 2281 controller. There have been some rumblings about problems with the Sandforce 2200 series controllers. With a competitor pulling drives off the market, the prospects might appear bleak, but Patriot has sent out this drive with the latest firmware revision 3.1.9 that resolves the issues with early releases. Time will tell, but I have not had any issues with the drive other than the fact that it is just plain fast. To take advantage of all this speed, you will need to have a motherboard that has SATA 6Gb/s connectivity with the best options currently available being Intel P67, H67, and Z68 boards. You can use a board with a Marvell controller, but wont realize the full potential of the Widfire or any SF-2281 based drive.

While the speed is nice, the capacity of the drive drops dramatically once you start loading up programs, with a total of 70GB of space available after loading up the OS and test suite. The formatted size of the drive was 111GB, or another loss of 9GB from what is originally 128GB in capacity. Not a big deal with a larger drive, but with smaller drives space comes at a premium. 70GB is still a lot of space for files, but adding a storage drive would offer the increased capacity while keeping the Wildfire available for applications. Priced at $279 for the 120GB version, the latest technology does come with a premium, as it always does.

If you take benchmarks out of the equation, you are left with what you can see and "feel" when it comes to operating a computer. Startup, shutdown, application loading, battery life, and just overall snap, are improvements you can see and feel. In that respect, Patriot has one heck of a drive — it's fast and delivers performance you can feel.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: