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Patriot Torqx 128GB SSD Review

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AkG

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Patriot Torqx 128GB SSD Review




Manufacturer Page: Patriot Memory - Products
Part Number: PFZ128GS25SSDR
TechWiki Info: Torqx 128GB
Price: Click Here to Check Prices
Warranty: 10 years


A little while ago, we mused that if the G.Skill Falcon proved to be a success, other companies would take note and also add the Indilinx “Barefoot” controller to their stable of SSDs. It seems that we were correct as today’s review is proof of the persuasive argument that mighty little powerhouse controller makes. We have with us here today the new Patriot Torqx 128GB which follows in the "Barefoot" footsteps of its competitors. While we highly doubt that this drive will fail to impress, there are bigger questions to be answered. The foremost of these: is there any difference between rebadged brand A versus rebadged brand B Indilinx-controlled SSDs?

We all have to remember that picking an SSD in the past always came down to performance and its ability to sustain this performance over the long haul. Since the base firmware for all of these rebadges come directly from Indilinx and while the individual companies can tweak this firmware (as is the obvious case with the OCZ Vertex line) the tweakability appears to be limited. One way or another, right now it appears performance is not an issue as these Inidilinx-based drives are real door kickers.

When it comes to this article, we will not only being reviewing this drive on its own merits but also taking a long hard look at where the Torqx fits into the Indilinx hierarchy. To this end, we will be looking at: Support (e.g. warranty, forum support and online how to’s and FAQs), ease of Firmware updating (if a difference exists), speed of firmware updates, accessories, and above all else PRICE.

To begin the evaluation lets us preface this review by saying the Torqx is widely available at e-tailers and retailers alike and goes for about $410. Something else that we should mention is the fact that Patriot retroactively increased the length of their warranty on Torqx drives to a shocking 10 years. This puts them head and shoulders above their competition and somewhat justifies the premium price of this drive. But is there any other reason to recommend the Torqx in a field that is already cluttered with options? Let's find out.

TORQX128_300px.jpg

 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications



Patriot_Torqx_specs.jpg
 
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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


Patriot_Torqx_box_front_sm.jpg

In a seemingly concerted effort to distance this drive from previous JMircon based SSDs, Patriot designed this box with mainly white with blue highlights. This is actually a huge packaging change when compared to the Warp v2 we looked at a while ago.

Patriot_Torqx_box_bac_sm.jpg

It is funny as most computer enthusiast associate BLACK with enthusiast grade / high performance storage drives but as a certain bard one said “the times they (may) be a changing” and white will be the new Black. After all, the G. Skill Falcon is about as fast a SSD as you could want from this generation and it comes in a white box.

Patriot_Torqx_box_open_sm.jpg

When you open the box up you are greeted with the exact same internal packaging scheme as we saw on with the Warp v2. In a nutshell, the box has two internal compartments separated by a built-in cardboard divider. The back area is for the accessories (which we will get to in a moment) and the front area where a plastic clam shell holder further protects the Torqx drive from damage. All in all, the colours may be different but the whole setup is classic Patriot.

Patriot_Torqx_access_sm.jpg

Moving onto the accessories we finally have a company that gets the fact that many (if not most) of these drives are not going to end up in laptops or other devices which use the 2.5” form factor and are in fact going to end up in all sorts of PC cases which take 3.5” drives. As we said in the introduction, deciding a clear winner over the other two Indilinx-based drives may come down to things like the included accessories, and seeing not only an included jumper (which the OCZ Vertex lacked) but also a 2.5” to 3.5” drive converter was nice.

Patriot_Torqx_converter2_sm.jpg
Patriot_Torqx_converter_sm.jpg

This little metal bracket mounts to the bottom of the Torqx so you can easily mount your SSD in any case you want with no further (or at least none more than usual) effort. As far as we are concerned this should come standard with ALL SSDs. Why should the majority of your potential customers have to go out and spend even more money to properly mount their new item in their case? Bloody good job Patriot.
 
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AkG

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First Impressions

First Impressions


Patriot_Torqx_top_anf_sm.jpg
Patriot_Torqx_bottom_ang_sm.jpg

In a similar colour scheme to that of the OCZ Vertex, the Patriot Torqx comes in a black and silver colored case. The silver of course comes from the fact that this bottom lid is denude of paint and we are looking at bare metal.

Patriot_Torqx_top_sm.jpg
Patriot_Torqx_ports_sm.jpg

All in all, there really isn't much to talk about here as Patriot didn't really include much in the way of labeling. The Torqx has a serial and model number at the power and data port end of the lid, just like the Warp v2 but there are no power usage numbers nor any of the information required for some countries. This is too bad as the Falcon and Vertex both post max power numbers on their Indilinx-based drives and it would have been nice to have a third one to compare against.

Patriot_Torqx_jumper_sm.jpg

As with the other two Indilinx-based SSD units we have reviewed to date, the Torqx has the two pin jumper located next to the data ports. We would have been surprised if they had not included it.
 
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AkG

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Interior Impressions

Interior Impressions


Please remember that opening any SSD will effectively void your warranty.

Patriot_Torqx_top_off_sm.jpg

To open up the Torqx you have to remove four screws, and break two precautionary “warranty void” stickers. To remove the board from the case there are four more screws to be removed to completely disassemble this SSD. Once this was accomplished we took a look inside and this is what we found.

Patriot_Torqx_back_open_sm.jpg
Patriot_Torqx_top_off2_sm.jpg

Wow, if we didn't know better we would think this was a G.Skill Falcon drive and not one with the Patriot label on it. The similarities are so many and numerous that it is well nigh impossible to distinguish this board from the Falcon. Both are built on a blue PCB and at one end you have the data and power ports with the jumper pins, then the RAM and Barefoot controller followed by your typical double row of flash chips. There is another another double row of 4 chips on the other side of the PCB. In grand total you have: 16 flash chips, one RAM chip and one Indilinx Barefoot controller chip….just like the G. Skill Falcon. Indeed, the label on the back is so darn close that except for a -12E vs. -16E at the end they even have the same interior model number of “S2SF-A28SMDCDX1”!

Patriot_Torqx_cont_sm.jpg

The I/O controller chip is of course none other than the Indilinx “Barefoot” IDX110 controller. As expected, this SSD comes with the Indilinx IDX110M00-LC (with emphasis on the LC) and not the older –FC based chip. As noted in previous reviews, the Indilinx IDX110 is an ARM based controller with native SATA 3.0Gb/s, supports capacities of up to 512GB, is rated for speeds of 230MB/Sec read and 190MB/s writes.

Patriot_Torqx_ram_sm.jpg

The memory which graces this board is made by Elpida. To be specific this single 64MB SDRAM chip is labeled as S51321CBH-6DTT-F, though the actual Elpida part number is the EDS51321CBH-M-F and is rated to run at 166MHZ at CL3 at an operating temperature range of between 20°C to 85°C. Or as is becoming a regular theme…it’s the exact same chip as we found in the Falcon and the Vertex.

Patriot_Torqx_flash_sm.jpg
Patriot_Torqx_flash2_sm.jpg

The MLC NAND chips used on the Torqx are Samsung K9HCG08U1M-PCB0 modules. Once again, using the online Samsung model decoder we can see these chips are 48 pin 3bit MLC Quad Die Package, 1st gen lead free (ROHS compliant), 2.7V ~ 3.6V, 25 nanosecond NAND chips which operate with Dual nCE (Dual Chip Enable control) & Dual R/nB (Dual Ready/Busy Output). This model is rated at a density of 64Gbits or 8GB per chip and an operating temperature range of 0° to 70°C.

Above the model number we can see these were made in the 10th week of 2009 and below it we can see the batch number “CAA167X1” (or at least what we assume is the batch number but is described by Samsung vaguely as “Customer List Reference” only). However, the chips on the backside of the board were made later in the 16th week of 2009, but are the exact same model. While we prefer to see all the chips be from the same batch this is obviously not the case. However as we saw with the Vertex’s mix bag of chips, the slight differences in batches have at worst only minor impacts on performance.

After looking long and hard at all the parts, the only difference between the OCZ Vertex, the G. Skill Flacon and this Patriot Torqx….is the batch numbers on the various chips. These 3 SSDs are for all intents and purposes dead ringers for one another. As we said in the begging, choosing one may come down to more mundane things other than raw performance, and that "free" 2.5" to 3.5" converter is looking more and more like a brilliant move as time goes by.
 
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AkG

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TRIM & General Support

Warranty


We usually don't take the time to point out warranties on SSDs as for the most part they are all the same. Recently, OCZ changed the game by one upping the competition with a THREE year warranty. Well, Patriot certainly is not one to rest on their laurels and in a move which underscores just how important customer satisfaction is to them they didn't double, or triple the standard 2 year warranty. Nope, they went for the scorched earthed option with an industry leading TEN year warranty and make it retroactive to anyone who bought a Torqx already. To amazing stuff.


Firmware


flash_sm.jpg

As this review was about to go live Patriot pulled another rabbit out of their hats. As anyone who purchased a Torqx as soon as they were available knows, finding firmware updates for the Torqx was impossible. They were not available on their website nor was it to be found in their forum. This was not a good thing as our Torqx came with version 1.1 firmware installed BUT 1.3 had been available to other brands such as OCZ . Luckily, the 1.3 firmware is now available for download on their website.

It is unfortunate that the 1.3 update requires the usual long and (slightly) more difficult process than the OCZ Vertex does not have to go through. Honestly, the fact that Patriot is getting on the ball is great news as we have a hunch they did not at first understand the importance of firmware updates which Indilinx SSDs need.


TRIM & General Support

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As with the firmware issue Patriot now has a handle on the wiper.exe front and actually has an official TRIM / wiper.exe program available for download. While it may be called "Patriot.exe" it IS the same 0.3 / 0525 version of wiper.exe which is the latest version available from any manufacturer. As with the others it is simple, fast and easy to use. However, just as we have said in the past: it still is beta software so be careful before using it/ We also recommend stopping by Patriot's site to see if any newer versions have been released. Click HERE to go to Patriot's site where the firmware and software is located. It truly is amazing how fast Patriot has turned things around and we have taken note.

trim_sm.jpg

To sum things up, the Patriot Torqx has simply the best warranty available, decent firmware support and the latest version of wiper.exe. All in all this is certainly an above average combination.
 
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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a hard drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for SSDs to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our testbed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the XP load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being a WD 320 single platter drive.

For these tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HDTune, Cystal Disk Benchmark, h2benchw, SIS Sandra Removable Storage benchmark, and IOMeter for synthetic benchmarks.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long XP startup took, Adobe CS3 (w/ enormous amounts of custom brushes installed) took, how long a single 4GB rar file took to copy to and then from the hard drives, then copy to itself. We also used 1gb of small files (from 1kb to 20MB) with a total 2108 files in 49 subfolders.

For the temperature testing, readings are taken directly from the hottest part of the drive case using a Digital Infrared Thermometer. The infrared thermometer used has a 9 to 1 ratio, meaning that at 9cm it takes it reading from a 1 square cm. To obtain the numbers used in this review the thermometer was held approximately 3cm away from the heatsink and only the hottest number obtained was used.


Please note to reduce variables the same XP OS image was used for all the hard drives.

For all testing a Gigabyte PA35-DS4 motherboard was used. The ICH9 controller on said motherboard was used.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

Processor: Q6600 @ 2.4 GHZ
Motherboard: Gigabyte p35 DS4
Memory: 4GB G.Skill PC2-6400
Graphics card: Asus 8800GT TOP
Hard Drive: 1x WD 320
Power Supply: Seasonic S12 600W Performance Testing

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):
G. Skill Titan: 0955
G.Skill Falcon: 1571 (AKA FW 1.3)
OCZ Apex: 955
OCZ Vertex: 1.3 (AKA FW 1571)
Patriot Torqx: 1571 (AKA FW 1.3)

Please note: The "G.Skill 64GB" listed in some of the graphs (the one with incomplete data) is the very first SSD we here at HWC reviewed. It does not have a name but its model number is FS-25S2-64GB and here is a link to our review of it.
 
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Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture.

We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and this goes double for SSD based hard drives. The main reason we include it is to show what under perfect conditions a given drive is capable of; but the more important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.


Patriot_Torqx_read.jpg


Well this is certainly a nice way to start the performance section of the review! Of course, the differences between the top few drives are most likely due to slight variations in the various chips used. It will certainly be interesting to see if this winning streak continues in the other tests.


Write Performance


For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.

Patriot_Torqx_wrtie.jpg

Interestingly, this SSD seems to be leaning more to the Falcon end of the scale rather than the Vertex. It seems that OCZ has tweaked their firmware more than the other companies as this is the second Barefoot-based SSD to be smacked around by the Vertex’s write performance. On the plus side, the Torqx certainly has nothing to be ashamed of as it does eat the VRaptor for breakfast and has room left over for the X-25M for brunch.
 
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Crystal DiskMark

Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5. When all 5 tests for a given section were run Crystal DiskMark then averages out all 5 numbers to give a result for that section.

Read Performance


Patriot_Torqx_CDM_read.jpg


As expected, these results are awfully darn good and once again they just underline our assumption that for the most part an Indilinx Barefoot SSD is a Indilinx Barefoot SSD regardless of the label plastered on the outside of the case.


Write Performance


Patriot_Torqx_CDM_write.jpg


Well now this is interesting. It seems that this SSD is the only Indilinx drive to break the 12MB/sec mark in the grueling 4k write test on our testbed. It still is nowhere in the same league as the X-25M but the slight variances in chips we talked about earlier does seem to give our particular drive a nice little boost in performance. We wonder what other surprises are going to pop up.
 
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Random Access Time / SIS Sandra

Random Access Time


To obtain the absolute, most accurate Random access time, h2benchw was used for this benchmark. This benchmark tests how quickly different areas of the drive’s memory can be accessed. A low number means that the drive space can be accessed quickly while a high number means that more time is taken trying to access different parts of the drive. To run this program, one must use a DOS prompt and tell it what sections of the test to run. While one could use “h2benchw 1 -english -s -tt "harddisk test" -w test” for example and just run the seek tests, we took the more complete approach and ran the full gamout of tests and then extracted the necessary information from the text file. This is the command line argument we used “h2benchw 1 -a -! -tt "harddisk drivetest" -w drivetest”. This tells the program to write all results in english, save them in drivetest txt file, do write and read tests and do it all on drive 1 (or the second drive found, with 0 being the OS drive).

Patriot_Torqx_random.jpg


We may have some questions over the specific performance envelopes of the Vertex, Falcon and this SSD but it really did NOT come as any surprise that it has the exact same Random access times as the others. Indeed, the brand names here seem to mean very little.


SIS Sandra


This test was run with the removable storage benchmark in Sandra XII Standard. All of the scores are calculated in operations per second and have been averaged out from the scores of 4 test runs.

Patriot_Torqx_sis.jpg


Even this abomination of a testing program agrees that there is little to no difference between the three Indilinx based SSDs. More importantly it is getting harder and harder for the various companies' fanboys to use performance as a justification of picking one Indilinx SSD over another. On the other hand, a 10 year warranty...now THAT is something that justifies the slightly elevated price for this Indilinx based drive.
 
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