Patriot Warp SSD (128GB) Review

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Pros: Fast read times; Great price; Opens apps quickly

Cons: Slows down when writing; Won't necessarily save you battery life

Verdict: With its zippy application load times and aggressive price, the Patriot Warp is one of the better value-price solid state drives.

Time flies in the world of solid state storage. Last spring, it would've been nearly impossible to find an SSD of any capacity for less than $400. And if you wanted 128GB, you could expect to spend well over a grand. Then, over the summer, a flood of low-cost, high-performance drives hit the market. At a street price of just over $400 (at press time, a rebate made it $355) for the 128GB capacity and $200 ($179 with rebate at press time) for the 64GB version, the Patriot Warp combines strong value with blazing fast read speeds.

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With a 2.5-inch form factor and a SATA II interface, the Warp can easily replace the mechanical hard drives on most modern notebooks. Like many other SSDs in this price range, the drive offers acceptable write performance but slows down a bit in disk-intensive multitasking situations. However, given the near-instant open times for files and applications, the Warp makes for an attractive upgrade option.

How We Tested

To test the Patriot Warp, we placed our review unit, a 128GB capacity drive, in our standard SSD testbed, a Gateway T-6828 notebook with 3GB of RAM, a 1.83-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 processor, and Windows Vista Home Premium. Then we tested the Patriot's performance under a variety of scenarios and compared the results to other SSDs we've tested in the same price range: the OCZ Core Series SATA II ($340 for 128GB) and the SuperTalent MasterDrive MX ($497 for 120GB) and two 5,400- and 7,200-rpm hard drives.

Synthetic Benchmarks

To get an initial impression of the drive, we ran read transfer tests in the popular benchmark program Sisoftware Sandra Lite. The Warp outperformed every other value SSD, providing a read transfer rate of 135.2 MBps and a seek time of 1ms. This read rate is more than triple that of a 5,400-rpm mechanical hard drive and more than double that of a 7,200-rpm model.

DriveRead Transfer (Mbps)Seek Time (ms)
OCZ Core Series SATA II (64GB)
112.4
1
Patriot Warp (128GB)
135.2
1
Super Talent MasterDrive MX (60GB)
109.8
1
WD Scorpio Black (7,200 rpm/160GB)
58.9
16
WD Scorpio Blue (5,400 rpm/250GB)
39.7
22

File Transfer Test

To measure the drive's ability to read and write at the same time, we timed how long it took to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed media files (music, movies, photos, and documents). We then repeated the same test while running a virus scan with AVG Free 8 and a full-screen capture with CamStudio. Under the nonstress situation, the Warp took 4 minutes and 50 seconds to complete the copy, just a tad longer than its competitors and even just a few seconds more than a 5,400-rpm drive; MLC-based drives are known for slightly slower write rates, so this was no surprise. Under the stress condition, the Warp outperformed other value SSDs and our 5,400-rpm drive, completing the copy in just 5:59.

Application Open Times: No More Waiting

Opening programs under normal and moderate stress conditions (while scanning/screen capturing) is where the Patriot Warp really shines. The sound of the double-click on the desktop icons for popular programs including Microsoft Word 2007 and Firefox 3 barely had a chance to reach our ears before we were looking at the open program. Even opening a large TIFF in Photoshop, a 585-page PDF in Adobe Reader, or a new project in the normally slow-loading Premiere Elements 4 were impressively quick.

It was only when we started zipping 4.97GB of mixed media files in the background, an unlikely scenario which is designed to emulate the most extreme multitasking situations, that the open times slowed to a crawl on the Warp as well as its competitors.

Open Times: System Idle (seconds)

DriveFirefox 3MS Word 2007585-page PDF (Adobe Reader 8)400MB TIFF (Photoshop CS2)Premiere Elements 4
OCZ Core Series SATA II (64GB)
1.9
1.9
1.7
17
10.8
Patriot Warp (128GB)
1.8
17
1.8
1.7
9.2
Super Talent MasterDrive MX (60GB)
1.9
1.8
1.6
18.9
11.2
WD Scorpio Black (7,200 rpm/160GB)
3.4
7.1
3
26.3
19.6
WD Scorpio Blue (5,400 rpm/250GB)
4.8
5.8
4.6
35.1
37.2

Modest Stress Open Times: Scan and Screen Capture in Background (seconds)

DriveFirefox 3MS Word 2007585-page PDF (Adobe Reader 8)400MB TIFF (Photoshop CS2)Premiere Elements 4
OCZ Core Series SATA II (64GB)
2.3
7.4
2.5
20.6
16.4
Patriot Warp (128GB)
2.5
4.5
2.5
22.2
19.4
Super Talent MasterDrive MX (60GB)
2.6
3.9
1.9
27.2
18.1
WD Scorpio Black (7,200 rpm/160GB)
5.2
9.8
3.9
27.1
22.5
WD Scorpio Blue (5,400 rpm/250GB)
6.7
16.5
6.2
37.9
43.1

High Stress Open Times: Zipping Files in Background (seconds)

DriveFirefox 3MS Word 2007585-page PDF (Adobe Reader 8)400MB TIFF (Photoshop CS2)Premiere Elements 4
OCZ Core Series SATA II (64GB)
29.9
52.3
4.8
147.6
80.7
Patriot Warp (128GB)
65.5
19.7
4.8
50.3
140.3
Super Talent MasterDrive MX (60GB)
9.2
19.9
15.2
51.1
24.1
WD Scorpio Black (7,200 rpm/160GB)
16.3
28.9
15.7
50.1
39.4
WD Scorpio Blue (5,400 rpm/250GB)
34.9
79.1
19.9
102.9
116

Battery Life Impact

While some SSDs use less power than their mechanical counterparts, many of the value SSDs we've tested, including the Patriot Warp, consume marginally more juice than a 5,400-rpm drive. In both the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi), and our movie-playback test, where the system loops a full-screen video from the hard drive, the Warp was the second-worst performer but within a few minutes of every other drive.

Verdict

While the Patriot Warp, like its closest competitors in the value-SSD space, slows down a bit when performing intensive write operations, its application open times cannot be beaten at a street price of $425. If you're the kind of user who spends a lot of time online or working in productivity software and don't write large files regularly, you probably won't experience the type of bottleneck we found when zipping a file. But you will notice how much less time you spend tapping your fingers impatiently while the hard drive light blinks. So, if you're looking to add a little extra life to that aging laptop or underpowered netbook, the Warp is a compelling choice.

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Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, Online Editorial Director on
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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Capacity 128GB
Seek Time 1ms
Read/Write Speed 170 MBps/100 MBps
Ports SATA
Size 3.9 x 2.7 x 0.4 inches
Weight 3.2 ounces
Company Website http://www.patriotmem.com