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Appeared on: Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Patriot Torqx 128GB SSD


1. Features

Patriot Memory, a well known storage specialist has recently released the "Torqx" series of Solid State Drives (SSD). Having already tested the company's ' Warp v2' series of SSD, which left us with some questions related to their stability and performance, we are curious to run some benchmarks with this new product. Patriot Memory promises higher reading/writing speeds with no shuttering at all. But first, let's see some of the features of the new Torqx series of drives.

The Patriot Torqx Solid State (SSD) drives use high-quality NAND flash chips and a new and fast controller promising speed, quiet and reliable operation. Torqx SSD is also designed with built in DRAM cache which allows faster real-time transfers .

Compared to conventional disk drives, built with 100% moving-free parts and housed in a vibration and shock resistance housing, the Torqx SSDs provide a solid operating environment even during the most extreme working conditions. Built to sustain heavy usage, the Torqx SSDs have built-in wear leveling technology in addition to the standard 2 year warranty to maximize the life span of the drive and preserve the data integrity by automatically marking and blocking bad data cells.

- Features


2. Package

We have in our hands the retail packet of the Torqx 128GB SSD product (PFZ128GS25SSDR) that costs ~ $399 ($385 after $12 mail-in rebate). Compared with the Warp v2 series ($259), this product would cost you more for exactly the same capacity, so let's hope that it worths the extra cash. The product is backed by a 2-year warranty as it is usually the case with the majority of the currently available SSD drives except OCZ , which recently announced a 3-year warranty for its high-end SSD models.

The retail package follows the design we have seen with the Warp v2 series. It is small and can be easily identidied with all these logos found on it.

A large plastic film covered window at the front side allows you to actually see the contents of the package and the drive itself. The additional 3.5" mounting bracket for desktop use found in the package is very useful for users who simply wish to install this product in their main system and not use it in any external disk case or laptop.

The well-packaged product is placed into two plastic shells protecting it from any damage. The 3.5" bracket is found in the second shell:

The SSD drive is black covered with a sticker with information about the available capacity and the model number. The drive's weight is just 91grams:.

The available power and SATA connectors are typically placed in the rear side of the drive, offering easy installation for your laptop or desktop PC:

We also found interesting the we pins we saw at the right side of the interface panel. These pins should be used and connected before upgrading the firmware of the drive, using the inlcuded header:

The 3.5" bracket is a simple metal plate with the right dimensions to fit at any typical 3.5" bay. Some mounting screws are also included for securing the bracket before installation.

The drive's I/O controller is the Indilinx Barefoot with a 64MB cache chip by Elpida Memory. We should remind you here that this is an MLC SSD solution and as such, it is more affordable than SLC products. In theory, SLC SSDs should be faster, although these new controllers have been proved fast and and efficient compared with SLCs.

On the other hands, SLC products seem to offer a better protection for your data since they produce less read/write cycles.


3. Upgrading the firmware

Installing the Patriot Memory Torqx 128GB SSD product is very easy. After booting into Windows VISTA, we got the first information about the drive using the CrystalDiskInfo 2.7.4 software. The product has 128GB of RAM and supports the S.M.A.R.T., NCQ and the "TRIM" technologies. While those terms might not say anything to you, especially the "TRIM" technology promises to boost the speed of the drive..

According to Wikipedia, TRIM is actually a drive controller command that can be used from the operating system to get blocks of data set to write so the drive's performance will be increased. So far no operating system supports this "command" , but rumours say that the upcoming Windows 7 would include it offering faster speeds. However manufacturers haven't finalized the TRIM feature yet, so its up to each maker to introduce its own utility for that use. So far the only utility we know is called 'wiper.exe,' which helps you clean the unused space of your drive. This utility can be used with specific or we should better say limited SSD models. The Patriot Memory Torqx 128GB is supported from the wiper.exe software, so you can use under Windows.

After we had completed all the tests, Patriot Memory sent us a newer firmware revision (1571) that was supposed to futher increase the drive's performance. In order to begin flashing the drive woith the new firmware, we had to use the included jumper, boot into Windows and use the firmware upgrader. The whole procedure didn't take more than 1 minute. After flashing the drive we removed the jumper and had a brand new Torqx 128GB SSD drive in our hands. The negative point here is that the process wiped out the complete data of the SSD, so be careful to read the instructions before proceeding:

After the firmware upgrade (v1571) we noticed that two additional SMART features were added (D2/D3):


4. Benchmarks

This is our testbed:

We didn't perform any kind of optimizations for the operating system . Before running any benchmark, we made sure that the "enable advanced performance" option was selected.. We used the following benchmark software at their default options

The first benchmark is the HDTachRW software with the long Bench test to give us an idea of the overall performance. The drive's reading/writing performance is almost linear with a small drop at the speed at the 37GB mark. The average reading speed is 231.7MB/sec, while writing seems to be also fast at 231.0MB/sec. The reported random access time is 0.2ms, which is really impressive:

The HD TunePro software reported a smoother graph for reading and a smaller drop in the speed at the 37GB mark. The software gave a 226.7MB/sec average reading speed:

The random reading tests were also very promising:

The HD Tune Pro software gave around 160MB/secs for writing - much lower than what the HDTach previously reported:

The Random write results continue to be very good:.

Getting PCMark Vantage x64 to work with the Torqx SSD drive was a real pleasure with all the results to be very good:

Below are more tests from ATTO Disk Benchmark, CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD Benchmark. All tests showed a great performance in both reading and writing I/O operations:

The drive scores 174 points at the AS SSD Benchmark:

Finally, we performed the IOMeter tests using the Xtreme Benchmark template and wrote down the results. Compared with the drives we had previously tested based on the JMikron controller (Warp v2 and Apex series of SSDs), the Torqx drive is a major performer managing to give a much higher I/O performance and significantly lower average access times. We think that the results speak for themselves:


5. Performance Comparison between Ver.1370 & ver.1571 firmware versions

As we described earlier in our review, the new 1571 firmware was released in order to further unleash the performance of the TorqX drive. Our tests actually confirmed this. Below we compared the performance of the Torqx drive with these two firmware versions installed, under exactly the same test setup and benchmark software. The improvements are obvious, especially in the writing part:

The PCMark Vantage x64 HDD tests are based on real life applications so the results could be very useful . As we can see, the new firmware has greatly improved all the index scores:

Comparing both firmware revisions with IOMeter (Windows 7 startup simulation) we can also extract useful information. The new 1571 firmware seems to highly improve both the reading and writing speeds of the the Patriot Torqx 128GB SSD:


6. Final words

Before starting this test, we were rather skeptical whether the new Torqx series would perform better than the Warp v2 series but the first results we got were very encouraging.

The Torqx is based on a brand new controller with a 64MB cache that really makes the difference compared with the JMikron-based SSDs. The reading/writing speeds were impressive, especially after performing the firmware upgrade to the latest 1571 revision. If you have skipped our tests just go back a few pages and have a look to all the graphs to get an idea of what kind of performance you should expect.

In addition, the product supports the TRIM commands, meaning that it is expected to be benefited by the upcoming Windows 7 RTM build, offering native support for these performance optimizations without having to use any utility like the wiper.exe - which works wonderful with this drive by the way.

We also liked the inclusion of the useful 3.5" installation bracket in the package as well as the firmware jumper. We hope that future firmware upgrades will not to require a full data erase as it happened with the Ver.1571.

Continuous use of the SSD (for many hours) has an impact on the reading/writing performance as we can see in the graph below:

Bit using the wiper.exe utility helps us recover most of the writing speed:

We have serious reasons to suggest this product to all users who need a fast solid state drive. The Torqx drive does not suffer from the stability issues reported from previous MLC-based SSD and it is also available at the reasonable price (for the category) of $385 (after rebate). The product is also backed by a 2-year warranty and possibly even more, as long as Patriot Memory decides to extend it following the example of OCZ technology. This product shines in both performance and price for sure.

Positive

+ Very high reading, writing especially with the latest firmware installed
+ Firmware upgrade is performed under Windows
+ 64MB Cache buffer permanently solves 'stuttering' problem
+ Supports TRIM command with wiper.exe

+ Includes 3.5" mounting bracket
+ 2 years of warranty

Negative

- Current firmware upgrade erases stored data and requires a jumper
- Competitors 3 years of warranty
- Price may be rather high for entry level users



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