Patriot Torqx 128GB SSD
The new solid-state speed champ
Review Patriot’s first stab at a solid-state drive went by the name of Warp and used the oft-derided JMicron 602 controller. By contrast, the new Torqx series of SSDs makes the switch to the Indilinx Barefoot controller that so impressed us when we reviewed the OCZ Vertex.
Patriot's Torqx: based on Indilinx' nippy new controller
From the outside, the Torqx looks reasonably funky. It follows the standard notebook 2.5in form-factor and has a two-part metal casing with a stainless steel base and a brushed black aluminium cover. We popped open the Torqx and immediately felt a sense of déjà vu as it looks identical to the Vertex.
We understand that the Indilinx reference design is fairly prescriptive so the controller goes HERE, the 64MB Elpida cache goes THERE and the 16 Samsung MLC flash memory chips are arranged with eight chips on the front of the PCB and eight on the back JUST SO.
Patriot has chosen to use a blue PCB instead of the green one favoured by OCZ. The casing is Patriot’s own but those are minor cosmetic points.
The specification of the hardware is effectively fixed by the choice of the Indilinx controller, so Patriot’s input comes down to the contents of the package, the firmware and the price.
Could be any make of SSD, this way round
The package is fairly basic and consists of the Torqx drive in one clamshell casing and a 3.5in bracket for mounting the Torqx in your desktop PC in a second clamshell. Pricing is relatively steep and we found the 128GB Torqx on sale for the same price as the 120GB OCZ Vertex: just over £300.
Before we got busy testing the Torqx, we had to update the firmware. Patriot hasn’t yet issued an official update but we were sent a pre-release copy of the file along with a guide for the update process, which is just as well as the process is a bit finicky.
Indilinx' reference design is perfectly replicated here
The Patriot needs to be installed as a secondary drive to your operating system disk and a configuration jumper - supplied in the package - has to be slipped into place next to the power connector on the back of the drive. With the SSD in configuration mode, your PC's Bios will recognise the Torqx as a Yatapdong Barefoot - apparently the generic name for this Indilinx design.
We fired up Windows - Vista or XP only - ran the updater - which took about one minute - removed the jumper and shut down the PC. At the end of the process, our Torqx had been updated from firmware 1370 to 1571, and the drive had been wiped clean of files and data. If you image the Torqx to a second drive, run the update and then re-image the Torqx you’ll have the job done inside an hour, but it’s the sort of thing that's easy on a test bench and something of a pain in a working PC.
We tested the Torqx with both versions of the firmware using our trusty Intel X25-M to transfer files back and forth and we also added a Kingston SSDNow V, which has a JMicron controller, into the mix.
Just like the OCZ Vertex, only blue, not green
The new firmware increases the write speed of the Torqx for small files and reduces it for larger files, and in the process the performance of the drive is evened out. When it comes to transferring files from one drive to another the revised firmware has little effect.
Patriot Torqx firmware 1370
Patriot Torqx firmware 1571
OCZ Vertex firmware 1.10
At this point we were in two minds about the Torqx as it uses the same hardware as the OCZ Vertex, it costs the same and the performance of the Torqx on firmware 1370 is very similar to the Vertex on firmware 1.10, which is what we used at the time of our original review.
In other words there is no compelling reason to choose the Torqx over the Vertex.
2GB Data Transfer Test Results
Data transfer time in Seconds (s)
Shorter bars are better
As we had updated the Torqx to firmware 1571, it only seemed fair to install the latest firmware, 1.30, on the Vertex. The updating process for the Vertex is considerably simpler than it is for the Torqx. We burned a downloaded .ISO image to CD and booted the PC with the Vertex installed as a secondary drive. There’s no need for a configuration jumper with this process.
The Vertex was updated in a matter of moments, and we were pleased to see that the data wasn't wiped. Unfortunately, that was the end of the good news as the Vertex wouldn’t boot properly and the performance was all over the shop. We bit the bullet, formatted the drive and re-imaged it and... no joy.
HDTach 126.96.36.199 Bandwidth Test Results
Data Transfer Speeds in Megabytes per Second (MB/s)
Longer bars are better
Try as we might the Vertex didn’t want to play ball with firmware 1.30 and we feared that the drive was bricked.
Although the Vertex doesn’t require the use of a configuration jumper, it does have a pair of contact pins on the rear of the drive so we treated it as though it was a Patriot Torqx. We installed the jumper, booted into Windows and then ran the 1571 firmware update and - voila - we had a second Patriot drive.
CrystalDiskMark 2.2 Test Results
Data Transfer Speeds in Megabytes per Second (MB/s)
Higher points are better
This caused us something of a problem. We love the Vertex for its balance of high performance and reasonable price. We also appreciate the fact that the process for updating the firmware is quick and easy. In contrast, the Torqx looked just a bit clunky and complicated. After our fiasco with the firmware on the OCZ we changed our tune and thank our lucky stars that Patriot was able to resurrect our second SSD.
The Patriot Torqx is very similar indeed to the OCZ Vertex, and also to one or two other SSDs on the market. It performed very well. Shame it couldn’t be just a bit cheaper. ®
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