Intel recently plunged into the solid-state drive market and sent storage industry hype through the roof with its ground-up design. After our own tests confirmed its speed, we wondered whether the results were indicative of SSDs across the board or simply a testament to Intel's hard work and ingenuity. The Patriot Warp V.2 is another solid-state drive that promises similar results but at a much cheaper price. We found that although the $420 Warp V.2 ($350 after manufacturer's rebate) is much cheaper than Intel's SSD, the bigger picture proves that fast 7,200rpm hard drives are a smarter laptop upgrade.
The Patriot Warp V.2 comes in three capacities up to 128GB and is designed to fit into any 2.5 inch SATA hard-drive bay. Like the Intel X-25M, it uses NAND flash chips instead of moving parts to achieve faster data-access memory than the conventional hard disk. The lack of a physical disc spinning around inside also theoretically means it consumes less power and generates less heat, both of which benefit hard-core laptop jockeys.
The dramatic price difference between hard disks and solid-state drives forces budget users to shrug off the performance benefits, no matter how significant. As you can see from the chart below, even though the Patriot is the least expensive out of our four competitive SSDs, especially compared with the Intel X-25M, the jump from a name-brand hard disk spinning at 7,200 rotations per minute (faster than the typical 5,400rpms) to the Patriot drive is almost $3 per gigabyte. Without complaining about the Intel's astronomical cost, the argument will continue to weigh against SSDs until we see a significant price drop for the whole group.
Patriot Warp V.2 cost-per-gig comparison
|Model||Capacity||Est. street price||Cost per GB|
|Super Talent MasterDrive MX||120GB||$435||$3.63|
|OCZ Core Series||128GB||$434||$3.39|
|Patriot Warp V.2||128GB||$420||$3.28|
|Western Digital Caviar||160GB||$60||$0.38|
We tested the Patriot Warp V.2 using the same structures set up for the Intel X-25M SSD: We installed it on the same Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop and copied the same 10GB folder that we use for all of our hard-drive tests into another folder on the same drive. We also ran our standard laptop battery test and recorded the total boot-up time from power on to the appearance of the Windows cursor arrow. For a comparison test, we used the Intel X-25M as well as two different laptop hard drives: a 7,200rpm, 200GB Seagate Momentus and a 5,400rpm, 250GB Fujitsu disk.
Although we didn't expect the Patriot to outperform the Intel X-25M in any of the tests, we were somewhat surprised to see that it fell dead last in two out of three. The only test on which it showed a benefit was the transfer speed benchmark. The Patriot delivers on its promise to access data quicker than the standard 5,400rpm Fujitsu drive, but still can't quite keep up with the 7,200rpm Seagate Momentus, even though the difference is far from severe. The Intel SSD remains the champ, at an impressive 242 megabits per second, but does so at $8.75 per gigabyte.
In our battery drain test, the Patriot drive lasted the least amount of time, shutting off at the 86-minute mark. The Seagate Momentus didn't hold out much longer, most likely because of the effort exerted in spinning the drive at 7,200 rotations per minute. Surprisingly, the Fujitsu hard disk ran the longest, at 113 minutes--a full 10 minutes longer than the second place, $700 Intel SSD. Finally, the Patriot took its time in our boot-speed test, dragging its feet to take 35 seconds to complete loading the operating system. Coincidentally, both hard drives spent 32 seconds booting up, but of course the X-25M crushed the competition in just 26 seconds.
Taking a look at the Patriot drive's final performance scores only boosts our recommendation to save up and buy the Intel X-25M solid-state drive if you're consumed with performance and money is no object. Granted, we haven't had the chance to test other SSDs, but if the Patriot is an indicator of non-Intel solid-states, then the industry still has a long way to go before it can deliver on its initial promise. On a consumer level, you'll see your money go much further with a high-level 7,200rpm laptop hard drive.