As of late many manufacturers have stepped up their game in the flash drive business offering higher capacity, high performance drives utilizing controllers with 8-channel technology. One such company is Patriot with their new line-up of Supersonic Magnum USB 3.0 flash drives.
We had our first peek at the Supersonic Magnum line-up at CeBIT 2011 with the introduction of the 128GB model from Patriot. Since then capacity has been ramped up to 256GB and we have the pleasure of testing this high capacity monster. If the manufacturer specifications mean anything to you then you will be pleased to know that this drive is setup to push 250MB/s read and 160MB/s write.
The Supersonic Magnum is compatible with modern operating systems including Windows XP/Vista/7 and 8 along with Mac OS 9+.
At first glance the first thing we noticed about the Supersonic Magnum was it size - measuring 79mm x 27mm, this is definitely the largest drive we have tested to date. The structure of the Magnum is supported by an aluminium construction that is said to withstand 15Gs.
The back of the drive contains a simple Patriot logo.
Laying the Magnum on its side we can see the extreme profile this drive creates at 10mm thick.
The Supersonic Magnum is the first capped drive we have tested, and such I am happy to report the cap seems to have a good hold on the drive itself. However, in time, as we all know, the plastic that secures the cap may wear out.
The layout of the PCB contains the Phison controller to the left and two 64GB NAND flash packages to the right.
The backside houses another two 64GB NAND packages, giving us our 256GB total. Each of these packages are labelled TU89G2LAKA made by Toshiba.
Taking a closer look the controller is labelled Phison PS2251-01. This is the big brother of the PS2251-03 that we saw in the Rage XT. This controller carries with it 8-channel technology along with wear levelling.
One of the lesser known features of running Microsoft's new Operating System - Windows 8, is the native capability of USB Attached SCSI or UASP. To start my benchmarking procedure I secure erased the Supersonic Magnum, as I do all drives I test.
ATTO is commonly used for marketing performance of hard drives and solid state drives alike. The Magnum was equally impressive as it was unimpressive. With write numbers only reaching 109MB/s way short of the advertised 160MB/s. Read numbers however were great reaching 303MB/s, a full 53MB/s over the marketing specifications.
CrystalDiskMark's default testing uses a set of random data or incompressible data, there is also an option for 0xfill or compressible data. We will use the standard data set for our purposes.
The performance kicked up quite a bit in sequential testing where we saw the Magnum reach a nice 304MB/s read and 179MB/s write. 4K was much better than expected as well.
Disk Bench is a rather simple program that benchmarks real world file transfers between drives. For this test I made up 3 data sets, one consisting of 1000 pictures totalling 1.5GB, the second consisting of 4 mp4 movies with a total file size of 8.65GB. The last data set consists of Microsoft Windows 7 x64 install w/ SP1.
Putting the Supersonic Magnum to our real world testing resulted in 40MB/s copying our batch of 1000 photos, taking only 37.7 seconds.
One of the more impressive results came when transferring our videos to the Magnum. We managed a very quick 166MB/s with time spent at 52 seconds.
The transfer of our Windows install was as equally impressive as the transfer of videos. 151MB/s consuming only 26 seconds, putting this drive neck and neck with the SanDisk Extreme, which we tested previously.
The Supersonic Magnum from Patriot is certainly one of a kind. It's the fastest drive we have tested when it comes to sequential reads, boasting 304MB/s. Before I get ahead of myself though let's look back at the construction and aesthetics of this drive.
To start, the Magnum is a very big drive, in fact I'm 100% sure this drive will block adjacent USB ports when used in a horizontal layout. If your just plugging these drives into the standard I/O ports on the back of a motherboard in the stacked configuration, you should have no issues there. With this drive being a capped model, we do know that over time the plastics may wear out leaving you with a cap that won't seat properly (or as good as before), but let's admit it you will probably lose the cap before that happens. As far as construction of the drive is concerned, the aluminium body of the drive secures all the plastics very tight, and at no time did I feel that this drive was made by cutting corners.
Performance of this drive is impressive to say the least, and while it's doesn't top the list on our Disk Bench chart, it certainly deserves recognition as one the highest performing drives.
Pricing of this drive is where you may shy away, but its good practice to take a look at what you are getting for the money. The Supersonic Magnum is available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities with the 256GB model priced at $299.99. Now the price may seem a bit high, but you are only paying $1.17 per GB and this drive comes with a solid five year warranty.
The bottom line is simple. If you want the latest and greatest on the market with numbing capacity and speed then the Supersonic Magnum is for you.