Epic Thanksgiving Giveaway: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 GAMING X TRIO!
TRENDING NOW: Here's our Top 10 best handpicked Amazon Black Friday tech deals!

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review

Patriot's smallest capacity Torch uses a Phison S9 controller without DRAM buffer, and pairs it with ONFi 16nm sync flash to make a very low-cost SSD.

@ChrisRamseyer
Published Wed, Jan 14 2015 9:15 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 69%Manufacturer: Patriot

Introduction & Specifications, Pricing, and Availability

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 01 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 34 IMAGES

It's been quite a while since I tested a 128GB class SSD, but after seeing the Patriot Torch 120GB drive selling for less than $60, I knew I had to take a look. For most of our readers, the new ultra-low SSD prices mean 128GB class drives are off the table for OS use. The small capacity means users really have to be meticulous about the amount and kind of data kept on the drive, and some find that 128GB just isn't enough to offer a solid user experience.

Patriot's Torch series is an interesting experiment in its own right. Patriot doesn't even list Torch on the company's website, but the drives are available through Amazon. To keep the costs low, the company ships the drives in a plastic clamshell with a single paper document that covers the warranty and essentials.

You would expect to see this type of packaging and documentation in an OEM 'white box' product. Given the insanely low price, it appears that Patriot is on to something; most users could care less about a fancy box or accessories they probably won't use. With Torch, you are paying a very low price for a SSD and nothing more.

Specifications, Pricing, and Availability

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 02 | TweakTown.com

Torch is available in two capacities, the 240GB model we reviewed earlier in the week, and the 120GB model we're testing now. In our review of the 240GB Torch product, we found that the Torch 240GB was nearly identical to the Patriot Blaze SSD in construction. The Blaze products (which we're publishing reviews for soon) ship in a full retail box, and are sold at brick and mortar shops like Fry's Electronics. The 240GB Torch and 240GB Blaze use nearly identical components, but the Torch uses low voltage DDR3, and the Blaze uses standard voltage DDR3 for the DRAM buffer.

Nothing about either the 240GB Torch or Blaze drives relate to the Torch 120GB, other than the lack of a retail box. The Torch 120GB we're testing today uses a Phison S9 four-channel controller that was originally designed for cache situations, paired with a HDD. The S9 controller is a very low cost part that doesn't use a DRAM buffer at all, which is a nice way to keep the overall price of the drive low.

Even without a DRAM buffer, Patriot specs the S9 controlled Torch 120GB at 545 MB/s sequential read performance, and 430 MB/s sequential write performance. Since the Torch series isn't listed on Patriot's website at this time, the data above came from the Amazon listing.

For just $58.99 at the time of writing, you get the Torch SSD that is covered by a three-year warranty, and a paper document that covers the warranty terms.

PRICING: You can find the Patriot Torch 120GB SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Patriot Torch 120GB SSD retails for $65.99 at Amazon.

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 05 | TweakTown.com

Here we get our first look at the new Patriot Torch 120GB consumer SSD.

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 06 | TweakTown.com

The model and serial numbers are listed on the back of the drive with the capacity information.

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 07 | TweakTown.com

Torch uses a 7mm z-height case design, so it will fit in notebooks and Ultrabooks that require the ultra-thin case.

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 08 | TweakTown.com
Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 09 | TweakTown.com

There isn't much to see inside the drive. The PCB is very small by design, which is one way to reduce cost. The Phison S9 works without a DRAM buffer, which is another way to reduce costs; however, the page mapping must be read back from the slower NAND flash.

There are only two NAND packages on the PCB. Patriot chose to use IMFT 16nm synchronous flash.

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 10 | TweakTown.com

Test System Setup and Initial Performance

Desktop Test System

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Lenovo T440 - Notebook Power Testing with DEVSLP and Windows 8.1 Pro

Nearly all of the performance tests run on the desktop system, but we use a Lenovo T440 to run the power tests. The T440 is the latest addition to our client SSD test lab, and allows us to test the notebook battery life offered by a SSD with advanced features like DEVSLP enabled.

Initial Performance Evaluation - 4-Corner and, then Some Tests

Sequential Read

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 25 | TweakTown.com

Sequential Write

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 26 | TweakTown.com

Sequential 80% Read 20% Write

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 27 | TweakTown.com

Random Read

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 28 | TweakTown.com

Random Write

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 29 | TweakTown.com

Random 80% Read 20% Write

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 30 | TweakTown.com

Our new replacement for ATTO shows us four-corner performance, and some mixed workload results as well. We run the test long enough, and in a particular order, to get a reasonable level of consumer preconditioning on the drive. In the tests, we show QD1 (green), QD4 (yellow), and QD10 (red).

Normally, we don't comment too much here, but seeing queue depth one outperform queue depths four and ten at times means that we have to chime in. The lack of a DRAM buffer seems to really hurt performance when working with sequential data and piling on load through native command queueing. This may cause some problems in a few of the tests later in this review, and have a serious impact on your real-world performance at home.

Benchmarks - Sequential Performance

HD Tune Pro - Sequential Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 5.50

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 52 | TweakTown.com

We've talked quite a bit over the last two years about lithography shrinks increasing NAND density while simultaneously killing low capacity SSD performance. Today, very few 64Gbit die are made and sold; 128Gbit die have taken over, and next year we'll see more 256Gbit die. When that happens, 128GB SSDs will all but dissolve into computer dustbin history.

In this chart, we get a good look at why 120GB SSDs are out of favor for enthusiasts, and for the most part, even mainstream users. The performance is significantly lower on newer 120GB SSDs in comparison to older models that use smaller capacity die in higher numbers to increase parallelization, which is the foundation of why SSDs are so fast.

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 53 | TweakTown.com

Surprisingly, the Patriot Torch 120GB writes sequential data faster than it can read it back, at least when working with 64KB blocks, as we are in this test.

HD Tach - Sequential Write Performance after Random Writes

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0.4.0

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 54 | TweakTown.com

After a reasonable number of sequential and random writes to the Patriot Torch 120GB, we tested the drive with HD Tach, a test that uses 128KB sequential data. Again, the Torch writes faster than it can read sequential data.

Given that most consumers read more data than they write, why is this drive even marketed as a regular SSD?

Benchmarks - Anvil Storage Utilities

Anvil Storage Utilities

Version and / or Patch Used: RC6

So, what is Anvil Storage Utilities? Anvil Storage Utilities is a storage benchmark for SSDs and HDDs where you can check and monitor your performance. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests; you can run a full test, or just the read or the write test, or you can run a single test, i.e. 4k QD16.

Anvil Storage Utilities is not officially available yet, but we've been playing with the beta for several months now. The author, Anvil, has been updating the software steadily on several international forums, and is adding new features every couple of months.

We can use Anvil several different ways to show different aspects for each drive. We've chosen to use this software to show the performance of a drive with two different data sets. The first is with compressible data, and the second data set is incompressible data. Several users have requested this data in our SSD reviews.

0-Fill Compressible Data

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 55 | TweakTown.com

Incompressible Data

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 56 | TweakTown.com

Anvil shows something different entirely. With compressible data (top), we see higher read performance, but the sample test size is much smaller. With incompressible data, the Patriot Torch 120GB almost looks respectable.

With incompressible performance, you can take almost everything I just said and throw it out the window. Both the read and write performance drop considerably, but the reads are still higher than the writes.

Low Queue Depth Read IOPS

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 57 | TweakTown.com

The Torch 120GB performs well in this test at QD1, using 46% incompressible data. Ramping up the queue depth didn't get us much of a performance increase at QD2, but we did receive a bit of a boost at QD4.

High Queue Depth Read IOPS

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 58 | TweakTown.com

At higher queue depths, the Torch falls flat at 35K read IOPS. At queue depth 32, most users will never actually get to that high unless the drive chokes due to the lack of a DRAM buffer, and commands just stack up while waiting for the high latency spike to recover.

Low Queue Depth Write IOPS

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 59 | TweakTown.com

4K write IOPS performance is really more of the same - everything is good at the lowest queue depth, and then there is a wall of limited performance that means latency has increased to sky-high levels.

High Queue Depth Write IOPS

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 60 | TweakTown.com

Disappointing.

Benchmarks - Mixed Read / Write Workloads

Sequential Mixed Read / Write Workloads

In this series of tests, we measure mixed workload performance. We start with 100% read, and then add data writes to the mix in 10% increments until we get to 100% writes. We believe this will be the next major area SSD manufacturers will address, after performance consistency.

Sequential Mixed Workload Bandwidth

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 61 | TweakTown.com

As mentioned in the introduction, we haven't tested a lot of 128GB class SSDs this year. Some manufacturers have even started to phase out this capacity from the product lineup. Consequently, two of our newest tests only have two products to show, the Patriot Blaze 120GB that we're reviewing next month, and the Torch.

Both drives use the Phison S9 controller, and 16nm flash. The Torch does a bit better here, but both drives are rubbish for mixed read / write workloads.

Sequential 80% Read / 20% Write Bandwidth

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 62 | TweakTown.com

The 80% read with 20% write mix is closer to what consumers work under, although not always in a steady state, the way this test is performed. Both results are significantly less than what we find on even the most modest consumer SSD designed for mainstream users.

Random Mixed Workload Response Time

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 63 | TweakTown.com

To put the mixed IO performance into full frame, we tested the Samsung 850 Pro 128GB, one of the best 128GB class SSDs on the market today, with mixed IO to show just how far the Torch is behind.

PCMark 8 Consistency Test

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended - Consistency Test

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.228

Heavy Usage Model:

Futuremark's PCMark 8 allows us to wear the test drive down to a reasonable consumer steady state, and then watch the drive recover on its own through garbage collection. To do that, the drive gets pushed down to steady state with random writes, and then idle time between a number of tests allows the drive to recover.

Precondition Phase:

1. Write to the drive sequentially through up to the reported capacity with random data.

2. Write the drive through a second time (to take care of overprovisioning).

Degradation Phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for ten minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat one and two, eight times, and on each pass, increase the duration of random writes by five minutes.

Steady state Phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 50 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat one and two, five times.

Recovery Phase:

1. Idle for five minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat one and two, five times.

PCMark 8's Consistency test provides a ton of data output that we use to judge a drive's performance. Here we see the three states of performance for the select SSDs, light use, consumer steady state, and worst case.

Storage Bandwidth - All Tests

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 64 | TweakTown.com

I've highlighted both of the Patriot drives on the chart. Both drives use the Phison S9 controller, and pair the controllers with 16nm ONFi flash, but the Blaze uses four NAND packages, and the Torch uses just two. That doesn't seem to matter much though, because real-world performance with both heavy and light workloads is consistently... awful.

Storage Bandwidth - Heavy Load

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 65 | TweakTown.com

We talk about performance consistency from time to time when it comes to SSDs, but this is the exact opposite of what we're looking for.

Storage Bandwidth - Typical Consumer Load

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 66 | TweakTown.com

There is a positive side to all of this; the Torch 120GB is faster under consumer workloads than the ADATA SP920 128GB, but not by much.

PCMark 8 Consistency Test - Continued

Total Access Time - All Tests

The access time test measures the total latency across all 18 tests. This is one of, if not the most important of all tests we run at this time for consumer SSDs. When your latency is low, your computer feels fast; it's just that simple.

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 67 | TweakTown.com

Latency is what makes your computer feel fast. Latency is how long it takes the system to respond after you click on an icon.

Total Access Time - Heavy Load

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 68 | TweakTown.com

Users shopping in this price range are unlikely to run heavy workloads, and that's a good thing since low-cost SSDs tend to bog down when pushed this hard.

Total Access Time - Typical Consumer Load

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 69 | TweakTown.com

The typical consumer tests allow the drives to recover, and this chart shows performance with a lot of recovery time. Apparently, there isn't enough recovery time allotted in this test for the Patriot Torch 120GB to fully recover to what we would consider acceptable levels.

Final Thoughts

Patriot Torch 120GB SSD Review 71 | TweakTown.com

With the 120GB version of the Torch, Patriot stuffed newer, low-cost 16nm flash in a case, and paired it with a controller designed for low-cost caching. The Phison S9 omits a DRAM buffer, like early JMicron SSDs that gave first generation consumer SSDs a bad name. Thankfully, we recovered. To reduce the cost to consumers further, the Torch products also do away with any retail packaging. Patriot managed to convince Amazon to take the parts, where they sell at very low prices.

The Patriot Torch 240GB we reviewed earlier this week wasn't bad for the $105 price, but the 120GB model we tested today that sells for less than $60 isn't in the same ballpark. The 120GB model lacks performance in all areas, and when the drive is worn down through heavy workloads, might actually be slower than some of the newer mechanical based drives on the market, at least in sequential tests.

Patriot does have the right idea though. Consumers are looking for solid state products at rock-bottom prices thanks to the technology's endurance, reliability, and performance. We hear the term 'better than a hard drive' quite often when discussing very low cost SSDs, but in some cases, better can be a stretch, and not the same technical term we'd use.

PRICING: You can find the Patriot Torch 120GB SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Patriot Torch 120GB SSD retails for $65.99 at Amazon.

Performance50%
Quality including Design and Build80%
General Features72%
Bundle and PackagingN/A
Value for Money75%
Overall69%

The Bottom Line: Low cost, low performance. The Patriot Torch internals were designed for something else entirely. Even for its designed purpose, we think this one should be taken off of your list and replaced with the larger 240GB model.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Newsletter Subscription
We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription
Buyer Guides
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles