By the time we arrive at our third SATA 6Gbps SSD this month a clear pattern is emerging. Like the other two drives on this spread, Patriot’s Wildfire uses Sandforce’s SF-2281 controller. It is the most expensive drive to hit the Atomic labs this month, coming in with a street price of $309 for the 120GB version.
There really isn’t much other than price to distinguish Wildfire’s Patriot 120GB from the Vertex 3 and HyperX drives. It comes with the usual 2.5 to 3.25in adaptor but that’s it for the bundle. Performance wise it is just behind the Vertex 3 and the Kingston Hyper X (though in practice the difference is negligible). It delivered the fastest sequential reads, with 510.47 MB/s but the lowest results in the 4K-64Thrd test with 194.27 MB/s read and 198.06 MB/s write.
Unlike last generation, where the performance difference between drives was clear, these newer Sandforce based drives will end up competing largely on price. We have no hesitation just recommending the cheapest you can find, or go with the brand you are loyal to. Apart from niches like OCZ’s RevoDrive product, the SSD market is rapidly becoming homogenised and commoditised.
An SSD will still be the best upgrade you can add to an existing system, but if you are looking at building anew the real challenge is now SSD vs Smart Response. Intel’s Z68 based HDD caching technology is not as fast as using a boot SSD, but it’s close, and has the advantage of speeding up the programs you actually need. True performance junkies will still want pure SSDs, but if you are that focused on IOPS you’ll want to be looking at RAID or a PCI-Express based solution.
Patriot’s Wildfire is yet another great SATA 6Gbps SSD, but there is nothing that lifts it out of the pack. It looks very much like this is the way that the entire SSD market is headed, and it ultimately benefits the consumer who is able to shop around for the best priced product.