by Lyle Smith

Patriot Supersonic Bolt XT USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review

The Patriot Supersonic Bolt XT is a rugged USB 3.0 flash drive that focuses on both performance and data security. To back up this claim, the Bolt XT uses built-in FIPS 197 compliant hardware-based 256-bit AES security and the drive locks and reformats itself when 10 consecutive failed password attempts have been made. In addition, the flash drive is designed with heavy rubber housing to ensure that the integrity of user data is protected physically as well. Patriot is known for their rugged USB drives, and the Supersonic Bolt XT is no exception.

For performance, the Patriot Supersonic Bolt XT is specced for mid-range transfer speeds at 150MB/s read and up to 30MB/s write, which allows the flash drive to satisfy the needs of most general use cases.  The Supersonic Bolt XT is backed by a 5-year warranty and is available in capacities of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB for street prices of roughly $50, $70, and $125, respectively. We will be looking at the 64GB unit for this review.

Patriot Supersonic Bolt XT Specifications

  • Capacities:
    • 16GB (PEF16GSBTUSB)
    • 32GB (PEF32GSBTUSB)
    • 64GB (PEF64GSBTUSB)
  • Up to 150MB/sec Read; Up to 30MB/sec Write
  • LED Light Indicator
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 48” x 2.35” x .78” (1.22cm x 5.97cm x 1.98cm)
  • Net weight: 0.03lb / 12.9g
  • 256-bit (Advanced Encryption Standard) AES Hardware-based
  • FIPS 197 compliant
  • Compatible with Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Linux 2.4 and later, Mac OS9, X and later
  • Warranty: 5-years

Design and build

The Supersonic Bolt XT has a very bulky build, as durability is its main focus. Its grey, rubberized housing allows the drive to be safeguarded from the elements as well as drops or scuffs. This design makes it ideal for the traveling worker who may find themselves in situations where these issues arise more often than not.

On the front, the drive is quite vividly labeled with the product name as well as its capacity. The Bolt XT also has a LED indicator light, which indicates drive connectivity and activity.

For a USB product that is focused clearly on physical durability, the use of a cap seems somewhat counterproductive since they can be easily lost. It can connect on the rear of the drive when not in use at least. 

To manage the encryption features of the Supersonic Bolt XT, when you plug in the thumbdrive a separate drive read-only drive appears with the software needed to lock or unlock the drive from any new system.

Performance

In this review, we have included the following Patriot brand comparables from our database of USB flash drive reviews:

Using our HP Z620 Workstation Testing Platform running Windows 8.1, we measured transfer speeds from the Supersonic Bolt XT with IOMeter, which posted 120.55MB/s read and 46.96MB/s write. While it surpassed its quoted write speeds, it was well off from reaching its read specifications. As far as how the other flash drives from Patriot performed, Supersonic Boost XT offered similar results, clocking in at 115.3MB/s read and 48.4MB/s write. The Supersonic Rage XT posted sequential read speeds of 109.6MB/s while taking first place in the write column with activity hitting 93.4MB/s.

When switching to random large-block transfers, the Supersonic Bolt XT reached speeds of 116.0MB/s read with only 3.14MB/s write, though the drop in write performance is common in drives of this class. The other Patriot drives had similar performance in this category; the Supersonic Boost XT posted read and write speeds 112.0MB/s and 3.8MB/s, respectively, while the Rage XT showed 105.5MB/s and 4.4MB/s, respectively.

Our last flash drive benchmark measures 4K random transfer performance in IOPS. In this benchmark, the Supersonic Bolt XT recorded 505.8 IOPS write and 2,117.3 IOPS read.

Conclusion

Backed by a 5-year warranty, the Patriot Supersonic Bolt XT is a rugged USB 3.0 flash drive that also has the ability satisfy the needs of most people looking to transfer fairly large data libraries, in a secure manner.  For performance specifics, it did keep pace with other Patriot flash drives. Although it didn’t quite reach its quoted specifications in the read column, it still offered the best read activity of the bunch (120.55MB/s sequential and 116.0MB/s random). For writes, it hit speeds of 46.96MB/s sequential and 3.14MB/s random, the former of which actually surpassed Patriot's quoted speed.

Performance isn't the main objective with the Bolt though, the security features (both physically and with encryption) offer a lot of value-add. 

As it is one of their newer flash devices, the Supersonic Bolt XT comes at a premium price ($125 for the 64GB model), which is quite a bit more expensive than other Patriot Supersonic drives we tested (the Supersonic Boost XT and Rage XT 64GB model go for approximately $40 and $45, respectively). Unfortunately, consumers won’t be getting much of a read performance boost for the higher price tag, so it really comes down to the durability.

Pros

  • Decent performance (surpasses quoted write speeds)
  • Very durable
  • Great warranty
  • Password protection

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Connector cap easily lost

Bottom Line

When it all comes down to it, the Patriot Supersonic Bolt XT does what it is specifically designed to do: take a beating. When the price inevitably comes down, this will be a highly recommended USB 3.0 flash drive.

Patriot Supersonic Bolt XT USB 3.0 at Amazon

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