by Josh Shaman

Patriot Supersonic Magnum USB Flash Drive Review

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum is the company's top performing USB flash drive that ranges in capacities from 64GB to 256GB and interfaces over USB 3.0. Patriot has rated the Supersonic Magnum's read throughput rates at 250MB/s, with write at 160MB/s. That performance is driven by the Supersonic Magnum's 8 channel NAND implementation. On top of these impressive performance and capacity specs, the Supersonic Magnum also features an aluminum enclosure to ensure that bumps and dings won't damage the flash drive or the data it holds. All of this comes at a fairly reasonable cost, as the flash drive's street pricing is close to the 1$/GB threshold.

Flash drives in this space generally play toward photographers, gamers, and just about anyone who transfers around their media collections (music, movies, vacation and family photos, etc.). They are designed both for enthusiasts and the more quotidian users just performing day-to-day transfers - both of whom just don't want to wait around for large transfers. What really distinguishes the Patriot Supersonic Magnum is that while many other brands might start their performance flash drive offerings at 16GB and work up to 64GB, Patriot starts at 64GB, hits 128GB and reaches all the way up to 256GB. There are certainly others such as the Kingston HyperX Predator that reach even higher, but with pricing in the $600+ ballpark, the addressable market shrinks significantly.

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum is available now and includes a five year warranty. Street pricing begins at roughly $86 for the 64GB, $125 for the 128GB, and tops out at $260 for the 256GB model. Our tester is the 256GB.

Patriot Supersonic Magnum Specifications

  • Capacities
    • 64GB (up to 250MB/s read, 160MB/s write)
    • 128GB (up to 250MB/s read, 160MB/s write)
    • 256GB (up to 250MB/s read, 160MB/s write)
  • USB 3.0 compliant (backwards compatible with USB 2.0)
  • 8-Channel technology for fast read/write performance
  • Aluminum housing for shock resistance up to 15G
  • Compatible with PC and Mac systems
  • 5 year warranty

Design and Build

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum flash drive features a high-end aluminum enclosure that protects the drive when not in use. One face shows the Patriot branding while the other displays the Supersonic Magnum branding along with capacity information. Users will notice the wide body of this flash drive, which is a result of the 8 channel design the flash drive utilizes, which adds to the width of the overall package. In our test systems, the form factor didn't block any USB ports, but it may in some configurations. However, there is also a significant advantage to using 8 channels as it drives the performance even higher. A single NAND package on its own isn't that powerful, but packed together as with 8 channels here, the results are significantly better. So while other flash drives that have less of a performance implement a dual or quad channel architecture, the Supersonic Magnum and other high performance flash drives use an 8 channel arrangement.

The back of the flash drive features a plastic slot for users who want to attach a lanyard or some other material to keep the drive handy when toting it around.

Some flash drives feature retractable connectors, but it really varies. The Supersonic Magnum does not, with Patriot instead opting for a removable cap that exposes the USB 3.0 connector.

Performance

Using our Consumer Testing Platform, we measured transfer speeds from the Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB and its comparables with IOMeter.

Comparables:

We start with 2MB sequential read activity. Here, the top performer was the Lexar JumpDrive P10 at 252.39MB/s. The Patriot Supersonic Magnum trailed closely behind at 247.02MB/s, while the Kingston HyperX Predator and Kingston DataTraveler HyperX kept adequate pace at 233.20MB/s and 199.20MB/s, respectively.

Moving on to 2MB sequential write activity, the Patriot Supersonic Magnum measured 151.25MB/s. That figured placed third in the group behind the Lexar P10 which registered 225.89MB/s. and the Kingston HyperX Predator at 160.50MB/s. The Kingston DataTraveler HyperX performed at 117MB/s.

Our next testing is for random large-block transfers. For read activity, the Patriot Supersonic Magnum measured 166.29MB/s. This was right at the top of the group with the Lexar JumpDrive P10 at 167.72MB/s and the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX at 161.68MB/s. The Kingston HyperX Predator clocked 149.3MB/s.

In write activity for random large-block transfers, the Patriot Supersonic Magnum had the best speed at 39.05MB/s. Next came the Kingston HyperX Predator at 37.62MB/s, followed by the JumpDrive P10 at 14.83MB/s and the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX at 4.92MB/s.

Conclusion

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum flash drive provides transfer rates of up to 250MB/s for read activity and 160MB/s for write activity, in thanks partially to the implementation of 8 channel technology. Capacities on this USB 3.0 flash drive, the top of the line model from Patriot, run up to 256GB, meaning users will probably only need one flash drive to handle all of their multimedia content transfer needs. The drive also ships with an aluminum enclosure that provides protection; quoted shock resistance is quoted at 15G.

Using IOMeter, we tested our 256GB Patriot Supersonic Magnum flash drive over USB 3.0. It produced nearly 250MB/s for sequential reads and just over 150MB/s for sequential writes. These figures just about met the figures Patriot included with the flash drive. At right around $1/GB, these speeds are very impressive. The much more capacity-weighted Kingston HyperX Predator which is available as a 512GB or 1TB model provided similar figures, though the Supersonic Magnum edged it out in the tests aside from the sequential writes which were only 9MB/s off. While the HyperX Predator provides a very comparable option, its pricing keeps it out of all but the highest-end market. We also tested another Kingston, the DataTraveler HyperX, which the Patriot Supersonic Magnum beat out in all tests (a point of emphasis given that the DataTraveler HyperX costs more).

The other flash drive to which we compared the Patriot Supersonic Magnum was the Lexar JumpDrive P10. The P10 had outstanding sequential performance, and though the Supersonic Magnum kept pace in read activity, the P10's write activity performance was substantially better (about 75MB/s better). Random read activity was also similar, and this time it was the Supersonic Magnum that performed better in writes at about 40MB/s versus 15MB/s. The P10 also maxes out at 64GB and is about $2/GB, making it about double the cost without the option for higher capacities. So while it certainly holds a considerable edge in sequential writes, the Supersonic Magnum is a great option for those that need a cost-effective, high performance and capacity option.

Pros

  • Sequential speeds essentially matched quoted rates
  • Performance is competitive to more expensive flash drives (Supersonic Magnum is ~$1/GB)

Cons

  • 5 year warranty compared to 10+ with competitors
  • Sequential write performance was third highest out of four flash drives

Bottom Line

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum is a high performance USB 3.0 flash drive that provides users with an extremely portable option for storing and accessing their multimedia content. Shipping in capacities of 64GB, 128GB and 256GB, the flash drive has a reasonable price-per-gigabyte ratio at roughly $1/GB.

Patriot Supersonic Magnum at Amazon.com

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