As creative as developers are at hiding them, no one likes load screens… unless you like to use that time for “bio breaks,” to refill your gaming beverage of choice, or to play a quick round of tug with your dog.
The speed jump from HDD to SSD load times is already remarkable, but M.2 drives have taken the next leap forward. By skipping the SATA bottleneck to patch directly into PCI lanes, you get faster access to your processor which means limited load times. While the buy-in has historically been costly, new options like Patriot’s Scorch M.2 Solid State Drive exist temper costs while opening access to this storage solution.
Let’s take a closer look at Patriot’s details on the Scorch M.2.
- MSRP: $38.99 (128GB), $59.99 USD (256GB), $109.99 (512GB)
- Controller: Phison 5008 Series
- Form Factor: 2280 M.2 (22mm x 80mm)
- Interface: PCIe Gen 3 x2, NVMe 1.2
- Memory Module: Toshiba 64-layer 3D TLC NAND
- DRAM Cache: 256MB
- 4K Aligned Random Read/Write: 200K IOPs/90K IOPs
- Sequential Read (ATTO): up to 1700MB/s
- Sequential Write (ATTO): up to 780MB/s
- Power Consumption: 3000mW (Read), 3600mW (Write), 35mW (Idle)
- Mean Time Between Failure (Life Span): > 2 Million hours
- Operating Temperature: 0 ~ 70C
- Warranty: 3 Years
A quick lesson on NVMe before we dive into this product:
NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express. It is the protocol by which your system communicates with your drive - impacting things like your read and write speeds. What makes drives operating under NVMe faster than traditional SATA-based SSDs is that it takes advantage of PCI bus lanes, leveraging flash memory’s high-performance capacity rather than reading and writing on your drive as though it were a physical disk. NVMe is kind of like the carpool lane on a busy city highway; your car of high speed and can still get you there faster than a regular lane.
This analogy is important to discussing the Patriot Scorch because, by NVMe standards, M.2 drives are capable high speeds, but there are limiting factors - such as the number of PCIe lanes that the drive uses. In the case of the Scorch, it uses 2x PCIe lanes, providing a significant jump in performance from a standard SSD, but does not quite reach the full potential of what many modern motherboards are capable of handling. It’s a puzzling move, but not without its benefit. We’ll get to that in a bit.
What also leaves me scratching my head is that while Patriot’s product sheet lists the Scorch’s controller as a Phison 5008-series controller, cross referencing with Phison, its performance (as listed by Patriot) seems to place it somewhere between Phison’s 5008-E8 and 5008-T.
But the real question outside of all of the data sheets is this: how does it work and will it improve my system’s performance?
Let’s look at some numbers.
To get baseline performance numbers for the Patriot Scorch, we ran AS SSD benchmarks along with CrystalDiskMark. Before we get into the numbers, here are the system specifications for our test bench:
- CPU: Ryzen 5 2600X
- Cooler: CoolerMaster ML240R RGB (Closed loop cooler)
- RAM: 16 GB Patriot Viper Gaming RGB
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X470 AORUS Gaming 7 WiFi
- GPU: Nvidia Titan X (Maxwell) Reference Edition
- Storage: 256GB Patriot Scorch M.2, 640GB Colorful Technology Summer Edition SSD
- PSU: NZXT E850
- Case: NZXT H500
In our first round of tests, we put both the Patriot Scorch M.2 and the Colorful Techology SSD through AS SSD Benchmark. This tool gives us our first read/write visuals on how both perform within the benchmark tool itself. You can see the performance difference between the SATA-based SSD and the NVMe-based drive.
What is also telling about this first benchmark is that Patriot underreports the numbers for write speed, but the reading speed is off by ~300 MB/s. While these numbers still place the Scorch performing nearly three times fast than a traditional SSD, a 300 MB/s differential is a little concerning.
From here, we looks a little closer at the sequential read and write speeds alongside some of the other NVMe drivers that we have reviewed here at MMORPG, leaving the Colorful Technology SDD within the graph for comparison. The closest proxy to the Scorch is Western Digital’s WD Black (2017). It is interesting to point out that the WD Black (2017) was a PCIe 4x drive… I have to give some points to the Scorch for performing on that level while using half the PCIe lanes.
These benchmarks are, as stated above, synthetic tests. How does it perform in real world applications?
Short answer: It’s fast!
From the push of the power button, Windows 10 boots to the login screen in 19.6 seconds. In Destiny 2, loading from the character screen to the Director is nearly instantaneous at 3.89 seconds and loading from orbit into the Tangled Shore took 24.2 seconds. Switching over to World of Warcraft, loading into Dazar’alor in Battle for Azeroth’s new Zuldazar zone took a meager 6.03 seconds. Kicking over to the Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Benchmark, most of the scene load times were around 3 seconds long, making the total load time for all six scenes 18.9 seconds. Keeping it in the Final Fantasy family, we moved on to Final Fantasy XV’s Benchmarking tool. Scene transitioned with minor ~2 pauses in between and with an overall front-end loading time of 18.66 seconds.
No too shabby.
The Patriot is kind of like the Greek titan Prometheus with the Scorch M.2 - stealing fire from the gods to give to mortal man. The Scorch puts M.2 drive performance into an affordable package, making higher data speed performance accessible to more people.
While we have seen better performing drives, if you are looking for an NVMe option that will improve your system without breaking the bank, the Patriot Scorch is worth your time to consider - especially if you are looking for a small expenditure with colossal performance boosts over traditional SATA-based drives.
Remember: it only takes a spark to start an inferno.
- Affordable NVMe solution
- High life expectancy
- Small form factor
- Comparable alternative to traditional SSD
- Read speeds fall short (PCIe x2 limits its potential)
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review