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Viper VPN100 PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD Review

By Joseph Bradford on July 31, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Viper VPN100 PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD Review

Gamers are afforded an abundance of choice in the SSD market these days. But how does one choose the right SSD for them? Is it raw speed? Or maybe storage capacity? Viper’s VPN100 PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD aims to provide a great performing drive that remains cool under pressure and is affordable, all at the same time. But how does it perform and is it worth the cost?

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Specifications

  • Pricing: $79.99 via Amazon
  • Capacity: 512 GB
  • Form: 2280 M.2
  • Interface: PCIe 3.0 x4/NVMe 1.3
  • Controller: Phison E12
  • DRAM Cache: 512 MB
  • Seq Read/Write:  up to 3300MB/s / up to 2200MB/s
  • Random Read/Write:  up to 700K IOPS / up to 480K IOPS
  • Endurance: 800TB TBW
  • Operating Temp:  0 - 70C
  • Warranty: 3 Years

At first glance, the VPN100 looks massive. The aggressive, yet stylish heatsink which adorns the top of the chip gives the drive an impressive look. The drive itself doesn’t feel cheap, either. The heatsink gives the drive some heft to it and unlike other NVMe drives I’ve used it doesn’t feel flimsy when I was installing it into my motherboard. Unfortunately, the heat sink does make the drive a bit taller than some other brands, making me concerned it might be a bit too tall in my system.

My Gigabyte Aorus motherboard has two M.2 slots, and one of them is frustratingly right below the first PCIe slot you would put your GPU into. With an MSI 2070 ARMOR card there, I was concerned the Viper’s heatsink would get too close to the 2070’s, so I slotted it in the first board slot underneath my CPU cooler.

The Viper does support standard features such as Trim, Secure Erase and S.M.A.R.T. data monitoring, the later two available using Viper’s SSD monitoring software.

The software is mislabeled on the Viper website as “firmware,” and honestly not nearly as robust as Intel’s or Samsung’s SSD software. I often found myself simply not opening this, but it’s nice to have the extra info if you like monitoring that stuff. Keep in mind with Secure Erase there is no going back, so be extra careful when using it, especially if the Viper becomes your OS drive.

Synthetic Testing

Test Bench: i5 9600K @ 4.3 GHz, Gigabyte Aorus Z390 Gaming Pro motherboard, Corsair 16GB DDR4 @3200MHz, EVGA RTX 2070 Super XC & MSI RTX 2070 ARMOR

I should note, however, that testing the Viper SSD was challenging. For some reason during most of our testing the sequential write numbers just were not matching anything the manufacturer was claiming. I tried everything, from removing all my other drives other than the OS drive and the Viper, swapping slots, even removing my GPU and using onboard video during the testing. Additionally, I slotted the drive in two other PCs, a Ryzen 7 1700 powered rig as well as an Intel i7-6700K rig, and the numbers were shockingly similar. We contacted Patriot regarding this and they thought maybe the SSD was thermal throttling. Additionally, they recommended running a secure erase on the drive to ensure there were no useless data collected in the background on the drive which uses the controller as a resource. I did the latter, as well as swapped from the MSI ARMOR which felt like it was dissipating a ton of heat inside my case to the EVGA 2070 Super (which is much cooler) and the testing made more sense.

Essentially, during my synthetic testing, the sequential write speeds were being throttled at 600MB/s, nowhere near the rated 2.2GB/s the VPN100 is capable of doing. However, after implementing these steps from Patriot, the issues cleared up.
 

We do these synthetic testing to independently cross-check the claims made by the drive manufacturer’s when it comes to speeds. As you can see by the CrystalDisk test above, the sequential read speeds are quite within the claimed number, as well as the write speeds. The graph below shows the Viper compared to the other NVMe drive I have available for testing, an Intel 760p (since the nature of our site is that we don’t have a massive warehouse with test benches). However, the lower priced VPN100 boasts faster speeds - and indeed the test show that for the most part.


 

Both the Sequential Read and Writes smash the Intel drive here, and while the Viper is short in the 4K Q1T1 testing, that is essentially the “worst case scenario” here in terms of performance.

Next we come to transfer speeds. Typically with this test we take a relatively large folder and transfer it onto the drive to test real-world speeds when moving files on your PC. The graph below shows both the speeds moving a file from the Intel SSD to the VPN100 and taking that same folder, in this case the Skyrim game directory, and moving it off of the VPN100.

Impressively, the transfer rates on the VPN100 made this test a breeze, with an impressive 1.9GB/s transfer onto the Viper chip. Though at its lowest it was marginally worse than the Intel, the Viper SSD is impressive for the cost.

Finally we have some game load times, a test that I’ve found throughout the years to be the least important since most SSDs are so fast the differences feel negligible. And in this case it was more of the same.

Each drive was within a single second of each other. In the case of ESO, which has some ridiculously long load times, I tested this from the character creation screen to when you’re finally loaded in with your character. All these games were tested after the from the menu to actual gameplay, as it’s not accurate to test from startup due to splash screens that some developers don’t allow you to skip.

Discussion and Final Thoughts

So what does this all mean? For the VPN100, it’s an impressive drive. At $79.99 on Amazon, you get blistering read speeds, fast write speeds and great performance throughout. In fact, the Viper has actually become my video editing drive as the read/write speeds make this process so much faster than my dedicated SSHD I’ve used for years.

But does it offer value for the gamer? I certainly think so. In real world application, I played every game for the last two weeks installed on this drive. Compared to my more expensive Intel 760p drive, the VPN100 feel like a step down. For a drive that costs about $50 less than the one I was able to compare it to, I feel like it’s a great value proposition as a result.

My only concern is due to the issues I had when benchmarking this drive. Whether it was thermal throttling or the VPN100’s controller being utilized by left over data, it caused some major problems with testing and usage. Since taking those steps per Patriot’s instructions though, the drive has performed admirably. So take that into consideration when deciding on your purchase.

With NVMe drives becoming more and more popular and less expensive, the VPN100 should be on your list of drives to look at when upgrading or building your next PC. Even with my initial issues with testing, the drive performs incredibly well for the value. The VPN100 is a nice upgrade from a SATA HDD or SSD for any gamer or creator.

Pros:

  • Stellar performance
  • High transfer speeds makes workstation tasks a breeze
  • Price is just right for the 512GB model

Cons:

  • Issues with testing do cause some concern
  • Massive heatsink does make me concerned in tighter builds with large GPUs
  • Software nowhere near as robust as competition

 

This product was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of this review. Featured image via Amazon
Joseph Bradford / Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he''s not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don''t get him started on why Balrogs *don''t* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore