These days, an SSD is the obvious choice when an OS drive in almost any build. But if you also care about aesthetics, you may want to opt for one of the fancier RGB or heatsink-adorned models. With some killer looks accented with RGB lighting and fast PCIe 3.0 x4 performance, Patriot’s Viper VPR100 is one of our top picks for just that kind of drive.
The first RGB drive from Viper Gaming, Patriot’s gaming brand, the Viper VPR100 is a speedy little M.2 NVMe SSD with an included heatsink and some attractive RGB lighting. Targeted towards the gaming and overclocking crowd, as well as those who have more demanding workloads like video production and 3D modeling and rendering, it aims to be a potent mainstream contender.
Like Patriot’s Viper VPN100 we reviewed in May, the Viper VPR100 boasts the same underlying hardware: a Phison E12 NVMe SSD controller and 64-layer Toshiba TLC. Strangely, the company rates the Viper VPR100 a little higher than the new RGB drive. Read performance is the same across all capacities, up to 3.3 GBps, while write performance ranges from 1 GBps up to 2.9 GBps, depending on the capacity.
Random performance is rated for up to 700,000/650,000 IOPS read/write too. But we noticed the following rather surprising footnote on the product’s spec sheet, which was a bit alarming at first:
"*RGB sync may decrease up to 20-30% Read/Write speed (depending on RGB mode selected)."
Well, that doesn't sound good. No one wants RGB to hinder your performance. But performance degradation doesn’t happen all the time, only with specific motherboard and lighting mode configurations. And there doesn't seem to be any list of specific configurations that do incur a performance penalty.
On our ASRock X570 Taichi testbed, we found performance to compare well to most other E12 based SSDs with no performance loss when setting to the default Viper illumination style as well as various other lighting settings.
|Patriot Viper VPR100 256GB||Patriot Viper VPR100 512GB||Patriot Viper VPR100 1TB||Patriot Viper VPR100 2TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||256GB / 256GB||512GB / 512GB||1024GB / 1024GB||2048GB / 2048GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3|
|Controller||Phison E12||Phison E12||Phison E12||Phison E12|
|Memory||Toshiba 64L TLC||Toshiba 64L TLC||Toshiba 64L TLC||Toshiba 64L TLC|
|Sequential Read||3,300 MBps||3,300 MBps||3,300 MBps||3,300 MBps|
|Sequential Write||1,000 MBps||2,100 MBps||2,900 MBps||2,900 MBps|
|Random Read||300,000 IOPS||700,000 IOPS||700,000 IOPS||700,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||250,000 IOPS||400,000 IOPS||650,000 IOPS||650,000 IOPS|
|Endurance (TBW)||380 TB||800 TB||1600 TB||3115 TB|
Patriot’s Viper VPR100 comes in four capacities ranging from 256GB up to 2TB, with the sample we're testing today being the 2TB model. Price-wise, the RGB SSD comes in at a premium over non-RGB products, but is still cheaper than Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus. As a Phison E12-based SSD with powerful low-density parity-check (LDPC) code, the Viper VPR100 comes with class-leading endurance, up to 3,115 TB at the highest capacity, and is backed by a 5-year warranty.
The drive also comes with support for Trim and S.M.A.R.T. data reporting. It can be securely erased via the "Format NVM" command, to ensure all your data is gone when you sell it or trash it down the road. But, while the controller offers optional support for hardware encryption, the Viper VPR100 drive doesn’t support this feature.
Software and Accessories
Patriot lacks an SSD toolbox as well as free cloning software, which are both things most vendors provide their customers. However, the company offers full customization of the Viper VPR100’s RGB through the VIPER RGB app 2.1 software available for download on the company website. With the software, you can use one of the eight pre-programmed RGB lighting patterns, including breathing, heartbeat, viper, and others. The lighting is also fully compatible with ASRock Polychrome Sync, MSI Mystic Light Sync, ASUS AURA Sync, GIGABYTE RGB Fusion.
A Closer Look
Patriot’s Viper VPR100 comes in an M.2 2280 double-sided form factor, meaning components are on both sides of the 10-layer PCB. The PCB is blue rather than black, though you won’t usually notice that once installed, behind the heatsink and lighting.
Powering the device, as mentioned, is a Phison PS5012-E12 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3 SSD controller. It's an eight-channel controller that features a DRAM-based architecture to ensure quality service, even under heavier workloads. Built on a 28nm manufacturing process, it features dual Cortex-R5 processors and CoXProcessor 2.0 technology (dual coprocessors). The Cortex R5 CPUs manage reads and writes while the less powerful CoXProcessors are specialized to assists the R5s by handling the background flash management activities.
On our sample, Patriot used 2GB of DDR4 for controller cache with a 1GB DRAM chip on each side of the PCB. The 1TB model comes with just 1GB, while the 512GB and 256GB models feature 512GB caches. There are four NAND emplacements on our 2TB sample that are packed with Toshiba’s BiCS3 64L TLC, but the company says it may update it with 96L NAND flash at a later time depending on price and availability.
Having tested a few SSDs with this same hardware, performance has been pretty solid and cooling hasn’t been much of an issue. But even so, Patriot specs this SSD with a slick aluminum “heatshield” (heatsink) and an external thermal sensor to ensure efficient operation. With the lighting and heatsink, the SSD measures 8mm thick, so a bit thicker than most M.2 SSDs, but it's still fairly slim overall. And, unlike other Patriot SSDs we have tested, the heatsink was rather easy to remove.
The drive's RGB lighting can be customized within five LED zones from left to right. In total there are 13 LEDs on the PCB, 10 around the edge and three near the center under the Viper logo. Whatever lighting style we set it to, that pattern stuck through reboots and system swaps, too.
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