The RGB market over the last few years has had just about anyone and everyone adding RGB to their products, even if it doesn’t make sense. One of the main areas which it has seemed to fit well is with RGB memory modules. Even this year we are seeing the last few companies who didn’t get in on the trend early getting out their RGB memory. The SSD market with SATA SSDs has had a few RGB options come out, but they always come off at more pointless than normal considering a lot of cases hide the 2.5-inch drives. But M.2, on the other hand, has been starting to see RGB come into the mix as well. Honestly a lot of boards hide the M.2 as well, but when it isn’t, it is at least right there on your already RGB lit motherboard right? Well, Patriot got in on it all as well with their Viper Gaming lines new drive called the VPR100, get it VPR aka Viper. Well, today I’m going to take a look at the drive, it's lighting, its software, and of course its performance as well!
Product Name: Patriot Viper VPR100 1TB
Review Sample Provided by: Patriot
Written by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
Photos and Features
So the box for the VPR100 RGB SSD is actually very similar to the last Viper SSD I had come into the office. It has the same red outline and of course the Viper branding up on top. They also have a viper rating down at the bottom, which I assume is related to installation difficulty, classifying both drives as Expert. I love that they put a picture of the SSD right on the front. Even when it isn’t about RGB lighting or heatsinks, I do sometimes factor in the PCB color of a drive when picking one, just like with memory, I will still try to at least get something that matches the build. Above the picture they highlight the RGB lighting with all of the colors, what is important to me is what is below where they say the drive should see up to 3300 MB/s read and 2900 MB/s write speeds, nice! Our specific sample is the 1TB model as you can see from the sticker near the bottom. The front opens up and you have a full description of the drive and those read and write speeds featured again on each side of a plastic window that lets you see the drive itself. That is even better than a picture! The back mostly just repeats those same drive speeds and that this is an NVMe PCIe RGB Gen 3 x4 drive, having the RGB in the middle of that is a little confusing though lol. That is repeated across 9 different languages, then at the bottom, they have social media information and addresses for three offices.
Inside of the box, you get a clear plastic tray which has the drive completely enclosed. There isn’t any documentation or accessories. They get right to the point basically with exactly what you bought, protected but visible.
The first thing I noticed about the VPR100 is that the heatsink is actually much thinner than the last Viper M.2 drive to come into the office. This heatsink features the Viper name and full logo in the center and then it has grooves cut in each side to give it a V shape and then one last pair of grooves that are vertical on the ends. Each of those lets you get a peek at the two light diffusers that run the length of the drive. The center logo has RGB lights behind it and then there are addressable LEDs that go under each diffuser. The heatsink itself is aluminum with a black textured finish. When you look at the picture of the end of the heatsink it gives you a better idea of the thickness of the drive and how the two diffusers are placed. The center of the heatsink is still dedicated to cooling.
The back view of the drive has a full-length sticker, the type you would normally see on the top. This has a few of the normal certification logos on it of course. Then it has the model number and drive capacity on it. Interesting enough is that there is another sticker on the end covering one of the NAND that again has our 1TB drive capacity and what I assume is the serial number. They also say the warranty is void if removed, but at least in the US that has been proven to not be true at all. Not that it would stop me even if it was. I did pull the main back sticker off to take a look under it. We have a blue PCB which although not visible from the top much is an interesting choice. Black would look a lot better with the drive. Under the sticker, we can see one DDR module letting us know this isn’t a cacheless model like a lot of drives have been going as a cost-cutting measure. We can also see that this is a dual-sided drive with two NAND on this side and we can expect another two on the front. The VPR100 does come in a few different capacities (256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB) with our 1TB model being large but not the largest so the dual-sided design does allow for that while only having to go with 512GB NANDs.
Now I hadn’t originally planned on showing what the drive looked like under the heatsink. At least not until I finished testing. But when I originally installed the drive in our Asus X570 Crosshair VII motherboard in the second M.2 slot I ran into an issue where it was extremely tight against the chipset heatsink. This is because the heatsink wraps around the sides of the drive where on other drives like Vipers own VPN100 or the WD Black SN750 with heatsink, they don’t overhand the edge of the PCB at all. I managed to get it to fit when I really shouldn’t have and eventually that pressure pushed the heatsink off. Oops.
With the heatsink off the drive, I did go ahead and get a few photos including of the underside of the heatsink. You can see the diffusers that run the length of the heatsink and also how the center is hollowed out to get the lighting up to the Viper logo in the middle. Beyond that, it is kept attached with two thermal pads which land on the controller on one side and over one full NAND and ¾ of the other on the other side.
Here is a look at the top side of the drive. As expected it has two more NAND on the left. On the right is the Phison E12 Series Controller. Then in the middle, there is a second memory chip for the cache. Both have SKHynix branding with the model number h5an4g8nbjr which means each offers 4GB in cache. Which are both DDR4 and running at or at least rated to run at 2400 MHz 17-17-17. If you look close you can also see exactly where the heatsink contacted and where it didn’t, it did touch the top DDR4 slightly but not much.
With the heatsink off I also had to take a look at the lighting right? You can see a total of 9 LEDs lit up but I can confirm that this is because it was in the middle of a lighting effect. There are two more LEDS on each end that weren’t lit up at this time. Basically, there are five addressable LEDs for each of the diffusers that run the length of the drive and then three in the center for the backlighting on the Viper logo/branding.
Test System (with affiliate links)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
Motherboard: Asus Crosshair VIII HERO WiFi
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12S for cooling
Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste
Storage: Corsair MP600 2TB
Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti
Power Supply: Corsair TX750M
Case: Dimastech Test Bench
Lighting and Software
This isn’t a section that I normally need to include with most SSDs, but as mentioned multiple times the big feature fo the VPR100 is its addressable RGB lighting on top. To control it you have two options. They support Asus’s Aura lighting software or you can use the software Patriot provides. Here is a look at what you are getting, it's actually extremely simple and to the point. Because it only controls the lighting you don’t have any tabs to flip through. You just have a huge picture of the drive that opens up, then over on the left, you can pick from a lit of different lighting effects. Each has its own adjustments, mostly for speed and brightness. But for some you can also pick out the colors it will use. There isn’t a direct “turn off lighting” button, but there is the dark effect which does turn the lighting off. That could be a little more clear by calling that option “No Lighting” in my opinion. You can also create up to 5 profiles to flip through as well. I personally would prefer to have a few user profiles, not just a full software profile change, but it does basically the same thing. As for picking colors, you can select 5 which has all five of the lighting we saw on the PCB in the center for the viper logo, then each side of the V can get its own color and each outside line can get a color. You can’t pick full individual colors for each LED, but it is close with allowing you to pick 5 spots out of the 13 LEDs.
I also have to address something listed in the specifications. They mention that this drive does get better performance when not running with the lighting. Our friends over at Legit Reviews spent more time looking into this one with their testing to find out it isn’t a heat-related issue. They suspect that the Phison E12 controller must be controlling the lighting and causing it to pull compute power from an already potentially overloaded controller. I would agree, or the other possibility is just voltage related. I know we have seen this with DDR memory with lighting. Corsair created a new LED type specifically so they would pull less power and allow them to finally run lighting on their highest-end memory that didn’t like to overclock as far with the lighting pulling some voltage from the memory. Legit Reviews (LINK) saw the biggest drop using Asus’s software with the Yoyo Effect. My testing was similar in that I also used Crystal Disk Mark 7 but when running the aura effect with the patriot software I didn’t see as significant of a drop. What I did find however was it was very inconsistent. There would be a big drop in one or two results, but it would change each time.
With Lighting On
As for how the lighting looks, it looks really good. The diffusers that run up and down the edge make all the difference compared to the bare PCB. This lets the lights blend together more when it is doing effects like the neon or aurora effect that slowly transition between different colors. It is hard to show how bright the lighting is, but it is on par with the lighting on our Asus motherboard which is a touch less bright than the G-Skill memory. But it is enough to light up and show the dust that the test bench is starting to collect, eww.
With the inconsistent performance drops that that RGB lighting was giving me, I did do all of our performance testing with the lighting turned off. I didn’t originally plan on doing this and I don’t really like that I had too. But because of the inconsistent results, I could go through all of our tests and the results may not reflect what you might see or it might show the slowdown on every result when you may only see that sometimes. So be sure to check out the previous section about lighting where I do show the number differences, but just know that if you run the VPN100 with the lighting on you may sometimes get 20 or 30 percent slowdowns slower than the numbers below. As always I also include a CrystalDiskInfo screenshot. This documents the firmware of the drive and shows if our drive has any issues from the start and if it is connected with the right PCI generation and the number of lanes which the VPR100 is.
So to start the testing off I always like to look at CrystalDiskMark which lets us see sequential performance. CDM has updated recently and our original test suite uses the older CDM 6 results and to keep the consistency with past test results I still run that test. But I also included the new CDM 7 results below that as well because I will eventually be moving to that. Anyhow, with the exception of the Corsair MP600 which is a PCIe Gen 4 drive, the VPR100 is actually right at the top of the charts, sitting just above the always fast WD Black drives. The same goes for the write test as well, edging out in front of the SN750 by two MB/s which makes this an impressively fast drive. The CDM 7 results are similar as well, really the main changes in CDM7 are in the other test, not the sequential test at the top.
Speaking of other CrystalDiskMark tests. I do also take a look at the IOPS performance, looking at the 8 queue depth and 8 thread performance in both reads and writes. I combine them in the chart below to get an overall look at the drive, but you can see the individual numbers as well. The VPR100 is a little behind the SN750 on the read IOPS, but it is faster on the write IOPS with the only other drive up in that same range being the VPN100 which is also from Viper.
I ran through the recently introduced PCMark 10 Storage tests, specifically the full drive benchmark and then again with the data drive benchmark to get a look at more real-world like performance. The VPR100 did really well here, especially in the data drive benchmark where it blew the WD Blue away. With this being a new test I haven’t retested some of the older drives in it yet.
Next, I run a timed file copy benchmark using AS SSD which tests three different file types that are often used. Overall here the SN750 did better but the VPR100 was still fast, especially in the program file type with the SN750 pulling ahead because of its speed with ISOs.
In Passmark Performance Test 9 I did a few different tests. I ran the complete storage benchmark using the main software which runs a list of different tests altogether and outputs a score. For that one, the VPR100 came out with a nice lead ahead of the SN750 with just the PCIe Gen 4 based MP600 out ahead of it. Then I used the advanced disk benchmark tool to run a few other tests. I did the four default tests which look at four enterprise uses scenarios. In the workstation test which is the most like a normal PC usage, the VPR100 did well but the MP600 was still fast, as was the much older RD400 as well. Web Server and File server tests were surprisingly faster than the MP600 but the SN750 was still faster. Then with the database result, the VPR100 did well once again but the SN750 was much faster, with the now-dated Intel 750 series also being faster on that test.
For another look at IOPS results, I went with Anvil’s Storage Utilities where I ran random IOPS tests at a 16 queue depth on both the read and writes on the VPR100. I combined the results as I do like to see the overall performance of a drive and the MP600 with its PCIe Gen 4 transfer speeds was still out ahead, as was the always fast WD Black SN750 but the VPR100 did a lot better than I expected, especially with its random write IOPS.
Sticking with Anvil’s Storage Utilities from the last tests I also did a series of tests to get an idea of how the drive reacts to different queue depth loads. I did this with both reads and writes. With the read queue depths, I was impressed to see that the VPR100 didn’t drop off at the high end like most drives do. You can see that there are only 5 drives out of all of the drives tested that continue to improve in speed each time the queue depth is doubled and they are all high-end drives. The VPR100 actually came out to be the second-fastest drive at a queue depth of 128. It did well even down low as well with mostly just the MP600 being faster. In the same test but with write performance the VPR100 did drop off on the last test, but it still ended up coming out as the fastest of all of the drives tests at that level. The MP600 was faster with a queue depth of 32, but it dropped off even more at a queue depth of 64 than the VPR100 did.
Overall and Final Verdict
Well, I have to admit, the VPR100 surprised me a little after I started our testing. I knew it what it was rated to do, but if I’m being honest my experience with Viper drives is that they normally perform well, but not completely at the top of the market. Making up the difference with their pricing and features like the heatsink on the VPN100 that I previously reviewed. In a lot of the tests, I ran the VPR100 was fast, very fast, outperforming even the SN750 at times and the PCIe 4.0 based MP600 in a few tests as well. I also really do like the looks of the drive with the RGB lighting on. The software was simple and to the point as well, although I think integration with software like Asus’s Aura lighting control is even more important if you are trying to get consistent lighting from your SSD, motherboard, video card, and even fans and case lighting.
There were still a few downsides to the VPR100 that I ran into. A small detail but one that I think they should be considering with drives like this is the PCB color. Going with a blue PCB works well with the WD Blue drive because blue is the goal, but with the VPR100 they were going with a blacked-out heatsink. Having the blue peek through, even just a little seems like an afterthought. That heatsink is also not going to fit in some situations. This is on top of the issues that having a heatsink at all will cause you, eliminating laptops and not being able to use it on the back of motherboards that have M.2s on the back. But the width of the heatsink was wider than the M.2 drive and even when not using the built-in heatsink in our Crosshair motherboard it was too tight on the bottom slot forcing me to swap things around.
The biggest issue, however, is that when running the RGB lighting, the performance does drop. They say you can expect 20% to 30% less in performance and at least in my testing, it was inconsistent with when it might drop. Given that the RGB lighting is the main feature, it is a bummer to see some of that performance cut right off the top, especially with how fast the drive is without the lighting. Of course, because of that, it is still fast enough for most people with the lighting on.
Of course, the pricing makes a big difference in SSD’s and I will say that the VPR100 coming in at $189.99 initially seemed like a great deal. When looking more into other prices, I did find a comparable RGB SSD with the ADATA XPG S40G which can be picked up in the 1TB capacity for $150. The WD Black SN750 without heatsink is also available at 1TB for around $150 as well making the VPR100 a touch high in its pricing but less than drives like the Samsung 970 EVO. So hopefully we see the pricing come down slightly to match the competition. Because otherwise, the VPR100 is right there. The XPG version even has similar performance issues in conjunction with the lighting
Live Pricing: HERE