On the heels of its performance-orientated Wildfire series, Patriot has developed a more cost effective solution for mainstream system builders. Based on SandForce's SF-2281 controller, the Pyro series appears to take aim at the Agility 3. OCZ's budget offering uses the same SandForce controller and similar NAND flash memory.

During its initial launch the Pyro undercut the Agility 3 by a few bucks ($205 versus $210), but OCZ has since responded by reducing its price to $170 (or $140 after a rebate). Patriot hasn't answered that move yet and we're not sure how to read that decision because it puts the Pyro in a tight position between competing drives.

Despite costing more, the Pyro claims to offer slightly more speed, citing blazingly fast 550MB/s sequential reads and up to 515MB/s sequential writes using SATA 6.0Gb/s. At first glance, it seems the Pyro might be fairly priced against the Agility 3, but we have a sneaking suspicion this isn't the case and Patriot will have to lower its prices.

Although Patriot's new drive is well distanced from its premium Wildfire series, which costs $280 for a 120GB unit, we're inclined to mention that the Pyro is awkwardly close to OCZ's Vertex 3 ($240). As you're aware, the Vertex 3 currently stands as one of the quickest consumer SSD available, and we're not sure the Pyro can stand that heat.

The difference between the price brackets comes down to the memory used. The Pyro and Agility 3 SSDs use asynchronous NAND flash memory while the Vertex 3 uses pricier synchronous chips. As a result, the Agility 3 delivers mediocre performance when working with incompressible data and we expected to find the same with the Pyro.

We're also curious to test the Pyro's RAID0 performance. At $410, pair of Pyro 120GB drives cost considerably less than a single Wildfire 240GB drive ($515), which could reveal some compelling results. We could speculate on drive performance all day, but let's press onward and see where Patriot's budget contender stands in the market...