Ubuntu and the Patriot Supersonic Boost XT 16G

July 31, 2012
The Patriot Supersonic Boost XT 16G is a USB 3.0 stick offering faster speeds when used with USB 3.0 motherboards. Linux is not mentioned on the packaging, so how does this USB stick perform with Ubuntu and a USB 2 motherboard?

What It Looks Like

The Supersonic is about the same size as the Patriot Xporter XT 8G, only shorter (6 cm long including the keyhole). It is made from the same rubber casing to avoid shocks and make the stick more drop resistant, and a matching rubber cap protects the USB connector when not in use.

A red activity LED blinks during file transfers.

Ubuntu Compatibility

The Supersonic is formatted with FAT and usable out of the box. Upon plugging it into the Linux computer for the first time, Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit recognized the device immediately without any problems. It automatically mounted and appeared on the desktop.

A few files were copied to and then read from the Supersonic, and all files passed hashing tests to check that the files were copied correctly. Yes, the Supersonic is 100% compatible with Ubuntu.

Keep in mind that even though this has a 16GB capacity printed on the packaging and on the USB stick itself, only 14.7GB is available after formatting. Below is what Ubuntu 10.10 reports when viewing the Supersonic’s properties.

System Profiler also reports 14.7 GB free.

How Fast Is It?

Rather than performing boring laboratory benchmarks, real-world file transfers were used to get a better feel for what to expect during everyday usage. In other words, “How long does it take to transfer about 600 pictures?”

Since a USB 3.0 motherboard was not available, a USB 2 motherboard was used. The operating system for these tests was Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit with kernel 3.4.0.

A directory containing 628 JPEG images totaling 2.1GB was copied to the FAT-formatted Supersonic from a 7200 RPM ext4-formatted hard drive three times using this command in a terminal:

time cp -R pictures /media/PATRIOT

After that, the files were copied from the Supersonic to the same 7200 RPM ext4 hard drive three times using this command in a terminal:

time cp -R /media/PATRIOT/pictures ~/test

In both cases, the results were averaged to get the final results.

Results for FAT File Transfers

FAT: How long to transfer 628 files totaling 2.1G?

Write TO Supersonic FAT    2m40s
Read FROM Supersonic FAT   0m25s

What About ext4?

Would file transfers run faster by reformatting the Supersonic to ext4? After the FAT tests were complete, the Supersonic was formatted to ext4. The ext4 format took longer than a FAT format, but it eventually finished without errors.

Available capacity read 13.6 GB free in the properties because 1.1 GB was reserved, which is normal when formatting with ext3 or ext4. We can make this reserved space available by running,

sudo fdisk -l

to find out which device file the Supersonic is mounted as (in this case, it is /dev/sdd1), and then running,

sudo tune2fs -m 0 /dev/sdd1

to set the reserved blocks to 0. Make sure to use the partition sdd1 and not sdd by itself. There is no need to remount the Supersonic. Changes are instant. The property dialog now shows 14.4 GB free because 350 MB is used by the system.

The same files and same commands were used.

Ext4 Results

ext4: How long to transfer 628 files totaling 2.1G?

Write TO Supersonic ext4     2m24s
Read FROM Supersonic ext4    0m27s

From these results, the FAT and ext4 offer about the same file transfer speed. The only advantage to using ext4 is that it supports file sizes greater than 4G while FAT is limited to file sizes 4G or smaller. On the other hand, the FAT filesystem is compatible with almost anything for greater versatility.

Comparisons with the Patriot Xporter

So, how does the Supersonic compare to the older, time-tested Patriot Xporter XT 8G USB2 stick? Again, the same files were copied.

Xporter XT Results

FAT 8G: How long to transfer 628 files totaling 2.1G?

Write TO Xporter 8G FAT    4m04s
Read FROM Xporter 8G FAT   0m33s

The Patriot Xporter XT 8G USB 2 stick was noticeably slower when writing than the Supersonic despite running on the same USB 2 motherboard.

Device Speed Summary

The same files were copied many times on three different USB devices in order to compare the file transfer times for reading and writing and see how the Supersonic performs. Here is a summary of the above results plus the Verbatim Tuff ‘n’ Tiny USB stick.

Device     F.Sys      Write Read
Supersonic 16G FAT    2m40s 0m25s 
Supersonic 16G ext4   2m24s 0m27s
Xporter XT 8G FAT     4m04s 0m33s
Tuff n Tiny 8G FAT    6m16s 0m35s

The Supersonic formatted with FAT offers the best all-round performance and universal compatibility even though ext4 writes tend to be faster. The Verbatim Tuff ‘n’ Tiny USB stick was the slowest in the group. In all cases, reads were faster than writes.


The Patriot Supersonic Boost XT is a speedy USB stick–even on a USB2 motherboard. Using a USB2 motherboard, files copied to and from the Supersonic faster than its predecessor, the Patriot Xporter XT USB stick. File transfers would probably be faster using a USB 3.0 motherboard, but a USB 3.0 motherboard was not available for testing.

This is good USB stick, and it may be safe to assume that those happy with the Patriot Xporter XT will be more than happy with the Patriot Supersonic since it offers improved performance on the same system. It’s smaller, faster, and offers a larger capacity.

Related Links:

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  1. Notes on Timing the Supersonic USB Transfers « Delightly Linux

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