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2010 Thumb Drive Roundup - 16 USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Drives Prodded and Tested

With so many to choose from, who knows what to buy? Today we look at several thumb drives and help you make an informed decision.
@ChrisRamseyer
Published Mon, Nov 1 2010 4:36 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: TweakTown

Introduction


2010 Thumb Drive Roundup - 16 USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Drives Prodded and Tested 01 | TweakTown.com
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Flash drives have become commodity products and everyone has at least one. Most people, even those technology challenged folks even have a small stack of these drives tucked into their purses and piled on their desks. For most a thumb drive is a thumb drive and they don't see much of a difference between them. Looking at the flash drive section at the big box stores and it becomes apparent that many manufacturers are willing to let this go on. In many cases we found that performance data wasn't published on the retail packaging, leaving end users to just assume speeds and make their purchases based on price and capacity alone.

Today we are going to take a look at the latest crop of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 flash drives available on the market. This is the first year we have included USB 3.0 products in the round up and we are quite excited to see this new technology rapidly gaining acceptance in the market. The higher costs of USB 3.0 products means USB 2.0 still has some life left in it and with new quad channel designs USB 2.0 in some cases is just as fast as some early USB 3.0 drives.

Let's take a look at how we are testing and then get right into the models being tested today.

Test System Setup


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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: AVADirect, GIGABYTE, Cooler Master, LSI and Noctua.

You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.

All of our testing today was run on GIGABYTE's X58A-UD7 motherboard. This board offers several USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports on the back of the motherboard. Obviously with USB 3.0 only on the back of the motherboard many users will find reaching around their computer an inconvenience, but the good news is that case manufacturers are adding USB 3.0 ports in the front of their cases.

This is something you will want to keep in mind. Also, many notebooks currently available on the market do not have USB 3.0 at all. Our Lenovo W701ds is one of the first notebooks to include USB 3.0 as a standard and many more models are on the way with USB 3.0 as an option.

To gauge the performance of each product we ran a series of tests, but settled on just two for the review. On the description page for each product we display the results obtained in ATTO. After we take a look at each drive we will show the results from AS SSD's Copy Tests.

ADATA


ADATA N005

ADATA's N005 is a USB 3.0 drive that looks like a standard USB 2.0 model. The blue tip gives away the USB 3.0 secret and when you use it the transfer speeds are more than twice as fast as USB 2.0 units.

ADATA has released three capacity sizes and Newegg carries all three. The 16GB model is available at Newegg for 44.99, 32GB for 74.99 and the 64GB model for 119.99.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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The N005 is a little longer than most flash drives.

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The cap can be stored on the back of the drive, but the cap stays a little loose.

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We used the 64GB model in our article today.

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The ATTO results show the ADATA N005 hitting just over 85MB/s read and 50MB/s write speeds.


ADATA S805

The ADATA S805 is a USB 2.0 drive that has a unique clip feature that makes keeping the drive attached to a backpack or key chain very easy.

ADATA has released four capacity sizes of 4, 8, 16 and 32GB. Newegg lists the 4GB at 13.99, 8GB at 19.99 and 16GB at 34.99, but the 32GB model was not available at the time of writing.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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The big selling point of the S805 is the clip feature.

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The data connector flips out so you don't have to worry about misplacing the cap.

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We tested the 32GB model for this round up.

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In ATTO we saw read speeds of 27.5MB/s and write speeds of just over 13MB/s.

Lexar


Lexar JumpDrive FireFly

Lexar, now part of the Micron group offers several flash drives for consumers and enterprise markets. The JumpDrive FireFly has been around for a couple of years, but is unique enough to remain on store shelves. The FireFly name comes from the drives LED at the back of the drive that lights up like a lightening bug.

Lexar has four capacity sizes; 2, 4, 8 and 16GB and you can get the FireFly in a handful of colors. Newegg lists the 2GB model at 12.99, 4GB at 14.75, 8GB at 24.30 and the 16GB at 25.01 USD.

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Here we see the retail package.

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The Lexar JumpDrive FireFly is quite small and has a tight cap that can be used on both sides for easy storage.

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The LED at the end of the drive is quite bright and can light up a small space easily when the lights are out.

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We tested the 16GB model which is the largest offered at this time.

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The early testing with ATTO showed read speeds of 20MB/s and write speeds of almost 12MB/s.


Lexar JumpDrive TwistTurn

Lexar's TwistTurn is a flip out drive that can be attached to a key chain easily. Lexar has a wide range of capacity sizes available from 2GB to 64GB.

Newegg carries the 2GB and has it listed at 12.79, 4GB at 10.99, 8GB at 23.79, 16GB at 24.13, 32GB at 75.99 and the massive 64GB at 129.99 USD. All of the models are USB 2.0.

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Here we see the retail package.

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The drive is fairly small, but far from the smallest we will look at today.

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Here we see the drive opened; you can swivel the base all the way around if needed.

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We tested the 8GB model for this round up.

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The early testing showed us a read speed of just over 18MB/s and a write speed of 7MB/s.

OCZ Technology


OCZ Technology ATV

OCZ sent us four drives for the round up, three USB 2.0 models and a single USB 3.0 that is more of a portable hard drive than a thumb drive.

First up is the OCZ ATV, a rubber surrounded thumb drive designed for those of us who tend to drop, drag and torture our portable storage. The ATV is even waterproof. OCZ is currently making 4, 8, 16 and 32GB drives. A 2GB unit was available, but has since been discontinued.

Newegg lists the 4GB as being in stock and selling at 16.45, the 8GB is available for 17.99, 16GB for 35.99 and the largest 32GB for 52.99.

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Here we see the retail package.

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OCZ put quite a bit of thought into the ATV. The rubber surround offers a lot of grip and the drive also includes a place to store the cap when in use.

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When it comes to the size, the drive is about average for length and width.

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We tested the 8GB model.

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Our early testing showed read speeds of 35MB/s; this is right around the maximum possible with USB 2.0. The write speeds were around 12.5MB/s.


OCZ Technology Diesel

The OCZ Technology Diesel is a mainstream flash drive designed for folks not looking to spend a great deal of money on portable storage. The Diesel is available in several capacity sizes ranging from 2 to 32GB.

Newegg lists the 4GB at 7.99, one of the lowest priced drives we will look at today. The 8GB is only 15.99 and the 16GB is 22.99 USD. Newegg didn't have the other capacity sizes in stock.

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Here we see the retail package.

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Even though the drive is in the budget / mainstream category, the drive uses an aluminum shell with plastic end caps.

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The back of the drive has a place to tie a string or thin rope, but the loop is plastic so you might not want to start swinging the drive around by this attachment point.

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We tested the 8GB model for today's article.

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The early testing showed a read speed of 9.5MB/s and a write speed of just over 5.5MB/s.


OCZ Technology Enyo

OCZ's Enyo isn't a thumb drive; it really isn't a hard drive either. If you are looking to spend the money to get very high performance, this may be exactly what you are looking for. The Enyo uses an Indilinx solid state controller and that makes it closer to an SSD more than anything.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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The Enyo is housed in an all-aluminum chassis, but you have to run a cable to the drive. The cable is a standard USB 3.0 to mini USB 3.0 type.

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Back in September we ran a full review on the OCZ Enyo. You can read that review here. Our early testing gave us read speeds of around 200MB/s, the limit of the X58A-UD7's USB 3.0 implementation. The write speeds were just over 180MB/s.


OCZ Technology Rally2

The OCZ Rally2 has been available for many years now. I remember seeing the first run of these drives when I made my first trip to Computex several years ago. The Rally2 is slowly being replaced by the Rally2 Turbo, but this old drive still has some life left to give.

Over its lifespan the Rally2 was offered in everything from 1GB to 64GB, but only the 4 through 32GB drives are being manufactured today. Newegg lists the 4GB at 14.99, the 8GB at 16.99, 16GB at 39.99 and the largest 32GB capacity size at 46.99. The Rally2 is in OCZ's Performance Class category.

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Here we see the retail package.

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The OCZ Rally2 is a standard thumb drive design with a cap, but it doesn't have a convenient place to put the cap when the drive is in use.

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What is convenient is the included lanyard that makes transporting the Rally2 very easy. A few years ago most thumb drives shipped with a lanyard, but most companies have eliminated the accessory.

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We tested the 8GB model for today's article.

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Early testing of the OCZ Rally2 had read speeds of almost 33MB/s and write speeds very close to 16MB/s.

Patriot Memory


Patriot Boost

Patriot Memory offers several drives under the Xporter category. The Boost is a full rubberized unit that is available in 4, 8, 16 and 32GB capacities. Newegg lists the 4GB model at 12.99, 8GB at 17.99, 16GB at 35.99 and the 32GB drive at 68.99.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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The rubber surface gives the Xporter Boost a lot of grip and the back of the drive holds the cap when in use.

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The only down side is that you can't use the cap holder if you have the drive attached to a keychain or other attachment.

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We tested the 32GB model for today's article.

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The Boost maxed our USB 2.0 connection on the read speed, close to 35MB/s. The write speeds dipped down to around 12.5MB/s.


Patriot Magnum

The big daddy in Patriot's flash drive line up is the Magnum. With only two capacities available; 64 and 128GB, the Magnum is a large drive that is made to hold a lot of data.

Newegg lists the 64GB Magnum at 89.99 after a mail in rebate and the 128GB model at 209.99 after the same 50 Dollar rebate.

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Here we see the retail package.

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The Patriot Magnum doesn't come cheap, but it does come with a nice accessory package. Included is a lanyard and USB 2.0 extension cable.

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The Magnum is an all-aluminum drive; even the cap is aluminum making this a very high quality unit.

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We tested the amazingly large 128GB Magnum.

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In our early tests we learned that the Patriot Magnum has a read speed of almost 32MB/s and is able to write at 18.5MB/s.


Patriot Rage

The Patriot Rage was featured in an article just recently. You can find the full review here. The Rage is available in four capacity sizes.

Newegg lists the 8GB model at 20.99, 16GB at 36.99, 32GB at 66.99 and the 64GB model at 139.99. Due to its quad channel design the Patriot Rage has the potential to be the fastest USB 2.0 drive in this round up. We will have to wait until all of the results are tallied to know for sure.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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Patriot has designed the Rage to be a very small, yet fast thumb drive. Mighty Mouse would be proud.

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The drive actually gets smaller when in use. The outside protective cover slides back to reveal the data connector.

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In early testing we observed a read speed of 30MB/s and a write speed of around 25.5MB/s.

Silicon Power


Silicon Power LuxMini 920

Silicon Power sent over three drives for the round up, but they do not have any thumb drives listed at Newegg.

To start things out we have the Silicon Power LuxMini, a high speed 200x drive. The LuxMini 920 is available in four capacities; 8, 16, 32 and a massive 64GB.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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The LuxMini 920 has a plastic housing that is covered with a carbon fiber look sticker.

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The cap on the drive slides off fairly easily and there isn't a place to put it when the drive is in use.

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We tested the massive 64GB model.

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The Silicon Power LuxMini 920 had a read speed of nearly 35MB/s and a write speed close to 30MB/s. This is one of the fastest USB 2.0 drives we have ever tested.


Silicon Power TOUCH 830

The Silicon Power TOUCH 830 is what I like to call a blade drive. This type of thumb drive is very small and very thin. The data connector is different than most thumb drives and it plugs right into the USB port without a case that goes around the port's connector. Silicon Power released the drive in 2, 4, 8 and 16GB capacities.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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The TOUCH 830 has a metal, chrome finish and is just over an inch long.

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Silicon Power included a chain accessory with the drive. Here you can see the USB connector.

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We tested the 8GB model.

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In early tested we observed the drive reading at 18MB/s and writing data at 15MB/s.


Silicon Power TOUCH 851

Silicon Power's TOUCH 851 is another small thumb drive, but it is a little larger than the 830. The 851 is also available in the same capacity sizes; 2, 4, 8 and 16GB.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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The Silicon Power TOUCH 851 uses a slide configuration. With your thumb you slide the drives data connector out of the metal base.

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Silicon Power included a metal chain so you can easily attach the drive to a backpack, purse or keychain.

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We tested the 8GB model.

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Early testing revealed the Silicon Power TOUCH 851 reading at 18MB/s and writing data at 15MB/s.

Super Talent


Super Talent Luxio

The Super Talent Luxio has some features that make it a very nice drive. To start off with, the drive looks very good. Our sample has a faux wood look; the drive is actually made of plastic, but you can hardly tell.

We were surprised to see that Super Talent no longer lists flash drives at Newegg which is our official pricing engine for this round up. The Luxio is available in capacities ranging from 16 to 128GB.

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Here we see the retail packaging.

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Our sample finish was the wood look model, but Super Talent also sells a black and a silver trim model.

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The Luxio is a standard thumb drive design with a cap.

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We tested the 64GB model for this article.

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The Super Talent Luxio reads and writes data at 21MB/s.


Super Talent SuperCrypt

Super Talent is the current king of the USB 3.0 thumb drive with no less than 4 models now available. I have to admit I was quite disappointed that we were not able to test each in our roundup. We did have the Super Talent SuperCrypt on hand from a full review that was posted back in August. The SuperCrypt is available in 16 to 256GB capacity sizes.

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Here we see the retail package.

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The SuperCrypt is basically a big shiny silver drive that has the shape of a thumb drive, but is just about 2x the size of a normal thumb drive.

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There aren't a lot of bells and whistles other than the USB 3.0 interface and the LED that lights up blue when connected to USB 3.0. The LED will glow red when attached to USB 2.0.

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We tested with the 32GB model.

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The early tests registered read speeds of 240MB/s with write speeds just under 110MB/s.

Benchmarks - AS SSD


AS SSD Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.3577.40358
Developer Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software
Product Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software
Download here: http://www.alex-is.de/PHP/fusion/downloads.php?cat_id=4&download_id=9

AS determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are carried out without the use of the operating system caches.

In all synthetic tests the test file size is 1GB. AS can also determine the access time of the SSD, the access of which the drive is determined to read through the entire capacity of the SSD (Full Stroke). The write access test is only to be met with a 1 GB big test file. At the end of the tests three values for the read and write as well as the overall performance will be issued. In addition to the calculated values which are shown in MB/s, they are also represented in IO per seconds (IOPS).

Note: AS SSD is a great benchmark for many tests, but since Crystal Disk Mark covers a broader range of 4K tests and HD Tune Pro covering sequential speeds, we will only use the Copy Benchmark from AS SSD.

- Copy Benchmark USB 2.0

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For the most part all of the USB 2.0 drives cost within a few dollars of each other for the same capacity. Some drives, like the OCZ Diesel, are very cheap; just 15.99 for the 8GB model. On the high end the available drives in our roundup we found the 8GB Lexar JumpDrive TwistTurn at Newegg for 23.79. Going on price alone is foolish, though, so let's take a look at some real performance data. We'll get into pricing more in the conclusion.

The chart above uses three models to gain insight into the performance of each drive. As you can see, each drive performs differently with each type of software being transferred. The Program Test uses many small files, the ISO Test is one very large file and the game test is a mix between small and large files.

When it comes to performance, the Silicon Power LuxMini 920 is the fastest drive at all three tests. The 920 is very fast, one of the fastest USB 2.0 drives we have ever seen. A close second is the Patriot Memory Xporter Rage. These are the two top of the class speed demons, but there are other categories to consider as well. The Patriot Magnum is one of the few drives in this round up that is available in 128GB capacity; most of the others top out at 32GB and a few go up to 64GB. The Magnum, even though it is a massive drive, is still very fast; third on the list.


- Copy Benchmark USB 3.0

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This was our first year of seeing USB 3.0 drives in our annual Thumb Drive Round Up and all three couldn't have been designed more different. ADATA's N005 is what we would consider a traditional thumb drive. The N005 is a little longer than most thumb drives, but other than that the shape of the drive is unmistakable.

OCZ's Enyo looks nothing like a thumb drive and even uses an external cable for connectivity. The Enyo is portable, but it isn't something you are going to stick on a keychain. Last but not least is the Super Talent SuperCrypt. The SuperCrypt is in the shape of a thumb drive, but is at least 2x the size of any other traditional USB 2.0 drive we looked at today.

When it comes to transfer performance the OCZ Enyo tops out our USB 3.0 tests. This really isn't a big surprise since it is based on proven SSD technology and for the most part is a solid state drive. The ADATA N005 was faster than the USB 2.0 drives, but much slower than what we expected. Super Talent's SuperCrypt was the mixed bag from the group. The SuperCrypt did a very good job with large ISO files, but the Game Test had it being outperformed by the fastest USB 2.0 drive in the round up.

Final Thoughts




So much goes into shopping for a flash drive. Price, accessories, features, transfer speeds and availability are just the start of it all. The one thing that really can't be measured is personal preference to each of these categories, and of course what style you like. Some users may even make a purchasing decision based on the color of the drive alone.

Today we looked at just a small handful of drives that are available in the US, but this sample size doesn't even make up 1% of the available products on the global market. Our sample group does cover some of the most widely used products available and also some of the best ever made in their categories. Let's take a look at some of the features and find the drives that best match basic needs.

The first category is all out speed. These drives are some of the fastest available, but their price may be an issue for some users. The Silicon Power LuxMini 920 was the fastest USB 2.0 drive we tested; it was actually one of the fastest we had ever seen, but the problem is we can't find it for sale anywhere. It's not on Newegg, Google Shopping or PriceGrabber. The very close second place drive in the speed category was the Patriot Rage and it is available all over the place. When it comes to USB 3.0 the OCZ Enyo is as fast as we will ever see, but its physical size is bothersome if you are looking for a real thumb sized drive. The ADATA N005 USB 3.0 drive is the perfect mix between speed and size, but you will need a USB 3.0 port to tap into its high speed mode.

The next category is size. If you are looking for a very small drive the Silicon Power TOUCH 830 is about as small as you can get; but you have to find it first. We were not able to find it either. Last year we had the Super Talent Pico C in and it is a suitable replacement, but the drive isn't very fast and would be in the lower 1/3 of the drives we reviewed today when it comes to speed. The happy mix between small and fast is the Lexar FireFly and the Patriot Rage.

Bigger is always better when it comes to storage and several of the drives we looked at today are available in 64GB capacities. The number of drives offered at 128GB is quite small, though. The Patriot Magnum and Super Talent Luxio top this list. The ADATA N005 USB 3.0 drive tops out at 64GB, but if you want to go big it's hard to beat the Magnum with its aluminium body and accessory package.

When it comes to my own personal preference, having used all of these products I really like the Patriot Rage for 'in my pocket' storage and the OCZ Enyo for 'around the house' use. The Rage is the perfect size and has all the speed you could ask for. It really is the stand out USB 2.0 drive; one of the best all-around thumb drives we have ever seen.

The OCZ Enyo is just pure muscle. It's kind of like a professional body builder; all of that muscle but you have to wonder how much all of that muscle impedes daily life. The Enyo is small enough to go in your pocket, but the external cable reminds us that thumb drive material it isn't.

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Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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