The Bottom Line
- + Compatibility
- + Throughput
- + Form Factor
- - None
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Introduction & Drive Details
Kingston's DataTraveler MAX is already our favorite keychain storage device on the planet, due to its unprecedented speed, compatibility and portability. So just how can that be improved upon? Well, you can add the ultimate in backward compatibility into the mix, is how.
Kingston's newest USB offering is again an SMI 2320-based pen drive that fits on your keychain and delivers over 1,000 MB/s throughput when plugged into a USB 3.2 Gen2 port. Where it differs from its predecessor is connectivity. USB Type-A connectivity. USB Type-A offers the ultimate in portable connectivity as it is the most prolific connection in the history of personal computing.
Like its Type-C predecessor, the DataTraveler MAX Type-A pen drive is unique in the world of fast portable storage because it is native USB. Why is this important? No bridge chip - there is just the native USB controller between the port and the flash. This means the DataTraveler MAX Type-A is compatible with ALL USB Type-A ports, even USB 2.0. Try that with a portable SSD with a bridge chip. If Type-C doesn't fit your needs, then this is the ultimate keychain pen drive for you. It will even work on grandma's old Dell.
Okay, let's see what kind of performance the DataTraveler MAX Type-A 1TB is serving up when plugged into a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A port.
Kingston's newest USB offering is available in three capacities - 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. Factory specifications state the DataTraveler Max Type-A pen drive is capable of up to 1,000/900 MB/s sequential read/write. Those are unprecedented speeds for a pen drive form factor Type-A USB stick. Full-speed native USB at the pinnacle of portability and backward compatibility.
The DataTraveler Max Type-A sports a unique ridged casing that protects the connector when it is not in use and is easily moved in a single motion. The casing has an integrated keyring loop and an LED status indicator that is visible when the drive is powered up. The DataTraveler Max Type-A pen drive is backed by a five-year warranty with free technical support.
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, ATTO & Blackmagic
We have no issue hitting above advertised sequential throughput. Excellent. Furthermore, the DataTraveler's low queue depth random performance indicates it can deliver decently if employed for gaming or data drive duties.
ATTO demonstrates that the DataTraveler MAX Type-A can deliver very close to full performance at 128K transfers. Exactly what we like to see from any storage device.
Our BlackMagic results verify that the DataTraveler MAX Type-A can handle a nice variety of video duties. Very nice.
Real-World Testing: PCMark 10, 3DMark SSD Gaming & Transfer Rates
PCMark 10 Data Drive Benchmark
The Data Drive Benchmark is designed to test drives that are used for storing files rather than applications. You can also use this test with NAS drives, USB sticks, memory cards, and other external storage devices.
The Data Drive Benchmark uses three traces, running three passes with each trace as follows:
- Copying 339 JPEG files, 2.37 GB in total,â€¯intoâ€¯the target drive (write test).
- Making a copy of the JPEG files (read-write test).
- Copying the JPEG files to another drive (read test).
As our CDM random results indicated, the DataTraveler MAX Type-A 1TB makes for a decent extended data drive.
3DMark SSD Gaming Test
UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is in fact the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing.
In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:
- Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
- Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
- Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
- Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
- Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. We are now including gaming performance as a part of our external SSD reviews, as using portable storage for gaming duties is very popular among avid gamers. If you want to use the DataTraveler MAX for a portable game drive, it will get the job done quite well.
DiskBench - Transfer Rates
We brutalize our test subjects with our extremely hard-to-swallow 100GB data block. This data block is the same one we use for our internal SSD testing and is composed of more than 62K files. This is where the rubber meets the road for a portable SSD. Real-world transfer performance is stellar. In fact, it's among the best we've gotten from a USB 3.2 Gen2 device. Impressive.
As we see it, compatibility is first and foremost above anything else in the world of fast portable storage. After all, what good is a device that only works most of the time or some of the time, or maybe not at all, depending on the host hardware?
We have noted that for as long as bridge chip-reliant portable SSDs have been around, you will inevitably run into compatibility issues. This is why Kingston's newest portable storage devices are our favorite.
Not only do they deliver class-leading performance, but they are also native USB controlled. They work perfectly as long as the host has a physically compatible USB port and is fully backward compatible with previous generations of USB.
Kingston's Type-A variant of the DataTraveler MAX solves the one common scenario that its Type-C siblings couldn't physically handle: compatibility with older PCs that do not have Type-C connectivity.
We believe Kingston's DataTraveler MAX is the best overall portable storage of its type ever offered. This thing can do it all. Editor's Choice.
The Bottom Line
Overall the best USB Type-A storage device we've ever tested.