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31 USB 3.0 Thumb Drives, Tested And Reviewed

31 USB 3.0 Thumb Drives, Tested And Reviewed
By , Achim Roos

It's hard to believe that the fastest USB 3.0-rated thumb drives can outperform the hard drive in your desktop PC. On the other hand, the slowest models shouldn't even be allowed USB 3.0 branding. We test 31 different drives to determine the quickest.

Most of us have had pretty bad experiences with thumb drives, dating back to USB 1.1 and 2.0. Heaven forbid you had a DVD-sized video file that you wanted to move to another machine. So, it's a little weird to think that a USB 3.0-connected thumb drive should be able to outperform the mechanical disks inside of your desktop PC. But the fastest models in today's round-up are indeed quite a bit faster. In fact, two drives manage to serve up sequential read speeds in excess of 300 MB/s. That's more throughput than a previous-gen SATA 3Gb/s port even allows. 

At the same time, we're going to see that not all USB 3.0-compatible thumb drives are fast. Plenty of them are straight-up duds. Knowing a drive's performance is very important before you decide to drop your hard-earned cash on it. To that end, we're benchmarking 31 different products to help you in your search for the right one.

Because we have so many drives in the lab, we're not going to introduce each one individually. Instead, we're going to focus on the ones we recommend and find most interesting. This includes the winner, the fastest seven drives, the most robust drives, and drives with special functionality.

The Technical Specifications

ManufacturerAdata  Adata  Corsair
ModelS102 ProS102 ProFlash Voyager Slider
Model Number
AS102P-16G-RGYAS102P-64G-RBLCMFSL3-32GB
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity16 GB64 GB32 GB
Removable Cap
YesYesNo
Weight9 g10 g13 g
ManufacturerCorsairCorsairCorsair
ModelFlash Voyager SliderFlash Voyager GTFlash Voyager GT
Model NumberCMFSL3-64GBCMFVYGT3A-32GBCMFVYGT3A-64GB
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity64 GB32 GB64 GB
Removable CapNoYesYes
Weight13 g20 g20 g
ManufacturerDane ElecExtrememory
Extrememory
Model
USB Drive designed by brinellXplorer
Model Number-EXMEUFD332GDBSEXMEUFD332GXPLB
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity16 GB32 GB32 GB
Removable CapNoYesNo
Weight8 g23 g12 g
ManufacturerIntegralKingstonKingston
ModelCrypto DualDataTraveler HyperX 3.0DataTraveler R3.0
Model NumberINFD32GCRYPTODL197DTHX30/64GBDTR30/32GB
InterfaceUSB 2.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity32 GB64 GB32 GB
Removable CapYesYesYes
Weight10 g17 g16 g
ManufacturerLaCieMach XtremeMach Xtreme
ModelRuggedKey MX-ESMX-FX
Model Number9000146MXUB3SES-32GMXUB3MFX-32G
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity16 GB32 GB32 GB
Removable CapYesYesYes
Weight30 g10 g25 g
ManufacturerMach XtremePatriotPatriot
ModelMX-FXSupersonic Rage XTSupersonic Quad
Model NumberMXUB3MFX-32GPEF32GSRUSBPEF64GSUSB
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity32 GB32 GB64 GB
Removable CapYesNoNo
Weight25 g8 g8 g
ManufacturerPatriotPatriotPQI
ModelSupersonic Boost XTSupersonic MagnumNano
Model NumberPEF32GSBUSBPEF64GSMNUSB-
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity32 GB64 GB32 GB
Removable CapYesYesYes
Weight12 g24 g10 g
ManufacturerPQISandiskToshiba
ModelTiffyExtremeTransmemory-EX
Model Number-SDCZ80-064G-
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity16 GB64 GB32 GB
Removable CapNoNoYes
Weight6 g11 g14 g
ManufacturerToshibaTranscendTranscend
ModelTransmemory-EXJetFlash 700JetFlash780
Model Number-TS32GJF700 TS64GJF780 
InterfaceUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0
Capacity64 GB32 GB64 GB
Removable CapYesYesYes
Weight15 g7 g10 g

Benchmark System

System Hardware
HardwareDetails
CPUIntel Core i5-2400 (32 nm, Sandy Bridge, D2), 4C/4T, 3.2 GHz, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache, w/ HD Graphics 3000, 95 W TDP, 3.6 GHz max. Turbo
MotherboardGigabyte G1.Sniper M3, LGA 1155, Revision: 1.0, Chipset: Intel Z77 Express, BIOS: F10c
RAM4 x 2 GB DDR3-1333, OCZ OCZ3G2000LV4GK
SSD System DriveSamsung 470, 64 GB, Firmware 0901, SATA 3 Gb/s
ControllerIntel PCH Z68 Express, SATA 6Gb/s
Power Supply
Seasonic X-760 760 W, SS-760KM Active PFC F3
Benchmarks
SoftwareCrystalDiskMark 3.0.2 x64
AS SSD 1.7.4739.38088
Xcopy Benchmarks
System Software and Drivers
Operating System
Windows 8 x64 Pro
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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    rolli59 , July 21, 2013 9:38 PM
    It would have been nice to see price performance index as well but good article.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    rolli59 , July 21, 2013 9:38 PM
    It would have been nice to see price performance index as well but good article.
  • 4 Hide
    psikick , July 21, 2013 10:17 PM
    It's not a surprise the Sandisk wins because this USB drive is actually a small SSD.. It uses the same controller used in Sandisk's ReadyCache SSD drives... the great thing about it is it is priced reasonably considering.. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Madn3ss795 , July 21, 2013 10:27 PM
    Been using this usb3.0 *SSD from Sandisk for half a year and I haven't got disappointed.Great device for the price. The only drawback I found is that its enclosure gets quite hot after 15mins of heavy use ( benchmarking ) because heat might reduce a SSD' durability.
  • -1 Hide
    razor512 , July 22, 2013 1:29 AM
    The sandisk extreme works well.

    I currently have the 16GB version (was $20 when I got it)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/razor512/8272978749/
    does 200MB/s read and 57.3MB/s write

    not as good as the the 64GB version but it is still really good

    Read speed: http://i.imgur.com/TdcufSg.png

    Write speed: http://i.imgur.com/jQVkBCa.png
  • 1 Hide
    daveys93 , July 22, 2013 4:42 AM
    I have the 32 GB version of the SanDisk Extreme and it is a great thumb drive. The 16 GB version is a bit slow and the 64 GB is a bit expensive for some, the 32 GB is a good middle ground. Here are the benchmarks I used when trying to decide which USB3.0 drive to get:

    http://www.whoratesit.com/SanDisk-Extreme-USB-30-32GB/Rating/1466

    There is a toggle on that site that allows you to view the benchmark results for all three sizes.

    Here is the full whoratesit.com article as a complement to the Toms article: http://www.whoratesit.com/Best-Flash-Drive/Comparison/1#rank1
  • 1 Hide
    WyomingKnott , July 22, 2013 5:57 AM
    In my case the limiting factor is the controller / port. I've got three USB 3.0 controllers: On my notebook at work, built into the motherboard at home, and a PCI-E one. The PCI-E one is twice the speed of the lowest one in 4k random writes.

    If I were home I'd post the controller and the thumb drive model, but I'm not there so don't ask.
  • 0 Hide
    a1sealc4 , July 22, 2013 7:18 AM
    Very interesting read I assumed most 3.0 usb drives were similar in speed.
  • 0 Hide
    aznriptide859 , July 22, 2013 8:04 AM
    Why no Corsair Flash Survivor? :(  I love mine, albeit the write times aren't the speediest.
  • 1 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , July 22, 2013 10:18 AM
    finally a good article... -.- tkx
  • -1 Hide
    RedJaron , July 22, 2013 12:12 PM
    Quote:
    In my case the limiting factor is the controller / port. I've got three USB 3.0 controllers: On my notebook at work, built into the motherboard at home, and a PCI-E one. The PCI-E one is twice the speed of the lowest one in 4k random writes.

    If I were home I'd post the controller and the thumb drive model, but I'm not there so don't ask.


    Too true, don't forget the controller speed. The Etron controller in my old-ish Z68 board ensures my USB 3.0 devices rarely go above 25 MBps even though I can get double that performance on my newer work computer.
  • -1 Hide
    pjmelect , July 22, 2013 5:09 PM
    I wonder what the speed of these devices is when used with a USB 2.0 port. Do they max out at around 30MB/s or are they slower than this on a USB2 port?
  • 0 Hide
    Blazer1985 , July 22, 2013 5:36 PM
    Thanks to tom's charts I was able to buy the Sandisk Extreme 64gb and I love it. I think that usb sticks should have a rating, like sd / cf cards btw.
    No other site offers such thorough tech analisys. Thanks Tom.
  • -1 Hide
    spooky2th , July 22, 2013 8:40 PM
    Looks like USB 3.0 drives are not all created the same.
  • 0 Hide
    SirGCal , July 22, 2013 9:47 PM
    Newegg has a ton of reviews on that particular drive failing very rapidly which offers up some concern... They all said it was fast as heck until it went belly up. Then poof. Some warrantied it on their 3rd... Wounder if the manufacturer fixed the issue yet.. ???
  • 0 Hide
    Madn3ss795 , July 22, 2013 9:50 PM
    Quote:
    I wonder what the speed of these devices is when used with a USB 2.0 port. Do they max out at around 30MB/s or are they slower than this on a USB2 port?


    Maxed read speed ( 30-33mb/s ) but sequential write speed got capped at around 27mb/s only. Tested myself.
  • 2 Hide
    saymi , July 23, 2013 1:27 AM
    I bought 3 sandisk extrermes about a year ago and using them for different purposes. I installed Linux into one of them and it works flawlessly. Others are for storage and application usage. I did not considered buying an alternative. I have not had any compatibility issue with any hardware yet.
  • 0 Hide
    marraco , July 23, 2013 2:56 PM
    Nice. Now hack it, install windows and run benchmarks against common HD benchmarks
  • 0 Hide
    andy5174 , July 24, 2013 10:00 PM
    I had been waiting for this for ages!
  • 0 Hide
    BWMerlin , July 27, 2013 1:49 AM
    A really nice article, is there any chance of one about SD cards?
  • 0 Hide
    ronin2009 , August 2, 2013 8:54 AM
    no mention of the "Lexar JumpDrive Triton" ??! one of the fastest usb 3.0 keys out there
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