Five USB 3.0 Flash Drives For Your Pocket


Setting up today’s portable flash drive comparison was no small task, with previously-announced products vanishing as quickly as we could request them. Expanding the article to include larger pocket-sized drives should have been an easy solution, but our attempt to use 128 GB as the crossover point to include both key- and pocket-sized drives was met by product shortages. Setting aside any comprehensive analysis of size versus performance, we still generated a lot of useful data.

OCZ’s Enyo took the overall performance lead by producing far-better write rates than the read rate-winning PQI S533-E. With a width of a credit card, the Enyo is also a little more portable, though the extra cable required by both the Enyo or the S533-E hinders portability.

Taking size down another notch is Super Talent’s third-place performing SuperCrypt USB 3.0. Available at capacities up to 256 GB, we have a hard time imaging anyone choosing a drive this big for a relatively-tiny 32 GB capacity. Plugging directly into a system’s ports, the question of whether or not it will require the cables of surrounding connectors to be removed is left to system owners to figure out, and that’s a question Super Talent could have answered by including a short extension cable. It’s still the only drive in today’s comparison to include hardware encryption, and this Pro version provides it at 256-bit AES. Thus, the SuperCrypt Pro USB 3.0 might be useful for anyone who needs to match good portability with excellent security.

Walton Chaintech’s Apogee Astro A101 took third place in overall performance after a few surprising wins, coming in at a size that we wish the hardware of its larger competitors matched. Chaintech also seems to understand that this business card-sized drive is far too wide to be placed on a port panel and fortunately includes a data cable for installing it away from a PC’s other connections. Yet, while this drive is easier to carry around than most of its competitors, it can no longer claim to be the world’s smallest USB 3.0 storage device.

The smallest drive of today’s comparison was a modest performer, with about two-thirds of the read performance of the larger units. However, Super Talent’s USB 3.0 Express Drive still significantly outpaces the limits of USB 2.0 and some users might even find it to be an acceptable replacement for their older keychain drives. Though the possibility of impinging on connectors to each side of the drive might be the biggest issue for most users, the imaginary Daniel Zavitz character mentioned in our introduction would probably never make it out of the apartment if he had to wait for his file to write at a lowly 39.5 MB/s.

Who wins? We’d probably select OCZ’s combination of performance and slim portability, though it’s still too large to replace our keychain drives. Until we do find a key-sized drive with a viable size and performance level, it looks like we might be pocketing the 128 GB Enyo, while finding a second pocket for its cable.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • hardcore_gamer
    nice review..thanks toms
  • tony singh
    Another proof of ever growing nature of techonology..
  • rohitbaran
    The heavy-duty gaming hardware used for today’s test is coincidental, as it was already set up on the bench for an upcoming graphics test. It includes Gigabyte’s high-flying X58A-UD9 motherboard.
    Which is the mystery card?
  • rohitbaran
    BTW, I liked Super Talent Super crypt, despite being slower than OCZ and PQI, it is the size I would be comfortable carrying in my pocket.
  • huron
    I know these technologies are more toward the "bleeding edge," but it's nice to know that manufacturers see it as enough of a market to start making products. Maybe USB 3.0 will make it mainstream relatively soon.
  • Would you be able to use the 128GB as a boot drive for win7 and how would they fall in price/performance between sata ssd and a VelociRaptor?
  • justsayin
    Where's the hint on the upcoming graphics test?
  • liquidsnake718
    can you play a game like crysis or even warcraft 2 well straight out of this ssd with a no cd crack?
  • irh_1974
    reclusiveorcWould you be able to use the 128GB as a boot drive for win7 and how would they fall in price/performance between sata ssd and a VelociRaptor?I have been saying this to people for years, that one day you will have your whole PC installation on a flash drive. Just plug into a PC, boot from the flash drive and everything is there.
  • bCubed
    Too bad it will still be some time before usb 3.0 will become mainstream and even longer for extremely good drives to come out