Results: Copying Small Files
When we look at peak read and write performance using a synthetic benchmark, you already know that you'll rarely (if ever) see those numbers in the real world. Practically, you're more likely to load a thumb drive up with a handful of big files and a bunch of smaller ones. This negatively affects performance. Our copy benchmarks should give you a much better idea of how these drives will behave in practice.
Our first real-world test reads and writes 790 pictures with a combined size of 2 GB to and from the thumb drives. Interestingly, the finishing order is about the same for reading the pictures as it was for sequential read performance in CrystalDiskMark. Transfer rates are slower across the board, though.
The Patriot Supersonic Magnum wins this metric with a transfer rate of 250.8 MB/s. Four other drives also achieve speeds in excess of 200 MB/s: the Toshiba TransMemory-EX 32 GB, Toshiba's TransMemory-EX 64 GB, the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0, and SanDisk's Extreme. Only the drives in the lower third of the field read our picture files at less than 100 MB/s. Last place is almost a draw between Adata's S102 Pro 64 GB with 40.2 MB/s and the Patriot Supersonic Boost XT with 40.1 MB/s. Unfortunately, those numbers aren't much better than last generation's USB 2.0-compatible thumb drives.
The Mach Xtreme MX-ES writes our workload fastest, averaging 106.9 MB/s. It’s followed (though not very closely) by SanDisk's Extreme, which posts 79.4 MB/s.
The results for copying 356 MP3 files with a combined size of 2 GB are, perhaps not surprisingly, similar to those for copying pictures. The same five USB 3.0 thumb drives achieve speeds of more than 200 MB/s in our read test: the Patriot Supersonic Magnum, Toshiba's TransMemory-EX 32 GB, the Toshiba TransMemory-EX 64 GB, Kingston's DataTraveler HyperX 3.0, and the SanDisk Extreme.
Patriot's drive takes the crown in reads by averaging 259.5 MB/s. The Mach Xtreme MX-ES wins the writing benchmark once again by hitting 134.6 MB/s. This time, though, it’s followed closely by SanDisk's Extreme, which posts 122.2 MB/s. The Patriot Supersonic Magnum and the Transcend JetFlash 780, which share third place in this benchmark, are quite a bit slower at 82.0 MB/s.
Copying Many Small Files
There's not much left of these drives' impressive sequential write speed once we start sending a lot of really small files through them (22,704, with a combined size of 350 MB, to be exact).
A good thumb drive should at least maintain bearable performance under these conditions, and three of the products in our round-up do get there: the Mach Xtreme MX-FX, which actually writes faster (at 15.0 MB/s) than it reads (11 MB/s), Adata's N0005 at 9.0 MB/s, and the SanDisk Extreme, achieving an acceptable 7.9 MB/s.