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Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 2, Last-Minute Extras

Flash Drive: Super Talent USB 3.0 Express RC8 50 GB


Don’t be too quick to judge an SSD by its cover. Super Talent’s RC8 may look, feel, and smell like any other USB flash drive, but it’s actually a bona fide solid-state drive with the throughput specs to prove it: reads up to 270 MB/s and writes up to 240 MB/s. The device uses an eight-channel memory architecture and a DRAM caching system that, as Super Talent describes it, “excels in USB 3.0 by elevating small block performance while improving large block reads and writes.”

In other words, the RC8 uses the architecture of an SSD right down to its MLC blocks, but Super Talent packages the device in a flash drive form factor and uses a USB 3.0 bus rather than SATA. You still get integrated ECC and global wear leveling. Super Talent specifies an operating shock of 1500 Gs and warranties the drive for five years. Data integrity is rated at 10 years.

Now the obvious question: why? Who needs to shell out nearly $200 for only 50 GB of external storage? Not many people, probably. And that’s why we would argue that external storage is not the RC8’s key application.

If you’ve used flash drives for long enough, you know that a few models come pre-installed with self-contained, automatically executing operating systems, such as SanDisk’s old U3 and the more current and robust Ceedo Personal. Simply install apps under the mobile OS on the flash drive, pile in your data, and you’ve got a boot drive in your pocket. In the days of USB 2.0, such systems were horrifically slow for running modern apps. But with USB 3.0, and particularly with a device that is effectively an SSD, suddenly this sort of mobile usage becomes blissfully feasible and practical. Especially for those with spotty connectivity or an inherent distrust of cloud computing, an RC8 with Ceedo may be exactly what’s needed in order to be independent from any particular PC.