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31 USB 3.0 Thumb Drives, Tested And Reviewed

Results: Sequential Read And Write Performance

Toshiba's TransMemory-EX 32 GB and Patriot's Supersonic Magnum achieve sequential read speeds that blow through the 300 MB/s barrier. Even the PQI Nano, which finishes in twelfth place, hits almost 200 MB/s and outpaces any conventional disk drive's top-end read numbers. So, if you read a file from the Nano and write it to your PC's hard drive (even the 3 TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.14, with its impressive 191.5 MB/s sequential write performance), the mechanical device won't be able to keep up.

Of course, these numbers are achieved under perfect conditions, and aren't necessarily representative of real-world performance. The rest of our benchmarks show that you don't have to have an SSD to take advantage of the fastest USB 3.0-capable thumb drives. Really, this is just something to keep in mind if you're really looking for smoking-fast sequentials and are still working with spinning media.

The sequential write performance of these thumb drives is slower than the reads, as we might have expected. SanDisk's Extreme is the only model that outperforms spinning media, and you'd need to hook it up to an SSD-equipped system to achieve the drive's 220.7 MB/s potential.

Four other offerings also turn in impressive numbers in excess of 145 MB/s: the Mach Xtreme MX-ES hits 182 MB/s, Patriot's Supersonic Magnum achieves 159.2 MB/s, the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 pushes 146.4 MB/s, and Transcend's JetFlash 780 does 145.8 MB/s.

On the other end of the performance spectrum, the Dane-Elec USB 3.0 finished dead last at 11 MB/s. That sort of performance shouldn't even be allowed to carry a USB 3.0 sticker.