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31 USB 3.0 Thumb Drives, Tested And Reviewed

The Winner: SanDisk Extreme

The phrase “fast USB thumb drive” used to be an oxymoron. But today's USB 3.0-capable models show that this generalization is no longer true. Our benchmarks show that a lot of the latest drives offer incredible speeds in a small package.

You also have to be careful, too, though. Not all USB 3.0-based thumb drives live up to what their interface facilitates. The performance of a modern USB 3.0 drive can range anywhere from what the previous generation could do (around 35 MB/s) to almost 10 times that number.

Just because a vendor plasters USB 3.0 branding all over its thumb drive's advertising doesn't mean the product is going to maximize the interface's potential. Our tests make this painfully obvious in some cases. Each drive demonstrates very different levels of performance, ranging from amazing to abominable.

Sequential read and write performance is a good example. Toshiba's TransMemory-EX 32 GB, which blows away any single hard drive on the market with its 310.1 MB/s, is worlds apart from the Patriot Supersonic Boost XT with its disappointing 36.6 MB/s that essentially makes it a really fast USB 2.0 drive. The other USB 3.0 thumb drives we benchmarked fall somewhere in between.

The Winner: SanDisk Extreme

We do come away with a recommendation, though: SanDisk's Extreme USB 3.0 thumb drive. It offers good to excellent read and write performance across all of our benchmarks. Consequently, in this field of 31 contenders, we confidently give it our Elite honor.

The 64 GB model sells for about $71, which gets you a quick USB 3.0-rated repository able to outperform mechanical storage. Seriously consider using it with an SSD-equipped system to utilize its full potential. Some of the other models in our round-up beat the Extreme in a handful of our tests, but this is the most consistently-fast performer in the workloads we threw at it.