USB Flash Drive Comparison – 21 Tested and Compared


TestFreaks Data











DSCF1770

So, I’ve amassed a nice collection of USB drives and I’ve reviewed most all of them at one time or another but I’ve never compared them all to each to to find out which one is really the best overall.

Taking stock I’ve got 21 of them that are over 1gig going up to 64gb, and I’ve got others that are below one gig that just hang around in my drawer as they are sort of useless at this point in time. I’ve had more, but I’ve given them away as who really needs all of those drives, but I’ve stopped giving them away as I wanted to compare them altogether to see which is the best, and I figured that the end of the year would be the perfect time to do it.

So I’ve got 21 USB drives ranging from 1gig to 64gigs in capacity from companies like Super Talent, OCZ, Patriot, Swiss Memory, Corsair, ATP and a few others throw in for good measure. I’m only testing 1+ gig drives as I feel that below that they’re rather useless at this point in time.

I’ve been testing these drives for quite some time to create a comparison chart to see which is the best, I was doing this for an article, but also to satisfy my own curiosity as well to see just which one is the best.

So read on to see which drive is the best of the best in terms of performance in both read and write testing.

 

Here’s the drives all nicely organized to see:

DSCF1770

As I mentioned there are 21 of them in total from various companies, I’ll list them by size in descending order for you:

Patriot Magnum 64gb
Super Talent Pico-C Gold 8gb
Super Talent Pico-D
ATP EarthDrive 8gb
ATP ToughDrive Camo 8gb
Corsair Flash Voyager Mini 8gb
OCZ Rally2 Turbo 4gb
OCZ ATV Turbo 4gb
Super Talent 200X 4GB
Corsair Flash Voyager Mini 4gb
Lexar Solo Vault 4gb
Sandisk Cruzer Enterprise 2gb
IronKey 2gb
Samsung 2gb
Generic Wood 2gb
Swiss Memory Swissbit 2gb
Sony MicroVault 1gb
ATP Petito 1gb
NTegrity 1gb
Ridata Yego 1gb
ATP ToughDrive 1gb

All testing was done on my main system with C2Q 6600 CPU and EVGA NF680i motherboard, it was done using a direct USB connection, no hubs involved.

System was only running basic processes at the time and nothing, I also ran the Process Idle Tasks command to make sure system wouldn’t interfere with testing, each drive was also removed and re-inserted between tests, my hard disks were degfragged prior to testing as well.

All test were performed three times and then averaged out to get all of the results shown.

All of the graphs can be clicked to show a larger view.

First up for testing I used SiSoft Sandra 2009 Removable Storage Benchmark.

Here’s a copy of exactly what this test does, how it works and how to understand it:

The typical usage model for these devices is file operations, such as writing a file to the device, reading a file from it, and deleting a file, this benchmark exercises the devices in terms of these operations.

The following characteristics are measured for each of the four representative files sizes of 512 Bytes (representing a minimal single data cluster file), 32kB, 256kB, 2MB and 64MB. The weighting of the results is not equal it represents the distribution of different files sizes as used on these devices (obtained through field research):

Read Performance: expressed both in terms of Operations per Minute (i.e. the number of files read per minute) and the corresponding net transfer rate in kB/second.

Write Performance: similarly expressed both in terms of Operations per Minute (i.e. the number of files written in a minute) and the corresponding net transfer rate in Kbytes/second.

Delete Performance: measuring the number of files deleted per minute.

For each of the four file sizes a Combined Index is then calculated, stating the combined performance in terms of Combined Operations Per Second, with respect to a mix of write, read and delete operations.

Combined Device Index: is a composite figure representing an overall performance rating based on the average of the Combined Index figures over the four file sizes. (Higher is better, i.e. better performance)

Endurance Factor: is a figure representing the Wear and Life Expectancy of flash devices; this is obtained by dividing the average performance (normal condition, i.e. sequential write) to the lowest performance (high-stress condition, i.e. same block re-write).

It measures the relative improvement of endurance caused by the wear levelling or flash management algorithm; the absolute endurance of a device (i.e. its expected life-time) is directly dependent, in addition to this Endurance Factor, on the nominal manufacturer rating of maximum erase/reprogram cycles, which is typically 100,000+ for SLC and 10,000+ for MLC devices. (Higher is better, i.e. longer life-time for the device)

 

First graph is the overall score showing Combined Index and Endurance Factor of the drives, I’ve organized them from best to worst to make it easier to read.

sandra graph

next up is looking at the 256MB Files Test inside the Removable Storage Benchmark, again best to worst.

As we can plainly see OCZ, Super Talent and Lexar and SanDisk lead the pack easily.

Taken from above:

Read Performance: expressed both in terms of Operations per Minute (i.e. the number of files read per minute)

Write Performance: similarly expressed both in terms of Operations per Minute (i.e. the number of files written in a minute)

 

sandra graph2

now looking closer here we see SanDisk drop from the top four spot due to slower write performance than the others.

Next up for testing I’m using DiskBench from NodeSoft, and it’s actually one of my favorite tests for USB drives as it gives us the actual time taken to perform an action, and I think actual time is a much better way of understanding it for a lot of people.

DiskBench gives us not only times, but the actual bandwidth or transfer rates in MB/s, so we’ll look at the time charts first.

I’ve run three tests to give a good example of real world usage, Copy From the USB drive to my main disk, Copy To or write a file from my main disk to the USB drive and Read From the USB drive as some people read files from them.

For all testing the same exact file was used, it is a 350mb .AVI video file.

First up is a graph with no labeling on it, it was very cramped with the labels so I separated things to make it easier to understand, think of this graph as just an overview, I used Write speeds to organize the chart from fastest to slowest.

diskbench times all no labels

I’ve created three more graphs, I only colored the one we are looking at, but left the others in, only white with black outline for some.

First up is Time to Copy from the USB drive to my hard disk, arranged from fastest to slowest, results are shown in seconds:

diskbench copy from

Similar results from the SiSoft testing, but here we see the 64gb Patriot Exporter fairs well.

Next up is the Copy To the USB drive from my hard disk, or time to write the file to the USB drive, again fastest to slowest:

diskbench copy to time

Here we are back to results that look very similar to what we saw while using SiSoft Sandra 2009 test, with the Super Talent, Lexar and OCZ drives leading.

Finally for the time trials we have the Time to Read the file from the USB drive, the example would be watching a movie from the USB drive, obviously faster would be better, producing a smoother playback for you. Again here the results are ordered Fastest to Slowest:

diskbench read from

Here we see the results changed quite a bit, with ATP, OCZ, Patriot and Super Talent taking the lead, but as with Super Talent, a different drive performs better.

Now, as I mentioned DiskBench gives us times and transfer rates, so we’ll look at the transfer rates for those times now, so we have four more graphs to look at, ordered and sorted the same way.

First up is the unlabeled overall graph using Write speeds to arranged the chart from Fastest to Slowest:

diskbench xfer rates no labels

Now, we’ll look at the results individually, labeled with the speed in MB/s.

First is Copy From the USB drives, again fastest to slowest:

diskbench copy from XFER rates

Here we see the transfer speed of the Exporter leads the pack, but if we look back at the charts we see the Exporter came in second actually below the Super Talent drive for the actual Time to Copy From from drive. I’m guessing the time lag has something to do with how the drive reads or transfers to lead to the time discrepancy.

Next we have the transfer rates to Copy To, or Write the file to the drive:

diskbench copy to XFER rates

Again it’s back to the familiar ordering of the drives, with the OCZ, Super Talent and Lexar drives coming in first four with about the same transfer speeds.

 

Now finally we’ve got the Read rates:

diskbench read from XFER rates

here we see why the ATP ToughDrive Camo did so well on the Read Test, it’s got excellent speeds, it’s well ahead of the others in Read performance.

I do have one final graph for you though, I was curious if there was some sort of pattern in relation to performance and size so I created another DiskBench graph (Transfer Times) with the sizes of the drives in descending order:

diskbench times sizes

We can see from this graph that there is a sweet spot at the 4gb capacity level, with a surprise coming from the 64gb Patriot Exporter,  and the 1gb ATP ToughDrive, and the SandDisk Cruzer isn’t too bad either, but as we can see the 4gb technology is where the overall good performance lies right now.

Well I learned that it’s very time consuming to do this sort of thing, and I think I may have too many USB drives floating around right now… but I also learned there is no clear winner overall.

I did this to not only satisfy my curiosity but maybe provide a sort of database comparison for users looking to learn more about how a drive performs is a few key areas. Not everyone will use a USB drive the same way, some people might be concerned about Write speeds while someone else might be concerned about the time to Copy data from the drive.

I’s like to continue adding to this comparison as more drives comes in and hopefully build up a large database comparing the USB drives on the market.

That being said, if you’re looking for sheer capacity, obviously the Patriot Magnum Exporter 64gb USB drive fits your needs, and it also offers fairly decent performance as well, but it’s expensive and I’m not sure there’s need for that much storage right now.

The 8gig and 4gig drives are more common models that I’m sure most people have handy and use most often. Looking at those results we can see OCZ, Lexar, Sandisk and Super Talent would be the choices to go with as they offer the best overall performance. From those, one would have to make a choice about what is most important to them, Write speeds or Read speeds, and even then they’re very similar in performance overall.

Personally I use the OCZ Rally2Turbo myself for transferring stuff between computers most often if need be, it’s usually large enough for the job and I also carry the Ironkey on my keychain so it’s with me at all times, but it’s got other security features and built in software that make it much more useful than an ordinary USB drive.

Well that’s that, I hope you learned something from all of my testing, and I’ll hopefully update these charts as new drives come in. You can also check out our selection of USB Memory on the main site

  • Pingback: USB Flash Drive Comparison - 21 Tested and Compared @ technogog.com | dsmTechNews()

  • michael

    interesting results. Thanks for sharing

  • Pingback: Kansas city LAN Party » Blog Archive » 21 USB drives tested, 20 immediately misplaced()

  • Matt

    First I’ve seen of this… I still think I like the security features of the Iron Key. Thinking about getting me one of those. :)

  • Mark

    Would love to see results for Corsair’s Flash Voyager GT (faster) line, especially 8GB and 16GB sizes as they’ve tested well previously in other tests.

  • Pingback: [technogog] 21 USB Flash DrivesTested and Compared - Overclock.net - Overclocking.net()

  • Gareth

    Why isn’t the Corsair GT in the list?

    Corsair Mini’s are super slow. The GT is the fast version.

  • kristofer

    basic answer to why the Corsair GT is not on the list is because I don’t have one….

  • Olin Coles

    Excellent work Kristofer! The real shame is how many USB flash drives get ‘hyped’ by manufacturers only to really be duds.

  • brad

    It needs to be said that the IronKey is doing full file encryption and decryption on all the data transfers and is still holding its own.

  • Tom Jefferson

    I wouldn’t trust sensitive data to any non-open-source encryption application.

    Because of this:
    http://www.heise.de/security/Sichere-USB-Sticks-geknackt–/artikel/103942/0
    (English: http://www.heise-online.co.uk/security/Secure-USB-sticks-cracked–/features/110280)
    http://www.heise-online.co.uk/news/Encrypting-hard-disk-housing-cracked–/112141
    http://www.heise-online.co.uk/security/Enclosed-but-not-encrypted–/features/110136

  • Gareth

    Kristofer, any chance of purchasing a Corsair GT and doing a “OCZ Turbo vs Corsair GT” review?

  • Pingback: Faster Better PC » Blog Archive » USB Flash Drives on Test()

  • Casper42

    What kind of access does Vista perform when it uses a flash drive for ReadyBoost?

    I have always wondered what the “best” flash drive for ReadyBost is.
    Anyone know?

    I figure you dont need more than a 1GB or 2GB drive for ReadyBoost.

    -Casper42

  • xue

    per the tests above, what kind of file format are the USB drives formated with?
    NTFS? FAT32?

  • Adam

    Very nice, my only question is what the small differences between copy from and read from tells me about the flash drive? I would guess that those differences only shows due to the extra IO used to write to disk. Anyone?

  • kristofer

    they’re all FAT32 as they would be delivered to you… I’m going to be doing another shorter article about the differences between fat32 and ntfs, I’m curious myself as to any differences there might be between them

  • Pingback: An Extensive, Obsessive Performance Test Of… USB Keys? [Devotion]()

  • Pingback: An Extensive, Obsessive Performance Test Of… USB Keys? [Devotion] | CHARGED's Digital Lifestyle at Work or Play()

  • Todd

    Nice analysis, thank you. With all of the different brands, did you ever experience connectivity issues (the USB drive was not recognized & needed to be un-plugged/plugged again)? If yes, did you record these results? Very interested in these stats, as I experience this frequently with USB devices.

  • kristofer

    Todd – No I didn’t experience that at all with any of these, they all popped up within seconds of insertion.

  • Pingback: Not all USB flash drives created equal « Technology Info()

  • Thankful

    This is fantastic. Thanks for doing all these comparisons!

  • Pingback: yKvz Blog » Blog Archive » An Extensive, Obsessive Performance Test Of… USB Keys? [Devotion]()

  • Pingback: Se pasaron todo el día mete-saca mete-saca…probando tropecientas llaves USB - Gizmodo ES - The gadgets weblog()

  • manu

    I have another kind of USB key … but more secure and never any comparaison with it … is it possible to have one comparison next time with : globull ??
    maybe can you ask one at : http://www.myglobull.com

    Manu

  • iunfold

    Kristofer – this was a really interesting read. Thanks for doing all that work! I know that I’ve always wondered about the actual speeds and transfer times of my flash drives, but (like you) I end up giving them away, and right now I don’t have enough to do a reasonably thorough comparison.

    Cheers!
    Nic

  • Manuel Augusto

    At least my Sony MicroValt can be fitted on my wall.

  • kristofer

    Manuel – I don’t have a clue what that means….

  • Tim wallson

    It is a very interesting and comprehensive article,. However there one thing I didn’t really understand…
    Why do you carry IronKey’a secure USB drive after your research pointed out that SanDisk’s
    Cruzer Enterprise has much better performances? :-) It is like ignoring your own recommendations…
    Tim

  • Dormedas

    ‘At least my Sony MicroValt can be fitted on my wall.”

    My Sony MicroVault has been through the washer and dryer twice, and bent four times, on all three axes. Regardless of the damage it’s been through, it continues to operate and function. I swear that the Sony MicroVault should be renamed the Sony MicroTank because those things can take a beating. I love mine. As soon as I get a new flash drive, I am so mounting it on my wall on a small little plaque.

  • Pingback: Der große USB Flash Drive Test von Testfeaks | Welt der Gadgets()

  • Pingback: Pendrive - um teste interessante « Mefano’s Weblog()

  • Jorge Moreno

    Where’s the kingstom pen drive? This is a the best one!

  • Augusto Nornha – Brazil

    The most popular winner sallers in Brazil, The Kingston pen drive, have no results of test, way ???

  • Rodrigo

    Kingstom is a shame! it s*cks!

  • Diego

    Just a question…

    Why Kington’s pen-drives were not tested?

    Thanks

  • kristofer

    as far as why I carry the IronKey, it’s not as much about the speed as it is about the durability, the sandisk is nice, but it’s a plastic housing, the IronKey is metal and virtually indestructible

    As to Kingston… the answer is because I don’t have one

  • Pingback: Resumão #2 - « Blog do Canedo()

  • dibeTouppyTup

    Thanks, a very informative site here, i will definately be back.

    cheers

  • Pingback: 21 Pendrives testados e comparados de diferentes marcas at Desconectado - Notícias, Dicas, Tutoriais, Ajuda, Softwares e mais…()

  • Pingback: Help me pick a pen drive - Overclock.net - Overclocking.net()

  • Pingback: Top “N” for 2009 « BLOg Source INTelligence()

  • NEED TO BUY USB DRIVE

    NOW DO ONE FOR 2009 AND 8GB AND HIGHER BECAUSE NO ONE OWNS 8GB OR LESS NOW A DAYS. THANKS AND SORRY FOR THE CAPS MY KEYBOARD BROKE

  • kristofer

    So you’re telling me that you represent the rest of the world’s population in saying that no one else out there owns anything below an 8gb drive? Why then are they still selling USB drives below 8gigs if no one wants or owns them anymore? I don’t understand how you can submit a blanket statement like that claiming that no one owns 8gbs and below anymore….

  • KenT

    Many thanks for letting us all know the results of all your hard work.

    If /when you do another test, could you include OCZ turbo and non turbo versions. There isn’t much difference between their Rallys and ATV’s (I suspect he only real differences are in the housings), but there is a huge difference between their turbo and non-turbo versions. And turbos cost over three times as much as non-turbo.

    Similarly SuperTalent PICOs are probably the same under their skins.

    Any chance someone has the time to do a cost comparison for us?

  • Pingback: An Extensive, Obsessive Performance Test Of… USB Keys? [Devotion] | Techno Portal()

  • bidsdoulurl

    I think you are thinking like sukrat, but I think you should cover the other side of the topic in the post too…

  • Pingback: USB Flash Drive Comparison part 2 - FAT32 vs NTFS vs ExFAT()

  • Pingback: USB Flash Drive Comparison pt 2 @ technogog | LanOC Reviews()

  • Pingback: Fastest Flash Drive - TeakDoor.com - The Thailand Forum()

  • Pingback: Which USB flash drive to buy ??? - Page 2 - Overclock.net - Overclocking.net()

  • Trazeur

    I agree with Manuel, those things are freaking unbreakable. The Cruzer too, i had one and i still haven’t broken it. And i’ve tried. Hard.

    I don’t see why the Sony MicroVault scored so badly… Maybe try again with a Turbo / Excellence version? I’ve got one of them, and i reckon it’s pretty good.

    DO IT AGAIN, DO IT AGAIN!

    And less graphs next time, they all show the same thing…

  • asi

    when u say :
    Super Talent 200X 4GB
    which model do you mean ?
    is it the DG or DH ? or any other ?
    please name the exact model
    thx

  • Pingback: Pixel Techno » Quarta-Feira Fast: Pen Drivers()

  • http://vashinc.com Paul

    Not that I knock bench testing of the sort, more people in just everyday life should step up to the plate and bat. Perhaps the devices like Sony performed slower due to the whole auto compression tool system which would really take away brownie points. Where as my 2 GB Sony Micro Vault, I formatted and did away with that auto compression tool, I have my own reasons, which transfers quicker than a couple random USB generic flash drives I’ve gotten which haven’t lasted nearly as long as my Sony drive.

  • Ferret141

    What’s the model number of the 200x 4GB?

  • sTiVo

    Your read/write/copy benchmarks seem to use one large file. However, what about a copy of large numbers of small files. I have a flash drive where this process is just KILLING me, let other copies to the drive with fewer small files are much less bothersome. I just want to understand this. Frankly, I wonder why any of this is so. Why aren’t flash drives commodified by now? Shouldn’t one be pretty much the same as the other? Why all the variation?

  • Pingback: Pen drive, a marca faz a diferença? | Guanabara.INFO()

  • Donald

    Kristofer:

    Thanks for your info; and I have one question.

    I realize your testing cover these items but I’m wondering if you might have a preference between the Patriot 32GB XT and the 32GB Sandisk Cruzer. Just generally speaking which one would overall best fit your flashdrive demands.

  • Pingback: List of USB Flash Drives with Hardware Write Protection « Fencepost Software & Consulting()

  • Stephen T. Crye

    I really appreciate the VERY thorough and detailed test results! Kudos, Bravo!

    Suggestion: Do the same for external USB 2.0 hard disks – Seagate, WD, etc. My real-world tests copying files from my Dell T3400 Win7 2.66 GHz quad-core 4 GB RAM system to Seagate 1 TB 7200 RPM rarely exceed 20 MB/sec. I’m also curious about the effect of cables on transfer speed.

    thanks again,

    Steve

  • koolx

    are you selling any 64gb usb flash drives? i’d like to buy one from you. let me know.

  • Smeet dattani

    the test was very useful, i also have a collection of pendrives and i am now looking for the best of best 
    can u pls suggest me the best drive from the ones u have? and i would like to buy some drives from u if possible

  • http://www.facebook.com/sonia.carvalho.338658 Sonia Carvalho

    URGENT, need a reply by no later than 8/31/12. Is the Transcend 64GB flash drive a good/reliable one? I must 4 of them by end of August. Thanks. (email sambaqueen2@yahoo.com)

  • Shaun

    Does anyone know of a USB Flash Drive manufacturer that publishes or quotes the endurance of their drive? Been looking, cant find any.

  • sachin

    Physical Write protection switch on a USB flash drive means I can safely
    insert that in any virus affected PC by simply pushing the write
    protect trigger.

Atari Fit Let’s You Unlock Classic Atari Games for Exercising

Atari Fit Let’s You Unlock Classic Atari Gam…

Kristofer Brozio
So it seems Atari is coming out with their own fitness app called Atari Fit in early 2015. The cool…
Read More
3 days agoAtari Fit Let’s You Unlock Classic Atari Gam…
Shazam for Windows Phone Gets an Update with Cortana Support and More

Shazam for Windows Phone Gets an Update with Corta…

Kristofer Brozio
I do miss my Windows Phones, I had two of them, but I went back to Android because there’s just more…
Read More
3 days agoShazam for Windows Phone Gets an Update with Corta…
Sideshow Collectibles Taking Pre-Orders for Amazing Looking 1/4 Scale Boba Fett Figure

Sideshow Collectibles Taking Pre-Orders for Amazin…

Kristofer Brozio
I have to admit this collectible figure looks just amazing and if I had the extra cash I’d love to g…
Read More
3 days agoSideshow Collectibles Taking Pre-Orders for Amazin…
Dish Network Integrates Netflix Into Set-Top Boxes

Dish Network Integrates Netflix Into Set-Top Boxes

Kristofer Brozio
Now this is cool, Dish has become the first pay TV or cable company as it were to integrate Netflix…
Read More
3 days agoDish Network Integrates Netflix Into Set-Top Boxes
Archie Comics Relaunches with New ARCHIE #1 Next Year

Archie Comics Relaunches with New ARCHIE #1 Next Y…

Kristofer Brozio
I never got into Archie comics, I was more into sci-fi and fantasy and super heroes and such but I d…
Read More
3 days agoArchie Comics Relaunches with New ARCHIE #1 Next Y…