While USB 3.0 is still a fairly new technology, their devices are quickly advancing. In terms of USB flash/pen/thumb drives, they’re getting faster, much faster. Kingston has their own offering, being the DataTraveler HyperX USB 3.0 drive. Their 64GB model retails for about $105 from online retailers (such as Newegg & Amazon), so it’s not cheap. Fortunately, the performance of the drive makes up for that.
First, let’s talk about the price. Regular USB 2.0 flash drives with capacities of 64GB start near the $40 mark. The issue with these is that they’re slow. Even entry-level USB 3.0 flash drives aren’t as fast as this HyperX drive is. So, if you’re complaining about how expensive the drive is, just keep in mind that you’re getting a remarkable amount of performance with this one. While similar performers can be slightly cheaper, I personally feel as though the design makes up for that.
Most of the body is made of plastic with a soft-touch (“satin”) coating. The blue pieces are actually metal, which are found on the sides of the drive as well as on the cap. In the photo gallery below, you’ll actually see what the insides of the drive looks like. The packaging includes a small lanyard that you can strap onto the tail-end of the drive.
Now, onto performance. USB 3.0 still hasn’t fully matured, as some USB 3.0 controllers are faster than others, as you’ll see in the ATTO benchmarks below.
USB 3.0 desktop test 1.
USB 3.0 desktop test 2.
USB 3.0 laptop test 1.
USB 3.0 laptop test 2.
The top two screenshots are from my desktop while the bottom two are from my laptop. Both controllers come courtesy of Renesas Electronics. The latter of the two machines contains a slightly older controller, which could be why performance is generally slower there.
After dissecting these numbers, I’ve come to the following conclusion: This thing is blazing-fast. The advertised speeds of the drive are 225MB/s for reads and 135MB/s for writes. While the write speeds aren’t quite there, the reads almost are, peaking at about 219MB/s, while the writes peak at close to 83MB/s. These speeds are fast enough to where you can run an entire copy of Windows from it without any real issues.
The HyperX drive dissected.
Unfortunately, I had a problem with the drive. It wasn’t the drive’s fault, but mine. The drive was plugged into the front USB 3.0 port on my desktop’s case when my desk chair swung around and knocked it to pieces. The aftermath, while interesting, was a bit disappointing. Fortunately, Kingston was generous enough to send me out a replacement. In the above image, you’ll see the main PCB with the broken USB 3.0 connector and actual controller. You can get a more detailed look at the insides by watching the review video below. A second PCB contains 4x 16GB Kingston flash memory modules that are linked together to the main board. This explains why the drive is a bit big. Most USB 2.0 flash drives have all of their components in one little area. USB 3.0 drives will eventually be like that, but it’ll be quite some time ’till that happens.
In conclusion, Kingston has a winner on their hands with their DataTraveler HyperX USB 3.0 flash drive. It’s a very fast drive that has the looks to show it all off. Buy one of these, and you won’t be disappointed.