USB 3.0 Flash Drive Roundupby Zach Throckmorton on July 29, 2011 11:15 AM EST
We had three primary questions in mind when testing these USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 drives. First, how much faster are the USB 3.0 drives than USB 2.0 drives when each is plugged into their respective native port? The benchmarks and real-world scenarios clearly illustrate that USB 3.0 is faster across the board, sometimes by nearly 900%. Second, are USB 3.0 drives faster than USB 2.0 drives when both are plugged into a USB 2.0 port? Though USB 3.0 support is increasingly common on computer systems, USB 2.0 will remain more common and often the only choice for years to come. Our testing indicates that using a USB 3.0 flash drive in a USB 2.0 port yields better results than sticking with a USB 2.0 flash drive. Third, are USB 2.0 flash drives faster when plugged into USB 3.0 ports compared to USB 2.0 ports? Yes, but not by much at all—you'd likely not even notice the difference.
Are USB 3.0 flash drives worth the increased cost compared to USB 2.0 flash drives? We’ve provided performance data, and pricing is always variable depending on sales, rebates, clearances, etc. You might also want to consider how often you lose flash drives! (And how impatient you become watching transfers progress!) Given my personal USB flash drive usage patterns (occasional backups and data transfers), I think the Mushkin Ventura Pro, Kingston DT Ultimate, and Patriot Supersonic USB 3.0 flash drives are particularly appealing. These three strike a good balance between price and performance given today's prices. If you tend to write files rarely and read them frequently, the least expensive USB 3.0 flash drives provide substantially faster reads than USB 2.0 flash drives. However, if you use flash drives more often, such as frequently throughout the day, you’ll want to consider springing for high-performance models like the Patriot Supersonic Magnum and Super Talent RC8.
Finally, we’d like to thank the manufacturers for supplying flash drives for this roundup. We appreciate the samples sent from Patriot, Kingston, AData, Super Talent and Mushkin!