USB Flash Drive Round-Up: Corsair, OCZ and Kingston

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Performance Testing


Over the past couple of years, we've used flash drives quite regularly, both for personal and business reasons. During that time, we stumbled across some rather slow drives. As you can imagine, trying to leave work at 5:00, and being stuck waiting for a flash drive data transfer to finish, your patience runs out rather quickly. For this reason, we were anxious to see how fast these four flash drives can read and write data. We tested the drives using SiSoftware Sandra's Removable Storage test and then by transferring data to and from the drives while timing the transfers.

Preliminary Benchmarks with SiSoft Sandra XI - Removable Storage Test
Synthetic Testing

The Sandra test measures performance in operations per minute rather than megabytes per second. Different file sizes are tested, and then the results are graphed. In the test result below, the 8GB Corsair Voyager GT is the red line; the 1GB Kingston DataTraveler ReadyFlash is the orange line; the 4GB OCZ Rally2 is the green line; and the blue line is the 16GB OCZ Mega-Kart.

As you can see, the Corsair Voyager GT completely outperforms all of the other drives in this test. The Kingston DataTraveler ReadyFlash comes in at a close second, while the OCZ Rally2 follows in third place. Finally, we see the OCZ Mega-Kart far behind in last place. The Mega-Kart is obviously designed more for capacity than performance.

Data Transfer Testing
Real-World Testing

High Sandra scores don't matter if real-world performance doesn't add up.  For that reason, we performed a set of read and write tests with all four drives. We created three different sets of files: 1) 97MB of NVIDIA driver files, 2) a 579MB 3DMark06 installer, and 3) 950MB of pictures, videos, MP3s and WMAs. We transferred the file sets to each drive to test their write performance, and then we transferred the file sets to our test machine (the Alienware Area-51 7500) to test their read performance. We performed each test three times on each drive and averaged the results.

We took the transfer time results and translated those into transfer rates (MB/s). Then, we graphed the results for easy comparison. Check them out below.

All of the drives, except the OCZ Mega-Kart, post really good read speeds in the first test. The Corsair Voyager GT backs up its Sandra dominance with some real-world dominance as it takes first place in both the read and write transfer rates. Just as they did in Sandra, the Kingston ReadyFlash and the OCZ Rally2 take second and third place, respectively. The OCZ Mega-Kart performs quite dismally for some reason, but it redeems itself in the next test.

Once again, the Corsair Voyager GT completely dominates this test. Rugged and fast; we like the combo! Somehow the OCZ Mega-Kart improves quite a bit from the previous test. Evidently, it is faster with one big file than it is with a bunch of smaller files even if the group of smaller files is much smaller overall than the one big file. The OCZ Rally2 and Kingston ReadyFlash perform pretty well too, but this time the Rally2 beats the ReadyFlash in the read test.

The results of this test fall in line with the Sandra and 97MB transfer tests: the Corsair Voyager GT takes first, followed by the Kingston ReadyFlash, then the OCZ Rally2 and finally the OCZ Mega-Kart. Note that the Corsair Voyager GT maintained a read speed of over 30MB/s in all three tests. Perhaps more manufacturers will take a lead-in from Corsair and start hand-picking their NAND flash now.

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