It’s a bit of an unusual review this time around, since I had a gift voucher I absolutely had to spend, I decided to grab some USB 3.0 flash drives (amongst other things) with it.
LaCie Porsche Design 16Gb
A fairly premium compact USB key, this one demonstrates a strong steel shell and an idea of speed with the Porsche Design moniker. Definitely a unique product, it also offers LaCie’s own wuala cloud storage with matching capacity based on redemption by unique serial number. Unfortunately, the number has rubbed on this particular device, so I wasn’t able to claim it, not that I’m really interested in it anyway …
The key itself has a relatively interesting, but exposed, USB 3.0 connector. It feels very very solidly built, and engages very solidly with most connectors.
But how speedy is this Porsche?
Using my NEC/Renesas USB 3.0 controller without other devices attached, the HDTune read test averaged 96.1Mb/s which is a hair above the claimed 95Mb/s. It’s definitely a speedy read result.
Using CrystalDiskMark, the numbers are not quite as good. It seems that the drive has a pretty low write speed compared to the read speed. A result of just 12.72Mb/s sequential write puts this key slower than many UHS-I cards attached to a USB 3.0 card reader! Small block performance is relatively limited as well – nothing beats an SSD in an external enclosure. It’s a little disappointing …
A full device test shows the speeds are actually even a little lower – just 9.98Mb/s write and 77.1Mb/s read for the whole device. But at least it passed the test without any failures.
Attaching it to a USB 2.0 port reveals one of the speediest USB 2.0 results I have ever seen.
The performance is limited on read by the USB 2.0 port, but the write performance is still just as limited.
Kingston Datatraveler 100 G3 32Gb
This is more of a key that I would buy. It’s a no-frills, nothing special, good value key with no real distinguishing claims.
It features a 5 year guarantee, and a retractable body design, meaning no lost caps. The product itself seems targeted at the Russian market (by the RU lettering), and is assembled in Taiwan.
Above, the body has been slid to reveal the connector. The connector doesn’t have solid plastic in the holes from underneath, which is a little different. How does this “cheap” device compare?
Without any specs to go on with regards to the packaging, one could assume that the drive doesn’t really have any special performance credentials. It might just be as fast as a regular USB 2.0 drive with a USB 3.0 interface … as it turns out, it averages 50.5Mb/s read which is about half of that of the Porsche Design, but is still more than a USB 2.0 interface can deliver.
Interestingly, this drive delivers a strong and solid sequential write performance of 31.92Mb. This makes for speedy bulk file transfers. Unfortunately, it pays for this by having really poor medium-block write performance making transfers of many many medium 512k files hell. The 4k performance is somewhat close, meaning that the Porsche design is slower in two out of three write use cases. How unexpected. The Kingston really doesn’t distinguish itself too much from the older USB keys in terms of medium and small block performance.
By working through the whole surface, it confirms the read speed at 45.5Mb/s and write speed at 23.8Mb/s – it’s better than I would have expected for the price and capacity.
It is slower in sequential read than the LaCie Porsche Design, which tells us that the LaCie is very much optimized, however, this is better than the 18-32Mb/s normally registered with older USB 2.0 devices.
Under USB 2.0, only the read is limited, but the write speed is very much the same as what is experienced under USB 3.0.
The LaCie is fast in reading, but slow at writing. It’s stylish, but it’s also fairly pricey for the capacity. The Kingston is slower in reading, but faster at writing. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional and capacious. Unfortunately, it’s not clear from the packaging just which one is speedier – and if they are speedier, what they are exactly better at (i.e. faster read != faster write) …
Lets just say, small block reading and writing for a USB key may be both as important (where usage as a floppy replacement, carrying documents is concerned). In other cases, reading may be most important (say for a bootable Windows 7 install CD replacement). Other times, sequential speed is most important (say, toting around large video files). You’ll have to decide what’s most important based on your usage case.
Unfortunately, none of them hold a candle to an SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure – so they’re not speedy at small and medium block workloads, but sequential speeds have definitely improved over the older USB 2.0 keys that I’m very much used to.