Quick Review: Sandisk Cruzer U 16Gb USB Flash Drive

This one comes courtesy of my aunt, who offered this to me as a gift. As part of commissioning my gear, I always give it a test, so I thought I might as well document it in case someone’s interested in the performance of the device.

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The device is green in colour – my favourite colour. It comes packaged in the regular Sandisk cardboard packaging. The device features a retractable connector, removable clip, secure-access software and is backed by a five year warranty. Interestingly, the top corner says USB 2.0/3.0 compatible, but the rear of the packaging makes it clear that it’s a USB 2.0 drive. It seems that this is a marketing ploy to confuse users into thinking that it might actually be a USB 3.0 key, when it isn’t.

Technically there’s nothing wrong with that though, because USB 3.0 controllers are capable of talking to USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices anyway – so it’s a bit of a needless statement.

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Because of the bulkiness of the drive, it’s almost impossible to slide out the insert after cutting along the dotted line (unlike for SD cards). As usual, the package comes fitted with two styles of electronic anti-steal labels. A warranty leaflet is included, along with the drive in a plastic carrier. The top surface of the drive is protected by a protective film.

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The drive itself is glossy on the top, and matte on the bottom, with the specifications printed on the bottom. The drive itself is Made in China.

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The clip is removeable, as promised, by squeezing it together which allows it to wiggle out of the holes. The clip and drive body are both plastic, so the longevity of the clip itself could be a problem in the future.

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The connector is retractable, and can be extended by sliding the button on the side. The connector itself is not a proper metallic USB connector, instead being a cheap plastic shell.

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The connector itself is formed by printed traces on the main PCB. Unfortunately, this is not a proper USB connector, and while it may work, it can also have contact problems with certain ports. The reason is that the profile of the connector pads is flat when it relies on printed traces, whereas a proper USB connector has “raised” profile fingers which concentrate the contact pressure to ensure a good contact.

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The drive comes preloaded with some software, which I didn’t use or test.

Performance Testing

HDTune Pro

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With the drive fresh out of the case, and in its clean state, it averages 31Mb/s read rate. However, as is commonly the case, once the drive is “dirty” and filled, the performance drops to the “real” rate –

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… in this case, averaging 20.9Mb/s.

CrystalDiskMark

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I ran CrystalDiskMark twice on this drive because of the somewhat inconsistent small block write performance. For some reason, likely due to controller timing, the QD32 result is severely lower than the non-queued result where it should be almost identical. This implies inconsistent I/O performance.

The drive’s sequential performance is not particularly remarkable, with the sequential write speed being about what you would expect at the “Class 6” speed rating. However, the write performance drops off rapidly at 512kb accesses – with a result about 0.5-0.6Mb/s. The 4kb accesses however, tend to hold a decent transfer rate (sometimes), although inconcsistent with the QD32 result. This seems to be consistent with a drive that has a smaller flash block size, meaning better small block performance but limited sequential performance.

The read performance is adequate to good for a USB 2.0 drive, however, is completely outclassed by most USB 3.0 drives.

H2testw

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The drive managed to pass H2testw with no failures, although the speeds reported were 20.7Mb/s for read and 5.80Mb/s for write, putting the write speed even below what you would expect for a Class 6 device. It’s a bit sad for a device of this era, but hardly the worst USB 2.0 storage device I’ve met.

Conclusion

The drive itself seems like a low cost value-oriented product. The use of plastic all-round, including the connector, seems to be a compromise. The performance of the drive is not particularly noteworthy, and the write speed could be considered on the slow side with 512k accesses, although its not bad with 4k accesses albeit a little inconsistent. It’s suitable for light duty uses where speed is not a primary concern, but even basic USB 3.0 drives can be faster at 512k and large file sequential access.

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2 Responses to Quick Review: Sandisk Cruzer U 16Gb USB Flash Drive

  1. Justin L. says:

    Have you tried the Sandisk Cruzer Switch? It’s only $4.97 at Officeworks for a 8GB version (or at least in Melbourne). Actually, I’m running #! off one right now and it’s fine.

  2. discruntled person says:

    lost my 32Gb somewhere in the world due to the clip not wanting to be any part of the main usb stick itself … note to oneself ” superglue … and not to put anything interesting on it just in case the clip comes off from the main body somewhere in the world !!! … don’t suppose anyones found it by any chance .. !!! didn’t think so … thanx sandisk … discruntled person …….

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