Not much has happened in the market for USB devices, we scored last year onze round-up. However, Kingston is now making an amazing introduction with DataTraveler Max, which should bring the USB stick concept to 2021. The manufacturer promises more than double the read and write speeds of the fastest USB to date. This requires a test.
DataTraveler Max is one of the first USBs to have a USB-C connection only. Until now, USB-C sticks were often hybrid models, which also included USB-A for compatibility with legacy systems. This flash drive is clearly not designed for this. A USB 3.2 Gen2 or USB 10Gb/s signal operates over this connector. This also clarifies this option a little, because especially with laptops, USB-A ports are always limited to 5 Gbit / s.
Kingston sets maximum read and write speeds of 1,000 MB/s and 900 MB/s, respectively, for all three capacities this stick has: 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB. This is impressive for a flash drive, because the fastest USB drives from brands such as Corsair, Sandisk and Transcend came So far no more than 440 MB / s. Despite empty marketing slogans like “USB 3.1”, they without exception still use 5Gb/s USB, which was once introduced as “normal” USB 3.0, but now even USB 3.2 Gen 1 may be mentioned.
You may ask why a USB stick should be so fast. Especially in the larger capacities, which DataTraveler Max is available for, this can really be an added value in our opinion. You can count on it: to fill a 256 GB USB disk at 50 MB / s, which is quite normal for cheap USBs, it takes about an hour and a half. With 400MB/s, like the fastest stick to date, it’s done in just over ten minutes, and in theory this Kingston stick should be able to do it at 900MB/s, cutting the time needed to less than five minutes. For all of these examples, it goes without saying that you have to double the time once or twice to get a 512GB or 1TB stick.
The DataTraveler Max housing is made of matte black plastic and has a hole to secure it to the key ring. At 82 x 22 x 9mm, the flash drive is quite large, but the 12g is not that bad, and the choice of material for the housing certainly helps. Like most modern USB devices, DataTraveler Max features a sliding mechanism to protect the connector when not in use.
Suggested retail prices for the Kingston DataTraveler Max are €108 for 256GB, €156 for 512GB, and €265 for 1TB. This makes it a little more expensive than, say, Sandisk Extreme Pro, especially at lower capacities, but the 1TB version is reasonably priced. Kingston provides a five-year manufacturer’s warranty on these sticks.
We test USB drives pretty much the same way as, for example, memory cards and external solid state drives. Although the accents differ slightly at times, the use scenarios for such products are somewhat comparable. To start, we test the read and write speeds when copying a large 10GB file and a thousand 5MB files. The first scenario can be compared to transferring an archive or movie file, while the second test corresponds to copying photos and music files, for example.
In addition, we will test the synthetic Crystal Disk Mark on flash drives. This standard tells us not only the maximum sequential read and write speeds, but also the speeds when processing medium (512 KB) and small (4 KB) files.
The test system we use for benchmarking has the same specifications as ours SSD- System Tests. It is based on the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor in the ASUS Prime X570-A Pro motherboard with 16GB of RAM. It had Windows 10 installed of course, in the flavor of the May 2020 Update with version number 2004. We use the Samsung 970 EVO Plus as a boot disk, so the internal SSD is never a bottleneck in our field tests.
In the graphs, you can identify 128 GB flash drives by blue bars, while the 256 GB stick has a red one.
In synthetic benchmarks like CrystalDiskMark, fast storage media can flex its muscles better, because the overhead of “normal” file transfers is minimized and the speed of the internal storage does not matter. Therefore, many manufacturers base their stated speeds on this type of test.
Kingston DataTraveler Max excels in these tests, with sequential read speeds of 975 MB/s and write speeds between 864 and 874 MB/s. Larger versions are slightly faster. We see this more often, as larger capacities can take more advantage of parallel writing to multiple flash chips.
Processing small files by definition involves more overhead. Kingston DataTraveler Max reads files from 4KB at 25MB/s, writing is significantly faster at around 80MB/s. This is also reflected in the average size of 512 KB. When writing, 800MB/s is well exceeded, which means that USB drives are already approaching their maximum speed, while the read speed is still a little behind at 750MB/s. This is of course relative, because the fastest USB devices to date are still heavily preserved.
In practice, the speeds are often slightly lower. This applies to almost all USB devices and therefore also DataTraveler Max. If we read a file of 10 GB, then its size will be exactly 640 MB / s. We achieve similar speeds when writing, only a 1 TB stick can do it a little faster with 676 MB / s.
It is difficult to process a large number of smaller files. Here we read and write a thousand files of 5 megabytes, which can be compared in file size, for example, with music tracks and photos. In an absolute sense, speeds with almost all sticks are much lower than in practical testing with a 10 GB file. Nevertheless, Kingston DataTraveler Max managed to score very well: reading is done constantly at 500 MB / s, while writing is 455 MB / s. Certainly in the latter case, the Kingston sticks are really an order of magnitude faster than what has been available so far.
The performance score of Tweakers USB stick is a weighted average of all tests performed, both synthetic benchmarks and hands-on tests.
We hit a score of 230 for all three capacities of the Kingston DataTraveler Max, making it three times faster than the Sandisk Extreme Pro 256GB. So far, this series has been the obvious choice if you are looking for a fast USB drive then the Ultimate Award Winner onze round-up last year. The 1TB version is by far the fastest.
Kingston is setting a new standard for the entire USB Stick market with DataTraveler Max. These flash drives are on average three times faster than the fastest hard drives you can buy to date. The famous Sandisk Extreme Pro, which at the time of this writing has been positioned in Presswatch Top Dre Occupied, left behind. Now Sandisk is still cheaper in lower capacities, but the 1TB versions are almost as expensive.
DataTraveler Max may compete more with external SSDs. They are of course not compact and use a cable, but their prices are more satisfactory. For example, you already have a file Samsung T7-ssd, which is roughly the same speed. You then have to ask yourself how much the stick form factor is worth to you.
We don’t often see a manufacturer creating a product that reduces everything that has been around in one fell swoop. Now space has arisen for this as well, because other manufacturers have seemed to be doing well in recent years. However, Kingston’s persuasive approach is quite unique. Although DataTraveler Max is quite expensive and many tweakers will even settle on slightly slower, but cheaper flash drives, the Ultimate award is well deserved in our opinion.
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