Roundup of USB Flash Drives with 4GB+ Storage Capacity

Today we are going to introduce to you 16 USB flash drives. We will take a closer look at 14 models in a popular 4GB storage capacity that will be competing for the “Best Choice”. You’ll also have a chance to meet an 8GB USB drive from Corsair and a 16GB USB drive from OCZ Technology. All the most popular brands are represented in our new roundup!

by Andrey Kuznetcov
02/16/2007 | 02:10 PM

This time we will test flash drives in a different way. First, we’ve collected devices with a storage capacity of at least 4GB. Second, the testing will take two steps and include more tests. The reason for such changes is the release of Microsoft’s new operating system Windows Vista. It may seem there is no connection between the release of the new OS and flash drives, yet it exists really.

 

Microsoft Windows Vista offers new user-oriented features that utilize those technological advances that have been made since the release of the earlier version of the OS, Windows XP. One innovation concerns flash drives. It is called Windows Vista ReadyBoost technology. What does this technology do? As you know, the more memory the computer has, the better and faster it works. System memory can be accessed at a much higher speed than the virtual memory on the hard disk. Unfortunately, memory modules are rather expensive. And even if you’ve got enough money, you cannot install more modules than there are memory slots on your mainboard.

Windows Vista provides an opportunity to avoid such limitations by using Windows ReadyBoost technology. Its point is in allowing the OS to use additional memory on a USB flash drive (this technology can also work with SD and CF cards). This flash memory serves as an additional cache with an access time lower than that of the hard disk. Of course, the flash drive must be quick enough for that. On connecting it, Windows Vista benchmarks its speed by running a quick performance test to make sure the drive complies with the ReadyBoost requirements. If it does, the user will be offered the option to use the flash drive to increase system performance. A part of the drive’s storage space must then be reserved for ReadyBoost. Windows will recommend you how much should be reserved.

We’ll check out the efficiency of our flash drives in Windows Vista in the second part of this article. The first part will contain some preparation work.

As mentioned above, a flash drive must meet certain requirements for Vista’s ReadyBoost feature to be efficient. The drive must support USB 2.0 and meet some minimum speed requirements. It must have a speed of 2.5MB/s or higher and 1.75MB/s or higher when reading and writing, respectively, random 4KB data blocks. Besides that, the minimum amount of memory on a flash drive utilized as a system cache by means of ReadyBoost technology is 230MB; the maximum amount is 4GB.

It means that flash drives with capacities lower than 256MB are not compatible with ReadyBoost. Microsoft recommends a minimum ratio of the ReadyBoost cache to the amount of system memory as 1:1. It can be increased to 3:1 for higher efficiency. All data written into the ReadyBoost cache are compressed with a 2:1 coefficient and encrypted with the AES-128 algorithm to ensure their confidentiality. Each data page stored in the ReadyBoost cache is a copy of the page stored on the hard disk, so information cannot be lost if the flash drive is unplugged from the USB port. System performance just goes down to the ordinary level in that case.

Besides the minimum requirements, there are recommended parameters, too. An “enhanced-for-ReadyBoost” device is a flash drive that has a capacity of 512MB or higher, a minimum random read speeds of 5MB/s for 4KB data blocks, and a minimum write speed of 3MB/s for 512-byte data blocks.

The first part of this article contains test results we’ve obtained from the drives with our traditional test methods. The second part will cover their efficiency in Windows Vista.

Testing Participants

A-DATA PD7 4GB

This drive features a robust aluminum case with decorative black plastic pieces. The cap doesn’t snap in place, but sits down on the connector evenly and tightly – it can hardly slip off accidentally. Product-identifying information is printed on the case, so it’s easy to see what exactly device you are dealing with.

The manufacturer’s website says the PD7 flash drive series is made up by models with capacities of 1, 2, 4 and 8GB that have a max read speed of 30MB/s (200x) and a max write speed of 20MB/s (133x). The manufacturer claims the PD7 series is certified for use with Windows Vista and can be used together with ReadyBoost technology to speed up the PC. The flash drive supports USB 2.0. Its dimensions are 66 x 19 x 10mm; its weight is 15g.

You’ll find a USB cable included with the drive. If necessary, you can also visit the manufacturer’s website and download the USB Flash Disk Utility to divide the drive into two partitions, format them, and protect data in the private partition with a password.

ATP ToughDrive AF4GUFT1BK 4GB

This flash drive has a black rubber case and a rounded outline. The cap sits very fast, so the casing seems to be perfectly waterproof. The sides of the case and the cap are notched so that the drive didn’t slip out of your fingers. The drive has a hole to fasten a carry strap and a LED indicator of operation mode.

The ToughDrive series includes models with capacities of 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB. The manufacturer declares a max read speed of 30MB/s and a max write speed of 20MB/s for them. The drive is equipped with a USB 2.0 interface and supports Windows ReadyBoost technology. Its dimensions are 70 x 25 x 11 millimeters.

A user manual and a strap are included into the package.

Buffalo Ultra High Speed Flash Disk RUF2-S4GWH 4GB

The design of this flash drive is stylish and memorable. Its case is made of milk-white plastic. There is a small elevation on the face side of the drive that transforms into the detachable cap. This design solution makes the case more robust. The LED indicator of operation mode can be found under a kind of a window that is made up by tiny round holes. The visibility of the indicator is poor as a consequence. The bottom part of the case is made of translucent plastic that allows you to see a part of the PCB. The cap goes down on the connector with a snap and sits very tight on it. When the drive is in use, you can put the cap on the opposite butt end to avoid losing it. There are two places for attaching a carry strap, one on the case and another on the cap.

This drive belongs to the Ultra High Speed USB Flash Drive series which features single-level cell flash memory chips with 1-bit control logic as opposed to 2-bit control logic utilized by multi-level cell chips. Buffalo’s technology employs four memory chips that can be accessed simultaneously. There’s little useful information on the manufacturer’s website and we’ve got the drive without its package. According to information we found on the Web and in the PDF files from the manufacturer’s site, the drive’s maximum write and read speeds are 18MB/s and 27MB/s, respectively. The device supports USB 2.0.

Data on the drive can be protected with the SecureLockWare utility you can find on the drive itself. This program can encrypt data on the entire drive or in a specific folder or file using the AES-256 algorithm. The encrypted information can only be accessed after entering a password. Encrypted data can also be compressed with a specified compression coefficient. The drive can also be used as a “key” to access the PC.

The device is shipped with a USB cable.

Corsair Flash Voyager CMFUSB2.0-4GB

The case of the Flash Voyager drive is made out of black and dark-turquoise rubber. This material protects the device against shocks and water. Having an original and rounded design of the case, the drive lies snugly in the hand. The manufacturer’s name, the name of the model and the address of the corporate website are printed on the drive’s case.

The Flash Voyager series includes models with capacities of 512MB as well as 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16GB. The drive supports USB 2.0. The manufacturer doesn’t declare its speed characteristics.

This drive is shipped with a string for carrying it, a USB cable, and a mini-CD with a user manual and the TrueCrypt program with its manual. This program can create virtual disks encrypted with the AES-256 algorithm to store confidential data. You have to enter a password to access data on such disks.

Corsair Flash Voyager CMFUSB2.0-8GB

This drive is an exact copy of the previous model except for storage capacity. This model can store two times more data, but the rest of the parameters and the accessories are the same. The only thing we should note about our sample is that its cap didn’t sit tight enough on the connector. It might slip off accidentally or lose its waterproof properties.

The accessories to this model are the same as you get with the previous one, so we won’t repeat the description.

Kingston Data Traveler Elite KUSBDTE/4GB

The silvery plastic case of this drive expands towards the ends so that it was easier for you to remove the cap from the interface connector. The cap snaps in place and sits rather fast. Besides that, there are rough black plastic pieces on the sides of the case so that you could grasp it firmly with your fingers. The manufacturer name, product series and model are painted on the case. The drive has a LED indicator of operation mode and a hole for a carry strap.

The Data Traveler Elite series consists of models with capacities of 512MB, 1, 2, and 4GB. They support USB 2.0. The manufacturer declares a max read speed of 24MB/s and a max write speed of 14MB/s. The dimensions of the flash drive are 77.4 x 22.1 x 10.1mm.

The device is shipped together with the My Traveler and Traveler Safe software and a small strap with a metallic ring. The Traveler Safe program can create a password-protected partition. Data on this partition are encrypted with the AES-128 algorithm. The My Traveler utility resides in the System Tray and provides direct access to the flash drive’s features. You can use it to specify your preferences, enable a console that would report on the status of the drive’s partitions, turn on read-only mode, enter the password, unplug the drive from the system, and synchronize folders and files.

Kingston Data Traveler Secure Privacy Edition DTSP/4GB

The waterproof case of this flash drive is made of coffee-colored and black plastic and designed in the classic way. There are names of the manufacturer and model, a LED indicator of operation mode and a hole for a string on the case. The cap snaps on the case and cannot slip off accidentally. You can put it on the device’s opposite end when you are using the drive.

The Data Traveler Secure Privacy Edition series offers 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4 GB models that support USB 2.0. The manufacturer declares a max read speed of 24MB/s and a max write speed of 10MB/s. The dimensions of the drive are 77.9 x 22 x 12.1mm.

This flash drive comes with an installation manual, a strap with a metallic ring, and with the DTSP program. Connecting the drive to the PC, the user will only be able to access a small 6MB partition that is recognized by the OS as an optical drive. In order to access the main partition, you have to launch the DTSP utility you can find on the start partition. On entering the password, the user will be able to work with all the capacity of the drive; all data on the drive are encrypted on the hardware level with the AES-256 algorithm. You have to enter the password each time you connect the drive to a PC. If the entered password proves to be invalid for ten times, the flash drive becomes blocked and the only thing you can do is to re-format it. Considering that the original password has a number of limitations on the minimum length and the characters used, you can indeed trust even your very confidential data to this device.

OCZ Rally2 OCZUSBR2DC-4GB 4GB

The black-colored case is metallic with translucent plastic pieces on the butt ends. Thus, this device is robust despite its compactness and elegance of appearance. Thanks to its design, the drive looks the same from either end, but the translucent piece is actually only necessary on the case itself as it covers a bright-orange LED indicator of operation mode. The case tells you all the necessary identifying information like the name of the manufacturer and the name and capacity of the model.

The OCZ Rally2 flash drive series consists of 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB models that support USB 2.0. The manufacturer declares a max read speed of 28MB/s and a max write speed of 15MB/s. The drive features a dual-channel design and is optimized for processing large files (5MB and larger).

The drive is shipped with a USB cable and a string for carrying it. You can also download the Format program from the manufacturer’s website if necessary. This program can partition and format the drive. One partition can be protected with a password. The Format utility can also make the drive bootable.

OCZ Mega-Kart OCZUSBMGK-16GB 16GB

The other flash drive from OCZ boasts the largest storage capacity in this review and has a most original appearance. It doesn’t even look like a regular flash drive. It rather resembles a credit card, but thicker. The name of Mega-Kart, the OCZ logo and the capacity are indicated on the case, confirming that this is indeed a PC storage device. The unusual appearance is due to the necessity of accommodating so many flash memory chips that would provide 16 gigabytes of storage. Another interesting feature of this device is that its USB connector is on a thin cable. The connector is pressed into the case when the drive is not in use and pulled out with a finger when you need to connect it to your PC. It was the cable itself that aroused our apprehensions – it looked just too thin to us. There’s a LED indicator at the edge of the case. The plastic of the drive’s case has a rough surface for better contact with your fingers.

The OCZ Mega-Kart series consists of two models. Besides the 16GB model, there exists an 8GB one. Both support USB 2.0. The dimensions of the device are 84 x 53 x 4mm. We couldn’t find its speed characteristics on the manufacturer’s website.

The drive comes without accessories since it doesn’t need them, actually. But our attempt to use the Format utility from the previous model was a success.

Patriot Xporter XT PEF4G200USB 4GB

This product from Patriot has an eye-catching, vivid design. The oval-shaped case made of black rubber has a rough surface for better contact with your fingers. The flattened shape of the case serves the same purpose. The manufacturer’s name and the name and capacity of the model are painted in red and white letters. The overall appearance of this device provokes associations with some cool-looking running shoes. There is a LED indicator of operation mode and a hole for a cord on the case.

The Xporter XT series includes three models (1, 2 and 4GB) that support USB 2.0. The XT abbreviation is spelled out as Xtreme Transfer. This means a max read speed of 200x, i.e. 32MB/s.

The drive is shipped with a cord for wearing it and a small trinket on a metallic chain.

RiDATA Mini Spin EZdrive Ut163 4GB

This drive has a handsome case made of shiny black plastic. It also has a metallic clip to carry the drive on your pocket. There is a read-only switch on one of the side panels. On the face panel of the drive, to the left of the manufacturer’s name, there is a small and rather dull LED indicator of operation mode. The design of the drive doesn’t include a separate cap. To connect it to a PC, you should pull out the part of the case with the USB connector and turn it around by 180 degrees.

The Mini Spin flash drive family is comprised of models with capacities of 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB. They all support USB 2.0. The flash drive allows to create a password-protected partition. The device’s dimensions are 61.0 x 21.0 x 12.3mm. Its weight is 13.5g.

The package doesn’t contain anything else besides the drive.

SanDisk Cruzer Micro SDCZ6-4096 4GB

The SanDisk Cruzer Micro is designed in such a way that it doesn’t need a cap for its connector. The case is made of shiny black plastic with gray rough plastic pieces on the sides for better contact with your fingers. The USB connector is hidden inside the case during transportation. To make it ready for work, you should pull it out using the white slider. Below the slider there is a LED indicator of operation mode. There’s information about the manufacturer, model and capacity on the side pieces. The metal ring in the case can be used to attach a string for wearing the device.

The Cruzer Micro flash drive series includes models with capacities of 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB. They all support USB 2.0. The dimensions of the drive are 7.9 x 20.6 x 57.2mm. The speed characteristics are not specified at the manufacturer’s website.

The drive supports U3 technology whose point is in providing you the opportunity to work by using software directly from the flash drive.

This drive is shipped with a string and a quick installation guide. Moreover, the drive itself stores the U3 LaunchPad utility through which you can start up four programs also stored on the drive: CruzerSync synchronization software, SignupShield Password Manager, SKYPE “Make video calls from PC to PC”, and AVAST antivirus software. Each of these programs can be started up directly from the flash drive, without installation. The SignupShield Password Manager can store and manage passwords for working in the Internet in secure mode. The AVAST software protects data on the flash drive against viruses, and SKYPE is a popular Internet communication tool. You can add more programs by installing new ones from files or downloading them from the U3 website.

SimpleTech BonzaiXpress STI-UFD/4GB 4GB

The manufacturer tried its best to make this flash drive look different from others and succeeded, to some extent (the manufacturer’s website claims that the design of the device’s case was developed by Pininfarina, a well-known name in the car world). The somewhat rounded case is made of silvery plastic that looks like aluminum. The main element that helps identify this particular flash drive among others of its kind is the oval-shaped insertion of translucent blue plastic with the manufacturer’s name. A LED indicator can be seen under it at work. The cap sits down on the USB connector with a snap and cannot get lost accidentally.

The BonzaiXpress series includes models with capacities of 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB. They support USB 2.0. The dimensions of this device are 7.7 x 20.5 x 65.5mm. The speed characteristics are not declared on the manufacturer’s site.

The drive is shipped with a small loop to attach it to your key-ring.

Super Talent USB Flash Drive 4GB

This flash drive from Super Talent looks nice, but lacks any extraordinary features. The small aluminum case has a rough surface on which you can read the name of the manufacturer and the type of the device interface. The cap is made of black plastic and holds very firm on the case. You won’t lose it. There’s a plastic “eye” for a string on the drive’s butt end. Below it, there is a red-colored LED indicator.

There’s little information on the drive and on its package, so it was difficult to identify it on the manufacturer’s website. We had to rely on the capacity and exterior design and we found out that the flash drive belonged to the DH series. Unfortunately, there’s little useful info about that series. It includes models with capacities of 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB. The drive supports USB 2.0. Data on the drive can be protected with a password. But the main thing is that the package with the drive claims its compliance with Windows Vista ReadyBoost technology.

There was nothing in the package besides the drive.

TwinMOS Mobile Disk Z4 4GB

The Mobile Disk Z4 has a black plastic case with the manufacturer and model names painted in white. The cap is made of translucent plastic and is equipped with catches for reliable fastening. There is a plastic ring for a cord on the butt end opposite the connector. Below that ring there is a LED indicator of operation mode. There is also a read-only switch on the case.

The Mobile Disk Z4 series consists of models with capacities of 128MB through 16GB that support USB 2.0. The dimensions of the drive are 8 x 23 x 70mm; its weight is 15g. Password-based protection is available. The speed characteristics of the device are not specified.

Judging by the information on the manufacturer’s website, drives of this series are as popular as to be counterfeited. The picture shows how to tell a fake drive from the original.

The drive comes with a quick installation guide and the Format utility (stored on the drive itself). Using the latter utility, you can partition the drive into two volumes and format them and then protect data on one volume with a password. This utility can also make the drive bootable.

Wintec Filemate Pro Pen Drive Ultra

The compact case of this flash drive is made of violet-painted plastic that looks like aluminum (and the manufacturer’s website even claims it to be the real metal). There is a LED indicator of operation mode on the rear butt end under a piece of translucent plastic. The name of the manufacturer and the device modification are indicated on the case.

The Pro Pen series includes models that range in capacity from 512MB to 8GB. This series supports USB 2.0. The drives are based on NAND flash memory produced by Samsung, Infineon, Spektek, and ST Micro. For the Ultra series the manufacturer declares a max read speed of 29MB/s and a max write speed of 13MB/s.

You will find USBDiskUtility on the drive. This is a popular program that allows partitioning and formatting a flash drive. One partition can be made password-protected.

Testbed and Methods

We used the following test programs:

The testbed was configured like follows:

We will use two versions of FC-Test that differ in some points of their test algorithms to be able to compare the results of the flash drives with those that we have tested earlier.

Performance in Intel IOMeter

Sequential Read & Write

We’ll start out with the synthetic IOMeter benchmark. This pattern measures the drive’s sequential read and write speed on data blocks of different size (from 0.5 to 1024KB).

We’ll use shortened names for the drives here and elsewhere for better readability.

The first diagram shows the sequential read speed of the drives and the 4GB flash drives from Buffalo and Corsair are in the lead here. They are closely followed by the drives from ATP, Patriot and Super Talent. The 8GB drives from A-DATA and Corsair stopped just a little short of the 30MB/s line. The RiDATA, SanDisk and TwinMOS drives are obviously slower than the others.

Here’s what we have at sequential writing. The Kingston Elite turns to be a hopeless loser in this test as its speed is never higher than 1MB/s even. The group of fastest drives is comprised of the same models that have been superior in the sequential reading test, particularly by the drives from Buffalo, Super Talent, ATP, A-DATA, Patriot, and Corsair.

Random Read & Write

We’ll evaluate the speed of random read and write operations by measuring the time the drives take to perform them. The data block size is varied from 0.5 to 32768KB in this test.

The best drives are those whose graphs are closer to the X-axis. Thus, the A-DATA, ATP, Buffalo, Super Talent, Patriot, and both drives from Corsair are better than the others in this test. The drives from RiDATA, SanDisk and TwinMOS perform poorly here. Their access time is the highest.

The Kingston Elite looks much worse than the others in this test. It is very slow on large data blocks. The flash drives from A-DATA, ATP, Buffalo, Super Talent, Patriot and Corsair have the best results in this test.

Average Access Read & Write Time

The average read/write response time is measured in a 10-minute test to read/write 512-byte data blocks at a request queue of 1.

The TwinMOS Z4 differs greatly from the other devices in this test. Its average read access time is far worse than that of the others. The rest of the drives produce roughly similar results. The drives from Kingston, Buffalo, Super Talent, ATP, Filemate, Corsair and A-DATA have an average read access time of less than 1 millisecond.

The TwinMOS Z4 has a very poor average write access time, too. It is much worse than any other device. We can also distinguish four best drives here which are the ATP, the A-DATA, and both drives from Corsair.

Windows Vista Ready Boost

We used IOMeter to check out the drives’ aptitude for Windows Vista’s ReadyBoost technology. The speed of reading random 4KB blocks and the speed of writing random 512-byte data blocks were measured. The test ran for 10 minutes.

The drives from Patriot, SimpleTech, RiDATA, TwinMOS and OCZ didn’t reach the 2.5MB/s limit at random reading. The flash drives from Kingston are the best ones in this test.

This test is a disappointment. Every drive is too slow here. There’s no talking about surpassing the 1.75MB/s barrier because each drive has a too low speed of random writing. But of course, it’s Windows Vista itself that’s going to say the final word.

Performance in FC-Test

FC-Test 1.0

FC-Test will help us examine the flash drives under real-life conditions. We’ll use two versions of this test utility, but they share the same general principle.

The program writes and reads a few file-sets and measures the time it takes to perform each operation. This helps calculate the speed of the drive and see how it depends on the number and size of the processed files. We use three file-sets that differ in the size (1, 10 and 100MB) and number (1, 10, and 100) of files included. Practice suggests that a 100MB file is large enough to reveal the maximum performance of a USB flash drive and using a larger file doesn’t affect the results much.

The first diagram shows the speed of writing a hundred 1MB files and the drive from Buffalo is the fastest here. It is followed by the Super Talent while the rest of the drives are rather far behind the two leaders. The products from SimpleTech, TwinMOS, Filemate, Kingston (Secure), OCZ (Mega-Kart) and SanDisk are obviously slow in this test.

It is the 4GB Corsair that wins the test of reading the 100x1MB file-set. It is followed by the Buffalo. Next go five more drives that have similar results. These are the products of Patriot, Super Talent, ATP, A-DATA, and the 8GB drive from Corsair. On the other hand, the flash drives from TwinMOS, SanDisk and RiDATA are the slowest of all here. They are about two times slower than the leader.

There are but small changes in the top part of the diagram in the test of writing the 10x10MB file-set. The Buffalo drive is in the lead again, followed by the Super Talent. The rest of the drives are lagging far behind. There are the same names among the slowest devices, but their order has changed because some of them, particularly the drives from SimpleTech and Filemate, have increased their write speed when processing the larger files.

The drives’ read speed changes but little when they have to process larger files. The 4GB Corsair takes first place again, and the Buffalo is second. Next go the Patriot, Super Talent, ATP, A-DATA and the 8GB Corsair that have roughly similar speeds among themselves.

Most of the drives improve their speed when writing a 100MB file. Although the Buffalo and Super Talent are still in the lead, their pursuers have got much closer. We mean the Patriot Xporter and the OCZ Rally2 whose write speeds have improved the most as the size of the test file has increased. There are the same names in the bottom of the diagram, yet we can note the considerable growth of speed of the SimpleTech drive.

The last diagram of this section proves that the increase of the file size to 100MB doesn’t affect the read speed as much as it does the speed of writing. The 4GB Corsair is the fastest again, and the Buffalo is second. They are followed by five drives that have similar results. And we’ve got the same trio of losers: the drives from TwinMOS, SanDisk, and RiDATA.

FC-Test 2.0

Now we’ll check the drives out in the newest version of FC-Test that employs an improved test algorithm.

The first diagram shows us a familiar picture: the Buffalo is in the lead and is followed by the Super Talent. The other drives are lagging far behind. The drives from Filemate, TwinMOS and SimpleTech are the slowest ones in this test.

The 4GB Corsair shows the highest speed when reading the 100x1MB file-set. And four more drives (from Buffalo, Patriot, Super Talent and ATP) have similar speeds. The three slowest devices are the RiDATA, TwinMOS and SanDisk.

The diagram with the results of writing the 10x10MB file-set shows a confident victory of the Buffalo drive. The Super Talent is second again. These drives are far ahead of their opponents, but the gap is smaller than with the 100x1MB file-set.

The 10x10MB pattern is read now, but there is no great difference from the 100x1MB file-set. The 4GB Corsair takes first place and there are the same four drives behind it with similar speeds. There is also the same trio of the slowest drives at the bottom of the diagram.

This diagram shows the speed of writing a single 100MB file, and the Buffalo is still in the lead. The Super Talent has got closer to it, though. The Patriot Xporter has sped up considerably and now occupies third place. The TwinMOS drive shows the lowest write speed in this test.

The reading of one 100MB file doesn’t change the picture we’ve seen with the 10x10MB file-set. The 4GB Corsair is in the lead and is followed by the drives from Buffalo, Patriot, Super Talent, and ATP. The flash drives from RiDATA, TwinMOS and SanDisk have the lowest read speeds in this test.

Conclusion

The tests we’ve just carried out allow us to name the highest-performance flash drive. It is Buffalo Ultra High Speed Flash Disk RUF2-S4GWH. Although it is not the best in read speed, being a little slower than the 4GB model from Corsair in this respect, it makes up for that by its very high write speed. Its overall performance is higher than that of any of its opponents, so we hail it as the absolute winner. Second place goes to the Super Talent USB Flash Drive. The read and write speeds of this drive are both impressive. Third place is shared by the Corsair Flash Voyager CMFUSB2.0-4GB and the Patriot Xporter XT PEF4G200USB. Besides them, we should also acknowledge good performance of the ATP ToughDrive AF4GUFT1BK, A-DATA PD7, and Corsair Flash Voyager CMFUSB2.0-8GB. Any of these flash drives will make a good buy. Note also that the two models from the same series, but with different storage capacities, performed differently in our tests. The 4GB Corsair Flash Voyager is almost everywhere faster than the 8GB model.

After naming the leaders of this review, we should also name the losers. Some drives have been too slow at writing and sometimes also slow at reading. The TwinMOS Mobile Disk Z4 turned to be the absolutely slowest drive in both. This product in its current implementation cannot be recommended for purchasing. Hopefully, the situation will improve in the future solutions. Unfortunately, the RiDATA Mini Spin Ezdrive performed poorly in our tests, too.

We’d like to specifically mention the largest flash drive in this review, the OCZ Mega-Kart OCZUSBMGK-16GB. It boasts an impressive storage capacity and has quite satisfactory speed characteristics. Besides the capacity, it features a very original exterior design.

Finally, we’d want to say a few words about compatibility of the tested flash drives with ReadyBoost technology available in the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. Our preliminary investigation by means of IOMeter showed that quite a lot of flash drives had a sufficiently high random read speed, but none of them could show an acceptable speed of random writing. The final verdict will be said by Windows Vista itself which incorporates a special quick performance test for flash drives. The results of this and other Windows Vista-related tests will be published in the second part of the roundup.

The flash drive manufacturers’ websites: