by Andrey Kuznetcov
10/28/2003 | 11:35 PM
Among numerous devices used for data storage and transportation the USB Flash drives with USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) interface get more and more popular. These storage devices are really small in size and can be with their owner almost everywhere. USB 2.0 interface ensures secure connection and fast data transfer rate onto and from any contemporary computer, and they do not require any specific adapters.
In our mini review we decided to introduce three flash drives like that of 1GB storage capacity. These models are especially interesting nowadays because of their high capacity, as you can save on them much more data than on a standard CD-disk.
This “super-talented” flash drive comes into retail packed in a compact plastic box. It is not the smallest drive, actually, that is why you may sometimes have some problems connecting it to the USB port, when there are other devices connected to the neighboring ports. Unfortunately, there are no additional accessories shipped with the drive (such as a USB cable), therefore, if you have problems plugging it into the USB port, you will have to find a way-out yourself. The LED indicator is located on the upper side of the case. To make it more convenient to carry the drive around with you, there is a special hole at the upper end of the drive. Although, you will have to find a band yourself, too. It is not included.
The model we are reviewing today is fully compliant with USB 2.0 specification. This particular flash drive features 1GB storage capacity, however, the product line where it actually belongs also includes models from 64MB to 2GB. The manufacturer claims that the data read speed is over 5MB/s while the data write speed is said to be not lower than 4.7MB/s. The maximum shock resistance is as high as 1000G. The drive weighs 19g, and its dimensions are 16mm x 25.2mm x 85.4mm. The device is selling for about $270.
One more compact flash drive from A-Data is called Agenie. It is shipped in a nice paper box and is accompanied with a carry band, USB cable for easier connection and a small CD-disk with necessary software. The model is very compact and can be easily connected to the USB port in any situation. The LED indicating the work status is situated at the end of the casing, right under the neck band hole. The model name is imprinted on the upper part of the case.
The flash drive offers 1GB of storage space, and the product line also includes a bunch of model with the storage capacity from 16Mb up to 2GB. The drive is fully compliant with the USB 2.0 specification and is now available for around $319.
Today the other two testing participants will come from the Taiwanese A-Data Company. Speed Drive is shipped in a vivid paper box with yellow and orange shiny coloring.
The drive is designed according to all the best traditions here. The plastic casing looks like aluminum and is of rounded shape. The company name and logo are designed in recognizable read and blue colors. The removable cap has a special clip, which will allow carrying the drive as a regular pen. Another carrying alternative is a neck band, which is included with the drive and which can be tied around a special hole in the drive case. The drive can be easily connected to any USB port, even if the surrounding ports are all packed, due to the cable, which is also included into the package. Sometimes, this cable can appear really worthy, because the drive itself is not that very small. There is an indicator LED on the upper edge of the case, and at the side there is a write protection switch. For compatibility with Windows 98 operating system, the manufacturer also supplies a CD-disk with the drivers.
The flash drive is 1GB big. However, the same product family also includes models from 64MB to 512MB. Of course, the flash drive supports USB 2.0 interface. The manufacturer claims that the drive reads at 7MB/s and writes at 2.4MB/s. The drive is supposed to stand up to 10 million erase cycles. The drive costs about $319.
We used the following four software tools to find out which of the three flash drives is the fastest:
For our tests we used the following computer system:
The flash drives were connected to the USB 2.0 port of the mainboard integrated controller and worked in a high-speed mode.
We tested the flash drives with the Removable Storage/Flash Benchmark. The major resulting parameter for this test is Combined Index, which is calculated according to the results in a number of operations. During the test a number of files is saved onto flash drives, then these files are read and then erased. The files are as big as 512Bytes, 32KB, 256KB and 2MB. The reading and writing performance is provided in operations per minute and a corresponding speed of KB/s. Delete Performance was measured in “killed files per minute”.
Super Talent Flash Pen Drive
A-Data Speed Drive
The integral parameter in Sandra benchmark appeared higher by A-Data Agenie. The second one was Super Talent Flash Pen Drive, and the very last one – A-Data Speed Drive. The resulting graphs for all the three drives are shown in blue.
File Copy test was used to measure how long it will take the drive to create a 1024KB file, how fast it will then read it and copy onto the system HDD and back.
A-Data Agenie and Super Talent Flash pen Drive perform almost equally fast when creating the file. A-Data Speed Drive lags noticeably behind them. The same situation repeats when we do the reading: A-Data Speed Drive again falls behind the leaders. When we do the file copy to the HDD, the gap between the leaders and the third testing participant turns smaller. However, when we copy the file from the HDD back to the flash drive, A-Data Speed Drive finally wins. The second one appears Super Talent Flash Pen Drive and the last one comes A-Data Agenie.
With the help of HDTach utility we measured the access time. IOMark tool was used to measure the read and write speeds.
The graphs below represent the peak linear read and write speeds for our testing participants:
A-Data Speed Drive
Super Talent Flash Pen Drive
The access time appeared almost identical by A-Data Agenie and Super Talent Flash Pen Drive. The second A-Data device, Speed Drive, shows stably lower results, and to tell the truth I do not know what caused this drastic difference in performance. I even ran all tests anew, but the results repeated. All the other numbers are more or less close. Only the linear writing of the Super Talent Flash Pen Drive appeared slower than that of the competitors.
So, we tested three 1GB compact flash drives in order to find out, which of them is the fastest. In fact, I cannot say that any of them is much faster than the others. The numeric results are pretty even and do not allow us to draw a conclusion like that. The only exception is Sandra benchmark where the performance difference is very significant, and HDTach with its access time measurements. In the first case, it is probably the used algorithm that we should blame, while the reasons for the low performance in the second case remained unknown.
As you can see, the three devices cost pretty different money: the difference makes about $40. therefore, if you care about the price in the first place, then you should go for Super Talent Flash product. If you value convenient use, you’d better decide on a device from A-Data, which are accompanied with software CDs, USB cables and neck bands. However, you will have to pay extra for the additional accessories, don’t forget about it.