The USB drive is one of the coolest inventions to happen, especially for those who love computers. It’s made our lives so convenient with its many applications, both obvious and uses you wouldn’t have thought of. It just makes sense to have a flash drive or two with you at all time.
So we started checking out reviews of USB 3.0 flash drives from across the Web, figuring out the best (and fastest) ones you should buy without spending a crazy amount of money. Here’s what we came up with.
1. Fastest: >Sandisk Extreme 64GB (around $63)
Just like our last round-up of flash drives confirmed, there’s no doubt about it, the Sandisk Extreme is the fastest USB flash drive out there, by a distance. Every reviewer out there who tested it says it blows away the competition, registering read and write speeds of over 200 MB/s. You’d expect it to cost a pretty penny with that claim, but the Sandisk Extreme is surprisingly affordable at around $63 for the 64GB version. By contrast, the next fastest drives are the Toshiba TransMemory-Ex and Lexar JumpDrive P10, which cost $85 and $120 respectively. Plus, the Sandisk Extreme has a slider so you don’t have to worry about losing a cap either. For around $63, this is a steal! And even the lower-priced versions and lower capacities are worth every dollar.
- Read speed: Over 230 MB/s
- Write speed: Over 200 MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $0.98
2. Budget: Silicon Power Marvel M50 32GB ($21.99)
The true power of USB 3.0 can’t be felt with the lower end flash drives, but hey, it’s still a significant step up from USB 2.0. So what’s the least you can spend for that boost? For $22, you can pick up the Silicon Power Marvel M50 32GB, which has a read speed of 90 MB/s and a write speed of 60 MB/s. It’s not extraordinary, but it’s still far better than any of the other flash drives at this price. Plus, the M50 has a nice aluminium body that will last longer than plastic, with a metal cap protecting the plug. But there’s one problem: the sides of the drive are large and it usually blocks USB ports next to it, so you can’t plug something in both ports at the same time. Still, given its price, it’s the perfect USB 3.0 flash drive to have with you in the office, primed with our office worker’s 101 guide to a thumb drive.
- Read speed: 90 MB/s
- Write speed: 60 MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $0.68
3. Rugged: Lacie XtremKey 32GB ($79.99)
The LaCie XtremKey could probably take a punch from Chuck Norris if it had to. Yup, it’s that tough! There are plenty of rugged flash drives around that offer shockproof and waterproof designs, but the XtremKey takes it to another level. The drive is encased in a metal cylindrical case that protects it from all kinds of things. A drop from 10 metres high? No problem. It’ll take temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius and as high as 200 degrees Celsius. Even if it’s got 10 tons of pressure on it, the XtremKey will soldier on. The rubber seal keeps it waterproof even at depths of 200 metres. And LaCie does all of this without sacrificing on performance, with read speeds of 230 MB/s. Now just make sure you don’t lose it.
- Read speed: 230 MB/s
- Write speed: 90 MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $2.50
4. Stylish: PQI i-mini 32GB (around $45)
Good things come in small packages, and the PQI i-mini USB 3.0 flash drive is as small as they come. Put this tiny flash drive next to a penny and the coin will be the larger of the two. PQI’s got some patented technology to make this micro-sized thumb drive and managed to encase it in a zinc-alloy unibody with a sand-blasted matte finish. Pop it into the USB port of your Macbook Air or any ultrabook and it will sit flush with the device. In real world tests, the read speeds are at an acceptable 80 MB/s, but unfortunately, like all of these sleek drives, it suffers in write speed, managing only about 10-13 MB/s in all reviews. If you need to copy data off your drive more often than on your drive, it’s great.
- Read speed: 90 MB/s
- Write speed: 40 MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $1.40
5. Secure: IronKey Workspace W300 64GB (around $190)
You want to keep your data secure and private? You’ll want to make sure that if your pen drive falls into the wrong hands, they can’t do anything about it. Then you should be using Imation’s IronKey Workspace W300. This bad boy was developed in coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is actually the flash drive used by people for whom privacy is everything. Apart from 256-bit AES full disk encryption to protect all your data, the W300 uses Windows 8′s Windows-to-Go feature to make itself a bootable drive, so you can use your own version of Windows on any computer, ensuring your security. But like with most security products, all of that comes at a really steep price, so you have to want it!
- Read speed: 400 MB/s
- Write speed: 316 MB/s
- Price per gigabyte: $2.96
How Do You Use USB Drives?
There are several ways to put a pen drive to use. You might play games directly off it or run a whole operating system from it. So we want to know, how do you usually use flash drives? How much storage do you need on the go? Comments are open!