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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 5 Uses for a USB Stick You Didn't Know About 5 Uses for a USB Stick You Didn't Know About We’ve all used USB sticks to transport files between computers and back up our files, but there are other cool things you can do with a USB stick. Read More . 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)

Sandisk-Extreme-USB-3

Just like our last round-up of flash drives The Best, Fastest, Most Rugged USB Flash Drives You Can Buy Right Now The Best, Fastest, Most Rugged USB Flash Drives You Can Buy Right Now The USB flash drive is far from the most exotic hardware most people use, but for many, it's incredibly important. A fast USB drive can shave minutes of data transfers, and if you use it... Read More 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)

Silicon-Power-Marvel-M50-32GB

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 DOWNLOAD The Office Worker’s 101 Guide to a USB Thumb Drive DOWNLOAD The Office Worker’s 101 Guide to a USB Thumb Drive Read More .

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  • Read speed: 90 MB/s
  • Write speed: 60 MB/s
  • Price per gigabyte: $0.68

3. Rugged: Lacie XtremKey 32GB ($79.99)

Lacie-XtremKey-USB3

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)

PQI-imini-drive

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)

Imation-Ironkey

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 7+ Great Games You Can Run from a USB Stick 7+ Great Games You Can Run from a USB Stick Fill your USB stick with great games, so you can play even on computers that don't allow you to install software. Whether you're at work, the library or even someone else's house, sometimes you cannot... Read More off it or run a whole operating system Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Linux Live USB Creator: Easily Boot Linux From Your Flash Drive Read More 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!

  1. John.S.
    April 22, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    actually visontek has the fastest flash drive and it has up to 445MB/s read, up to 440MB/s write

  2. ARUN A B
    April 21, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I saw your site and ordered Sandisk Extreme 64GB. It doesn't even reach upto 50 MB/s writing speed. It ranges a maximum of 48 MB/s only. Falsely advertised from Sandisk. Huge disappointment :(

    • Anonymous
      May 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      You have probably put it in a usb 2.0 port. Try putting it in a usb 3.0 to get the proper speed out of it. If not then maybe your testing is off. It's definitely not false advertising, it will be your human error.
      I have one and it runs around 200mbs read

    • David Ward
      September 11, 2015 at 12:52 am

      If you read what ARUN A B has written...He is talking about WRITE speeds. You are quoting READ speeds. Read speeds are always faster. Check again, Anonymous and check your WRITE speeds. My results, though on the smaller drive give me a max of mid 90MB/s, in extreme cases, with an average of around 50MB/s.
      This article states write speeds of OVER 200MB/s. SanDisk site quotes write speeds of UP TO 190MB/s...Which equates to average of around 140-150MB/s. Then there also CAN be other issues with this drive. Notice emphasis on the word "CAN".
      This article contradicts the SanDisk site.
      The best drive here, IMHO, is the Lacie XtremeKey, though it does not show the 64GB, which I am working with and talking about now. It is tough, reliable, waterproof (when cover is screwed on) and as I stated earlier, gives an average write speed of 137-139MB/s. Fastest write speed has been 155MB/s. Though in stating this, one should always to remember to take care of the software eg: proper ejection etc.

    • David Ward
      September 11, 2015 at 12:29 am

      I have the same Sandisk Extrerme but in the 32GB. The fastest write speed I achieve with it is in the mid 90MB/s. And NO! We are NOT idiots as was inferred to you by Anonymous. I only use my USB3.0 ports and also use ASRock XfastUSB. Maybe it is the size but there is NO WAY IN THE WORLD it will get 200MB/s write speed. Read speed is around 200MB/s but the write speed is what I am after.
      I also have the XtremeKey 64GB. This drive is my fastest with constant write speeds of 137-139MB/s.

    • RCA
      November 28, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Dear David, 32GB version is 2x slower in respect to write performance than 64GB one. They use more "stripes" in 64GB model, aka when writing a block of data, it is split into more chunks which are written in parallel. Write performance is also strongly dependent on operating system and file system you use. In Windows, NTFS filesystem is the usual choice and this is not the best performing filesystem available. Also, Windows uses synchronous mode on external media by default. Synchronous mode updates filesystem journal more frequently, so when writing data to the USB key, metadata is updated very frequently, so in fact apart from what user expects, system writes more data (data about data) behind the scenes, which causes slowdown. Try to format the key using FAT32 or exFAT and check again. Also, when they claim up to 200MB/s, they claim it based on measurements using the best performing filesystem and continuos write of a big file (the best case). In real life, one copies mixture of big files and plenty of small ones, so actual average perfromance will be a bit slower. Journalling and synchornous writes slow the operation down. I observed that the same flash key is much faster when writing under macintosh then in windows (holds true with Sandisk Extreme 32GB as well).

    • Steffen Büßelmann
      April 28, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      I own the 64 GB version of it, and although it didn't reach the 200 MB/s write on my machine, I usually see around 180-190 MiB/s when copying something from my SSD onto it.

      You always have to consider the read speed of the drive you are copying stuff from.

      Ofcourse it will be limited by USB 2 to around 20-30 MiB/s.
      Ofcourse it will be limited by regular hard drives to their respective speeds (Think of around 100-130 MiB/s for a 3,5" 7200 RPM drive)
      Ofcourse the filesystem can impact the speed (ExFAT is faster than NTFS due to no journaling, FAT32 limits file size to 4 GiB which can be quite annoying especially with a big drive)

    • dave
      September 14, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      So many silly comments.
      1) No he wasn't using it on USB2, it could not achieve 48MB/s on USB2.
      2) The USB controller is often a bottleneck on high end USB3 flash drives, particularly those with SSD controllers in them.
      3) No NTFS is not the usual Window filesystem for USB flash drives. They are typically exFAT in this capacity and larger.
      4) All your peak MB/s speeds are of little consequence unless that's how you're actually using the drive. 4K read and write speed will be far more important to most people, unless all you use it for is moving large amounts of data around and frankly, that's what networking is for.

  3. speedlover
    February 25, 2015 at 10:56 am

    the usb sandisk extreme is really fast it really was worth the money and the good thing is that it works faster on usb 2.0 too like 20 mb/s what more could you ask for :D

    • ARUN A B
      April 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      You'll just get another 20 mb/s faster in usb 3.0 which other normal 3.0 pendrives does it. This isn't worth for 50$

  4. asdaoksmd
    June 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    "This bad boy was developed in coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security"

    Should stay away from it like a plague then. unless you want a nice and easy backdoor for the US government.

  5. TW
    May 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I bought a Silicon Power Marvel M50 32GB nine months ago and it recently died an inglorious death. Amazon's sales page says it has a limited LIFETIME warranty but it's been several days since I wrote to the Taiwanese manufactuer's USA support email and haven't received a reply.

    YMMV but I would avoid the "budget" USB drives. I found this article looking for a replacement.

  6. DudeStop
    April 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    How about looking at Sandisk's actual test data and compared to many others.
    If you posted in Jan 2014 that Sandisk 64GB is "fastest"; there were many that were 'way' faster than sandisk! Sorry to burst your bubble

  7. SlNNED
    March 18, 2014 at 6:21 am

    KINGSTON G3 is the best

  8. r20039
    March 9, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I have used USB 3.0. its definitely way faster than USB 2.0
    I guess still there is no USB 3.1 or higher speed devices in the market .... I donno.. anyone knows? afaik, USB 3.0 flash drives were supposed to be in the market in 2014. Still no Sign- its March now.

  9. Adm
    March 1, 2014 at 3:58 am

    USB 2.0 has speeds of up to 480Mbps, while the fastest drive here is barely faster than half that. I would argue that USB 3.0 drives don't exist and are just false marketing.

    • Mihir Patkar
      March 1, 2014 at 5:35 am

      That's the theoretical top speed of USB 2.0, no USB 2.0 drive comes even close to that :) The theoretical top speed of USB 3.0 is 5Gbps and that of USB 3.1 is 10Gbps. It's no false marketing.

    • MST
      March 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      USB2 is 480 megabit, yielding a max theoretical transfer of 60 megabyte per second.

    • RCA
      November 28, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      This is raw speed. The USB 2.0 protocol has its own overhead, so you will never see 60MB/s read or write performance. Actual data are encapsulated into packets, there are overhead bits as CRC etc. According to my experiences, real max. speed of USB 2.0 in high speed mode is around 40MB/s. Theoretical max. speed based on protocol specs. is around 52MB/s, but I've never seen it.

    • Ed G
      February 24, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      I beg your pardon sir, all you have to do is stick one in and feel how smooth and speedy it is. Honestly it puts usb 2.0 to shame. Obviously make sure you have a usb 3.0 port.

  10. Sukh
    February 20, 2014 at 5:27 am

    I like the 4th one, Stylish and mini USB drive. They'll look beautiful with your company logo imprinted on them.

  11. Richard Steven Hack
    January 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Oh, yeah, I really want the "secure" one developed with the DoHS aid - and no doubt the NSA helped them... :-)

    • Dell Conagher
      April 12, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Sorry, what was that? I couldn't hear you over the crinkling of your tinfoil hat.

  12. James P
    January 6, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Maybe the opening sentence should have read that the Sandisk is the fastest of the "affordable" or "every day" USB drives. The IronKey Workspace would be a great addition for protecting sensitive data, but I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a drive just to put photos on. I'm guessing the author was meaning to imply the same thing.

    Aside from the above, I use USB drives mostly for transporting large amounts of photos/files between myself and my children. However, I do keep one 16GB drive in one of the ports of my 7-port hub strictly for Windows (7) to use (SpeedBoost). I also have a couple of drives that I use to keep different versions of some files that I work on frequently. One thing I can say for certain, using these USB drives are a lot faster and easier than constantly having to burn files to a CD or DVD!

  13. Cybr
    January 6, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    @Rob Because it's expensive. It's rated 1~5 per reviewer's opinion.

  14. Joh
    January 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Why is the Sandisk the fastest? The IronKey Workspace W300 64GB is rated with higher speed?!?!?!?!

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 8, 2014 at 6:22 am

      While the Workspace W300 is rated higher, real-world tests by reviewers show the Sandisk is faster :)

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