5 of the Fastest USB 3.0 Flash Drives You Should Buy
Whatsapp Pinterest
Advertisement

Our internet speeds are faster than ever. There’s plenty of online storage available for free or cheap prices. As fast as the internet is, it can’t beat the speeds you get from flash drives. Plus, when you have to transfer several gigabytes of data, why would you want to bottleneck your bandwidth?

USB flash drives come in all shapes and sizes. But sometimes, all you need is sheer speed—and if that’s the case, here are the best ones you can buy right now.

A New Breed of USB Drives

Usb flash drive

Technology has a habit of shrinking in size as the years go by. And that has happened to an incredible degree with solid state drives (SSDs) 101 Guide To Solid State Drives 101 Guide To Solid State Drives Solid State Drives (SSDs) have really taken the mid-range to high end computing world by storm. But what are they? Read More . You can now actually get these in the same size as USB flash drives.

A solid state drive is different from the memory that most thumb drives use. While they are both basically flash memory, the quality of materials and the construction is much different. Typically, an SSD is of a much higher quality. Without getting into the technical details, here are some notable differences:

Choosing Between SSD and Regular USB Drives

usb-flash-drive-generic2

It’s not a simple choice between the two. From the same manufacturer, an SSD-based thumb drive is faster and better than a regular flash thumb drive. But some flash thumb drives will be as good as low-quality SSD thumb drives too. Also, SSD USB drives cost significantly more than regular flash drives.

As a rule of thumb, here’s what to take away:

  • Buy an SSD-based USB drive if you will use the drive regularly, need quick speeds to transfer data, and use it a little roughly.
  • Buy a regular flash USB 3.0 drive if you are on a budget and need to read data from the drive more than write data to the drive. It’s not slow, mind you. It’s just slower than SSDs. Chances are, you’ll still be fine with the speeds.

Assuming you need a regular flash drive and not an SSD, here are the fastest USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 flash drives.

Fastest Write Speed on a USB Flash Drive: SanDisk Extreme Pro SDCZ880

the overall fastest usb flash drive is the sandisk extreme pro

SanDisk SDCZ880-128G-G46 Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive SanDisk SDCZ880-128G-G46 Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive Buy Now At Amazon $49.35

  • Capacity: 128GB, 256GB
  • Advertised Read Speed: 420 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Read Speed: 297 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: 380 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 262 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Anyone looking for the overall “fastest flash drive.”

The SanDisk Extreme Pro cranks up the read and write speeds, and in fact, UserBenchmark ranks it as the fastest write speed. The next best, the Lexar Jumpdrive P10 and the Kingston HyperX Savage, are behind by 30 MB/s or more.

Such fast sequential write speed is best for copying large files; for video editing, for example. Since the SanDisk Extreme Pro comes in two fairly high capacities (128GB and 256GB), it is the best drive for such needs.

Also, if you have a habit of losing the covers or caps off your flash drives, you’ll like this one. The SanDisk Extreme Pro has a sliding mechanism to pop out the USB connector. No cap to lose!

Fastest Read Speed on a USB Flash Drive: Corsair Flash Voyager GTX

Corsair flash voyager gtx has the best read speeds of any flash drive

Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Buy Now At Amazon $74.82

  • Capacity: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • Advertised Read Speed: 440 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Read Speed: 380 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: 440 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 168 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who work with the files directly off a flash drive.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro’s read and write speeds are impressive enough to make it the fastest overall drive, but the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX has a higher read speed. If you work with files directly from the flash drive (without copying them to your hard drive), then this might be a better choice for you.

If your laptop doesn’t have enough free storage space (it’s why you shouldn’t buy a 256GB MacBook Why You Shouldn't Buy a MacBook With Only 256GB Storage Why You Shouldn't Buy a MacBook With Only 256GB Storage Thinking about buying a MacBook? It's smart to avoid the 256GB model and upgrade your storage. Read More ), you won’t be copying anything to it. The flash drive is what you work from, and the Voyager GTX’s 380 MB/s speed is ridiculous. Plus it has storage options up to 1TB, so you should have everything you need here.

Fastest Cheap Flash Drive to Install an OS: Kingston DataTraveler 100 G3

The 32GB kingston datatraveler 100 g3 is the fastest cheap flash drive

32GB Kingston (TM) Digital (5 Pack) Data Traveler DT100 G3 3.0 32 GB USB High Speed Flash Drive (DT100G3) With (2) Everything but Stromboli (TM) Lanyards 32GB Kingston (TM) Digital (5 Pack) Data Traveler DT100 G3 3.0 32 GB USB High Speed Flash Drive (DT100G3) With (2) Everything but Stromboli (TM) Lanyards Buy Now At Amazon $46.30

  • Capacity: 32GB x 5 Drives
  • Advertised Read Speed: 100 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Read Speed: 134 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: N/A
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 52.2 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who want cheap flash drives to create bootable installers of operating systems.

You don’t always need a USB flash drive with lots of storage. Sometimes, you need very little storage, but it needs to be fast and cheap. The 32GB Kingston DataTraveler 100 G3 has a brilliant multipack deal for this.

So that’s five separate flash drives, each of which you can turn into a bootable USB from an ISO file 10 Tools to Make a Bootable USB From an ISO File 10 Tools to Make a Bootable USB From an ISO File Installing an operating system from a USB drive is quick and portable. We test a few ISO to USB tools to find the best one for you. Read More . At a cost of $10 per unit, you won’t even feel bad about someone borrowing one of these and never returning it.

Make sure you buy the 32GB variant and not the 16GB model, which also has a multipack deal. The 16GB model’s speeds are far, far lower and so it’s not worth it.

Fastest Flash Drive to Run Portable Linux: Corsair Flash Voyager GTX

The best and fastest flash drive to run Linux is the 128GB Corsair Flash Voyager GTX

Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.1 Premium Flash Drive Buy Now At Amazon $74.82

  • Capacity: 128GB
  • UserBenchmark 4k-Read Speed: 24.4 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark 4k-Write Speed: 49.8 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who run a persistent Linux OS from a Flash drive.

In case you didn’t know, you can run Linux from a USB drive Running Linux from USB: Are You Doing It Right? Running Linux from USB: Are You Doing It Right? Did you know that can keep data persistent, or even do a full install for Linux, on a USB drive? Take computing totally mobile -- stick a Linux USB PC in your pocket! Read More . But the drive you use plays a big part in the performance too. Especially for anyone who runs Linux regularly, the 128GB version of the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX is the one to buy.

There’s a specific reason behind this. When you’re running an OS from a flash drive, a lot of small files are being constantly read, written, and rewritten. This speed, called 4k-Write and 4k-Read, matters more than the fastest sequential speed.

There’s also the question of capacity. It makes little sense to buy a 256GB flash drive to run an operating system from.

And there’s always the consideration of cost. You don’t want to spend too much on something like this.

All of this makes the 128GB variant of the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX the best balanced, fastest flash drive for portable Linux. If you want the actual fastest one, go for the 256GB variant, which increases the 4k-Read and 4k-Write speeds. But don’t go higher than 256GB; the speeds drop after that.

Note: UserBenchmarks actually ranks the Mushkin Ventura Ultra as faster. But closer inspection shows that the Mushkin’s speed rates are not consistent across different conditions, and several users have reported much slower speeds than UserBenchmark’s statistics.

Fastest USB-C Flash Drive: Samsung T5

Samsung T5 is the fastest USB-C flash drive

Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA500B/AM) Samsung T5 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA500B/AM) Buy Now At Amazon $97.97

  • Capacity: 512GB
  • Advertised Read Speed: 540 MB/s
  • Benchmark Test Read Speed: 500-510 MB/s
  • Advertised Write Speed: 540 MB/s
  • UserBenchmark Write Speed: 470-490 MB/s
  • Who should buy it: Those who have laptops with a USB-C port only.

Several laptops, especially the best ultrabooks The Best Ultrabooks for Lightening Your Load The Best Ultrabooks for Lightening Your Load Ultrabooks cost more than budget notebook computers. But they are also lightweight. Choose one from our top picks for ultrabooks. Read More , have moved to using only a USB-C port instead of the traditional USB-A port on most flash drives. That means you need a fast flash drive with a USB-C port.

Unfortunately, that limits your options terribly. Flash drives with USB-C aren’t fast. In fact, it’s better to buy one of the other flash drives mentioned in this article, and add a USB-A to USB-C converter.

I’ve refrained from recommending portable SSDs in this article because we’re looking for flash drives, but at this point, it simply does not make sense to get a USB-C flash drive.

You should ditch that though and go for a mini portable SSD.

The Samsung T5 has blazing fast read and write speeds, especially on the Dell XPS 13 and the new MacBooks. The 512GB version is also excellent value for money, given its storage per dollar ratio.

Yes, it’s thicker and not as convenient as a flash drive. But it’s all you should consider, if you don’t want a converter.

For Large Storage Needs, Buy Portable SSDs Instead

The above list of super-fast flash drives should serve the needs of anyone who wants something with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB capacity. Sure, there are 512GB and 1TB options available too. But I wouldn’t buy those.

For large capacities, especially beyond 512GB, it makes more sense to consider some of the best portable hard drives The 8 Best Portable Hard Drives You Can Buy Right Now The 8 Best Portable Hard Drives You Can Buy Right Now Read More instead. They offer much better storage-to-price ratios, and the speed can really crank up when you use connectors like Thunderbolt.

If, on the other hand, you’re concerned about security—you could also consider a USB drive with built-in hardware encryption, or look into how you can easily password protect your flash drive How to Password Protect and Encrypt a Flash Drive: 5 Easy Methods How to Password Protect and Encrypt a Flash Drive: 5 Easy Methods Need to create an encrypted USB flash drive? Here are the best free tools to password protect and encrypt your USB flash drive. Read More .

Explore more about: Back to School, Buying Tips, USB Drive.

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. SaltyFrost
    April 9, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Corsair has faster write speeds around 140-180 MB/s. My Survivor Stealth 256GB averages 150 MB/s write (and since write is the important measure..)

  2. Dadid
    January 26, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Patriot is the worst of all and slowest ever USB stick. Did you test any of these or just took from their websites?

  3. Michael Czajka
    November 29, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    You've got it right... an SSD based flash drive is MUCH faster than a normal flash drive... so why do you go out and test normal flash drives?

    The Corsair 256 GTX is an SSD based flash drive that gives blazingly fast reads and writes.

    I've got the Patriot 512GB flash drive and it's a slug by comparison.

    The Corsair is not all that expensive either given it's size.

    Just don't buy a Corsair GT 256 GB... which is a normal flash drive... and fairly slow (accidentally bought one).

    Just wish they would make a 512GB version of the Corsair GTX.

    :-)

  4. Andrew
    September 9, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Some people in the comments make false claims based on their own experience about the speed of these drives, most of them being dissapointed. What they fail to understand is that in most situations their hardware cant keep up with the speed of these drives (reading from busy HDD, fragmented, etc), they plug it on USB 2.0, they have their files fragmented or make copies of thousands of small files, and the list goes on. Don't blame the usb drive lol.

  5. 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

  6. 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

      • Anonymous
        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.

        • Sean mc
          January 16, 2017 at 7:57 am

          The Sandisk has write speeds very near 200MB/s, check your hardware. I own many of them, they rock!

    • Anonymous
      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).

        • Anonymous
          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.

    • Don Gosney
      March 1, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      Strangely, your hot link takes me to an Amazon page for a Sandisk usb 2.0 drive: SanDisk Cruzer 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ36-032G-B35).

  7. 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$

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

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

    KINGSTON G3 is the best

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

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

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

  18. 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 :)