Which 32GB flash drive?
May 21, 2013 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I need a recommendation for a 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive, please.

I'm confused about the price spread in this product category. For example: is this $59 Lexar drive really worth almost twice as much as this $36 Patriot drive?

I want reliable and fast, but the USB 3.0 is really a future proofing thing for me since my current computer (due to be replaced) doesn't have it yet, so going for this (apparently) ultra fast Kingston drive probably doesn't make sense (as well as it only being available in 64GB or higher.)

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you make.
posted by bluecore to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Prices differ because of the read/write speeds. I would just find something with good reviews and either within your price range or the read/write speed you want.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:40 PM on May 21, 2013

Don't buy something brandless whatever you do. Patriot, sandisk, lexar, etc are fine. Kingston of course is too(although that one you linked is insane, yea).

Avoid stuff like this like the plague(i singled that brand out because they suck extra super mega hard). Honestly, i've even had trouble with OCZ branded ones and stuff.

For what it's worth, the longest lasting flash drive i've ever owned is an ancient 2gb one of these. Me, my coworkers and family have had way too many fail from normal use. Somehow the two of those floating around my office still work despite being purchased in like, 2006. If you want to spend less money on something that's probably fine though, go with one of these.

To answer your basic original question though, after a certain point in price the only difference between most brand name drives is a bit of speed. The really cheap ones are garbage though. I'm never ever ever ever buying the cheapest one at X capacity with Y spec on newegg again.("But it doesn't have any moving parts, it's digital, how can it matter!" he said. "I'll save a few bucks!" he said...)
posted by emptythought at 3:50 PM on May 21, 2013

This Corsair line has slightly faster reads than anything else posted so far (250 MB/s read, 105 MB/s write) on the 32GB model.

The larger models cost more but are faster: 260 MB/s read, 215 MB/s write on the 64GB, 260 MB/s read and 235 MB/s write on the 128GB model. Corsair claims they're the fastest ever blah blah blah.

Note that the 32GB model's max read speed is slower than the Lexar and Kingston drives in your question.

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum is a somewhat established, well reviewed, and fast drive (200 MB/s read, 120 MB/s write), but its smallest size is 64GB. I bought mine over a year ago now, I think, and have been happy with it. The size is awkward, though, and it will block adjacent ports.

The Super Talent RC 4 is newish and very fast: 320 MB/s read, 120 MB/s write. I have only read a few reviews and could only find it for sale here. Not an endorsement of the shop or the drive. There is also an RC8, which has a slower read but faster write, and is more widely available.
posted by jsturgill at 3:54 PM on May 21, 2013

Many computer motherboards touted as "USB3" have only one USB3 channel, which is invariably used for the C: drive. Even if you have additional USB3 ports, they work only at USB2 speed unless you switch the motherboard channels, which will slow down your C: drive.

Motherboard connectors are designed to be connected once and left in place. Multiple disconnects and reconnects create a great risk of breakage. Don't ask me how I know.
posted by KRS at 7:21 PM on May 21, 2013

I have a Corsair Flash Voyager GT 32GB USB 3.0 drive (one of the rubber armoured ones). It's the only USB 3 drive I've owned so I can't really compare it with other brands, but plugged into a USB 3 port it feels ludicrously fast. I haven't really taken any measurements but when I copied my files onto it for the first time (22GB or so) I kept an eye on the clock, and as far as I can remember the transfer speed appeared to be somewhere around the theoretical maximum speed for USB-3.

Even with a USB 2 port, writing is noticeably much faster than any of the (fairly bog-standard) USB 2 drives I've owned, because with them the bottleneck was always the write speed of the flash memory itself rather than the USB 2 maximum speed.

One thing to note is that it's on the large side (which seems to be the case for a few other high-speed / mid-to-high-capacity drives) so is your ports are closely spaced you might want a short extension lead, or a smaller drive.
posted by pont at 10:10 PM on May 21, 2013

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