Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/09/review_storage_kingston_datatraveler_ultimate_usb_3_flash_drive/

Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 32GB

SuperSpeed storage on your keyring

By Shaun Dormon

Posted in Hardware, 9th November 2010 08:00 GMT

Review The DataTraveler Ultimate is the a natural progression in Kingston’s pocketable USB flash drive range. Featuring SuperSpeed USB 3.0 support devices are available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities. For something likely to live on a keyring, the Ultimate has an impressive performance, which, according to Kingston Technology, will read at up to 80MB/s and write at 60MB/s.

Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0

Drive fast: Kingston Technology's DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0

With the introduction of USB 3.0 to the DataTraveler line, these devices are leaving the realm of what is traditionally considered to be a thumb drive and moving into the territory of compact hard disk replacement solid state drives. In fact, the DT Ultimate utilises the same Jmicron JMF612 controller that Kingston uses in its value line of SSDs.

Before jumping to conclusions, it must be noted that the DT Ultimate contains a maximum of four NAND chips, which limits the number of parallel I/O operations the controller can perform. Whilst the basis is the same as that of a fully-fledged SSD, the reduced number of NAND devices will prevent us from seeing quite the same performance. On test is the 32GB drive.

In the performance department USB 3.0 may be a blessing, but in a world where most computers are not yet equipped with this SuperSpeed interface, its advantages won’t be realised in most situations. The USB 3.0 spec calls for 900mA of current to be available from each port; while the DT Ultimate does not require the full 900mA from the USB 3.0 spec, it does need the full 500mA from USB 2.0.

Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0

Supplied with a Y-connector, as USB 3.0 power demands are higher then USB 2.0

Consequently, devices such as netbooks, which tend not have full powered USB 2.0 ports, will not be able to run the DT Ultimate without the use of a bulky Y-adaptor to draw power from a second port. Such an adaptor is included and will likely need to be carried wherever the DT Ultimate goes due to the likelihood of incompatibility.

Yet this inconvenience may be worthwhile for those who regularly move large amounts of data to or from at least one machine equipped with USB 3.0. To see if the device lives up to its spec it was benchmarked with Crystal DiskMark 3.0 using both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports.

Benchmark Tests

Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0
Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0

Tests suggest that Kingston has underestimated the DT Ultimate. With real-world sequential read speeds topping just over 90MB/s this is one seriously fast thumb drive. Even the sequential write speeds are above spec and the random performance is also excellent. This thing is as fast as a decent 7200RPM desktop hard disk, not to mention the significantly reduced access times as low as 0.7ms when tested with HD Tach.

Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0

The DataTraveler Ultimate is priced at £54 for the 16GB version, £85 for 32GB and £166 for 64GB. These prices, over the DataTraveler 200 USB 2.0 alternative, work out that SuperSpeed versions cost an additional £14 for the 32GB model or £35 for the 64GB version.

Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0

Even faster than it says on the tin

Verdict

While the Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate is slightly more expensive than its USB 2.0 equivalent, if you’re already splashing out £50 or more on a thumb drive then I don’t think the price difference is going to stop you. After all, you get over three times the performance for spending only a fraction more. Just bear in mind that Y-adaptor if you’re likely to encounter low-power USB ports. ®

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