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  May 18, 2015

USB 3.0 Thumb Drive: The Best Possible Choice


The 32GB Extreme USB 3.0 Memory Drive manufactured by SanDisk is probably the best memory drive currently available. According to our tests, we are talking about the fastest flash drive. What’s more, it only costs $35 – a great price considering the fact that it is twice as fast as other similar devices (at both writing and reading).

The 32GB Extreme Flash Drive manufactured by SanDisk is capable of reading files at approx. 245 MB/s and writing them at 120 MB/s. This SanDisk Extreme version appears as a fixed drive when used with Windows, and it may cause problems if the user wants to boot an OS, for example.


Who Should Consider Buying It?

This flash drive is suitable for anyone who owns a computer and wants to move files around.

What is it that makes it a good thumb drive?

To put it short: performance.

Among its most important features we can highlight the sequential write and read speeds.

Most USB 2.0 flash drives come with write speeds of approx. 10-15 MB/s. In 2012, USB 3.0 devices were considered fast if they could provide 85 MB/s write speeds. Currently, most USB 3.0 flash drives boast 100 MB/s write speed marks. However, this new version can reach approx. 120MB/s.

The 4K random write/read speed is extremely important if the user wants to run an OS of a flash drive.

There is no doubt that performance is the key element of a flash drive. However, its design matters as well. If, for example, a drive is very wide, it may block 2 USB ports. Or, if it comes with a separate cap, the cap is very easy to misplace or lose.

Tests Results

We tested the performance of Patriot Supersonic Rage XT, Lexar Jumpdrive P10, LaCie XtremKey, and SanDisk Extreme using CrystalDiskMark. We also manually timed real-world performance and copied large files folders off and on each drive.

SanDisk Extreme is among the fastest we have seen so far and it is capable of transferring files above the new USB 3.0 spec. The SanDisk USB 3.0 is also backwards compatible with all USB 2.0 ports.

We have run 2 separate CrystalDiskMark tests – five times – and the SanDisk Extreme registered the fastest read speeds. The average was 228.9 MB/s in 50 MB file tests and 233.4 megabytes/s in 1,000 MB file tests. The large file test also registered the fastest writing speed, at 205.1 MB/s. During the small test, SanDisk Extreme lost to Lexar Jumpdrive by 2 MB/s.

The SanDisk Extreme was faster than both Patriot Supersonic Rage XT and LaCie XtremKey as far as the sequential write speeds are concerned. The 4K random write speeds blow away those of other drives. The 4K random write speed plays a crucial role for operating systems that store small amounts of data across the drive. Though it will not make much of a difference for regular documents and photos copying, it is crucial when running applications or operating systems off a thumb drive.

Since it is set to show up as a fixed drive, many people claim that SanDisk Extreme cannot be used as a boot drive.

When it comes to its design, the SanDisk Extreme drive is significantly longer than other similar drives. However, the XtremeKey is the largest one, mainly due to its waterproof and virtually indestructible metal case. Except XtremeKey, the three drives have a retractable design, sliding and clicking open to show the USB plug.

Due to its price (i.e. $35 for the 32 GB version) the SanDisk Extreme can be considered more affordable than many rival USB 3.0 drives which are slower.

Some Minor Flaws

Due to its size, the device can’t be comfortably plugged in together with other devices on pre-2012 Macbook Pros. However, SanDisk plugs in next to smaller mouse dongles and charging cables.

If the USB ports are crammed together, the SanDisk can cause issues. However, most PCs come with USB ports on both sides to avoid these issues.


The Competition

In January 2013, the Lexar Jumpdrive P10 was announced at CES and promised a faster sequential write speed than the SanDisk Extreme. However, its price can become a real problem. The 32 GB version costs $57, which is about 40% more expensive than the SanDisk Extreme.

XtremKey is not fast enough to actually compete on speed alone. But it has been designed to be tough, surviving a 200-m. oceanic dive or taking a 10-m. drop without any problem.

Lexar is the most expensive one. What’s more, it is also quite uncomfortable to use. Unlike Patriot or SanDisk, its body is mainly made of metal, rather than rubber or plastic. The sliding mechanism is also very stiff.

Compact and as expensive as the SanDisk, the Patriot Supersonic Rage XT is not fast enough to stand out when it comes to its write speed. It only scored 88 MB/s in the tests, compared to the 205 MB/s scored by SanDisk.

Below you can find a list of other drives we have tested:

The Patriot Supersonic is a good drive, but slower than SanDisk Extreme.

The Patriot Supersonic Magnum is available in sizes that can reach 256 GB. However, its write speed is of about 120 MB/s.

The Corsair Flash Voyager GS is available only in sizes above 64GB.

The Lexar Jumpdrive Triton tops out at around 120 MB/s write speeds.

The Corsair Flash Voyager 3.0 tops out at approx. 25 MB/s write speeds.

The LaCie Rugged Key costs $70 (32 GB) and it is slower than the XtremKey.

The Kingston Data Traveler has max. write speeds of 45MB/s, which is way too slow. The same goes for ADATA N005 Pro that can reach 50 MB/s write speeds.

The Lexar Jumpdrive S33 and the Lexar Jumpdrive S23 write at 55 MB/s.

Though it is USB 3.0., the Transcend JetFlash 760 only writes at 25 MB/s.

With a tiny design, the SanDisk Cruzer Fit writes in single-digit speeds.

The Winten USB 3.0 Drive can’t break the 100 MB/s write speed.


Though there are cheaper options than the SanDisk Extreme, none of them can compete with it when it comes to speed. And those that can compete – such as Lexar Jumpdrive P10 – are very expensive.