Wednesday , September 29 2021

What are the best USB drives?

July 2021 Ian Chiu

We put to the test six 128GB mini USB drives from Kingston, Lexar, PNY, Samsung, Sandisk and the group. Unlike their larger counterparts, these compact drives are always designed to stay connected for semi-permanent storage, yet fast enough for everyday tasks.

Our choices

If performance is above all, Lexar JumpDrive S47 and Samsung FIT Plus They are the ones to go for when they go up compared to other mini USB drives in our tests. The S47, on the other hand, has an advantage over the FIT Plus when it comes to writing performance while the FIT Plus is faster in continuous reading. But if you’re looking for a mighty 512GB, only Samsung and PNY offer it. For the budget conscious, the drive cost per gigabyte is also quite low given its fast performance. Perhaps our only complaint is that the size of the FIT Plus is considerably larger than the JumpDrive S47. Lexar is backed by a three-year warranty while Samsung is protected by a 5-year warranty.

Who would need such a small drive?

Buyers who want a drive that comes out as little as possible from a USB port should consider one. Thumb drives generally stand out quite conspicuously so they can easily bend when they are encountered again and again. This can easily result in data loss and possibly even worse, a broken USB port.

By design, compact drives can always remain inserted into a stereo for a USB-compatible car or notebook as a semi-permanent storage for media. They can also free up valuable space on your laptop’s fast SSD for mission-critical tasks. For this reason, a mini USB drive can actually prove to be quite practical for some of us who may need the option of effortless storage expansion.

Feature comparison

Mini USB drives on Amazon

Measurement analysis

Our large file transfer tests (10GB MP4) proved that Samsung’s FIT Plus was an undisputed leader in continuous reading and that Lexar’s second mini drive – JumpDrive S47 – was the best in writing performance. Our additional test, which included copying 5GB JPEG back and forth (most between 4 and 8MB), revealed similar results that showed that Lexar and Samsung outperform other performance.

It is also worth noting that Samsung’s performance rating varies between different capabilities. 32GB and 64GB models can reach up to 200MB / s while 128GB and 256GB versions can do 300MB / s. Lexar claimed that its drive could reach 250 megabytes per second, which is pretty close to what our S47 achieved in this test. Finally, we note that Sandisk exhibited inconsistency in performance during writing operations. Our ultra-fit will actually drop below 10 megabits / second before slowly recovering above 30 megabytes. The same thing did not happen with the other drives we tested. And for some reason, the C162 group was stuck with USB 2.0 speeds.

Note that both of these tests focused primarily on continuous performance, as we felt that most people would rely on a mini drive primarily as an intermediary or secondary storage for media data. These mini-drives, without a decent flash controller, are inherently incapable of handling applications that require quick random access. For this reason we did not bother with further tests.

Planning and building

The low-profile USB drives are all equally small, but once they are placed next to each other, the tiny size of the Lexar JumpDrive S47 compares favorably with others – even if only by a fraction. When inserted, the Lexar protrudes just 5mm from the edge of the laptop, as shown in the image below. This makes the drive an easy choice for an extra drive for semi-permanent storage on your laptop. The second best achievement – Samsung FIT Plus – compares considerably larger Probably in favor of heat dissipation.

In terms of durability, Sandisk has taken a step back with its squeaky plastic connector with the latest version of Ultra Fit 3.1. This is a concern that is already resonating in a number of reviews by Amazon users. However, if you intend to keep the drive connected at all times, this should not be such a problem. We will have to say that other drives with their metallic USB connectors that protect the flash components may survive if stepped on.

Mini USB drives on Amazon

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