REVIEW: 32GB Corsair Voyager GT USB 3.0 Flash Drive Impresses
10/31/2011 by: Ryan Glovinsky
Today we will be taking a look at Corsair's new Flash Voyager GT USB 3.0 32 GB USB Flash Drive which was officially announced on September 9, 2011. The product made its debut in retail a few days after the announcement, we've had it these past few weeks after that.
As a wide variety of USB 3.0 flash drives have been on the market for quite some time now, people expect to get faster transfer rates than on USB 2.0 drives. However, majority of the USB 3.0 drives disappoint with with varying speeds and performance. We're hoping that Corsair's latest offering brings even more speed to the table and puts the pressure on its competitors.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging it comes in is fairly simple and minimalist, which is to be expected of a flash drive. No frills, just a standard clam-shell with an informative insert as well as the flash drive itself.
The 32GB Flash Voyager GT comes with bold claims, promising maximum read speed of 135MB/s and write speed of 41MB/s. Our testing will show if Corsair managed to beat the specs....
The insert informs the user of the device's specifications in relation to competitors, boasting a five year warranty (the age of "Made in USA" and "Lifetime Warrany" seems long past now), and read and write speeds of up to 135 MB/s and 41 MB/s respectively. This is compared to what the packaging refers to as a "Typical USB 3.0 Drive" with read and write speeds of 70 MB/s and 39 MB/s respectively. It addition, it informs the user that the drive works in USB 2.0 ports as well - where it should achieve the maximum speed allowable by the USB 2.0 standard (60MB/s).
On the next page, we're going to venture into performance testing of the drive and see how it fares versus the promises made on the box.
Design and Quality
The first thing you notice about the drive is that it is quite large, 4 inches long (~10cm), 1 inch wide (~2.5cm), and 0.5 inches thick (~1.25cm) all measured at their respective maximum points along the device.
It has a thick and durable rubber housing, and is touted as being water proof and shock resistant. It also comes with a lanyard loop to allow the user to attach it to a keychain, however, given the size of the flash drive, it seems like it would be impractical to attach to most people's keychains.
Corsair FlashVoyager GT USB 3.0 is a bit longer than the USB 2.0 Voyagers of yesteryear...
The cap is a removable rubber cover which sits quite snugly and securely over the business end of the drive, so there is a very low likelihood of it slipping off and getting lose. One minor concern is that there is no way to attach the cap to the flash drive while the flash drive is in use, making it easier for the user to lose the cap while the drive is plugged in. It is not a fatal flaw by any means, but it would have been nice to have a way to secure the cap to the device while in use.
The device has gotten a lot of use, and has proven to be quite durable. Considering it is backed by a five year warranty, there really is not much to worry about.
The drive was tested using an Alienware M14x laptop with the following specifications:
- Intel Core i7 2630QM 2.00GHz
- 8GB PNY Optima DDR3-1066 (2x4GB)
- NVIDIA GeForce GT555M
- 240GB Patriot Wildfire SSD
We used a mixture of synthetic and real world benchmarks in order to gauge performance for both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 speeds.
AIDA64 showed exceptional performance for USB 3.0 reads, just under 160 MB/s for random reads, far exceeding what Corsair listed in the specifications.
AIDA64 v2.00 Read Speed Benchmark showed 130.9 to 159.9MB/s, being in line with the statement from the box, and in case of random read, well above what was stated.
However the writes were somewhat mediocre, showing at a max of 35.6 MB/s and an average of 34.6 MB/s.
Now, let's see how the drive fares when hooked onto a USB 2.0 port. Realistically speaking, over the lifetime of this drive, you'll be putting it into USB 2.0 computers more often than you do find USB 3.0 ports in the wild... that will change over time, but still.
We tested the drive in USB 2.0 port as well, expecting excellent results. However, the speeds were not there, as we were limited by the USB 2.0 controller
As you can see on the image above, the limiting factor is either a 3rd party USB 2.0 controller on the motherboard, or one inside the FlashVoyager GT. This drive is as fast as Corsair's USB 2.0 drives though (not counting the SLC-based FlashVoyager GT's of yesteryear). For performance, you need to use the USB 3.0 port.
ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.46
USB 3.0 Mode
The ATTO benchmark also showed even better performance that the listed specifications by Corsair, clocking in a max read and write of approximately 143.5MB/s and 45.3MB/s respectively for USB 3.0.
USB 2.0 Mode
It had slightly higher numbers that AIDA64 did in USB 2.0, with max reads and writes at 33MB/s and 23.5 MB/s respectively.
USB 3.0 Mode
CrystalDiskMark also exceeded the listed specifications by a fair margin with a max read of 157MB/s and a max write of ~43MB/s. However, it should be noted that as soon as CrystalDiskMark switched from sequential reads/writes to smaller files, the write speeds took a massive hit in performance. It is recommended by this reviewer that when copying many tiny files to the flash drive, the user should instead compress the files into one larger file which can be copied much more quickly.
USB 2.0 Mode
The USB 2.0 results were fairly consistent with a max read of 32MB/s and max write of 24MB/s.
Real World Testing
For the real world testing, we focused on the USB 3.0 speeds, as they are the primary selling point of the USB drive. We ran two tests for read and write speeds. A video test to see performance on large files, and an audio test to test multiple small files.
The video test took a 1080p video (2.43GB) and first copied it to the flash drive, getting the write time of 63.5 seconds to the device, yielding a speed of 39.1MB/s. We then copied the file to the desktop, getting a write time of 18.1 seconds from the device, yielding a speed of 13.8MB/s.
The audio test took a folder of 328 songs (2.81GB in total) and first copied it to the flash drive, getting the write time of 118 seconds to the device, yielding a speed of 24.4MB/s. We then copied the file to the desktop, getting a write time of 24.9 seconds from the device, yielding a speed of 11.5MB/s.
Value and Conclusion
The Corsair Flash Voyager GT USB 3.0 32GB USB Flash Drive is an incredibly fast drive, with maximum speeds rivaling that of most conventional SATA hard drives. At a high capacity, the drive serves perfectly as a device for saving media, copying large swaths of data from one computer to another, or even for running an operating system off of via USB 3.0 (such as a utility version of Linux). It is currently listed at an MSRP of $79.99 on Corsair's website, but can be found on Newegg for as low as $56.99 ($46.99 after MIR), making it extremely affordable and therefore an exceptional value given its capacity and speed. The $1.47/GB ratio puts this product in the mainstream segment.
Because of its exceptional value and our experiences with the device, we are happy to award the Corsair Flash Voyager GT USB 3.0 32GB USB Flash Drive with our Editor's Choice award.
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