Review: Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 64GB USB 3.0 is a Pocket SSD
12/26/2011 by: Anshel Sag
In today's market, there are a lot of high-performance USB 3.0 drives claiming to be the fastest or claiming to deliver the best performance in some obscure category. In many cases there have been USB 3.0 drives that simply were the fastest that we had seen and we available for a pretty reasonable price, like the Corsair Flash Voyager GT USB 3.0 drive we recently reviewed.
Today, though, we're going to explore the realm of the much less reasonable. The realm of the awesome and ridiculous, that is, the realm of the HyperX. HyperX has always been Kingston's performance brand and has generally been known to offer some of the fastest products that Kingston and in many cases the world has to offer. They make HyperX RAM and HyperX SSDs and now, they make HyperX USB drives. Now, the real question that we have to ask ourselves for this review is whether or not this USB drive is really worthy of the HyperX name especially when we know that Kingston already has some 'high performance' USB 3.0 drives available.
The Kingston HyperX DataTraveler 64GB USB 3.0 drive is a pretty simple USB drive coming with the obvious 64GB of storage space with paper speed specifications of 225 MB/s read and 135 MB/s writes with USB 2.0 speeds of 30 MB/s on both reads and writes since that is essentially the max one can expect out of USB 2.0 ports. In addition to that, Kingston backs this drive with their standard 5 year warranty and sells it for a retail price of $149. Due to Holiday madness, this product is currently selling on Newegg for $109.99 with a mail in rebate.
In addition to that, the drive itself is actually quite compact for being 64GB as previous generation drives have been much thicker and larger than their predecessors in order to obtain such a large capacity. With the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 64GB, we're effectively sticking with the same size as USB drives always have been, except it is a little thicker.
The drive also comes with a lanyard attachment loop and a cap that snaps onto the drive itself for safe keeping. We found the overall design of the drive to be quite unique and exciting and we really appreciated Kingston's efforts to keep the drive small and aesthetically pleasing.
Test Methodology/Set Up
For our testing, we will be testing both the theoretical speeds as well as the real world performance speeds of this drive. Based on those findings we will be determining if this driver really deserves the HyperX name and whether or not it really gives you great performance per dollar, even at the high end.
Our test bench was using the Intel X79 reference board, also known as the DX79SI. On this board, there is an NEC USB 3.0 controller as the X79 nor any other Intel chipset currently supports USB 3.0 natively. With Ivy Bridge and subsequent Intel chipsets, there will be native USB 3.0, but that won't happen until well into 2012. We found that simply testing USB drives between different motherboards and controllers really gave us a crazy amount of variation and as a result we really found ourselves wishing that motherboard chipset manufacturers, namely Intel and AMD would natively support USB 3.0 so that there wouldn't be such a wild variation between performance of different controllers.
We also found that different driver versions and even firmwares (BIOS updates) also affected USB 3.0 performance, so that is something to consider. Furthermore, with Windows 8 approaching in later 2012 we can expect a further boost to USB 3.0 performance in systems that already have a USB 3.0 controller.
Another thing that we noticed in our testing was that because of the HyperX's insanely fast speeds, some SSDs simply did not have the write speeds to accommodate the drive's 225 MB/s+ read speeds. As such, one must consider that this drive's speeds will indeed be limited by your hard drive or SSD if its write speeds (in the real world) are not faster than 225 MB/s. One solution would be to purchase one of the latest and greatest SandForce 2281 controller based drives from vendors like OCZ, Corsair, Patriot or even Kingston. Many of these drives will deliver good enough real world writes to accommodate this drive's speed. As such, we recommend that if you want to get the full performance out of this and possibly future USB 3.0 drives, you will want to grab a new SSD or get some SSDs in RAID 0 like we had on our X79 test bench.
Benchmarks - Synthetic and Real World
In 64-bit version of Crystal Disk Mark, we effectively had a very mixed bag of results. When it came to flash drives, the Kingston DataTraveler actually surpassed expectations and posted sequential speeds of 239.9 MB/s read and 156 MB/s write in contrast to the stated 225 MB/s and 135 MB/s. Furthermore, in the 512K reads, the HyperX Drive beat out everything by a pretty considerable margin with the Corsair voyager coming in 23 MB/s slower (14%). We must note, though that the Seagate GoFlex Desk 4TB did have better sequential writes and 512K writes than all of the USB flash drives by a HUGE margin, but that is primarily because that is a comparison between a hard drive and a flash drive... and the 4TB drive is one of the fastest hard drives on the planet.
Taking that into account, though, we see that the Kingston HyperX USB drive actually suffers quite a bit in 4K performance as do most of the drives. Although, we must say that the Corsair Voyager GT 32GB did have considerably better performance in 4K reads than essentially all of the other competition. The 4K writes were essentially flat across the board, except for the Seagate GoFlex Desk 4TB which came in significantly faster than all of the competition once again primarily because of the fact that hard drives perform better than flash drives in this scenario.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46
In ATTO, there really isn't much to look at as this is really more of a theoretical performance check and really isn't necessarily indicative of real world performance whatsoever. With that said, we managed to attain speeds in excess of 255 MB/s read and over 155 MB/s write. This is in comparison with the Corsair Voyager GT which managed a maximum read of 147 MB/s and a write of 46 MB/s. Meanwhile, with the Seagate GoFlex Desk we got 188 MB/s read and write on ATTO. In this sense, the Kingston HyperX really shines and shows its value over basically everything that is considered portable (even a 4TB enclosure).
Here we tested the USB drive's read abilities in both USB 3.0 and 2.0. As you can see in USB 2.0 mode, it gets a pretty consistent 33 MB/s which is essentially the max any good USB flash drive can get on a USB 2.0 port. Now, looking at the USB 3.0 read speeds we can see that the beginning speed for this drive is 238.6 MB/s and it finally ends at 241 MB/s but with a random read the drive gets as fast as 277.7 MB/s.
In the linear write test, we see that the drive achieves speeds averaging at 148.7 MB/s with a maximum of 151 MB/s and a minimum of 145 MB/s all still extremely fast considering that this is a very strenuous test and generally makes slow drives screech to a halt.
Real World Read/Write Test - 2.7GB 1080P Video File
In this test, we discovered the importance of a good USB controller and a fast SSD as we really managed to find the real world performance seemed to vary drastically between systems and controllers. In our findings, the Kingston HyperX drive was without a doubt the fastest drive for reading data giving is real world speeds nearing the theoretical ones we saw in our synthetic benchmarks like ATTO. We saw a transfer rate of 247 MB/s average on one of our tests which was absolutely exciting.
For writes, though, the Seagate GoFlex 4TB gave better results beating both of the Kingston drives by 5 seconds or more. Admittedly, when comparing the current generation Kingston USB 3.0 drive against the previous generation we can see that performance has essentially doubled along with the capacity as well.
When it comes to value, there are a few things to consider with this drive. First of all, this drive retails for $149, but is already available at $109.99 on Newegg. Considering that the Corsair drive costs about $57 on Newegg, the performance improvements and doubled capacity really do seem like a pretty reasonable price increase. Then, comparing it to the GoFlex Desk 4TB, which currently runs for $299 on Newegg you're looking at a drive with significantly less capacity but also costing about 1/3 the price. Overall, when we initially looked at the MSRP price of the drive we weren't too excited to talk about the value proposition of the drive, but because of Kingston's aggressive pricing post launch this drive really is a great value contender against its smaller, slower, and cheaper competitors.
From our experiences with the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 64GB USB 3.0 drive, we can safely say that this drive deserves the HyperX naming. The drive has both the looks and performance to back up the HyperX name as well as coming in with pretty reasonable pricing which can make this drive attractive to many enthusiasts that don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a simple USB drive. Admittedly, though, this drive is not cheap but it is also extremely fast. If you want ultimate speed in an extremely compact size, this drive is definitely the right drive to buy. The only thing you have to consider is that your already have to have a pretty fast SSD in your system to properly make use of the insane sequential read/write speeds that this drive is capable of. As such, we probably wouldn't recommend this drive to anyone that doesn't have the latest and greatest SSD in their system as it would be a complete waste to get this drive for such a system.
Based on our findings and the completely ridiculous speeds on this drive, that which we have never seen the likes of on a USB drive before, we are obliged to grant the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 64GB USB 3.0 drive our Editor's Choice for Prosumer because you really have to be a Prosumer with the latest solid state technology to enjoy such a blazing fast product.
Kingston, HyperX, DataTraveler, USB 3.0, Intel, NEC, Ivy Bridge, Native USB 3.0, AMD, DX79SI, 64GB, SSD, 32GB, HDD, Hard Drive, Seagate, Corsair
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