One thing that you can never seem to have enough of is storage. As more and more people store large image files, movies, music (I know a few that have over 3 TB of music!) it is even more critical. Now when you are back at home and have access to your desktop, a network attached Storage product etc there is no problem. The question is how do you move this data around with you when you are on the road and space on your laptop/slate is at a premium? The simple answer is some sort of small external storage. Fortunately there is no shortage of companies that make these. We have taken a look at our fair share of them; from external HDDs, to mini USB flash drives. Today we have a new product on the test bench. This is the 32GB DataTravler Ultimate G2 from Kingston. Nothing to get excites about right? Well this one might change your mind. The DT Ultimate is a USB 3.0 drive that boasts of read speeds over 100MB/s. So let’s see if the DT Ultimate can really do that the Marketing guys at Kingston say it can
The Box and Goodies -
There really is no “Box” this time. Instead the packaging is a simple plastic “clam shell” that has been sealed at the edges by heat. The plastic is thin yet strong; as you can see in the images you get an excellent view of the product as well as its virtues.
Getting the DT Ultimate out of the packaging can be annoying and if you are careless painful. The edges of the cut plastic can give you quite a nasty cut and can double as a scalpel in a pinch…
Once you do get past the packaging (and if needed applied first aid) what you find inside is not a lot.
You only get the DT Ultimate, a leash and some fairly redundant instructions.
The Kingston DT Ultimate G2-
The Kingston DT Ultimate is a large object for a USB Key. In fact when I first pulled it out my wife made the joke that it looked like a lipstick (I did not find that funny). We compared it to two other USB flash drives that we had on hand. One was the Kingston Data Traveler Locker+ another 32GB USB drive but this one with hardware based 256 Bit AES encryption. The other is a 16GB Asus USB 3.0 drive that we picked
up at CES this year. As you can see from the shots below the DT Ultimate dwarfs them both.
The size of the DT Ultimatw is due to the USB 3.0 controller inside along with the faster than normal Flash chips. We broke out our scalpel and a set of jeweler’s screw drivers to crack the DT Ultimate open (after we were done testing of course!).
As you can see the largest part of this drive is the USB 3.0 controller. It is a Phison PS2251-01-L. Although there is very little information on the 01-L model the PS2251 series has been an impressive lineup combining data security and performance. The Flash memory used is Toshiba TH58NVG6D2FTA20 32nm NAND Flash. This was not surprising as it is the same stuff that is used in many of Kingston’s SSDs including the newer SSD Now V series. Each chip has a capacity of 8GB and four makes up the total drive capacity of 32GB.
Testing the performance of a drive of any type is a pain. Sure you can get repeatable numbers using a few of the more readily available testing utilities; HD Tach, Sisoft’s SANDRA, AIDA64, and others. For our testing we decided to run Sisoft’s SANDRA disk bench and the removable storage test to get our base numbers. Then we ran AIDA64’s disk benchmark to add in some extra information. We have already introduced the three of the competitors in the test so let’s introduce the last one the Seagate Black Armor PS-110 and then dive right in.
Well now, what do we have here? Looking at the numbers we find that the DT Ultimate is great to pulling data quickly off however, it does not seem to be all that great for running something off of it. The high read times are evident and yes, the DT Ultimate does pass the 100MB/s mark advertised on the package. Where we see things fall back is in the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) with these being as low as they are this would not make for a good boot drive (for a live OS) or to run an application off of it (like portable Firefox). Now don’t get me wrong, you can do it but you will notice the lag in sending data back and forth.
AIDA64 shows us pretty much the same thing but breaks it down into much smaller packet sets so you can see the performance at each data block size. Notice the max block size for each is different. The DT Locker + uses 128KB because it is also passing decryption data while it is running. The others are all based on the formats and sizes (capacity). Since most external drives are Fat-32 you will see a 32 KB block size used for testing, the NTFS (New Technology File System) will have 64 KB block size.
Under normal usage we found the DT Ultimate to be quick even when moving larger files. The down side is the formatting. It is formatted as a Fat-32 volume this means that you cannot put anything larger than a 2GB file on it. Not that big of a deal for most, however if you are looking to store image files (I keep OS and other software as Image files) you have to make sure they are less than 2GB in size. The other way to get around this (and by the way gain some performance) is to convert the whole volume to NTFS. If you are running Windows and have no intention to use this between operating system platforms then you would only gain from the re-format. After all the only reason these drives are formatted Fat-32 is for cross platform compatibility.
Value is another very subjective topic. What is expensive to some might be a deal to others. You can look at this topic in multiple ways. One is raw price and the other is what you get for the money. Each is accurate and both are correct ways to look at price/value. We tend to look at features, performance and real-property when we discuss value. However, we also take into account the raw cash cost of the item.
The Data Traveler Ultimate comes in two flavors the DT30 and DT30G2 the differences are not noticeable on the outside (other than the lack of the G2 marking). Internally the controller is different and the speeds are much lower (80MB/s Read instead of 110MB/s). The pricing on these is a as follows;
For the DT30 you have $58 for the 16GB model, $85 for the 32GB version and $170 for the 64GB
For the DT30G2 the prices are $65, $84 and $144 respectively.
These prices are still high, but when you consider the speed and capacity it actually does make a good deal. Grated this is not a product for everyone but for someone that needs a small and fast external storage device then $85 is not that bad of a deal.
Kingston makes a good product, weather it is an SDD a memory kit or even an MP3 player (anyone remember the KPEX?). So it is not surprising that the DT Ultimate G2 is a great product. I do wish it was smaller and that there was a version with encryption but for the most part, as far as USB flash drives go this is one of the fastest I have used in terms of read speeds. It is a little larger than I would like but it makes a great extra for use with my EEE Slate when I am on the road. If you are looking for fast storage with large capacity then the DataTraveler Ultimate G2 is something that you should take a serious look at.