Kingston Data Traveller Ultimate 16gb Flash Drive USB 3.0 Review

Posted Feb 27, 2011
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Kingston is the grand daddy of memory products. It produces more memory products than probably all other put together. It’s Value RAM, Hyper-X series are well known in the realm of DRAM. Equally well known are its data traveler series of flash drives. Kingston has added a new member to its data traveler series –the DT Ultimate 3.0. The ultimate series of drives support the new USB 3.0 standard and take advantage of its increased bandwidth.

The Dt Ultimate Series

The new data traveler ultimate series are available right now in capacities ranging from 16 to 64GB. All of them have the same external appearance and performance characteristics (more on this a little later). They are, of course backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports, though you would need two of these to get the drive to work properly.

The Dt Ultimate 16gb –Packing

The unit comes in a ‘standard’ Kingston packing for a flash drive. A clear plastic shell with an information ‘pouch’ (card) placed inside. Inside the pouch is a carrying cord which can be attached to the drive. The front of the card has the usual Kingston flash drive logo. The USB 3.0 label, together with enhanced performance specs is also prominently displayed.

A diagrammatic representation on how to use the flash drive with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 is present on the back of the card.

The Flash Drive

The new ultimate series has a characteristically different appearance as compared to the rest of the Kingston flash drives. Whereas the rest of the flash drive has a rectangular cross section, the ultimate series is ‘fatter’ and almost cylindrical. Rather than a retractable USB port, the ultimate series has a protective cap, reminiscent of the early Kingston flash drives.

The ivory white flash drive has grey accentuations on its sides. The DT Ultimate logo is printed on one of the sides.

A large blue activity light is present at the back of the drive. It flashes while reading or writing and stays a solid blue when idle.

Drive Specs

Capacity

16 GB

Memory

NAND Flash Modules

Interface

USB 3.0 & USB 2.0 (cable included)

Performance

USB 3.0: Read 80MB/sec; Write 60MB/sec

USB 2.0: Read 30MB/sec; Write 30MB/sec

Accessories

USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 Cable

Carrying cord

Usb 2.0 Cable

The drive comes with a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 converter cable. The unit requires two USB 2.0 ports to function properly. This is due to the way the controller on the flash drive accesses the flash memory cells.

Testing

Testing the drive would not be fun without the right hardware. In this case that would be a USB 3.0 compliant system. Luckily, Intel does include a USB 3.0 controller on its x67 series chipsets & motherboards. The controller comes from Renasas Electronics.

To see the benefits of USB 3.0, the drive was also tested in a ‘legacy’ USB 2.0 compliant system as well.

Test System Usb 3.0

Setup

Intel Core i5-2500K (Stock) + Asus Sabertooh P67

Memory

Corsair 2x4GB DDR3-1333MHz

Video

ATi 6950 -2GB

Storage

Seagate Barracuda 1TB

Test Suite

Check Flash

Crystal Disk Mark V3

Real World Testing

Test System Usb 2.0

Setup

Intel E5500 + Asus P5KPLAM-EPU-SE

Memory

Kingston 2×1 GB DDR2-400 MHz

Video

Sparkle 9400GT 512MB

Storage

Seagate Barracuda 1TB

Test Suite

Check Flash

Crystal Disk Mark V3

HD Tach

Benchmark Results

1. Check Flash

Check flash is a nifty little utility written by a Ukrainian programmer called Misha. The utility was designed to test solid state drives, but will work on any form of flash (and otherwise) storage medium.
It can perform read tests to check data integrity as well as read & write tests to check physical hardware.

Pattern Read Tests

A greater than 2.5x performance difference between USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 interfaces! The flash drive performs to spec (80MB/sec read speed!)

Pattern Write Tests

The trend continues with the write tests. The drive performs as advertised.

Write Tests

The write test writes a pre-defined pattern on the drive (the pattern can be selected from a drop down menu). Again the drive performs about 2.5 times better when used with a USB 3.0 port.

2. Crystal Disk Mark
Crystal mark disk test was designed for testing all forms of storage devices. It can write large or small amounts of data to test drive performance when dealing with varying data quantities.

Read Tests

The benchmark numbers are similar to those generated by check flash. It is very unusual for a 16GB flash drives to be used for transferring loads of small files. Thus the 4KB test results can be ignored. For small number of 4KB files, the performance measurements will be redundant given the amount of data will be very small.

Write Tests

More of the same, the 4KB results should be ignored for reasons given above.

Real World Testing
For real world tests file and folder of varying sizes were copied onto the disk. A 3GB Image was used for file testing. While a 3GB folder with about 1500 documents files was used for folder test. The drive was flushed of data in between the two tests.

Write Tests

Read Tests

The real world tests are in agreement with synthetic testing. The read and write times about 2.5x better when the drive is used with a native USB 3.0 Port.

Conclusion

After using this drive for a couple of days with a USB 3.0 port, I would never want to use a flash drive with a USB 2.0 drive again. This is especially true if I want to copy large amounts of sequential data.
Kingston has a fine product in the form of a DT Ultimate flash drive. All that is required is widespread appearance of the USB 3.0 ports.

Pros

    Fast! Terribly fast
    Works with USB 2.0
    Blue light better than the green found on 2.0 drives

Cons

    • Availability of USB 3.0 ports
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