by Rob Williams on February 13, 2013 in External Storage
For years, there’s been a constant battle in the flash drive market where companies have tried to build the smallest drive possible but boast the most amount of space. In this regard, it has to be said that Kingston is the current winner. Its DT HyperX Predator isn’t much larger than a regular performance thumb drive, but its storage starts out at 512GB.
For most of our performance-type content, we hold nothing back when explaining our methodologies and beliefs. But as this is simply an external storage review, we don’t feel there’s quite as important a need to do that. If you’ve read our other performance content, you already know how seriously we take our testing practices, as it’s obvious that coming up with an accurate end score for any benchmark is very important. In the case of flash drives, we repeat all tests at least twice to verify that our results are accurate.
||Techgage Storage Test System
||Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition – Six-Core @ 4.20GHz – 1.375v
||GIGABYTE G1. Assassin 2 – F4E BIOS (12/12/2011)
||Corsair Dominator GT 16GB DDR3-2133 9-11-12-27, 1.60v
||GeForce GTX 680 2GB (Reference) – GeForce 301.42
||Onboard Creative X-Fi
Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD
Kingston 32GB DataTraveler 101 G2 (USB 2)
Corsair 32GB Survivor GTR (USB 2)
Kingston 128GB HyperX Max 3.0 (USB 3)
Kingston 32GB DT Ultimate 3.0 G2 (USB 3)
Kingston 64GB DT HyperX 3.0 (USB 3)
Kingston DT HyperX Predator 512GB (USB 3)
OCZ Enyo 128GB (USB 3)
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 3TB (USB 3)
WD My Passport 2TB (USB 3)
||Corsair AX1200 1200W
||Corsair H70 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
||Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
For our real-world transfer tests, the source files are stored on our OS drive, which avails us a top-end read speed of 500MB/s+. Unless the USB device we’re testing is able to write in excess of that, there should be no bottleneck.
Before We Begin
There are a couple of important notes we must mention before diving into the test results. For some reason, Kingston ships its Predator drive formatted as FAT32 and using 32KB clusters. This means that files larger than 4GB cannot be used on the drive until its reformatted. For a small drive, that’s normally fine, as most people don’t fill up half their drive with a single file. On a large drive like this, however, which is larger than most desktop SSDs, the choice is bizarre.
The choice to use 32KB clusters strikes me as odd as well. While typical for large storage drives, it basically assumes that most people will not be using the Predator for anything but large files.
In order to store files greater than 4GB in size on the Predator, it will need to be formatted as exFAT or NTFS. For those planning to store mostly large files, I’d recommend using a cluster size of 32KB or 64KB. If you’ll be storing mostly smaller files like documents, photos and especially installed software, I’d recommend sticking to 4KB.
Because the drive ships using 32KB clusters, that’s what I benchmarked with. However, the drive was formatted to NTFS in order to support our 16GB file transfer test. For our real-world tests, we also formatted the drive using 4KB cluster sizes to see what kind of performance differences we’d be dealing with.
With all that said, let’s get to it.
To start things off, we’re using Iometer, a popular storage benchmarking application that’s as effective as it is customizable. It’s for both of those reasons that we choose to use it, and also thanks to the fact that it’s capable of outputting the results to both MB/s and IOPS (in/out operations per second). The latter is the value we focus on, as it’s become a standard for measuring performance in enterprise/IT environments.
Admittedly, running this test on most USB flash drives, especially USB 2.0 models, is not entirely important given the typical manner in which they’re used, but it’s our goal to see where one excels over another when dealing with such an intensive test. IOPS performance would be very important if you were to install an OS on a flash drive, as long as the bandwidth throughput is also good.
As we’ve learned from our Kingston flash drive reviews in the past, it’s become clear that the company doesn’t put a huge emphasis on IOPS performance. For a lot of people, that’ll be fine. What it does mean, though, is that the drive wouldn’t be too suitable for running an operating system off of, or for copying a lot of small files to. Instead, the drive’s focus is to be a fast performer where beefier files are concerned, which in the Predator’s case should come as no surprise given its sheer size.
HD Tune Pro 5.0
One of the simplest methods for testing storage is with HD Tune, and as it’s able to give reliable and repeatable results, we like using it in our testing. Although the program offers a good range of testing methods, we use the basic test that gives us read speeds and also access latencies.
While the Predator didn’t fare too well in our Iometer test, it slots right in behind Kingston’s own HyperX 3.0 in HD Tune, offering an average read speed of 216.9 MB/s. It’s not quite the 240 MB/s we saw on the package, so we’ll see if our other benchmarks can help us reach that.
One of the more popular storage benchmarks currently is Futuremark’s PCMark Vantage. Even though this is a suite designed to benchmark your entire machine, it’s HDD suite test is quite robust and is good at delivering scores that scale well with the storage device you are benchmarking. Almost all of the storage companies we deal with regularly recommend using it, so we do.
Because of its lacking IOPS performance, the Predator drive wasn’t able to defeat OCZ’s Enyo (since discontinued) in PCMark like it did in HD Tune, but it did manage to out-perform the HyperX 3.0 drive overall.