by Rob Williams on August 5, 2011 in Storage
A lot has happened in the USB 3.0 world since we took a look at Kingston’s first ‘Ultimate 3.0’ drive this past fall, and thanks to some progressions, the company has just released a ‘G2’ variant of the drive. It’s identical in looks, it’s cheaper, and it proves to be the fastest non-SSD USB 3.0 device we’ve tested to date.
More often than not, when a revision or ‘generation 2’ product comes to market, it’s better than the original in almost all regards. It might be faster, require less power, have a smaller form-factor, et cetera – a natural progression of things.
The DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 doesn’t quite follow that rule in all regards, which to me is a little interesting since I was expecting to see far different results than I had. While the straight transfer speeds are as expected, if not even a bit better, the lacking IOPS performance did rear its ugly head in our file transfer tests.
As mentioned on the first page of this review, Kingston has not been a company to treat IOPS performance above all else, and with external storage like this, the company clearly believes that raw throughput is king. This is something I can’t fault it for, because after all, people tend to use thumb drives to store documents, photos, perhaps some videos and so forth – not folders with thousands of files.
Still, this is an interesting trade-off because while the G2 performs a lot better than the G1 in solid file transfers, it lacks were lots of smaller file transfers are concerned. But given that Kingston released a G2 at all, it’s clear that the company believes one of these factors is more important than the other – where its target audience is concerned. It’s just unfortunate we can’t have the best of both worlds, and keep the product affordable.
Depending on what you are planning to use your Ultimate 3.0 for, the original might actually have been a more preferable option, given that its IOPS performance was much improved (with real-world evidence of the gains in our transfer tests), while the transfer speeds didn’t differ all too much. We’re essentially comparing 100MB/s read and 70MB/s write performance with low IOPS to 80MB/s read and 60MB/s write with desirable IOPS.
I personally would prefer the original Ultimate 3.0 over the G2, but again your needs might not be similar to mine. I regularly backup folders with thousands (and sometimes tens of thousands) of files, so higher IOPS is important to me. If you’re not planning to be so abusive on your drive, the G2 is the better choice given it’s pure throughput speed. As a result of this, and the drive being quite affordable (~$80 for 32GB), I feel compelled to award this drive, like the original, an Editor’s Choice award. Aside from its IOPS limitation, there is nothing to dislike.
Since the original G1 has been phased out, however, I’d love to see Kingston consider a “High IOPS” edition of the drive that would offer similar performance as the original. This way, people who do care for IOPS performance, could get it if they so choose, while willingly taking a hit on the throughput performance.
Kingston’s DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 32GB
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