by Rob Williams on February 9, 2011 in Storage
Often on the go and require a super-fast storage solution to take along? Portable SSDs are not exactly new, but they are constantly being improved. Though Kingston was a bit late to the party with its HyperX Max 3.0, we’ve found it to be the best portable SSD we’ve tested to date. It features huge speeds, and very good performance consistency.
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 practises, 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.
For our real-world transfer tests, the source files are stored on Intel’s X25-M G1 solid-state disk, which avails us a top-end read speed of around 250MB/s. Unless the USB device we’re testing with is able to write in excess of that, there should be no bottleneck.
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 2.0 models, is not entirely important given the typical manner 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.
Kingston doesn’t stress over IOPS in its SSD products, and the case seems to be the same with the company’s “thumb drive” products. While both OCZ and Super Talent scored higher in the IOPS department, Kingston’s drive performed on par with an external hard drive. Where external storage is concerned though, IOPS isn’t nearly as important as throughput, and unless you’re running an OS on it, it’s not important at all.
HD Tune Pro 3.5
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.
Kingston’s portable SSD isn’t able to keep quite up to the Super Talent and OCZ equivalents, but it still delivers outstanding performance overall – 174.3MB/s average read!
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.
Up to this point, OCZ and Super Talent have surpassed Kingston’s HyperX Max 3.0 in throughput and IOPS, but according to PCMark Vantage, Kingston is way, way ahead of the pack in overall use.