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Date: December 11, 2007
Author(s): William Kelley

Rugged thumb drives are nothing new, but they are from the folks at OCZ. They recently released their ATV and ATV Turbo drives, ranging from 2GB – 16GB, and have huge promises strapped to them. We put one of each through a battery of “real-world” tests as well as our normal performance testing.


When it comes to PC memory, the name OCZ comes to mind quickly. With a long standing commitment to the enthusiast market and one of the best customer service departments known to man, they sure sell a ton of memory of all shapes and sizes. While I could spend countless pages on their system memory, this review is about USB Flash Drives. High performance USB Flash Drives, to be exact. Just how well these drives stack up is what I set out to explore today.

Data portability has become the norm as of late. Everyone is looking for the easiest way to bring gigabytes of their stuff with them as they travel – in the smallest and safest packaging as possible. Flash cards have been one solution, but then you are stuck either bringing a flash card reader as well, or you have to be certain the PC you will be using to read your card already has the proper format reader. Not the most effective way to do it if you ask me.

The bottom line? USB Flash drives are far more effective and universal to use. Today we are taking an in-depth look at OCZ’s latest ATV thumb drives, the 2GB and 4GB Turbo.

As you can see, they are packaged quite well in a tough plastic shell with a colourful cardboard insert. The back includes all the pertinent information about the drives.

OCZ has developed these new “ruggedized” USB flash drives to make it as easy as possible to bring large amounts of data with you safely. They are also built to take some serious abuse. They are built very well indeed. The included chain and cover holders are also a very nice touch giving you an easy place to store the cover when the drive is in use.

Time to put these drives through their paces.

I tested each stick using HD Tach R/W 3 testing software. I ran each test 3 times and went with the best average run to show here.

Here are the results from the 2GB non-Turbo model:

Here were my results for the 4GB Turbo model:

As you can see, the 4GB model was faster, as expected. I also tested both units for Vista Ready Boost compatibility and both were easily able to be used for this feature. When running a system like mine with 4GB of system memory, you won’t see any major speed increases running Ready Boost, but it is sure nice to have that reserve just in case it is needed.

With our basic testing out of the way, there is only one thing left to do. Kill them! Or at least attempt to.

Torture Time, Final Thoughts

Now, on with the REAL testing. OCZ makes some bold claims with these Flash Drives in that they are ready for any abuse you can throw at them. Of course, this is within reason, but most users who buy Flash Drives are likely to either drop it in a puddle, sit on it or run into any number of other everyday hazards.

I decided to be much more ruthless in my attempt to purposely ruin mine. I used the 2GB model for my torture testing and I made sure to load it up with all sorts of data. I loaded almost 2GB of pictures, music and Word files to have a fair representation of what a normal user would have on them and would want protected.

OCZ claims they are waterproof.

I have to agree. After 2 hours in my makeshift bath, it ran beautifully after a quick drying with no corruption. It was actually faster after its first bath.

Honestly, I figured that was much too easy of a test. Time for the freezer.

The drive spent 72 hours in my freezer to make certain that it was frozen solid. Then it was time to smash it out. It took 4 slam dunks onto my driveway before it escaped, but soon enough it was free.

The next logical test is a weight test. Luckily for me, I had my car handy to do a few laps over the drive to test it out.

If you look closely, you will see the tread marks from my tires on the drive itself. Again, after I went back and forth over it 3 times, it suffered no ill effects and it was still testing at the same speed as after its first bath.

The 72 hours in the freezer, the shock of smashing it out of the ice and finally driving over it with my car cause no issues with it at all. In fact, it did not even look as if it was abused for a second after all of this. Once again, it was testing at an even higher speed after all this abuse, for whatever reason.

I further tested this drive by throwing it out my car window while driving 60 MPH, I let my kids play with it for an entire day unsupervised and I even left it on the stove while cooking supper. None of these things affected it.

With both flash drives, the only damage I was able to inflict was to the 4GB drive when I mistakenly pushed my PC into its home and bent the 4GB drive into a nearly 90 degree angle. While this did break the water tight seal, it did not affect the performance of the drive. Truly incredible toughness is definitely not an understatement for these guys.

Final Thoughts

Now it’s time for some final thoughts and my personal rating. I give these drives a solid 9 out of 10. A rating that high is not given often here as it is reserved for products that far exceed the expectations of the tester. I can firmly state that these drives were FAR tougher than I expected. I had no doubt they would easily pass the dunk test, but all the physical abuse I dished out was sucked up and spit out by these drives.

Even when I was purposely trying to destroy the 2GB model, I could not. I find it amazing that after driving a 3500 pound car over it repeatedly did not affect it for even a second. Same with all shock testing I performed. Your data will be very safe when saved on these drives and I can firmly recommend them.

When it is time to decide just how important you data is and just how durable you need your flash drives to be, I strongly suggest you look very hard at these units. I didn’t lose one single byte of data during all my testing. They took some major abuse that I guarantee OCZ never even thought about when they designed them, and their Lifetime Guaranty is one of the best in the business.

Once you get past the slightly higher price tag, I still firmly believe you get what you pay for and what you get here are some incredibly strong and effective drives that also offer some of the highest speeds available.

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