Lexar vs. Kingston

A couple of weeks ago I went to Fry’s to buy a copy of Trend Micro Internet Security which would be free after two rebates. I really try not to buy anything else at Fry’s because if it isn’t on sale, it usually isn’t a good deal. However I have been looking to upgrade my Lexar Firefly jump drive that I raved about a couple of years ago. My rule is I don’t like to spend more than $10 on a thumb drive. They had a bin of Kingston Data Traveler 110 thumb drives with 2 GB of memory for only $9.99, so I bought one. That’s four times as much memory as the Firefly. It’s a decent drive, but bulky compared to the Firefly. The USB part slides out so it doesn’t need a cap, but it has to be connected to my keychain when I plug it in and it blocks adjacent USB drives due to the large size.

Naturally, the following weekend Fry’s advertised a 4 GB Firefly for less than $10 after rebate. I looked up the Firefly on Amazon and there were a lot of complaints about it being slow. If I was going to be moving 4 GB of data, I didn’t want that data to move slowly. So I decided to run a test. I moved a 344 MB video file (appropriately enough, an episode of the TV series Firefly) to the Firefly and timed how long it took: 129 seconds. Then I measured how long it took to copy the file back to my computer: 40 seconds. So the write speed was a lot slower than the read speed. Next I tried the Kingston drive and got 57 seconds for writing and 19 seconds for reading. That’s more than twice as fast. At work I have e-mail archives that are about 2 GB and I need to bring them home for a backup. That would be 12.5 minutes on a Firefly and only 5.5 minutes for the Kingston. That’s a big difference. It seems like these speeds should be posted somewhere. So here they are (in megabytes per second) [USBDview results in square brackets]:

Drive Write Read USBDview
Lexar Firefly 512 MB 2.67w 8.61r [ 2.39w 7.48r]
Kingston Data Traveler 110 2 GB 6.04w 18.12r
Corsair Flash Voyager 8 GB 5.17w 22.40r
60 GB Archos 0.98w 7.65r
20 GB HD Enclosure 7.83w 18.13r [11.29w 18.06r]
Microcenter 4 GB 3.51w 19.13r [ 2.80w 20.07r]
OCZ Diesel 8 GB 6.62w 19.13r [ 9.68w 17.56r]
Emtec C400 16 GB 9.83w 14.96r [ 9.14w 15.64r]
Kingston SE9 16 GB 6.43w 14.02r [ 6.43w 16.97r]
Simpletech 320 GB hard drive 22.96w 22.96r [19.01w 31.82r]
32GB SanDisk removable

22.96w [10.81w 21.82r]

I decided that as much as I like the form factor of the Firefly, I didn’t want to wait so long and so I didn’t get the 4 GB model.

5 thoughts on “Lexar vs. Kingston

  1. Bought a new flash drive today, a Corsair Flash Voyager 8 GB. Fry’s had them for $25 before a $15 rebate, but Amazon had them for $27 before a $15 rebate. Between the sales tax and gas to get to Fry’s, I bought from Amazon. That means I paid $12 for it, above my usual $10 limit. But 8 GB is a nice size. Now I can store about all I want plus add both my 1 GB e-mail archives from work.

    I ran a speed test on the Corsair and added that to my post above. It was a little slow on writing, but fast on reading. As a control, I repeated the experiment on my Kingston and got speeds of 5.6/16.8, a little slower than when I originally ran the test. This may be because it has more stuff on it or my computer system is just slower.

    A short review of the Corsair: it is every bit as bulky as the Kingston. It has a rubber cap that you remove from the USB connector and matching rubber case on the rest of the drive. That makes it easy to grip, but it picks up dirt. I don’t like having a cap that I can lose. I really like the added capacity though.

  2. After losing the Corsair, I was looking for a good deal on another 8 GB drive. It wasn’t easy finding one until Black Friday. MicroCenter had a OCZ Diesel 8 GB drive for $17.99 before a $10 mail-in rebate. Also Mom had given me a coupon for MicroCenter that I could use to get a free 4 GB drive (or 4 GB SD card, no purchase necessary; I still have a coupon). So I got those and a 320 GB external USB hard drive. I’ll add the results for all three above.

    I also found some software called USBDview that, among other things, lets you test the read and write speed of USB drives. Then you can post the results to a website so that you can see how it does against other devices. I didn’t publish my results because you probably have to do things a certain way to get consistent results from one machine to another, but I’ll publish them above.

    Reviews: The Microcenter drive is slow for storing data. But 4GB is a lot of storage. The drive itself is slim, but kind of long. The cap snaps on. The key ring attachment is plastic but should last a while.

    The OCZ Diesel drive is the fastest flash drive I’ve had (barely) and it is very compact and looks good. However the clear plastic cap just slides over the USB, held in place by friction, so it will probably get lost someday. The keyring attachment is pathetically thin. I know it will break in no time. However the drive has a groove along both edges that I could use to superglue a loop of wire over that and it might work.

    Microcenter’s rebate process is about the worst I’ve seen. I had to go to a website and enter a bunch of information, then print that out, sign it and still mail in the receipt. They said if I wanted to pay them $1 of my rebate they would send it in 2-3 weeks instead of 6-8 weeks. That’s just insulting. And I still just end up with a gift card instead of a check. Usually I use gift cards to buy another gift card at Amazon that I give to myself and use as a credit. That way I get all of the money and the Amazon credit never expires or takes fees away. But the last gift card I got (from Sears for the dishwasher delivery) couldn’t be redeemed for the full amount because Amazon ran a bogus $1 charge first to see if the card worked. Then when they tried to run it for the full amount, there wasn’t enough money on the card. I tried 3 times and had to get actual Amazon people to cancel the order each time. Eventually I called the gift card people and they said the $1 charge should drop off after a week or so and I could get the full balance would be available (it was a $75 gift card, so I wound up buying a $60 Amazon gift card instead of the full amount and will have to find some other way to spend the remaining $15).

  3. The OCZ Diesel drive died yesterday. I’ve never had one just die, but when I plugged it in, the computer said it needed to be formatted. Even when I gave up on the data, I couldn’t actually format the drive, so it is useless. Off to get a new one. I checked Fry’s first, but then wound up going to Office Depot, which is closer. They had an Emtec C400 16 GB drive for $7.99 (Part No. EKMMD16GC400, UPC code 8-4614300083-1). I found some decent reviews of it, some saying it was fast and some saying it was kind of slow. But the alternative was a Lexar TwistTurn drive that most people said was slow. Brought it home and tried out USBDeview on it and got 9.14 MB/s write speed and 15.64 MB/s read speed, so decent speed, but nothing great. It is USB 2.0, which my notebook supports but I’m not sure about my desktop.

  4. The Emtec drive was kind of bulky. In today’s paper Office Max had the much more compact Kingston Data Traveler SE9 for only $5.99 for a 8GB version, $8.99 for a 16GB version. I looked it up on Amazon where it got okay reviews except that some people said that the insides would fall out and it would stop working. But it is so much smaller and has a built in hole so it will go directly on a keychain. It seems like such a big improvement, that I couldn’t resist. Anyway, it turns out to be pretty pokey with writing speed, but reading speed is decent.

  5. Today’s Fry’s ad had a 32 GB flash drive for $9. So tempting, except that I’ve already bought two 16 GB drives in the last month and I really like the little Kingston one I have now and it is nowhere close to full. My secure archive can only be 4 GB. It is worth noting that Apple charges an extra $100 to go from 16GB to 32GB on an iPad or iPad Mini, and another $100 to bump that up to 64GB.

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