When it comes to shopping for a new USB flash drive, many people just see those little sticks of memory as disposible commodity items. However, there are still several characteristics that are well worth considering. For example, you might want it inconspicuous, compact, and easy to carry, like USB business cards. Or you might want performance and the fastest possible data transfers. You might also want it to be reasonably well built so that it doesn't fall apart on you. And you want it to look good. The Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G3 is the kind of USB 3.0 flash drive that addresses all of these concerns.
First Impressions 3.0
There are so many "throwaway" flash drives on the market today that are made with cheap plastic and they feel like they're going to crumble at the slightest possibility of getting hurt. That's not a concern that you'll have with something like the DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G3 (the G3 means this is the third generation). For starters, the main body is made from what feels like a good quality aluminum.
I wouldn't really say that it feels heavy in the hands, but there is enough heft to this flash drive to give you that sense of quality. It's the same feeling I got when I picked up the MobileLite Wireless Card Reader, for instance, and it looks like they're using a similar metal here. They say that the attractive design "complements Mac products" and I think that's a fair comparison, as the metal finish is somewhat reminiscent of a MacBook. I also like the little danging key ring at the end for some extra style.
The Sliding Capless Design
You'll also notice that it is capless. This means that you'll never lose a cap, but it does mean that the business end of the USB 3.0 connector is always going to be exposed. It works as a sliding mechanism where part of that metal body retracts to reveal the USB connector. I imagine this could get worn down over time, but it felt really solid during the testing period.
What I don't like as much is the white plastic body in the middle (which gets covered up when you expose the USB connector). Given the more premium look and feel of all that aluminum, the white plastic is comparatively lower end and cheaper-looking. I think if they even went with a dark grey or black plastic, it would have held up the aesthetic appeal better.
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Benchmarks
So, how fast is this drive? I plugged it into an available USB 3.0 port on my desktop and let it run through the default benchmark in CrystalDiskMark 3.0.
As you can see here, the read speed was able to get as high as 113.1MB/s with the write speed clocking in at 73.33MB/s. On the official product page, they say that the maximum read speed is 150MB/s and the maximum write speed is 70MB/s. In this way, it gets somewhat close to the maximum read and it actually surpasses the maximum write. Of course, your speeds would suffer if you plugged it into a USB 2.0 port.
For more of a real world test, I tried dragging and dropping files to and from the DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G3. Writing a single 801MB file to the drive took 19 seconds, which works out to about 42MB/s, whereas copying that file back to my desktop (to represent read speed) took 8 seconds; that's about 100MB/s.
Not surprisingly, these speeds suffered when multiple files were involved. Copying over a 4.5GB folder containing over 1,000 image files took 3:51 (231 seconds). If you do the math, that's a write speed of about 19MB/s.
MEGATechie Ultimate Drive or MEGATechie Ultimately Forgettable?
Remember how I said I would have preferred if that middle section were a darker color rather than the matte white? Well, Kingston does have a product that has fundamentally the same design, but with a darker middle and that's the DataTraveler HyperX Predator. The thing is that it only ships in higher capacities and the 512GB model is over $800. By comparison, the 32GB drive as tested sells for about $40.
As far as 32GB USB 3.0 flash drives go, the Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G3 is a commendable option to consider. The metal construction gives you confidence and the slider design means you'll never have a cap to lose. Kingston is known for its dependability, so you don't have to worry about reliability issues. The speeds are naturally very good too, which is great for those of us who share larger media files.
Yes, it's "just a flash drive," but this is a pretty good one.