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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

Jumping USB3 Flash -- It's a Gas!

Originally posted Friday, July 13th, 2012, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

We're going crazy trying the many USB3 devices on our 2012 Apple Laptops. In this test session, we benchmarked various small flash storage devices.

We used to call it "sneaker net" when you copied documents from a personal computer to a floppy disk, ejected it, jogged over to another personal computer, inserted the floppy disk, and copied the documents to its storage. Whatever you prefer to call them -- Thumb Drives, Jump Drives or Flash Drives, sneaker net is alive and well today. With the advent of USB 3.0 ports on the 'mid 2012' MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, there are some great options to consider (and compare).

We use the Extended Test (20M - 100M test size). We take the average of 5 test cycles. (
RED bar highlights fastest.)

Apricorn = Apricorn SATA to USB 3.0 adapter cable + TransIntl SwiftData 6Gb/s 240G SSD
Enyo = OCZ Enyo 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
Envoy = OWC Envoy USB 3.0 enclosure + Aura Pro 6Gb/s 240G flash module
Lexar = Lexar JumpDrive Triton USB 3.0 32GB Flash Drive
Patriot = Patriot Supersonic USB 3.0 32GB High Performance Flash Drive
SD card
= SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SDHC card in 2012 MacBook Pro built-in SD slot
= OCZ Enyo USB 3.0 Flash Drive connected to USB 2.0 port on 2011 MacBook Air

All USB 3.0 devices were tested on the 'mid 2012' Retina MacBook Pro.

We in the Mac community are playing catchup on USB 3.0 devices just as USB 3.0 devices are improving in speed and reliability. If you are looking for a small, fast USB 3.0 flash storage for your 2012 Apple laptop, there are some great choices.

If small size is the priority and you have a 2012 Apple laptop, you should consider using an SD card as your jump drive. That's because the fastest SDHC card on the newest laptops is more than twice as fast as the same SD card in the SD slot of the 2011 and older Apple laptops.

If you prefer a "conventional" thumb drive, we were impressed with the speed of the Lexar Triton and its retractible connector. (I always lose the removable connector cover.)

Though not true jump drives, we included three small, faster flash alternatives. For example, if you already own an SSD, for $29 you can get the Apricorn adapter cable that turns your bare SSD into a fast bus powered USB3 flash storage device.

The OCZ Enyo has been around for a while. It is a slim, stylish, aluminum USB3 flash drive that is faster than thumb drives with more storage space -- but pricer, too -- and requires a USB3 cable. (If you have an Enyo or similar flash drive, you can get shorter 6 inch USB3 cables -- even ones with right-angle connectors.)

One of the newest alternatives to the thumb drive is the Envoy from OWC. It is a thin aluminum USB3 "wedge" that accepts a flash module like the one used in the 2011 MacBook Air. We installed the OWC 6Gb/s Aura 240GB module in ours. If you have your own flash storage module, the cost is $48 for the "wedge." The price for the bundle starts at $199 (120GB module). You would pay almost that much for the 64GB Lexar Triton JumpDrive. And the Envoy is faster and provides more storage. It comes with a 7 inch USB3 cable.

BOTTOMLINE: Your options for small flash storage have never been better. And with USB 3.0 ports on the 2012 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, those options have never been faster.

Feedback or comments? Contact me , mad scientist.
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copyright 2012 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"