Saturday , September 18 2021

What are the best mini-USB drives?

July 2021 Ian Chiu

We put six 128GB mini USB drives from Kingston, Lexar, PNY, Samsung, Sandisk, and Team Group to test. Unlike their larger counterparts, these compact disks by design can always be tucked away as semi-permanent storage, yet fast enough for everyday tasks.

Our choices

If performance is above all, Lexar JumpDrive S47 en Samsung FIT Plus are the ones to go for when they come up compared to other mini-USB drives in our tests. However, the S47 has an edge over the FIT Plus when it comes to writing performance, while the FIT Plus is faster in sequential reading. But if you are looking for a massive 512GB, then only Samsung and PNY offer it. For the budget conscious, the cost of one drive per gigabyte is also reasonably low in view of its running performance. Perhaps our only complaint is the size of the FIT Plus is noticeably larger than the JumpDrive S47. The Lexar is backed by a 3-year warranty, while Samsung is backed by a 5-year warranty.

Who would need such a small ride?

Buyers who want a drive that protrudes as little as possible from a USB port should consider one. Thumb drives generally protrude quite conspicuously so that they can be easily bent if they are repeatedly thrown. This can easily result in data loss and perhaps even worse, a broken USB port.

By design, compact discs can always be inserted into a USB-enabled car stereo or into a notebook as semi-permanent storage for media. They can also free up valuable space on the laptop’s fast SSD for mission-critical tasks. For this reason, a mini-USB drive may actually prove practical for some of us who may need a hassle for expansion option for storage.

Function Equation

Mini USB drives on Amazon

Benchmark Analysis

Our large file transfer tests (10GB MP4) have proven that Samsung’s FIT Plus was an undisputed leader in sequential reading and that Lexar’s second generation mini drive – JumpDrive S47 – was the best in writing performance. Our other test, in which copying 5GB JPEGs (most between 4 and 8MB), showed similar results showing that Lexar and Samsung outperformed the others.

It is also noteworthy that Samsung’s performance varies between different capacities. The 32GB and 64GB models can reach up to 200MB / s, while the 128GB and 256GB versions can do 300MB / s. Lexar claimed that its drive could reach 250MB / s, which is pretty close to what our S47 achieves in this benchmark. Finally, we note that Sandisk exhibits performance inconsistencies in writing firms. Our Ultra Fit would actually drop below 10MB / s before slowly returning to above 30MB / s. The same did not happen with the other drives we tested. And for some reason, Team Group C162 was stuck with USB 2.0 speeds.

Keep in mind that these two tests are primarily focused on sequential performance, because we feel that most people rely on a mini-drive primarily as an intermediate or secondary storage for media data. These mini-drives, without a decent flash controller, are inherently incapable of handling applications that require rapid random access. For this reason, we did not bother with additional testing.

Design and build

The front-facing low-profile USB drives are all equally small, but as soon as they are placed next to each other, the reduction size of Lexar JumpDrive S47 compares favorably with others – if only by a fraction. When inserted, the Lexar protrudes only 5mm from the edge of a laptop as shown in the image below. This makes the drive easily a no-brainer choice for an add-on drive for semi-permanent storage on your laptop. The one to one best performer – Samsung FIT Plus – is significantly larger in comparison, probably in favor of heat loss. Everyone, except Lexar, has a keyhole, if you need one.

In the field of durability, Sandisk took a step back with its squishy plastic connector with the latest version of Ultra Fit 3.1. This is a concern that has already been repeated by a number of user reviews on Amazon. That said, if you intend to stop the station, then this should not be so big of a problem. We would have to say that the other drives with their metal USB connections that protect the flash components can probably survive if stepped on.

Mini USB drives on Amazon

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