USB sticks, thumb drives, pen drives, call them what you will their usefulness cannot be overstated. In these times when most of us have at the least a computer and a console, but far more likely we have a couple of computers, a laptop, maybe one or two consoles, a TV with USB in etc., the need to be able to move large media around quickly and simply is vital. USB sticks are light, portable and usually big enough for most of our requirements.
However, the main problem has always been speed. The first few were USB 2.0 models and those were hideously slow for anything other than putting a couple of pictures on to take round your Aunts, or moving documents between home and the office. USB 3.0 helped a bit and finally brought us the chance to move films around, albeit we have to wait an age for them to transfer.
As digital media becomes an ever larger part of our lives, more and more of us possess devices capable of outputting enormous pictures, or HD movies, or even just want to take our portable games with us when we go, then the need for ever larger and ever faster sticks has become paramount. Sure a cloud-based storage system is a nice idea and perhaps useful if you live in two or three really big cities that have amazing internet connections, but so few of us have that benefit and even then the "FedEx bandwidth" still vastly outperforms that of the internet.
Kingston are probably the biggest name in the memory world, and today we're taking a look at their latest product, the DataTraveler HyperX Predator. To say this is a premium product is almost doing it a disservice, promising a blend of SATA2 transfer speeds, HDD capacity and USB stick portability. Is this really all things to all men?
For our testing today we're going to be putting the DT HyperX up against a fast USB stick to see if the extra cost brings extra performance. We'll also be sticking it in our SATA3 SSD graphs, not for a comparison because that would be unfair, but just to see if the Kingston can ever come close to some of the very fastest drives around.
In keeping with the premium price-tag the DR HyperX comes in a tin case that is a vast improvement upon the normal blister packs that require scissors, napalm and a trip to the local hospital to open.
You can always get a hint at the quality of a product from the packaging, and the DT HyperX is kept in extremely high-density foam with all the cut-outs as precise as you could hope to find them. We have the drive itself, a key-ring that perfectly matches the case of the DT HyperX, and an extension cable in the Kingston HyperX blue, should the drive prove a little larger than the tight USB sockets on your system.
Considering that this is a 512MB stick, it's only twice as thick, and approximately the same dimensions, as any other USB drive. The drive slides open and closes with a very satisfying clunk. There isn't any scrimping upon the calibre of the metal casing at all. It's extremely high quality.
Again it's worth pointing out, for those that have skipped straight to the results, that we're not comparing against the SSDs. They exist in the graph on the off-chance that the DT HyperX Predator gives us some big scores. What we're really comparing against is the Lexar Jump Drive, one of the fastest 'normal' USB sticks on the market.
Crystal Disk Mark
Starting with Crystal Disk Mark (3.0 x64), the DT HyperX rocks out the box. Completely annihilating the Lexar and in the larger block size tests it's gets close to the Mushkin Chronos SSD! The sequential write test is a particular highlight with the DT HyperX proving faster than the HyperX SSD. Incredible.
To be honest the Lexar is proving to be no contest at all. The Kingston DT HyperX is SO much better it's almost laughable. Of course it's nowhere near as good as a SATA3 SSD, and nor would we expect it to be. That's utterly missing the point though. 240MB/s read and nearly 170MB/s write from a USB stick is ridiculously impressive.
In the latest RC6 version of the Anvil benchmark the HyperX continues its eye-popping performance. The small-block write tests aren't very impressive, but the Lexar is so poor the results don't even appear on our graph, and wouldn't no matter how small we made the x-axis. 205MB/s for the DT vs 43MB/s for a regular USB stick.
We've adjusted the x-axis on our write graph to show how much of an improvement the Kingston makes over any USB stick. 26 write IOPS for the Jump Drive vs 551 IOPS for the DT HyperX Predator. The read IOPS aren't so different, although the Kingston is still more than twice as good, or half as good as a Sandisk Extreme SSD.
We like the read speeds, but the write speeds are the ones that continuously make us slack-jawed with amazement.
It might be expensive, but the Kingston is consistently jaw-dropping. Five times faster than a regular USB drive.
Usually when writing our conclusions we have an array of things we can compare something to. We take into account build-quality, performance, pricing and what the possible alternatives are that you could buy. After all, times are hard, money is tight, and when you're creating a shopping list for a particular task if you can have two things that perform identically but one is half the price of the other, it affects how you look at them.
With the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator, there is nothing at all to compare it to. Certainly it's a USB stick, and so one would assume that those are an easy comparison. But when we see how blisteringly fast the DT HyperX is, any other USB stick is so slow that it would be akin to comparing a Blackpool Donkey to Secretariat. Also your average thumb drive is usually found wallowing in the 16GB end of the market, rather than the titanic 512GB of the Kingston. Even most SSDs are around 256GB rather than 512GB. However, the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator is not as fast as a SATA 6GBs SSD drive and nor would we expect it to be, thanks to the limits of the USB 3.0 format.
So it's in a class of one.
Firstly you have the speed of a mid-range SSD drive. In our testing it regularly hit the manufacturers claimed speeds, and sometimes passed them. If you felt that your USB 3.0 thumb drive was fast, the Kingston makes it look like going from an Optical drive to a SATA3 SSD. We could transfer a 1.2GB video file to it in 11.2 seconds, and from the Kingston DT HyperX to another drive in 4.4 seconds. To put that in perspective it took 38.7 seconds to write and 35.3 seconds to read it off of our Lexar Jump Drive.
Secondly is the sheer capacity. 512GB is a lot, which sounds obvious but in comparison to the limits usually applied it frees you up to do all sorts of cool things with it. Finally, the portability. Because it is still a USB stick, albeit the Rolls Royce of USB sticks, you can put it in any pocket at all. Even the silly money pocket you get on jeans, or the space for a pocket watch in your three-piece suit. The build quality is exceptional. The casing is extremely robust and it would take some serious deliberate effort to damage it at all, much less render it broken.
It is a teensy bit pricey though. Actually by any measure at all, it's expensive. You could buy a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro for about £380, which makes the £640 price-tag on the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator as big as its name. Compared to an SSD it's expensive and slow. Compared to a USB stick it's blisteringly quick and tolerably priced. Big leaps in technology always come with an early-adopter price-tag, and the DT HyperX falls into that category.
But that is all somewhat missing the point. You're not buying this because of how it compares to other items. You're buying it because you have a very specific set of demands and this is the only product on the market that combines the capacity, speed, and portability. It works on anything you can plug a USB stick into which cannot be said (in console and television terms) of anything similar fast/large device. You could fit four people and some shopping into both a Ford Focus and a Bentley. You can play Chopsticks on both a Casio and a Steinway.
If money were no object we'd give it a Gold without a beat. It's fast, easily portable and large it's nearly perfect for putting your Steam collection onto and taking your whole game collection with you wherever you go. We know that only a very select band of people need what the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Predator has to offer, but if you do, nothing else comes close. For that reason we're going to award it our OC3D Performance Award.
Thanks to Kingston for supplying the DataTraveler HyperX Predator for review. Discuss it in the OC3D Forums.