One of our pet hates when hearing about new products is having USB 3’s role downplayed. Getting a new PC or laptop without USB 3 is a shame, because once you use USB 3 to shuffle data you’ll never want to return to the painful slow motion transfers seen with USB 2.0 hardware.
It really is that good, but USB 3 flash drives and portable hard drives can be expensive. Thankfully we are starting to see the first lower cost flash drives appear. The first to arrive in the PC & Tech Authority labs comes from Taiwanese manufacturer Mach Xtreme. We looked at its 32GB flash drive last year, when the technology was new and were incredibly impressed (we have been using the drive for shunting test files ever since and find it impossible to return to slow USB 2 speeds).
The new MX-GX 16GB drive costs around $70, which is still a lot more than USB 2.0 drives of similar capacity. Where the massive advantage comes in is speed, especially if you have to shuffle a lot of data about.
One curious thing that we encountered when we first inserted the drive into our testbench was that it ships with a couple of utilities. One is used for formatting the drive, while the other enables ‘turbo mode’. We installed the turbo-mode drivers and ran some benchmarks on the drive with and without it enabled.
Without Turbo the drive was achieving write speeds of around 24.5MB/s and reads peaked at 107MB/s. Once we enabled Turbo we were seeing a slight boost in writes to 33MB/sec but a big leap in reads, which jumped to 148.5MB/s. To put this in perspective a standard USB 2 drive in the same test system had reads of 21MB/s and wrote at a paltry 5.5MB/s.
It is clear that the leap to USB 3 is massive, and if your home PC or laptop supports the technology you really are selling yourself short if you stick with USB 2 drives. The price barrier is starting to drop, and that makes them even more tempting.
The MX-GX is a great offering. The turbo software installs quickly and easily while it is also the first USB 3 drive that we have tried that fits neatly into a USB port without obstructing the other ones around it. It is definitely worth checking out when it hits the Australian market in the not too distant future.