Hardware, Reviews

Back to School Review: Kingston 32GB DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2


Most people nowadays don?t really think about how fast their USB drives are simply because the vast majority of USB ports out there today are about the same speed and the same mostly goes for the USB drives as well. With the advent of USB 3.0 there has been an explosion of much faster USB drives that start to creep into external hard drive or even solid state drive territory. As such, these drives become much easier to use and at certain capacities may usurp having an external drive for large data transfers.

Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 - Second Gen USB 3.0 Drive looks quite the same as USB 2.0 DataTravelers, with the main difference being the blue colored connector
Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 – this USB 3.0 Drive looks quite the same as USB 2.0 DataTravelers, with the main difference being the blue colored connector

The Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 is the second generation of Kingston’s USB 3.0 drives. This is what Kingston believes will really give those people who bought computers with USB 3.0 a great return on their investment. Kingston does this by giving the drive fairly good speeds on paper by stating that it will do 100 MB/s read and 70Mb/s write on USB 3.0. In addition to that, this drive also is claimed to perform at 30 MB/s read and 30 MB/s write on a USB 2.0 port. This will give users some of the fastest transfer speeds regardless of whether or not they?re using USB 3.0 or 2.0.

Today we will be evaluating whether or not Kingston?s claims are valid and how much value these drives bring to consumers.

Packaging and Accessories
Simplistic packaging - compact-sized clamshell and that's about that
Simplistic packaging – compact-sized clamshell and that’s about that.

The packaging for the the Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 is quite minimalist as it comes in a simple clamshell package with highly detailed information on the cardboard insert stating what capacity, what speed, and the warranty. The minimalist approach is appropriate considering how simple the product itself really is.

Rear page of the package is completely dedicated towards explaining that this USB 3.0 drive can be used with USB 2.0 ports as well
Rear page of the package is completely dedicated towards explaining that this USB 3.0 drive can be used with USB 2.0 ports as well (in as much languages as it could fit)

If you don?t pay attention, you?ll miss that Kingston included a little lanyard loop so that you can attach your lanyards to your USB drive so that its harder to lose. Admittedly, this drive is a little bigger than normal, but as we?ve always said with Kingston they always are the best at supplying the right accessories with their product no matter how big or small. Most USB drives don?t come with such an essential accessory and sometimes you?re left hoping you don?t lose the drive.

Design and Quality
The Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 is a very stylish USB drive, albeit a rather thick one. Slightly thicker than what we?re used to. We did like that Kingston designed this USB drive to be easy to grab (grooves in the drive) as well as easy to remove and place thanks to the metallic inserts which also give it a very nice sense of style.

Furthermore, Kingston designed this drive to be very practical and as such you can actually take the cap of the USB drive and attach it to the back end of the USB drive so that you don?t lose the cap when you?re using it. A simple, but necessary design decision. Although, we must caution you that if you do want to utilize this design aspect you won?t really be able to close the cap on the back of the USB drive as that is the only place to install the loop for a lanyard. That could?ve possibly been more thought out.

Also, the actual USB port on the drive itself is not centered. It is slightly lower than normal and as a result, the cap can only be put on one way and you may find yourself putting it on the wrong way from time to time.
None of these aspects actually drew away from the overall quality of the drive. Kingston doesn?t back this drive for 5 years for nothing. They support this drive with a 5-year warranty because they know its going to last hundreds if not thousands of plug ins and unplugging.  The simple fact is that this drive feels solid and took quite a beating in the month or two that we?ve had it.
Reviewer Experience
We got this drive right before we took a two week trip abroad. This resulted in the drive being taken on multiple flights inside of a backpack among many other computer peripherals. This meant that the drive would be banged around and used in a normal fashion. We tasked this drive with being our back up media storage device and at another point our primary movie storage device. In both cases, the drive delivered unparalleled performance and reliability. There were no detection issues on any of the systems we plugged it into nor any corrupted data or files. We trusted this drive so much that we actually backed up all of our photos from the trip onto the 32GB drive (approximately 1,800 photos).

The simple fact is that the Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 filled many roles that USB drives simply didn?t have a place for in the household anymore. Having an ultra fast USB 3.0 drive meant that there was no longer a need to connect an external hard drive just to transfer movies and pictures to another computer. Granted, such things could be done over a wired network, but most people don?t have a gigabit wired network at home so having such a speedy drive could be invaluable as it is more convenient than most external drives and possibly even faster than many external drives.

The drive was tested using the system with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7 2600K 3.4GHz Running @ 4.8GHz
  • Intel DP67GB Extreme Series Featuring USB 3.0 and SATA 6G (B3 Stepping)
  • 8GB Patriot Division 2 G2 DDR3-1600 (2x4GB)
  • Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti (SLI Enabled)
  • 850W Seasonic X-850 80Plus Gold Modular PSU
  • 120GB Intel 510 Series SSD
  • 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black
  • 8x Lite-ON Blu-ray Reader

We ran a few benchmarks, both synthetic and real world in order to gauge what kind of performance could be expected from the DataTraveler Ultimate 32GB G2.

SiSoft Sandra 2011 SP4
In SiSoft Sandra 2011 SP4, we ran a few tests to see how it compared to other USB drives out there and we got the following results.

SiSoft Sandra 2011 SP4: Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 USB Drive

If you look at our first test, you can see that the Kingston DT Ultimate G2 16GB actually slightly outperforms the 32GB model we are testing here in smaller file sizes (between 4K and 1MB), but once the files begin to get larger in size, the 32GB drive begins to pull away.

SiSoft Sandra 2011 SP4: Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 USB Drive

In our second test, we can see that the 16GB drive slightly edges out the 32GB drive, but considering how similar the drives are there?s a strong likelihood that this is simple within the margin of error and that some 32GB drives will be faster than 16GB and vice versa. Also, SiSandra gave the 32GB DT drive a better endurance factor than the 16GB model. This is likely because of the fact that the 32GB model is designed to have more longevity and the likely hood that all of the cells on the memory chip will be filled over time is also lower. As such, this is likely what improved the drive?s endurance factor.

AIDA64 v1.80
In AIDA64, we decided to run both read and write tests in order to determine whether or not Kingston?s speed estimates were overblown or conservatively underestimated. We tested the drive in both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports in order to accurately measure the performance of both.

AIDA64 v1.80: Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 USB Drive

For the USB 3.0 read/write tests we saw an average write of 75MB/s with a maximum of 76.3MB/s and a read of 125.6MB/s with a maximum of 137.1MB/s. This significantly surpassed both of Kingston?s read and writes figures of 100MB/s and 70MB/s showing added value beyond what is expected. The average read access time was also 0.80ms which is also quite impressive.

AIDA64 v1.80 Write Testing: Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 USB Drive

For USB 2.0, the drive reported an average read of 33.MB/s which indicates that the drive also surpassed the 30MB/s figures which Kingston stated on the packaging and press releases.

We also decided to run CrystalDiskMark (i.e. CDM 3) while we were at it. Based on these figures, we can see that the Kingston DT Ultimate G2 32GB once again surpasses expectations by delivering 124.3/73.29 MB/s Read/Write.

Crystal Disk Mark 3: Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 G2 USB Drive

This battery of tests just proves that the Kingston DT Ultimate G2 32GB is a sleeper USB drive with awesome performance and severely understated specs.

Real World Testing
For real world testing, we ran two different tests of media most commonly put on USB drives. Based on these findings, we created a pictures test and a video test that both determined the real world read/write speeds of the drives.

In the pictures test it took 200 photos at 16MP (1.27GB) the 13.2 seconds on average to read from the drive and write to the desktop. The same operation to write from the USB to the desktop took 25.9 seconds.

In the video test it took a 1080P video (1.46GB) on average 4.1 seconds to write to the desktop and 21.8 seconds to write to the USB drive from the desktop. This indicates a much faster read speed than what we had expected to see.

The Kingston DT Ultimate 32GB G2 is a very fast drive as our tests have found and it clearly comes as a quality product with quite a bit of good engineering and design behind it. So, what?s all the cost for such a fast drive? Last time it was listed on Newegg, it sold for $84.99 which is by all means not cheap at all. But once you begin to consider that the drive comes with a 5 year warranty.

This drive is currently sold out at Newegg, so it won?t be easy to find for that price. But there are equally as competitively priced drives out there from Patriot and Mushkin for $10 less that claim similar or better speeds than what Kingston has claimed. More likely than not, though, you will probably get the same or worse performance when compared to the Kingston DT Ultimate 32GB G2. As of right now, though, we feel that these drives are just slightly out of reach of the average consumer as you won?t find many people spending that much money on a USB drive.

The Kingston DT Ultimate 32GB G2 is a fantastic USB drive that surpasses even our and Kingston?s expectations for the drive. Although the drive itself may be on the pricey side, the performance and quality that you get from this drive are nearly worth every penny. There?s no doubt that these drives would be a better value if they were just slightly less expensive, but we have a feeling that Kingston will likely release a slightly slower drive for a cheaper price soon.

Based on our experiences with this drive we?re happy to award the Kingston DT Ultimate 32GB G2 with our Editor’s Choice Prosumer award.

Editor's Choice 2011: Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 32GB G2