July 2015 Ian Chiu
Sandisk Ultra Fit’s speed, low-profile and price range comes out on top in comparison with other tested mini USB 3.0 drives. At only 27.4 cents cost per gigabyte (64GB, Feb 2016), the Sandisk is one of the least expensive mini drives available for 64GB. Combine that with compact form factor and speed, and you get a nice plug-it-and-forget-it mini USB drive.
As new products hit retail, we will add them to this chart so you know how current batch of mini drives fare against new ones.
DT Micro 3.1
|Strength:||Durability||Speed, size, price||Durability||Retractable plug|
|Storage:||16 - 64GB||16 - 128GB||8 - 64GB||16 - 64GB||16 - 64GB|
|Interface(s):||USB 3.1 Gen 1||USB 3.0||USB 3.0||USB 3.0||USB 3.0|
|Dimensions:||25 x 12 x 4.5mm||19 x 16 x 8.8mm||24 x 16 x 8.5mm||22.4 × 12 × 6mm||27 x 16 x 6.4mm|
|Build Material:||Aluminium unibody||Plastic grip, aluminum body||Plastic body, plastic cover||Aluminum unibody||Plastic body, aluminum cover|
|July 2015||August 2014||July 2014||Dec 2014||Sept 2013|
|Warranty:||5 years||5 years||Lifetime||Lifetime||5 years|
During our large file (a single 4.7GB MKV) transfer tests, the Ultra Fit managed to maintain an average speed of 135.75MB/s and 31.77MB/s during read and write tests respectively. It bested the competition in all read tests by a large margin while it was only outpaced by Verbatim in write which posted 35.3MB/s. Both Sandisk and Kingston did reach their claimed speeds. The other three manufacturers, however, don’t advertise their speeds so your mileage may vary. In another test which involved copying back and forth 4.7GB JPEGs (most being between 4 and 8MB), the Sandisk outperformed all others with the exception of Verbatim, whose write speed was about ahead by about 5MB/s. Neither write nor read speed was close to its much faster sibling but surely you know you are trading speed for size. Note these two tests were selected to reveal the drives’ USB 3.0 performance because we felt most people would rely on a mini drive primarily as intermediary or secondary storage for media data. Applications require efficient random access which these drives – without a decent controller – wouldn’t do a good job at. Lastly, all drives were re-formatted into exFAT for the 4GB file transfer benchmark.
The Sandisk sports a minimalist design with a length of only 19.1mm while still able to accommodate a tiny LED activity light. Its size is fairly close to Logitech’s nano Unifying receiver if you have one available. When plugged, the Ultra Fit only protrudes just 8mm from the edge of a laptop, and its curved shape also makes it easy to unplug despite its diminutive size.
Tested USB 3.0 drives are all fairly small until you put them side by side. When they are next to each other, the Sandisk’s size compares favorably to others. The reason being that all the other drives come with a loop hole to attach to a keyring, and this adds to the drives’ length considerably. The Verbatim is even twice as large as the Sandisk, largely due to its retractable connector mechanism. In terms of durability, Kingston and Transcend both share a rigid aluminium unibody, which is likely to survive if it’s being stepped on.
Overheating doesn’t seem to be much of an issue as far as we can tell. The Transcend did get a little bit warm after our endurance tests but that’s simply because the drive’s aluminium conducts heat faster than most other materials commonly used on flash drives.
These prices were taken from Amazon directly, and are up-to-date as of early February 2016. And judging from these cost per gigabyte, there’s no reason not to pick a drive smaller than 64GB or even 128GB.
DT Micro 3.1
|16GB||n/a||63.8 cents||39.3 cents||43.8 cents||62.4 cents|
|32GB||39.4 cents||33.4 cents||45 cents||34.3 cents||68.7 cents|
|64GB||35.9 cents||27.4 cents||41.6 cents||31.2 cents||72.6 cents|
|128GB||44.1 cents||23.4 cents||n/a||n/a||n/a|
Buyers who want a drive that only protrudes as little as possible from a USB port should consider one. Thumb drives in general sticks out quite conspicuously so they could easily get bent when being bumped repeatedly, and this could result in data loss and maybe even worse, a broken USB port. In contrast, compact drives by design can always stay inserted to a USB-enabled car stereo or to a notebook as a semi-permanent storage for media. They can free up precious space on the laptop’s speedy SSD for mission critical tasks. For this reason, a tiny drive can actually prove to be quite practical to some of us who might need an effortless storage expansion option.