There are currently three speed modes defined by the latest USB 3.0 specification. They are SuperSpeed, Hi-Speed and Full-Speed.
The new SuperSpeed mode has a transfer rate of 4.8Gbps. While the specification retains Hi-Speed and Full-Speed USB mode, commonly known as USB 2.0 and 1.1 respectively, the slower modes still operate at 480Mbps and 12Mbps respectively and are kept to maintain backward compatibility. Check out the comparison between USB 3.0 and other competing interfaces such as eSATA, FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt.
To illustrate how fast the USB 3.0 drives whether they be flash drives, 2.5″ portable drives, 3.5″ desktop drives, we plotted their RichCopy real-world benchmark data in bar graphs so you can easily tell the performance leader in each storage peripheral subcategory.
For the ultra portable storage category, we tested LaCie FastKey, Kingston Data Traveler Ultimate, Kingston HyperX Max, Super Talent SuperCrypt, Super Talent Express RAM Cache, Super Talent Express. Corsair Flash Voyager GTR is just a fast USB 2.0 flash drive we picked for reference.
2.5″ Portable Hard Drives
Here, we selected ioSafe Rugged Portable (7200 rpm), Iomega eGo USB 3.0 (5400 rpm), LaCie Rikiki USB 3.0 (5400 rpm), Seagate GoFlex Ultra Portable (5400 rpm), Seagate GoFlex Slim (7200 rpm), Western Digital My Passport Essential SE (5200 rpm).
3.5″ Desktop Hard Drives
We tested a number of traditional self-powered desktop drives as well as enclosures including ioSafe SoloPRO (fireproof), LaCie 2Big RAID, Seagate GoFlex Desk, SIIG USB 3.0 Dock and Thermaltake BlacX 5G USB 3.0 Case.