There are currently four speed modes defined by the latest USB 3.1 specification. They are SuperSpeed Plus, SuperSpeed, Hi-Speed and Full-Speed.
The SuperSpeed Plus mode (appended in 3.1) has a theoretical transfer rate of 10Gbps. It’s also known as USB 3.1 Gen 2 while USB 3.0 is now referred to USB 3.1 Gen 1. The latest specification retains Hi-Speed and Full-Speed USB mode, commonly known as USB 2.0 and 1.1 respectively; yet they still operate at 480Mbps and 12Mbps respectively. Check out the comparison between USB 3.0 and other competing interfaces such as eSATA, FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt.
To illustrate how fast USB 3.0 is in real-world scenarios, we plotted a dozen storage devices’ benchmark data in bar graphs so you can easily tell the performance leader in each storage peripheral subcategory. Results are shown in megabytes per second for your reference.
Our current testbed is a late-2014 Apple MacBook Pro Retina running Windows 10.
This benchmark was taken from our round-up of some of the fastest 128GB USB 3.0 flash drives, which are best for bulk file transfer (e.g. large media file transfers, ISO backups). We’ve included Corsair Flash Voyager GS, Kingston HyperX Savage 3.0, Lexar JumpDrive P20, Sandisk Extreme PRO 3.0 for comparison.
Here, we selected 4 mini 64GB USB 3.0 drives that are targeted at users who value drive dimensions over speed. They include the Kingston DT Micro 3.1, Sandisk Ultra Fit 3.0, Silicon Power Jewel J06, Transcend JetFlash 710 and Verbatim Mini Metal. They are also designed to stay plugged to a tablet, laptop and alike as a secondary storage.
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.