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Super Talent SuperCrypt USB 3.0 32GB Thumb Drive Review

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Super Talent
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Performance and Conclusions

Benchmarking was done on my personal system in order to simulate as close to a real world environment as possible.  The system hardware is as follows:

  • Intel Core i7-860
  • ASUS P7P55D Premium motherboard (integrated USB 3.0 with NEC controller)

  • 6GB Corsair DDR3-1333 memory
  • Intel X25-M 160GB SSD

  • PC Power and Cooling 900 watt power supply
  • Corsair 800D chassis

We ran a series of tests including the Super Talent SuperCrypt 32GB USB 3.0 drive in a USB 3.0 port with the standard Microsoft driver, running it in a USB 3.0 port with the custom Super Talent driver and even in a USB 2.0 port to see how it performs with the legacy slot.  For comparison we threw an older Super Talent Fireball USB 2.0 thumb drive that was at one point considered one of the faster drives available. 

Let the thrashing begin...

Burst rates are...yummy.  The SuperCrypt drive is able to burst as high as 187 MB/s without the custom driver and then up to 216 MB/s with it!  Meanwhile, the best either drive is able to do in the USB 2.0 port is 37 MB/s. 

Oh, and for those interested, running the Fireball drive on the USB 3.0 port results in less than 30 MB/s - you aren't going to be upgrading your existing drives with a USB 3.0 ready motherboard!

Here we see that obviously the SuperCrypt drive is dominating anything else and that the custom Super Talent driver is less effective in our sustained tests.  I do have to say I was disappointed in the write performance of the drive topping out around 50 MB/s after a couple of runs through HDTach.  It seems almost as if the SuperCrypt drive is seeing the same degrading performance we notice in some SSDs...

Our ATTO tests are more impressive here as we can see read speeds as high as 230 MB/s or so and the write speeds increase to as high as 100 MB/s at the highest transfer size settings. 

Conclusions

If it is not apparent to you yet, I don't think it ever will be: we need USB 3.0 to be adopted and adopted quickly.  Think about it, we are seeing a 32GB USB thumb drive nearly reach the speeds of some of our best solid state drives and we are still in the very first generation.  We are only going to be limited by cost and how quickly competition can bring the prices down.

Speaking of prices, the Super Talent SuperCrypt isn't exactly cheap:

You are definitely paying a premium for the USB 3.0 support - $5.31/GB for the 32GB model we tested and $3.03/GB for the 256GB model.  With prices above those of a high performance SSD you should definitely consider the benefits to have this storage mobile for you.  If you are willing to go with USB 2.0 speeds you can probably find a solid 32GB model for about $70.

The AES encryption is a great addition to this line as well and should make those of you a little more paranoid than most feel a bit better.  Obviously this equates into the price as well since AES hardware isn't free. 



The Super Talent SuperCrypt is just big overall

For a usage example, I recently downloaded a couple of 7GB ISO files of the new Adobe CS5 Master Suite in preparation for a couple of articles.  I then wanted to install them on a PC in my office.  Rather than burn a couple of dual-layer DVDs (slow process) and install them from there (slow again) I copied the ISOs to my SuperCrypt drive and then copied them to the second PC.  Both PCs had USB 3.0 and by just eyeballing the Windows copy screen I wrote to the USB 3.0 drive at about 90 MB/s and read from it at about 150 MB/s.  It took just about a minute and a half to copy 14GB of data from the SuperCrypt to the secondary machine's desktop.  Nice.

Despite all of this positive news about Super Talent's SuperCrypt drive, I have some negative insight to share about the USB 3.0 standard in general.  I am wary about its adoption speed thanks to Intel's platform division dragging its feet.  Intel has stated that consumer desktop chipsets will not see an update for the remainder of 2010 and thus we can be sure that Intel-based motherboards will not come with USB 3.0 support unless the vendors pay to integrate a third party controller.  While enthusiasts will likely find USB 3.0 all around, the Dells and HPs of the world may not and it is that mass customer base adoption that will really push vendors like Super Talent (and hundreds of others) to update to USB 3.0 ready hardware and allow them to lower prices.  Just as I fear is happening with Intel holding back SATA 6G adoption, we need to work to make sure they don't do the same to USB 3.0.

For our first USB 3.0 drive, the Super Talent SuperCrypt was a dream to work with and because you don't have to install any extra drivers (other than having USB 3.0 in your system to begin with) it remains as simple to use as any other USB thumb drive.  The performance was great for a first generation with read results up to as much as 220 MB/s that clearly show you why USB 2.0 needs to leave; there is still room to go to saturate the 500 MB/s USB 3.0 bus, but we'll patiently wait as long as we get more drives like this for a lower price.

And don't forget, with USB 2.0 backwards compatibility, this drive will be usable anywhere with any system, regardless of USB 3.0 integration.  You can copy those ISO files to your friend's computer at USB 2.0 speeds if you need to - ugh. 

If you have USB 3.0 in your system already, or were thinking about the ASUS U3S6 or ECS add-in cards, then you need a device like this to truly see its potential.  You can use it for speedy backups or moving large amounts of data between USB 3.0-ready systems or just sit there and read and write to it to see how fast it can go.  I would like to see prices lowered on them as they are quite high but for getting speed and encryption features working right off the bat, Super Talent deserves some credit.

Our pricing engine has listings for all iterations of SuperCrypt drive.  Check it for the lower prices!


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