by Lyle Smith

SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review

The SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive is a high-performance enthusiast-grade USB stick designed for the most demanding portable storage users. SanDisk specs the USB flash drive with impressive top-in-class read speeds up to 190MB/s and write speeds up to 170MB/s. With those numbers, users can transfer a 3GB file in 20 seconds or a 40GB file in four minutes. SanDisk's 128-bit AES encryption and exclusive SecureAccess Software, which come with the SanDisk Extreme, make data protection easy to setup and use for consumers. Users will also be able to configure password-protected private folders on their SanDisk USB flash drive. Additionally, SanDisk has implemented a sturdy build, giving the flash drive a very comfortable and confident feel.

Historically, thumb drives have never been associated with speed and performance; but with current technology, that is no longer the case as is obvious with SanDisk’s impressive specifications for their Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive. Consumers should still be careful though, because not all USB 3.0-labeled flash drives perform at a level they are capable of; speeds can range anywhere from that of a USB 2.0 device (as low as 25 MB/s) to 10 times that number. The SanDisk Extreme goes a long way to showing what the interface is capable of when it comes to USB drives; thankfully doing so without breaking the bank like many of its high-flying competitors. 

The SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive is available at a street price around $28 for the 16GB, $41 for the 32GB, and $70 for the 64GB model. That price is inclusive of a life-time warranty. Our review drive is the 64GB capacity.

  • Available capacities:
    • 16GB (SDCZ80-016G-A75)
    • 32GB (SDCZ80-032G-A75)
    • 64GB (SDCZ80-064G-A75)
  • Performance/speed: Up to 190 MB/s
  • Dimensions: 2.79" x .84" x .45" (70.87 mm x 21.34 mm x 11.43 mm)
  • Operating temperature: 0ºC to 45 ºC
  • Storage temperature: -10ºC to 70ºCE
  • Compatibility: USB 2.0 and 3.0
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Design and Build

The SanDisk Extreme design has a clean black design, and you can immediately tell the drive has a quality build when gripped; the drive feels sturdy in the hand. 

SanDisk uses a slider style design, which means that when it is not in use, the USB 3.0 connector is retracted inside the housing. All you need to do to access the drive is to simply use your thumb to slide it out. The mechanism feels very responsive and the slider has a surprisingly nice click-action feedback. This design protects the connector when retracted, removing the need for a cap. 

On the front side of the SanDisk Extreme, you will see the company logo, USB 3.0 indicator, and a handy keychain hole. 

The SanDisk Flash Drive also has a blue activity LED light located at the very end of the device, which flashes when data is being transferred. The light remains the same color when using USB 2.0 or 3.0. The USB 3.0 header is in traditional blue.

Product name, capacity, part number, serial number, country of origin as well as other information are located on the back of the USB drive.

Performance

In this review, we include the following comparables from our database of USB flash drive reviews:

All three comparable drives are generally each company's top-in-line USB 3.0 offerings.

Using our Consumer Testing Platform, we measured transfer speeds from the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive with IOMeter. Sequential read speeds measured 194.5MB/s, while write activity hit 177.9MB/s. Here, the top performer was the Lexar JumpDrive P10, which clocked in at a blistering 252.4MB/s read and 225.9MB/s write. The Patriot Supersonic Magnum trailed closely behind with 247.0MB/s read and 151.3MB/s write, while the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX kept adequate pace with speeds of 199.2MB/s read and 117.0MB/s write. Though the SanDisk Extreme came in near the bottom of the pack, it still produced respectable performance numbers exceeding their spec sheet quotes. 

Switching to random large-block transfers, we measured 177.6MB/s read and 43.5MB/s write for SanDisk Extreme USB flash Drive, while the Patriot Supersonic Magnum boasted speeds of 166.3MB/s read and 39.1MB/s write. The Lexar JumpDrive P10 had a similar read benchmark, with a read speed of 167.7MB/s, but with a much slower write speed of 14.8MB/s. The Kingston HyperX Predator took last place, clocking in at 149.3MB/s read and 4.9MB/s write.

While coming in nearly last place for the sequential performance tests, the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive picked itself up and outperformed its competition in the random transfers tests, easily besting its competition. With its consistent read speeds above 175MB/s and the best random writes in the group, the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 should be enough to keep up with the most demanding portable storage users. 

Conclusion

The SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 is a high-end consumer USB flash drive in the performance category that quotes minimum performance figures of 190MB/s for sequential reads and 170MB/s for sequential writes. SanDisk's Extreme USB line is offered in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities with a very competitive price point. All three of these capacities are quoted to reach 190MB/s read, but significantly vary in write performance; the higher the capacity the greater the speed. The 64GB capacity that we've reviewed is available at a street price of roughly $70, slightly cheaper than the $86 Supersonic Magnum. The Kingston DataTraveler HyperX and The Lexar JumpDrive P10 are priced at $150 and $120 respectively, which is significantly more expensive than the SanDisk Extreme, but then again with those you get higher top-end sequential performance. 

In terms of tested performance, the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive posted results above the actual quoted figures of 190MB/s read and 170MB/s write. In our testbed, the flash drive clocked in at 194.5MB/s read and 177.9MB/s write in the sequential data columns. With the SanDisk Extreme reaching the performance levels that it did, this drive is currently the fastest offered by SanDisk and also one of the fastest USB 3.0 Flash drives on the market today, especially on a performance per dollar basis.

Pros

  • Top-in-class random transfer speeds
  • Sturdy design
  • Good price

Cons

  • Sequential performance falls behind competitors

Bottom Line

If you want a USB 3.0 drive with impressive sequential and random read/write speeds at an affordable price, the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive is an excellent offering.

SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 Flash Drive at Amazon.com

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