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Kingston HyperX Savage 128GB USB 3.1 Flash Drive Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,841
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Montreal
With USB 3.1 becoming a de facto standard on all motherboards – despite the fact that Intel did not add it into the Z170 PCH – flash drive manufacturers are stepping up and releasing products designed to take advantage of this new high speed interface. One of the first companies to actually do this was Kingston with their DataTraveler microDuo 3C lineup. Sadly, while that model was indeed USB 3.1 compatible, performance took a back seat to form factor. The reason for this is because not all "USB 3.1" labeled products are in fact capable of 10Gbit/s performance, nor were they ever supposed to be.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but what has happened is that 'USB 3.0' has been retroactively rebranded as USB 3.1 Gen 1, and "USB 3.1" has been rebranded as USB 3.1 Gen 2. It’s confusing at best, and frankly misleading at worst, but it's what the governing USB-IF organization has decided. Even the type of connector used is not a safe way of judging what level of performance the built in controller is capable of, as the DataTraveler microDuo 3C is a Gen 1 device yet features a USB Type-C connector on one end.

In other words, its Type-C connector was only added to be compatible with other USB Type-C devices like smartphones and tablets, and is not an indicator of higher performance potential. Now with all of that being said, with the release of the all new Kingston HyperX Savage USB 3.1, Kingston is out to prove that USB 3.1 Gen 1 devices can deliver excellent performance at reasonable prices... as long as you don't expect 10Gbit/s performance.

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Perhaps most importantly is that Kingston has designed the HyperX Savage USB 3.1 flash drive in such a way that it has almost none of the usual downsides associated with most high performance USB 3.1 flash drives. Specifically, unlike the ASUS USB 3.1 external enclosure we use for motherboard testing, this new flash drive does not require a second port for external power and is instead fully powered via the USB 3.1 bus. This alone makes the HyperX Savage USB 3.1 much more attractive to the average consumer.

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/maYuTnci4ys?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

That is only the tip of the iceberg, as the HyperX Savage USB 3.1 is also a lot more portable than most performance-oriented USB 3.1 flash devices. With dimensions of 76.3mm x 23.48mm x 12.17mm - and a rather svelte weight of only 26 grams - this device may be much larger than the DataTraveler microDuo 3C, but it is actually smaller than some USB 2.0 devices. What this means is that the Kingston HyperX Savage 128GB flash drive easily fits in a pocket and is certainly much more travel-friendly than typical USB 3.1 storage devices.

Ironically, as you can see in the video above Dmitry our YouTube editor was actually able to use this little drive to run Steam games with varying degrees of success. While this certainly isn't its primary focus, it does go to highlight the speed which Kingston was able to build into their Savage.

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There are only two issues that most consumers might have with the physical aspects of this drive. The first is that the exterior case is mainly hard plastic, only the red ‘X’ is metal. Even though this device easily survived numerous 6-foot drop tests on to hardwood floors - ten to be specific - hard plastic is not as forgiving as rubberized plastic, and certainly not as durable as fully aluminium-clad devices. Most thumb drives do not die from overheating, nor electrical component failure, instead it is physical damage that kills them and such damage is not covered by this model's 5-year warranty.

comp_sm.jpg

On the plus side, this device is not a lint magnet like rubberized flash drives – for example the Corsair Voyager line which seems to import lint from other countries just to stick to it - and it is also quite affordable. With an asking price of $85 for the massive 128GB model is a lot easier on the pocket book to replace than some of its competition. Price vs. durability is an age-old battle and for most consumers price wins. If you seriously believe that you need a flash drive that can stop a bullet there are actually other models that fit the bill, but don’t expect to get them for a mere 66 cents per gigabyte!

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Another positive is that while the case may not be made from metal or rubber, its reasonable dimensions allow this flash drive the luxury of not blocking ports directly to the left or right of it. Having said that, the big red ‘X’ makes it a touch thicker than necessary and it may block ports directly above or below it. Overall, considering its focus on high performance, this drive is actually well above average in this regards.

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The second issue is that unlike its smaller sibling - the DataTraveler microDuo 3C - this USB 3.1 device does not come with a USB Type-C connector, making due with only a regular USB 3.1 Type-A connector. This means the Kingston Savage is not as compatible as it could be, as USB Type-C is the new port of choice for space-constrained devices such as ultrabooks, tablets, phablets, and smartphones. It also means that unlike reversible Type-C devices, there is actually a wrong way to plug this flash drive in!

On the flip side, at least the Type-A connector is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. Ultimately, this makes the Savage more PC friendly as very few systems overall currently have a Type-C port. Obviously, we would have preferred to have seen both connectors, but given the design limitations the designers had to work with, Kingston arguably made the best choice in using the standard Type-A connector instead of the more exotic Type-C.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Montreal
Test System & Testing Methodology

<H2>Testing Methodology</H2>

The reasons to purchase a flash drive are as varied as the consumers who purchase them. For some, read performance matters most, for others it is write performance, for others something more specific like small file performance is paramount.

With such a wide variety of individuals criteria's, it behooves us to offer a variety of test suites that focus on different things. For synthetic tests, we used a combination of AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark benchmarks.

For real world (non-gaming oriented) testing, we have used timed data transfer scenarios. For these tests we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used a 10GB folder full of small files (from 100kb to 200MB).

All tests were run 4 times and the average results are represented.

To ensure optimum performance in between each test run the device was sanitary erased.

Main Test System

Processor: Intel i7 5930K
Memory: 32GB (4x8GB) Crucial Ballistic Elite DDR4-2666
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X99
Video Card: MSI Lightning 980Ti
Cooling: NZXT X61
SSD: 1x Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe SSD, 1x Intel P3700 1.2TB NVMe SSD
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i
Monitor: Dell U2714H
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

<i>Special thanks to Crucial for providing the RAM for this testbed. </i>
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
CrystalDiskMark / AS-SSD

<H2>CrystalDiskMark</H2>
<i>CrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your solid state drives / hard drives. Currently, the program allows the measuring of sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows users to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/HyperX Savage USB31/cdm_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/HyperX Savage USB31/cdm_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


<H2>AS-SSD</H2>
<i>AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your storage devices. Currently, the program allows the measuring of sequential and small 4K read/write speeds, as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test solid state drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums, it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/HyperX Savage USB31/asd_r.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/HyperX Savage USB31/asd_w.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

As you can see, this drive certainly does not <i>need</i> to be branded as a USB 3.1 drive. Rather, it is simply a really peppy USB 3.0 drive. Obviously, flash drive manufacturers have still not figured out how to leverage the increased performance potential that USB 3.1 has to offer, or at least not in a easily portable form factor.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Real World Data Transfers

<H2>Real World Data Transfers</H2>
<i>No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter is, it cannot really tell you how your solid state drive or hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. To this end, we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios, we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file, then a 10.00GB folder containing 1200 subfolders, with a total of 36,000 files varying in length from 200MB to 100KB.

Testing will include transferring data to and from the devices, using MS RichCopy, and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found. </i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/HyperX Savage USB31/copy_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/HyperX Savage USB31/copy_lg.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Once again, these numbers are decent enough for a flash drive that is not much bigger than the average USB 3.0 flash drive. However, we were hoping to see higher large file performance than this.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


The new Kingston HyperX Savage USB 3.1 Gen 1 flash drive is a very competent product that we have almost zero issues recommending. It is quite fast for a thumb drive, it offers cavernous amount of capacity, it is portable enough that carrying it isn't a burden, and its reasonable dimensions mean minimal port blocking issues. These are all features that we look for in a USB flash drive that is going to be used heavily and extensively on a multitude of systems. In fact, the Kingston Savage is damn near perfect as a ‘tool box’ drive for IT professionals who have to have access to a wide variety of utilities and who do not want to lug around a bigger, slower hard disk-based external storage device.

With all that said, the Kingston HyperX Savage is far from perfect and suffers from a similar issue as the smaller Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3C, which is to say that the USB 3.1 interface is wasted. This drive is indeed fast for a USB 3.0 device (which it is, since USB 3.1 Gen 1 = USB 3.0) but consumers expecting to see a vast performance improvement over USB 3.0 devices are going to be sorely disappointed. With that said, this HyperX Savage model is much, much faster than the microDuo 3C, but that is cold comfort when the consumers can purchase older but equally fast USB 3.0 branded flash drives.

Another issue is that this model only offers a USB Type-A connector, and thus completely ignores the rapidly changing portable device marketplace. While the number of portable devices with a Type-C port is rather limited at the moment, it certainly limits the future-proofness of this model. This is quite puzzling since flash drives are tailor-made for portable devices, as it allows users the option of not burning through their expensive data allotment streaming content when they could have simply filled this massive storage device to the brim with media and be all set for weeks. That oversight is a shame, and at least with this product Kingston seem to be stuck in the past where PC demands reigned supreme.

In the end, the Kingston HyperX Savage may not be perfect, and may not be right for everyone, but if you need a lot of space in a portable form factor it would certainly be a good choice...just don’t expect to get "USB 3.1" speeds from it.
 
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