Kingston HyperX Savage USB 3.1 Flash Drive Review


Author: AkG
Date: November 10, 2016
Product Name: HyperX Savage 128GB
Part Number: HXS3/128GB
Warranty: 5 Years

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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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