One Big Thumb Drive

Super Talent is the first vendor to send us a USB 3.0-ready thumb drive. Not only does it offer speeds as high as 230 MB/s in our testing but it also includes support for hardware AES encryption. Are you prepared for a thumb drive that is faster than your hard drive and maybe even faster than your SATA SSD?
When we first started seeing USB 3.0 technology at PC Perspective we were immediately smitten with it and wanted the entire wash of USB 2.0 accessories to convert to this long needed upgrade.  With top theoretical speeds of 500 MB/s for USB 3.0 compared to the USB 2.0 top speed of 60 MB/s, it is easy to see why we are so enthusiastic about getting rid of the decade old standard and to move on.  After the first prototypes we played with there have been quite a few accessories and devices announced but we are only now getting retail-ready options like this thumb drive we are testing today.

Super Talent sent us its new USB 3.0 SuperCrypt USB thumb drive that will hopefully change the way we move forward with portable storage.

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The SuperCrypt drive is available in capacities ranging from 16GB to 256GB (!!) and is fully backwards compatible with USB 2.0 hardware so you’ll have easy interoperability between all your PCs and notebooks.  It works just like any other thumb drive you have used before; plug it in and it just works.  That is what has made USB drives so popular.  But this drive has two key features to make it stand out: transfer speeds up to 240 MB/s and support for hardware AES encryption. 

The encryption works with a dual-drive configuration – there are actually two controllers in the USB drive.  The first is a small 32MB drive that includes the encryption application the user runs to authenticate and allow the second drive to activate.  If no password has been set, then both drives show up automatically.  Once the drive is unlocked it is fully accessible until the drive is removed from the USB port.

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Inside the package you find just the thumb drive a note about installing the custom SuperTalent driver for best performance.  What you will NOT find in there is a USB extension cable – something that we usually are pretty lenient about finding with thumb drives.  But in this case, the drive is just so large that plugging it into a crowded array of USB ports can be very very troublesome. 

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The Super Talent SuperCrypt drive is made of a shiny silver plastic that is covered in a clear layer.  It feels pretty solid and is obviously pretty weighty for a USB thumb drive. 

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You can see how small the USB connection is compared to the rest of the drive and why that would cause some issues plugging the SuperCrypt into a crowded front panel connection array.

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Looking at the SuperCrypt 32GB drive next to the already very long Corsair Flash Voyager GTR and the very tiny Super Talent Pico USB you can tell that this isn’t exactly a keychain drive. 

Along with the SuperCrypt line, Super Talent also has the Express Drive USB 3.0 and RAIDDrive USB 3.0 series that offer a more basic feature set and higher performance, respectively.  If you are looking for a cheaper USB 3.0 offering then take a look at the Express option and if you want speeds as high as 300 MB/s, then the RAIDDrive could be up your alley.

You also heard me mention a Super Talent driver above – keep in mind I am referring to a Super Talent-built USB system driver update for Windows, not a new driver for the USB 3.0 hardware controller.  More that likely if you have USB 3.0 support in your system today it is based on the NEC controller – the driver for that remains the same.  When I asked Super Talent what their custom driver changed in the system, this is what they told me:

Our driver uses a bigger packet size than the Microsoft mass storage driver, which mainly improves sequential speeds.

In our testing the driver did improve performance a bit but it wasn’t necessary really at all.  For me, I don’t feel obligated to install the driver on any system I was using the SuperCrypt on unless I knew I would be copying a LOT of files to and from it.

Speaking of performance, let’s take a look at our quick benchmark results on the next page!

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