The Need for Speed

A $20 price tag and 400 MB/s reads? I had to try one!

Around here storage is Allyn’s territory, but I decided to share my experience with a new $20 flash drive I picked up that promised some impressive speeds via USB 3.0. The drive is the Lexar JumpDrive P20, and I bought the 32GB version, which is the lowest capacity of the three drives in the series. 64GB and 128GB versions of the JumpDrive P20 are available, with advertised speeds of up to 400 MB/s from all three, and reads and up to 270 MB/s writes – if you buy the largest capacity.

My humble 32GB model still boasts up to 140 MB/s writes, which would be faster than any USB drive I’ve ever owned (my SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 16GB drive is limited to 60 MB/s writes, and can hit about 190 MB/s reads), and the speeds of the P20 even approach that of some lower capacity SATA 3 SSDs – if it lives up to the claims. The price was right, so I took the plunge. (My hard-earned $20 at stake!)

Size comparison with other USB flash drives on hand (P20 on far right)

First we'll look at the features from Lexar:

  • Among the fastest USB flash drives available, with speeds up to 400MB/s read and 270MB/s write
  • Sleek design with metal alloy base and high-gloss mirror finish top
  • Securely protects files using EncryptStick Lite software, an advanced security solution with 256-bit AES encryption
  • Reliably stores and transfers files, photos, videos, and more
  • High-capacity options to store more files on the go
  • Compatible with PC and Mac systems
  • Backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Pricing and Availability:

The Lexar P20 arrives in some pretty deluxe packaging for a $20 flash drive, and it has a bulky – though solid – build. The the USB plug retracts for storage, and there is a loop in the package if you need it.

The drive feels very solid, and has a metal back; surprisingly nice for the cost.

I plugged it into one of my Intel Z170 system’s native USB 3.0 ports, and – after briefly copying off the contents of the drive (more on the included software shortly) I formatted it to NTFS – since it arrived formatted with FAT32 and I wanted to test large file transfers – and then I got to work doing some read/write tests.

PSA: There is no reason to purchase this – or any other – high-speed drive and use it with the Windows default settings, which are optimized for fast removal, and not high performance. Compared to a hard drive Windows treats a USB drive differently, unless you manually change the hardware mode. I changed the drive to the high performance mode and got started.

The default setting in Windows (left), which I switched to "Better Performance" (right)

Performance Results

I began with a simple write test by copying a large file over to the drive, which I had formatted with NTFS.

The max writes are really close to the theoretical max advertised, but I can’t help regretting the decision to get the smallest version. (I want more speed!) Next, I simply copied the file back to the SSD in my test system:

These numbers are excellent, though slightly below the advertised max transfer rates. For some slightly more storage-editor approved testing, I tried out the drive with ATTO and HD Tune.

ATTO results are impressive, and show the full capability of the drive, as it hits the max reads and writes at certain transfer sizes (QD=2). Next we'll look at sustained write speeds with HD Tune:

HD Tune sustained write speeds at 64KB (left) and 4MB (right) block sizes

Looking over at the first HD Tune results, which were run at the default settings, we see a much slower result (left); but these are sustained 64KB block reads across the entire drive. Changing the block size dramatically affects the result, and in the next test I had set it to 4MB blocks (right).

Finally, I'll touch on the included encryption software. EncryptStick lite is provided on the drive, and this uses AES 256 bit encryption to stores files in a vault on the drive that cannot be accessed without the user-created password.

It it easy to use and works as advertised, and it's a free bonus; though options within the app are somewhat limited unless you pay for an upgraded version.


So there you have it: an inexpensive USB drive that performs extremely well. Hitting 400 MB/s on reads is obviously quite impressive, and the write speeds are very good, with the expected improvement based on capacity. This trio of drives, ranging from about $19.99 to $49.99 on Amazon (well below Lexar’s MSRPs), are an outstanding value for very fast portable storage.

Of course you can buy much higher capacities these days for the same money, but I don’t think you’ll find higher performance at this price level – and that’s what this drive is all about! Lexar has a winner here.