SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drives Promise Fast Transfer Speeds

When you have been using and reviewing USB Flash Drives since 2002 when they were 8MB in capacity it is pretty hard to get excited by them. The market is flooded with them as online retailers like Newegg currently list 6,192 products in their USB Flash Drive category alone. It has become tough to find standout products in a category this crowded, but enthusiasts are addicted to performance and we are always on the lookout for new USB Flash Drives that raise the bar when it comes to read and write speeds. Last week SanDisk Corporation announced the SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.0 flash drive and we just had to get one into our labs for some testing. Why? SanDisk says this jump drive is capable of sequential write speeds of up to 240MB/s and sequential read speeds of up to 260MB/s! Those speeds place this drive among the fastest available right now. 

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The SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive is only available as a 128GB capacity drive with part number SDCZ88-128G-A46 in North America and SDCZ88-128G-G46 over in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive has a $199.99 MSRP, but it is already available on Amazon for $150.00 shipped. That breaks down to $1.17 per GB for those that like to look at the cost per GB. There are around 50-60 different 128GB USB 3.0 Flash drives currently on the market today and they range from $65 to  $180. This means that you are going to be paying more than the average rate in exchange for the higher performance this drive offers. This drive is all about speed though and SanDisk touts that you can can transfer a full-length movie to the SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.0 Flash Drive in mere seconds, or 1,000 photos in less than 35 seconds.

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The SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive features an aluminum metal casing with a cap-less design. To use this Flash driver there is a slide out USB 3.0 connector that is easy to operate with your thumb and keeps you from loosing caps. You might get the occasional pocket lint or some dirt stuck in the open USB 3.0 connector at times, but usually you just clean it out and go about your business. There is a location to attach a keychain or lanyard on the other end of the drive. SanDisk does not include a keychain loop or anything.

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To give you an idea of this drives size we have included a picture of the Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB Flash Drive next to a standard Energizer AA battery. The exact dimensions are 11.0 x 21.0 x 71.0 mm; 0.45 x 0.84 x 2.79, which isn't bad for such a high-end drive of this capacity. Often the speedy drivers are rather chunky due to the controller or NAND used or space needed to keep them cool. This drive does get warm when you move a large amount of data, but nothing that caused alarm or was out of the ordinary.

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Here is a closer look at the USB 3.0 connector and this is where the magic happens. SanDisk says that this particular drive with its 260MB/s read and 240MB/s write speeds is 60 times faster than standard USB 2.0 drives. This drive is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 drivers and is supportedby by Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Mac OS X v10.5+ (software download required for use on Macs).

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The SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive has a pretty odd shape that is hard to describe. It almost has some egg shape qualities, but there is a flat bottom that allows it sit still and not wobble after you sit it on desk or any flat surface.

 SanDisk Secure Access

Also included is SanDisk SecureAccess software that provides 128-bit AES file encryption and password protection to secure private files while leaving the rest of the drive visible for sharing. The SecureAccess software comes on the SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive and looks for online updates the first time you go to install the encryption application.

SanDisk Secure Access Password

After any updates are downloaded you just need to create a password and then move the files you want to encrypt on the USB Flash Drive to your newly created vault for safe keeping. It is nice to easily encrypt your personal or client information as USB Flash Drives are often lost and the average person isn't going to go about trying to crack the encryption you placed on the drive. They'll likely just format the drive and keep it for themselves due to the hassle. 

Let's take a look at the performance of the SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive on our ASUS UX31A Ultrabook.

SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Driver Performance

CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3 x64:

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. We ran this benchmark with the default settings, so you can download it and easily run a speed test on your drive at home to see where you are at with what you already own.

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Benchmark Results: CrystalDiskMark showed that we hitting 260.7MB/s read and 245.1MB/s write on the sequential tests! SanDisk rates this drive as having up to 260MB/s read speeds and 240MB/s write speeds, so we are able to confirm those speed ratings using this particular benchmark. This also happens to be the exact benchmark that SanDisk uses to speed rate their products.

ATTO v2.47:

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant.. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The benchmark test was performed with the default runs of 0.5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes with the total length being 256mb.

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Benchmark Results: ATTO showed that we were hitting 264.5MB/s read and 231.4MB/s write on the sequential tests with the SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive. These are again solid scores and are among the fastest write scores that we have ever seen on a normal USB 3.0 Flash drive!

Real World File Transfer Tests

TeraCopy 2.3  is a compact program designed to copy and move files at the maximum possible speed and features a timer that works great for review purposes as we can easily show you time differences between different file transfer scenarios. TeraCopy also uses dynamically adjusted buffers to reduce seek times and has asynchronous copy speeds up file transfer between two physical hard drives.

We recently moved over 6.63GB of pictures and movies that we shot on our Canon 70D SLR camera during a recent retirement ceremony from our ASUS UX31A Zenbook that runs Windows 8.1 to the SanDisk Extreme Pro USB Flash Drive. We wanted to see how long it would take to move that folder to the USB 3.0 drive and then back to the Ultrabook. There are 81 files in this folder and include just pictures and movies. Some of the pictures were edited, but the vast majority were not. This is a very real usage scenario, so we can’t wait to see how the drive performs!

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We started out by moving the ~6.6GB folder from our desktop to the SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash drive and found that it took 46 seconds and it looks like we averaged 147MB/s during the data transfer.

sandisk-read-test

To move the data back over to the Ultrabook we found that it took 56 seconds at 121MB/s. This is a little longer, but the bottleneck might have been caused by the ASUS UX31A as the internal SSD in our particular model was found to have 440MB/s read speeds and 178MB/s write speeds according to CrystalDiskMark. So, if you are looking at getting this drive you might want to make sure your systems storage drive won't be holding back your performance!

Final Thoughts on the SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive

The SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive is a tad on the expensive side, but hot damn it is fast. In fact this is the fastest USB 3.0 Flash Drive that we have reviewed to date and for that we have to thank SanDisk! We also like that this high-end drive looks normal, isn't too bulky and is still practical. When the first high-end USB 3.0 Flash drives came out they were huge and ran hot, but it appears those days are thankfully long gone.

Performance was outstanding and we were able to confirm the rated sequential read/write speeds of 260/240MB/s on our nearly 2-year old Intel Ultrabook. You don't have to own the latest notebook or desktop PC to fully utilize this drive and that is really nice. The USB 3.0 standard has been around for years now and the extra bandwidth has yet to be fully utilized by consumer Flash drives, so we are still able to get nice performance gains when new drives like this come to market. For the past year out go to USB 3.0 Flash drive in the test lab for quickly moving data around was the Patriot Supersonic Magnum 256GB Flash Drive that we reviewed in March 2013. That drive was fast (250MB/s read and 160MB/s write speeds), but the SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash drive as higher rated speeds and doesn't block ports next to where is it plugged in as it is narrower! This became problematic over the past year as on the ASUS UX31A Zenbook if we plugged in the Patriot drive on the right hand side we couldn't plug in the notebook power connector and on the left hand side it blocked the headphone jack. The SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive doesn't block either, so the form factor on this drive is a big selling point as well as the performance it offers. sandisk-extreme-pro-flash-drive

The SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive is already available on Amazon for $150.00 shipped and comes backed by a lifetime warranty. At $1.17 per GB it is by no means the lowest cost drive on the market, but that isn't who this drive is aimed at. SanDisk brought this drive to the market and targeted the high-end prosumer and enthusiast niche and it looks like the nailed it.

If you are looking for an incredibly fast drive to move your music, pictures, videos and other data around with the SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive should be at the top of your shopping list. This drive is designed for speed and if you move Gigabytes of data around every day this product will save you time and in the corporate world time is money and in our personal lives that means more time with our families.

LR Editors' Choice

 Legit Bottom Line: The SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive is the fastest that we have ever tested and it really sets the bar for what one should expect from a prosumer device in 2014!