Cheap and Fast USB Thumb Drive in 2019

It's 2019 and the world is going through a transition. The number of USB-C ports is on the rise and the reign of the USB-B port is waning. It's common to own devices which only use one port or the other. Personally my phone and work laptop only have USB-C ports, my gaming desktop only has USB-B ports, and my personal laptop has both.

Due to this data-port dichotomy it only makes sense to purchase thumb drives which support both the USB-B and USB-C interfaces. I did a bit of research and ended up with the AreTop 128GB USB-C / USB-B Drive.

Photo of the AreTop 128GB Combination USB-C / USB-B Thumb Drive
Photo of the AreTop 128GB Combination USB-C / USB-B Thumb Drive

As soon as I opened the package I ran some benchmarks and came up with the following numbers:

  • Read Throughput: 102MB/s - 106MB/s
  • Write Throughput: 71MB/s - 90MB/s
  • Full ExFAT format: 48:30 minutes

These speeds are pretty good and fall within the advertised range. I'm happy with the results considering my last thumb drive read at 20MB/s and wrote at 10MB/s.

The drive comes formatted as FAT32, and the instructions recommend keeping it as FAT32. However the ExFAT filesystem—the successor to FAT32—is better in every way and is compatible with macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Windows. I admit that outdated operating systems don't support ExFAT, so the manufacturer probably didn't recommend it to avoid a few bad reviews. If you're a power user who knows what you're doing, feel free to format the drive as ExFAT.

Here are screenshots from a few different benchmarks. The first is with the manufacturer-formatted FAT32 filesystem and 1GB of data, the second is with ExFAT using a default block size and 4GB of data, and the third is with ExFAT using a block size of 128KB and 4GB of data (FAT32 can't handle files above 4GB).

Manufacturer-formatted FAT32 CrystalDiskMark Benchmark
Manufacturer-formatted FAT32 CrystalDiskMark Benchmark

ExFAT Default Block CrystalDiskMark Benchmark
ExFAT Default Block CrystalDiskMark Benchmark

ExFAT 128kb Block CrystalDiskMark Benchmark
ExFAT 128kb Block CrystalDiskMark Benchmark

It's hard to tell in the photo but the grip is part of the main metal chassis, it's not a separate layer that's glued on. There's a grip on both the top and bottom. The drive does lock in both USB-B and USB-C orientations which is quite pleasant. It does get warm during intense use.

I received this drive on Sep 15, 2019 and will update this review if I find any durability issues. Tests were conducted via a USB-B 3.1 port. I've only confirmed that the USB-C port works but I haven't yet benchmarked with it.

Tags: #reviews
Thomas Hunter II Avatar

Thomas has contributed to dozens of enterprise Node.js services and has worked for a company dedicated to securing Node.js. He has spoken at several conferences on Node.js and JavaScript, published a book on microservices, and is an organizer of Nodeschool SF.