The first patent for a USB Flash Drive was filled in 1999, which means that these little handy, dandy portable digital storage devices have been around for almost 20-years now. In the two decades that have passed since their release, USB Flash Drives have evolved in many ways, but none have been exciting as the latest changes the humble “thumb drive” has seen.
In the past year, a lot of hype has been generated about the new USB 3.1 Type-C standard that was first announced in late 2014, and we are just beginning to see the new standard hit mainstream. In truth, the USB 3.1 Type-C standard is actually two standards in one. The USB 3.1 standard defines that the interface is capable of up to 10 Gbit/s, while the Type-C portion denotes the type of connector that is utilized. Don't let that number fool you though, as it is purely theoretical. Real-world speeds will be much lower.
The USB Type-C standard defines a new small reversible-plug connector for USB devices. The Type-C plug connects to both hosts and devices, replacing the need for the various Type-A and Type-B connectors and cables that we all have laying around. This standard is meant to be future-proof, similar to the now ubiquitous Apple Lightning and Thunderbolt connectors. USB Type-C features a 24-pin double-sided connector that provides four power/ground pairs, two differential pairs for USB 2.0 data bus, four pairs for high-speed data bus, two "sideband use" pins, and two configuration pins for cable orientation detection, dedicated biphase mark code configuration data channel, and VCONN +5 V power for active cables.
What does all of this have to do with this review, you ask? The subject of today’s testing is the new 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive from Patriot Memory. Unfortunately I do not have any devices yet that feature a USB Type-C host connector, so I will be unable to test that portion of the flash drive. Fortunately, the Stellar-C series feature a standard USB 3 connector on one side while the Type-C connector is located on the opposite end of the flash drive. Let’s move on to the review and learn more about this new portable storage solution from Patriot.
Features, Specifications and Closer Look
“The Stellar-C is a dual-sided USB design that works on both standard USB and the new Type-C™ ports allowing for fast and easy transfer of photos, documents or music from most all your mobile or desktop devices.
Featuring a metal body and cap-less housing designed to protect it from damage and debris, the flash drive is small enough to fit on your key ring via the built-in swivel head. Coming in both 32GB and 64GB, you’ll have enough storage space to store all your favorite movies, songs, picture and more.
What’s more, the Stellar-C makes transferring data effortless, with blazing reading speeds up to 110MB/s read, and writing up to 20MB/s! Completely backwards compatible, the Stellar-C also comes standard with Patriot’s award winning customer service and a 2-year warranty.
The Patriot Stellar-C is compatible with nearly every Windows operating system, including Windows® 10, as well as Linux 2.4 and later, and Mac® OS9, or higher.”
- Available Capacities: 32GB, 64GB
- USB Standard: USB 3.1
- Warranty: 2 Years
- Electrical Certifications: RoHS, FCC, CE
- Country of Origin: Taiwan
- Unit Dimension Width: 3.12 cm
- Unit Dimension Height: 1.22 cm
- Unit Dimension Length: 0.58 cm
- Unit Weight: 5 gm
A Closer Look
As you can see, I decided to skip the unboxing portion of this review as opening a clam shell pack is not very interesting. Pictured above is the Patriot 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive in all its glory. The most noticeable feature is that this is a dual-sided flash drive, featuring a normal USB 3 Type-A connector, while the reverse end features the new USB 3.1 Type-C connector. A simple black metal shroud flips to cover whichever end is not being used. This shroud also serves as a point to tie a lanyard or to attach the drive to a keychain.
A quick shot of the USB 3 Type-A connector. Everyone should be familiar with this connector as it has been the standard style since USB’s mainstream inception.
Flipping the drive around, you can see the USB 3.1 24-pin Type-C connector. I am still unsure of this connection type’s robustness, but I have seen reports that it is much stronger than the common micro-USB connector we are all familiar with. With all of the visuals taken care of, lets move on to testing.
Testing and Performance
To thoroughly test the Patriot 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive I will be running a series of benchmarks using two of the leading storage benchmarking programs. I will only be testing the flash drive using the USB 3 Type-A connector as I do not currently have access to any device with a USB Type-C host port. Additionally, only the front USB 3.0 port on my main testing station will be used as I feel that testing for real-world conditions is much more informative than testing just for maximum performance using a rear USB 3.0 port.
Patriot claims that the Patriot 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive is capable of speeds up to 110MB/s read, and 20MB/s write.
All SD benchmarks were ran on my main system at home which features the following hardware.
- Motherboard: Gigabyte G1 Sniper 5
- Processor: Intel i7 4790k at stock clock speeds
- RAM: 16GB Corsair Dominator Platinum at stock clock speeds
- GPU: MSI Geforce GTX 970
- OS SSD: SanDisk Extreme II 480GB
- PSU: BeQuiet DarkPower Pro 1000W
The first test will be series of 1GB writes to the drive using Crystal Disk Mark which will measure sequential and random read / write speeds. I ran this test with the flash drive connected to the front USB 3.0 port on my Corsair Obsidian 800D.
As you can see, the Patriot 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive actually performed better by 20 MB/s in read performance than what is listed by Patriot Memory. The write performance was a little lower than specified at 16.54 MB/s, but it’s close enough that it does not matter much.
The second test will be series of 1GB writes to the drive using ATTO Disk Benchmark which is one of the leading storage benchmarking utilities in the industry, and is even used to quality test by some of the top manufacturers in the industry. ATTO Disk Benchmark will measure the flash drive’s performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. I ran this test with the flash drive connected to the front USB 3.0 port on my Corsair Obsidian 800D.
Once again we see that the Patriot 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive performed better than Patriot’s stated 110 MB/s read speeds by more than 20 MB/s. Unlike our first test, the write performance was closer to being on-par with Patriot’s claim of 20 MB/s write speeds.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The Patriot 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive is a solid performer, and its dual USB interface makes it future proof. It’s small size makes it ideal to store on your key-ring, in a purse, or inside your EDC kit. During this review, I had to install Windows 10 onto a new PC I built, and the Stellar-C was the only flash drive I had on hand. I was easily able to install the Windows 10 image to the drive, and its USB 3 interface made installing the OS super quick, only taking about 2.5-minutes to unpack all of the Windows files. I highly recommend this drive to anyone looking for a portable storage solution that has a minimal footprint.
You can purchase the Patriot 32GB Stellar-C USB 3.1/Type-C Flash Drive at Amazon.com for $14.99 at the time of this writing.