Kingston DataTraveler Max UFD Series review: New Type A thumb drive retains NVMe performance

Kingston DataTraveler Max UFD Series review: New Type A thumb drive retains NVMe performance

Kingston’s new products in portable flash-based external storage have been well received in the market over the past year or so. Two products in particular – Kingston XS2000 and DataTraveler Max – remain unique in the market with no other similar products widely available.

The XS2000 remains the only USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps) portable SSD with a native flash controller (provides cost and energy efficiency advantages over bridge-based solutions). Kingston DataTraveler Max USB Flash Drive (UFD) – Another product with original flash controller – Introduced in August 2021. Class 1Gbps speeds, low power consumption, Type-C interface announced – all in the form of Thumb drive – working. Today, Kingston is expanding the DT Max series with three new drives – all with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A interface.

This review delves into all three capacity points — 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB — in the new DTMAXA series sampled by Kingston. We’ll take a look at the performance, energy efficiency and value proposition of DTMAXA. We also opened the drive to determine the differences between the hardware in the original DT Max and the new DTMAXA products.

Product introduction and impressions

Bus-powered external storage devices have grown in terms of storage capacity and speeds over the past decade. With rapid advances in flash technology (including the advent of 3D NAND and NVMe) as well as faster host interfaces (such as Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2), the market has seen the introduction of palm-sized flash storage devices capable of delivering speeds of 2Gbps. +.

The thumb drive form factor is attractive for multiple reasons – there’s no separate cable to carry around, and the casing can be designed to include a keyring for easy portability. Vendors like Corsair and Mushkin briefly experimented with SATA SSDs behind a USB bridge chip, but the solution and thermal size made their UFDs somewhat impractical. The introduction of original high-performance UFD controllers last year from Phison and Silicon Motion made this category viable once again.

Kingston’s DT Max series retains the traditional DataTraveler thumb drive form factor. However, it takes full advantage of the USB 3.2 Gen 2 connector by offering promising speeds of 1Gbps. Available in three capacities – 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB, and in both Type-C and Type-A connector versions, Kingston says it can deliver these high speeds across all six SKUs. We did a comprehensive 1TB point investigation of last year’s DT Max Type-C release. Kingston claims that the new Type-A additions to the DT Max series are the same as the corresponding Type-C additions in terms of performance, capacity and form factor, except for minor color and Type-A connector changes. We set out to confirm those claims.

The new Type A series shares the same sliding cover design to protect the connector. The blue LED power indicator and key ring are retained. The new connector makes it necessary to lengthen the UFD a bit and also adds a few grams to the weight specified in the table at the end of this section.

The teardown process was similar to that of the Type-C version. With no screws in the design, everything is held together by small plastic tongues. Other than changing the connector, the only difference we could notice on the board was the updated flash package part number. Whereas last year’s version of the Type C used the FPxxx08UCM1-7D (with Micron’s 96L 3D TLC), the new DTMAX series uses the FBxxx08UCT1-AF (with Toshiba BiCS5 112L 3D TLC). It’s not clear if newer productions of Type-C versions have also changed the flash parts – we can only comment on our review samples. Kingston continues to retain the original Silicon Motion SM2320 UFD Controller.

Since publishing our DataTraveler Max Type-C review, we’ve tackled a number of different drives with our updated test and test suite. For comparison purposes, we selected a number of smaller 1TB Direct Attached Storage (DAS) devices.

CrystalDiskInfo provides a quick overview of the capabilities of an internal storage device. Because the software treats each bridge/controller chip differently, and the SM2320 has not yet found its way into the tracked controllers, many entries are flagged as resource-specific, and some capabilities (such as the interface) are incorrectly decoded. The temperature monitoring worked fine, though – just as it did with the Type-C version.

Crossing SMART – CrystalDiskInfo

The table below provides a comparative view of the specifications of the various storage bridges presented in this review.

Comparative configuration of directly attached storage devices
downstream port Native-Flash Native-Flash
upstream port USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (male) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (male)
bridge chip Silicon Motion SM2320 Silicon Motion SM2320
Energy The bus is running The bus is running
use case Mini 1Gbps USB Drive With Type A Connector Retractable Cover Compact 1 Gbps USB drive with retractable cover for Type C connector.
physical dimensions 91.2 mm x 22.3 mm x 9.5 mm 82.6 mm x 22.3 mm x 9.5 mm
Weight 14.5 g 12.5 grams
cable Unavailable Unavailable
smart transit yes yes
UASP . Support yes yes
TRIM transit yes yes
Hardware Encryption not available not available
Storage Rating Toshiba BiCS5 112L 3D TLC Micron 96L 3D TLC
price USD 180.00 USD 180.00
review link Kingston DTMAXA/1TB مراجعة Review Kingston DT Max 1TB Review

Before considering the standard numbers, energy consumption, and efficacy of thermal solutions, a description of the test setup and evaluation methodology is provided.

Test preparation and evaluation methodology

Evaluated directly attached storage devices (including thumb drives) using a Quartz Canyon NUC (basically, a Xeon/ECC version of the Ghost Canyon NUC) configured with 2x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD – IM2P33E8 1 TB of ADATA.

The most attractive aspect of the Quartz Canyon NUC is the presence of two PCIe slots (electrical, x16 and x4) for additional cards. In the absence of a separate GPU – which is not needed in the DAS test – both slots are available. In fact, we also added a backup SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to the M.2 22110 slot connected directly to the CPU on the motherboard to avoid DMI bottlenecks when evaluating Thunderbolt 3 devices. This still allows for two additional cards running at x8 (x16) electric) and x4 (x4 electric). Since the Quartz Canyon NUC does not have a native USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, the additional Silverstone SST-ECU06 card is installed in the x4 slot. All non-Thunderbolt devices are tested using the Type-C port enabled by SST-ECU06.

The test bed specifications are summarized in the table below:

AnandTech DAS Test Configuration for 2021
System Intel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX
CPU Intel Xeon E-2286M
memory ADATA AD4B3200716G22
32 GB (2 x 16 GB)
DDR4-3200ECC @ 22-22-22-52
OS . drive ADATA IM2P33E8 NVMe 1 TB
secondary motor SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD 1TB
Supplementary Card SilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C Host
bone Windows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)
Thanks to ADATA, Intel and SilverStone Tek for the build components

The tested devices are only one part of the evaluation. Over the past few years, direct attached storage workloads for memory cards have also evolved. 4K videos with a higher bitrate at 60 frames per second are becoming very popular, and 8K videos are starting to appear. Game install sizes have also grown steadily even on portable game consoles, thanks to high-resolution installations and artwork. With these things in mind, our evaluation chart for ultra-fast flash drives and memory modules includes multiple workloads that are described in detail in the corresponding sections.

  • Synthetic workloads with CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
  • Real-world access tracking using the PCMark 10 storage standard
  • Custom robocopy workloads reflect typical DAS usage
  • Sequential writing stress test

In the next section, we have an overview of how Kingston DTMAXA engines perform in these benchmarks. Before making closing remarks, we have a few notes on the UFD’s power consumption figures and the thermal solution as well.

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