Author: Pier-Luc Gendreau
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/corsair_voyager_gtr_32gb/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Pretty much everyone and their dog own, or have at least used, a portable flash drive -- and with good reason. The main benefit -- portability -- is quite obvious and with capacity reaching new highs year after year, the days of storing just a couple hundred pictures and your resume are long gone. In fact, they've gotten sufficiently fast and large, in terms of storage and not physical size of course, that for lots of people they can serve as a primary backup solution.
The drive we're looking at today comes from Corsair and is dubbed the Flash Voyager GTR. The name alone inspires high performance and that's exactly what this drive is all about. The sample we have on our hands is the 32GB iteration, but it is also available in 64GB and 128GB flavours for the storage hungry consumers out there.
The Flash Voyager lineup also involves ruggedness, thanks to their thick rubber housing. The drive is supposed to be able to be waterproof, sustain drops and survive general abuse. Sounds interesting, right? We'll risk our unit's life so you don't have to!
Similarly to just about every single flash drive out there, Corsair packages the Flash Voyager GTR in a plastic blister pack -- it's simple, it works and it's entirely recyclable! After a quick glance and you probably noticed this isn't ther smallest drive ever made. In fact, it's rather bulky, but that's the price to pay for ruggedness. Personally, I prefer a slightly larger unit since I tend to lose the smaller ones (if they don't break before that happens).
On the back, Corsair goes off to claim how incredibly quick this drive is. Apparently over five times faster than a "typical USB flash drive". With speeds hitting a minimum of 34 MB/s for reads and 28 MB/s for writes in their inhouse testing, this is pretty much as fast as it gets on USB 2.0.
Here it is, 32GB worth of solid state memory tucked into a rubber housing! Appearance is extremely subjective, but the black and yellow theme makes the drive quite a looker and then there's that tough feel to it. The red GTR reminds you how fast this relatively large device is. On the opposite side, you'll find Corsair website address just any case anything goes wrong within the 10 year warranty period.
The one issue I have with it is that there's no way to secure the USB cap, making it a likely candidate to lose. I think Corsair could learn a trick from OCZ in this department! Speaking of which, here's the Flash Voyager GTR laying side by side with an OCZ ATV 8GB, which itself isn't a small drive. Surprisingly, considering the difference in size, the Corsair drive is just five grams heavier, weighting in at 25g. While it's not particular light or small, it feels solid, which is the whole point of these Voyager drives.
Corsair adds some value to the package by throwing in a couple interesting extras. First up is the lanyard, proudly carrying Corsair's logo and your newly acquired drive model name. It can stretch slightly and attaches to the drive with a solid clip so it cannot just snap off without deliberately trying to do so. Next up is a rather neat, but simple addition -- a USB extension cord. Why, you ask? Well, if for whatever reason you have to plug it in the back of the computer, the odds of forgetting the drive there are high so that solves this problem.
To test Corsair's Flash Voyager GTR, I will be using our usual storage testing platform which consists of an ASUS P7P55D Premium motherboard paired with an Intel Core i7-870 and 4GB of Mushkin memory running at 1600 MHz. Since this drive is also about ruggedness, we'll bring it out in the wild to see how it fares against the elements.
HD Tune is an application for benchmarking hard drives. Beside the drive itself, the speed they can reach also depends on the chipset's performance.
SiSoftware Sandra 2009
Sandra, by SiSoftware, is a tool capable of benchmarking about every component found inside a computer. In this case, we are using the physical disk tool, which measures read and write performance of a given drive.
The Corsair Flash Voyager GTR is the fastest in HDTune, thanks to Kingston's poor minimum read performance. It is however, about twice as fast as their own Padlock 2 we looked at recently. The GTR has to give up the first place in Sandra, where Corsair's Survivor gets an unexpectedly good score.
Flash Memory Toolkit
This program is designed specifically to benchmark, diagnose, scan, and format removable storage. We use the file benchmark to find out the drive's read and write speeds.
In order to test actual transfer speeds, I timed how long it takes to copy a 100MB, 500MB, and 1GB file over to the drive. To prevent any bottlenecks, the source drive is an OCZ Agility.
The GTR wins Flash Memory Toolkit's read benchmark with ease, but the same cannot be said about the write portion of the benchmark. Fortunately, it's just that, a benchmark, and the GTR totally dominates the other flash drives when it comes to real world transfer speeds.
With performance testing out of the way, it's time to check out if the Flash Voyager GTR is really a tough little guy. You know, Corsair claims this drive's "tough construction stands up to all kinds of abuse", but how fun is reading about it when you can test it for yourself, right? Since you might not want to purposedly put your files under water or drop it a few stories high, we thought it'd be interesting to put those claims to the test. With that in mind, I headed off to the kitchen sink, filled it with water and... I'll let the picture below do the talking!
I let it sit there for a couple minutes, took it out, wiped the water off, took off the cap and the USB connector was slightly damp, but a quick wipe later I connected it right back in the computer. Everything worked as usual, but note that the drive sank so if you manage to drop it in a lake, your data will be intact, but you'll have to take some diving lessons to go back and get it.
Next, I climbed up on the roof and did exactly what any sane, or possibly insane, person would do -- throw the drive up in the air so it would fall roughly the equivalent of two stories high and land back on asphalt. If all goes well, the rubber housing should absorb the impact and solid state memory is, by nature, resilient to shocks so the odds are definitely on Corsair's side.
And indeed, they were -- Corsair's Flash Voyager GTR still worked just fine after a couple drops. The rubber housing absorbed the hit, making the drive bounce on landing. The only annoying part is that the cap had a tendency to slide off on impact.
Corsair designed the Flash Voyager GTR with best in class performance in mind and we can they achieved this goal. Except for the odd Flash Memory Toolkit write benchmark, which was promptly discredited by the actual real-world performance test, the GTR was constantly faster than every other drives we have tested. It also happens to be the largest with a capacity of 32GB. While we're at it, a complete NTFS format of the drive took about 22 minutes and Windows reported available space to be 30.2GB.
Build quality is top notch and if you tend to be a little rough with your electronics, Corsair's rugged rubber housing can deal with water, drops and quite possibly other kinds of general abuse you might come up with.
It performs great, has a ton of storage space and it's built to last, but it also has some downsides. The drive is definitely a bulky compared to other flash drives, although the ruggedness makes up for it. The second annoyance is the drives USB cap, it works, but with no way of keeping it attached to the drive, it is bound to be lost which in turn would drop the ruggedness to somewhere around zero.
We rarely talk accessories when it comes to flash drives, but Corsair actually includes a couple interesting goodies with this one which add some value to the package. We found ourselves actually using the lanyard to carry the drive around and we can definitely see some people putting the USB extension cord to use as well. Sure, it's not much, but it is still more than about every other company offers.
The only thing that might hold us back on this one is the fact that USB 3.0 drives should pop up on the radar sooner rather than later and offer dramatically superior performance. Available right away for about a $100, the 32GB Corsair Flash Voyager GTR is certainly not the most affordable drive of its capacity. However, if speed and toughness are your primary buying factors and you are shopping for portable storage at this very moment, then this drive is without a doubt worth the price tag.
Please do not redistribute or use this article in whole, or in part, for commercial purposes.