Monday, 15 April 2019

Fast E2B USB 3.0 drives - which is best? (GTX v. SSD v. M.2)

When booting from an E2B USB drive, the speed will depend on the speed of the USB drive and also on the BIOS USB driver.

I decided to test out three of the fastest Fixed disk-type USB 3 drives I have using my Asus Z87-A PC. Any of these three USB drives will comfortable run WindowsToGo or full Linux:

1. SilverStone M.2 SATA SSD enclosure + Crucial MX500 M.2 ($37+$62=$99 for 500GB)

 with retractable USB connector + M.2 card                                               

2. Inateck SATA enclosure + Samsung EVO 850 500GB ($15+$78=$93 for 500GB)
You could probably substitute any cheaper SSD SATA drive without too much performance loss.

3. Corsair Voyager GTX USB3.0 256GB ($83 for 256GB, $136 for 512GB)

Here are the Crystal DiskMark results:

Note that to run WindowsToGo from a USB 3.0 drive, we need at least 1MB/s for the 4KB Write benchmark (see the bottom right figure in each box above).

When MBR-booted to Easy2Boot (grub4dos/BIOS), the USB Read-only Performance Test (in the Utilities Menu) gave these results for 1000 loops using a USB 3.0 port:

Corsair GTX:         12 seconds
Inateck+Samsung SSD:  8 seconds
SilverStone+M.2:      5 seconds

Note: These results are determined by the Z87's BIOS driver and the device - if using a different BIOS, the results would be a lot different (it can be a lot slower if the BIOS uses USB 1.0 or USB 2.0 drivers internally).

So the M.2 stick is over twice as fast as the GTX when being accessed via the BIOS:

Here are the times for a 6GB file being written to each drive from a Windows 10 x64 system on a UASP USB 3 port:

Corsair GTX:          46 seconds
Inateck+Samsung SSD:  32 seconds
SilverStone+M.2:      28 seconds


P.S. For a less-expensive, good, fast USB 'thumbdrive' I recommend the Sandisk Extreme range.

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