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Monster sized USB sticks reviewed

First INQpressions Corsair Flash Voyager vs. OCZ Mega-Kart 16GB
Tue Jan 23 2007, 08:49

Product: Corsair CMFUSB2.0-16GB, OCZ OCZUSMGK-16GB
Website: WWW.CORSAIRMEMORY.COM WWW.OCZTECHNOLOGY.COM
System Requirements: a USB port
Price: Corsair: $399.99, OCZ: $204.99

WE ARE LIVING in the age of Flash. Everybody is carrying around flash memory, regardless of whether we are talking about flash memory inside the cellphone, MP3 player or USB sticks of some capacity. When it comes to USB drive manufacturers, they have been constantly improving capacity and usability. However, once you combine flash and premium memory manufacturers you're bound to have some fireworks, and Corsair & OCZ proved that fireworks in the USB flash drives market are guaranteed once engineers let their minds loose.

If you require absolutely highest capacity in mobile storage, current USB flash drives peak at 16GB, and this is the area where our two models reside. We tested the Corsair Flash Voyager 16GB and OCZ Mega-Kart 16GB in order to find out which is the best highest-capacity stick out there.

Is 16GB enough?
alt='rev_cor_ocz_16gb01'
Corsair targets a place in your pocket, OCZ wants to get inside wallets

For starters, 16GB will dwarf all those newcomers in the world of optical media, the single-layer HD DVD. 16GB is enough for placing 6700 photos in 8.5 MPixel resolution, the highest JPEG quality, uncompressed dual-layer DVD or simply use this capacity to store copies of your working documents. Since I own a laptop which has double the capacity, having these two babies means I have an additional 100% of my notebook storage in my pocket.

As you can see from the picture above, Corsair continued with its famous Flash Voyager design, so data is safe just as it was on the 8GB model. OCZ opted for different approach than its line-up, with the Mega-Kart being designed for placement inside your wallet. The design resembles a credit card with the thickness being around five credit cards, so it probably won't fit in regular credit card compartments, it didn't fit in my Boss for Lufthansa wallet. However, you'll be perfectly fine with Mega-Kart located in one of the bigger sections.

alt='rev_cor_ocz_16gb03'
It takes five credit cards to equal the thickness of Mega-Kart - still, this is a 16GB monster

However, we have to state right now that 16GB isn't exactly the capacity which will be at your disposal. Flash drives are similar to hard disk drives in that perspective, so it's no wonder that 8GB drives come with around 7.73GB of space and these 16GB gents offer 15.1GB in the Corsair model and 15.3GB in the OCZ version. Even though OCZ has clear advantage of 200MB, that was paid by using slower parts inside the drive.

Indeed, both drives are noticeably slower than our reference eight gig stick, but at the same time, both will leave those mainstream and el cheapola USB drives that companies are now bundling with detergents in their dust. Yep, I am talking about 99% of the drives out there. Both Corsair and OCZ smoke the competition, and in one of our next articles we'll give you a comparison by just how much cheap sticks blow.

Is 16GB enough?

In order to test these monsters, we've once more deployed our faithful testing rig, the INQtest#2. This winter-heating computer consists of a nice and warm 200W spitting CPU and a 150W graphics card. Of course, we're talking about this one:

Intel Pentium EE955 3.46@4.26 GHz
Zalman CNPS7000-Cu
Intel D975XBX2 "Bad Axe 2"
2GB Corsair TWIN2X2048-9135C5D
Nvidia GeForce 7950GX2 1GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 250GB x2
Plextor PX-760A
Corsair 620W PSU
Zboard WoW Edition
Logitech MX-510

Testing software included Windows XP Professional SP2 and Office 2007 as the starting point, joined with a test suite containing HDtach 3.0.1.0, HD Tune 2.62 and two real-world tests. Real world tests are divided into a directory filled with small files (170 of them, a mix of JPEG, MP3, TIFF, RTF, DOC, XLS, and PPT) and a RAR image with zero compression, once again consisting of the same files. File size for both parts is 511.98MB.

alt='hdtach_16gb_ocz_vs_corsair'
HDtach 3.0.1.0

alt='hdtune_16gb_ocz_vs_corsair'
HD Tune 2.62

alt='512mb_random_data_16gb_ocz_'
Real-world test with 512MB of unsorted files

alt='512mb_stream_file_16gb_ocz_'
Real-world test with single 512MB sized file

As you can see HDtach shows that in access time the Flash Voyager is winner bar none. This is easily visible in real world usage as well, e.g. time of recognition of USB drives. It takes significantly less time to recognize a stick than a credit card, but they're both equal when it comes to eating up the CPU. And while the Flash Voyager has the significant lead in write speed, the Mega-Kart surprises us in burst read speed, passing the 30MB/s mark.

HD Tune paints a bit of a different picture though. Corsair is once again faster in random access, but the performance is on par with OCZ throughout the tests, and it all comes down to real-world testing. Here, Corsair utterly dominates in both tests, since it takes four times less time to write our testing files than it takes on Mega-Kart, which will take six minutes of your life to write down half a gigabyte. This would not be so bad if we were talking about capacity of the drive, but the fact is - when it comes to small files, Mega-Kart will eat up 45 minutes to get filled to the max. Flash Voyager will fill up all of its 15.1GB in twelve and a half minutes, which leaves you with 30 minutes to spare. However, in reading, both drives will be over in a jiffy, so copying data off the sticks just flys.

The Mega-Kart showed its value in synthetic burst tests, so it was no surprise that it kept a close distance to Flash Voyager in single-file test, with Corsair being better only by couple of seconds.

In Short
This is a tough one, but in a way, both devices have their own advantages and disadvantages. For starters, Corsair costs almost twice as much than the Mega-Kart, but offers significantly better performance, sometimes even equal to the difference in price. If you demand capacity above all, OCZ is the best buy and Corsair is the grand prix, but bear in mind that it will take ages to fill up all of the 15.3GB of data. In fact, in our measurement Mega-Kart was even comparable to our Sony BWU-100A Blu-ray burner when burning media at max. speed of 2x.

Sadly, this review won't do justice when it comes to speed, since these drives just run circles around most of the "Made in Mainland China" and "Made in Taiwan" products out there.

The Good
HD DVD capacity in your pocket (both)
Proven indestructible case (Corsair)
USB drive that even woman will like - elegance for mainstream and enthusiast (OCZ)
As fast as 16GB can be (Corsair)

The Bad
Plastic casing has a notch which can bend the USB dongle (OCZ)
Steep price (Corsair)
Performance level equal to your mainstream drives (OCZ)
Younger brother (8GB) is *much* faster (Corsair)

The Ugly
OCZ is just too slow for comfortable transfer of gigabytes, while Corsair is just a tip too expensive.

Bartender's Report - Corsair
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Bartender's Report - OCZ
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