Is the new SanDisk Extreme Pro 3.1 USB Flash drive any good?

If you read my previous blog post where I compared a SanDisk Extreme 3.0 USB flash drive with a SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.0 flash drive, you would have seen that although the Pro version had a more robust half-metal shell construction and was much faster when transferring files under Windows, under grub4dos the cheaper Extreme model was actually faster.

The new fast Extreme Pro USB 3.1 drive is now available in sizes of 128GB and 256GB. Like the other two models, it is also of the Removable type and so is also ideally suited for use with Easy2Boot (E2B). It has the same half-metal body as the Pro 3.0 but it is painted black instead of silver. All three have a capless slide-out connector design.

Pick a card - any card...


Amazon.com links (in order of speed and price):
SanDisk Extreme Pro 3.1 CZ880 128GB $92 approx.
SanDisk Extreme Pro 3.0 CZ88 128GB   $70 approx.
SanDisk Extreme 3.0       CZ80 128GB    $63 approx.

As I recommend that you do not exceed 137GB for the first E2B partition, I suggest you do not purchase the 256GB version unless you intend to split it into two partitions and use the 2nd partition for other purposes. Note that most Windows versions (except the very latest Win10 versions!) can only access the first partition on a Removable-type USB drive.

Note: Beware - the SanDisk Extreme Go 3.1 is slower and cheaper and was not tested - it is not as fast as the Extreme Pro 3.1 which is reviewed here!

Testing

30GB file Explorer write under Windows 10 64-bit  (mfr specified speed in parentheses rd/wr)
Pro 3.1 128GB     300MB/s   (420/380MB/s)  $90/£85 SDCZ880-128G-G46
Pro 3.0 128GB     166MB/s   (260/240MB/s)  $70/£66  SDCZ88-128G-G46 
3.0     64GB*     175MB/s   (245/190MB/s)  $62/£55  SDCZ80-128G-G46

Notes:
*For tests, I used the 64GB version of the SanDisk Extreme 3.0. I copied the 30GB file from an internal SATA SSD drive.


Note: Old version - rows are in different order!
Note: These benchmarks were not reliably reproducible!
Take with a large pinch of salt for Pro 3.0!
      
Extract all files from XP ISO (write)
Pro 3.1   32 secs
Pro 3.0   33 secs
3.0          75 secs

Make E2B+DPMS USB drive (write)
Pro 3.1  21secs
Pro 3.0  31 secs
3.0         60 secs

Grub4dos file access times - read (BIOS=IdeaPad 300 USB 3.0 port, 1000 loops)
Pro 3.1   19 secs
Pro 3.0   21 secs
3.0         15 secs

WinToGo performance
The Pro 3.1 performed well in a USB 3.0 port on my IdeaPad 300 notebook. It definitely felt faster than the other two when running Windows To Go from a VHD.

Summary

If you boot to the grub4dos E2B menu and only use a lot for small ISOs and utilities, then use the cheaper 3.0.
If you want to boot to VHDs or transfer large files frequently, use the Pro 3.0 which was markedly faster than the 3.0.
If you can spare the extra $10-$20, go for the Extreme Pro 3.1, it is significantly faster when copying large files (but under grub4dos it slightly slower than the 3.0)! Prices can vary, so shop around!

When choosing a USB drive for WinToGo, USB booting or transferring lots of small files, it is important to look at the 4K Random Write benchmark figure - this should be around 10MB/s or better.

BEWARE: Some USB Flash 3.0 drives may have very fast Sequential rd/wr speeds but appallingly slow 4K Random Write speeds of below 0.2MB/s!