Nowadays everyone has a flash drive. The prices for USB drives have fallen dramatically in recent years meaning it’s now a good time to replace your old sluggish drive. But why would you want to do this? Well, with the release of Windows Vista and Ready boost (enabling you to use Flash Drives as RAM); the transfer speeds on many drives has increased so transferring your files will be quicker than ever. Also, programs can now be installed on drives, enabling you to run Email Clients, Office Tools etc all off of your USB stick. However, to do this, a vast amount of disk space is needed on your drive, but don’t fret, 4GB flash drives can now be had for around £30. Today we’ll be testing a new drive from Lexar, the 4GB JumpDrive Lightning, lets see if this drive really lives up to its name.
“A wholly owned subsidiary of Micron Technology, Inc., Lexar Media, Inc. boasts one of the most comprehensive offerings of memory product lines in the industry. We deliver high-quality, award-winning products in every memory category: USB flash drives, all popular form factors of memory cards, DRAM computer memory for PCs and Mac systems, and solid state drives (SSD).”
- Transfer, store, and share important files at blazing speeds
- Carry photos, music, video, and more anywhere you go
- Distinctive design in a stylish stainless steel case
- Includes PowerToGo™ software: Install and run many Windows® programs from the drive
- Enhanced for Windows Ready Boost
- Encrypt and share files with Secure II software
- Limited lifetime warranty
The Lexar JumpDrive Lightning arrives in a cardboard packet with a small transparent ‘window’ – – allowing you to see the drive. The front of the packet is fairly colourful with blacks, blues and greys and a graphic of the drive. Some short specifications listing the Read and Write speeds are also listed on the front. At the back of the package, the colour scheme is continued and there are features which the Drive boasts to do – – listed in seven languages – – and a systems requirements table, listing what Operating Systems the JumpDrive and software are compatible with:
- The Flash Drive – – Windows Vista, XP and Mac OS x
- Secure 2 (encrypts files) – – Windows Vista, XP and Mac OS x
- PowerToGo (run programs from drive) – – Windows Vista and XP.
Inside the cardboard package you will receive the JumpDrive Lightning itself and a small technical support warrantee booklet – – which is multilingual. Normally you’d expect to find a Lanyard and USB extension cable with most drives – – although half the time you’ll probably never use these. Well I don’t.
Lexar JumpDrive Lightning
The drive we’ll be reviewing today is the 4GB variant, but 1GB and 2GB models are also available.
The Lexar JumpDrive Lightning is a long but sleek drive styled in polished stainless steel.
Equipped on the outside of the drive is a blue LED indicator which is located in an indent in the centre of the drive – – where it cannot be damaged easily. Just to the right hand side of the LED are the words ‘Lexar’ printed in an opaque grey.
Around the edges of the JumpDrive is a black rubber ‘frame’ which helps protect the Lexar from any knocks and drops that it may encounter.
The cap protecting the USB connector locks on very tightly to the drive and is actually very difficult to remove. When removed though, the cap can be pushed onto the end of the JumpDrive so it cannot be lost while the drive is in use.
The rig we use to test Flash Drives is Rhys’ work computer. The hardware contained in this computer is as follows:
|Intel C2D E6750 @ Stock|
|Asus P5K Premium 775|
|Corsair XMS2 6400 2GB (2x1GB)|
|Western Digital SE16 500GB SATA|
|XFX 7900GS 256MB|
|Windows Vista Home Premium (32bit)|
Our tests include:
- Testing any Software Preinstalled on the Flash Drive
- Awarding the drive an Endurance Factor (wear and life expectancy) – – calculated by dividing the average performance (normal condition, i.e. sequential write) to the lowest performance (high-stress condition, i.e. same block re–write).
- Calculating the Average Read Performance – – Calculated for all five file sizes
- Calculating the Average Write Performance – – Calculated for all five file sizes
- Giving a Device Index Score – – Representing the performance of the drive using the average speed from all five file sizes.
To make the tests fair, we reformat and wipe the flash drives clean when doing performance related tests (e.g. bottom 4 tests).
All speed and endurance tests were calculated using SiSoftware Sandra’s Removal Storage Benchmark.
Preinstalled on the JumpDrive is the Power2Go software which is a bit like Portable Apps. If you haven’t heard of Portable Apps before, it is what it sounds, Portable Applications which can be installed and run from your own flash drive. This is quite a useful feature and there is a large library of programs that can be downloaded (for free) and installed onto the drive.
Also with the drive is a piece of software called Secure 2, this allows you to create partitions on the drive, encrypt partitions and files, decrypt partitions and shared files off the drive safely. This is quite a good feature in my opinion as it’s feels great knowing that if you lose your drive, all your data is safe.
All this software that is installed on the drive is handy and only takes up 42mb of the drive. If you didn’t want the software for some reason, you could just reformat the drive and it would delete it all.
Unfortunately we don’t have any other drives available to compare the Lexar with; however, we have provided some synthetic benchmarks for other drives in a graph below to give you an idea on how it performs compared to other drives.
Below is the read and write speeds for the Lexar JumpDrive Lightning using different block sizes of files. The package advertised the drive as having a 30MB read speed and a 21MB write speed. This is proved from the results when using a total block size of files equalling 64MB. These speeds are pretty impressive making this drive a great performer to Windows Vista’s Ready Boost feature.
SiSoftware Sandra calculated the JumpDrive Lightning as having an endurance factor of 22. This score compared to the scores from other drives in the graph below, is an okay score, but we didn’t really expect the drive to outdo the drives from ATP – – those bad boys are designed for the Army.
The Device Index score was slightly lower than the score offered from the other drives. However, we’ve proved from the Read and Write speeds table above, the JumpDrive Lightning is a quick performer at only higher file sizes.
The Lexar JumpDrive Lightning is a drive which certainly offers a lot. For one thing, it’s very stylish and feels of great quality – – so appearance is one area that this drive certainly doesn’t lack in. One thing that did bug me a little about the chrome finish though, is that finger prints show up on it very easily, so you’ll often find yourself wiping it to get rid of those greasy fingerprints. However, if you haven’t got an OCD for fingerprints, I’m sure you’ll live.
Performance wise, this drive is an obvious successor in the large file sizes with files being read at nearly 31MB/s and files being written at 22MB/s – – this is great for anyone transferring media to their flash drive or wanting to make use of Vista’s Ready Boost. The all round speed for different blocks of files wasn’t so successful though, which impacted on the Device Index score. However, the Index score was still quite impressive and compared well to some of the top flash drives on the market.
The Software installed on this drive is quite impressive. With Encryption, Decryption and the ability to create different partitions, you can do just about anything with this drive! Another part I liked about the drive is the portable applications. There are a couple of programs already installed on the drive, but the actual drive has a massive library of programs which can be downloaded and installed straight to it. I found these Portable applications very handy.
It’s safe to say, the Lexar JumpDrive Lightning is a great drive and one that should seriously be considered if you’re out to buy a new flash drive.