The PNY 128GB Turbo USB 3.0 flash drive (P-FD128TBOP-GE) appeared in stores just in time for the 2013 Black Friday/Weekend in Canada.
PNY 128GB Turbo for $49.99
On November 29, 2013 the PNY 128GB Turbo USB 3.0 (P-FD128TBOP-GE) was available on store shelves (Futureshop, Best Buy, TigerDirect, etc) for $49.99! Claimed specifications were a read speed of up to 190MB/s, and write speed of up to 130MB/s.
This was an advertised bargain at an unbelievable price (originally $59.99 but lowered to $49.99 in-store and online). Even if the performance were subpar, the price per megabyte would easily be worth it.
Anyway, a quick trip to Futureshop was made to purchase and verify the claimed speeds. On the flash drives rack, it was located at the bottom left hand corner with a regular price tag of $49.99. While many of the other USB drives had a big red sales tags, this drive had a dull black price tag which could easily be overlooked.
Packaging wise, there were no actual speed claims other than being “10x faster than USB 2.0”.
Aesthetically, the packaging had a nice golden color on a gray background.
The design of the flash drive is excellent. It is a single piece with a retractable cover. On the back, is a plastic tab to lock the cover in place. However, it required a little extra force to slide it past the tab. Afterwards, the cover would freely slide around.
The bottom right had holes for a lanyard, though none were included.
Dimensions of the drive is also excellent. Not too big, and not too small. It was easily pocketable, but not too small to lose.
Construction quality is good. The USB 3.0 plug is made of metal and the flash drive housing is made of a strong thick plastic that is durable. There was no noticeable flex under normal usage. While the retractable cover is made of a nice translucent plastic, the rest of the case is a coarse gray plastic. The joints and edges are rough or dull. Aesthetically, it looked and felt a bit cheap. Nonetheless, it was solidly constructed and durable.
Performance was excellent if not incredible. One caveat, it had a proprietary exFAT file system. It was reformatted to FAT32 for greater compatibility though possibly slower performance. Read speeds were an excellent 191.45 MB/s, and write speeds (average) were an excellent 136.2 MB/s. Easily the best results benchmarked to date.
Overall this USB flash drive is an excellent storage device. Buy it for the incredibly cheap price per megabyte, top notch performance, and solid but rough looking construction. However, the drive is formatted to an exFAT file system with limited compatibility. But it can be reformatted to FAT32 for excellent speeds.
Benchmarked below is the PNY 128GB Turbo USB 3.0 flash drive (P-FD128TBOP-GE) formatted to have a single FAT32 partition.
fdisk -l /dev/sdd
Disk /dev/sdd: 128.0 GB, 127999672320 bytes 255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 15561 cylinders, total 249999360 sectors Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes Disk identifier: 0x00054434
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdd1 2048 249999359 124998656 b W95 FAT32
Device Read Benchmark (USB 3.0)
hdparm -t /dev/sdd1
/dev/sdd1: Timing buffered disk reads: 576 MB in 3.01 seconds = 191.45 MB/sec
Device Write Benchmark: 1MB x 1000 (USB 3.0)
dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=1M count=1000 conv=fdatasync,notrunc 1000+0 records in 1000+0 records out 1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 7.57152 s, 138 MB/s
Device Write Benchmark: 10MB x 100 (USB 3.0)
dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=10M count=100 conv=fdatasync,notrunc 100+0 records in 100+0 records out 1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 7.57217 s, 138 MB/s
Device Write Benchmark: 100MB x 10 (USB 3.0)
dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=100M count=10 conv=fdatasync,notrunc 10+0 records in 10+0 records out 1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 7.617 s, 138 MB/s
Device Write Benchmark: 500MB x 2 (USB 3.0)
dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=500M count=2 conv=fdatasync,notrunc 2+0 records in 2+0 records out 1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 7.72067 s, 136 MB/s
Device Write Benchmark: 1000MB x 1 (USB 3.0)
dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=1000M count=1 conv=fdatasync,notrunc 1+0 records in 1+0 records out 1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 7.98652 s, 131 MB/s
exFAT Reformatting Notes
The flash drive came preformatted with a proprietary exFAT file system. It has limited compatibility (i.e. newer versions of Microsoft Windows).
Fortunately, on a Linux system with a newer kernel, it was possible to read and write to the device. However, for greater compatibility with media players and other devices an ext2 or FAT32 file system would be preferred.
gparted was used to reformat the drive and instantly a warning message appeared.
mtools were required to read/write to the device. After installing those programs, warnings still appeared.
Ignoring them, the exFAT partition was deleted and a new ext2 partition was created. Alas, another error message was displayed as the new partition could not be created as there was no partition table! Okay, so a new
msdos partion table was created.
Another attempt was made to create a new ext2 partition and changes were applied. Luckily there were no errors or warnings. However, it took 01:44:41 (hh:mm:ss) to format. Possibly a low level formatting had to be done?
Benchmarks were then run. The read speed was above 190MB/s but the write speeds were disappointingly low.
Okay, maybe it didn’t like ext2 file system. As a result, the partition was deleted and the drive was reformatted to have a FAT32 partition. Luckily it only took a few seconds to format.
Finally benchmarks were run repeatedly again. The read speeds were above 190 MB/s and the write speeds were above 130 MB/s. Yay!
Ha ha! Since reformatting the drive worked out well, I went back to the store to purchase another two flash drives.