Crucial make USB drives, just like many other companies. Except they make FAST USB drives… Today I have the Crucial Gizmo! Overdrive secure 1gb drive which will be put though its paces to find whether it’s the one for you.
The Crucial story starts with Micron Technology, Inc., one of the largest dynamic random access memory (DRAM) manufacturers in the world and the only one based in the U.S. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, Micron manufactures DRAM chips and assembles them into high-quality memory modules for sale to original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”) worldwide.
For nearly three decades, Micron has learned that when you make some of the very best memory in the world, lots of companies want it, from computer makers to wireless device manufacturers to printer producers. (And we’re really glad that they do!)
But then Micron asked, well, what about the end user? What about the everyday folks who want to upgrade their existing systems with OEM-quality memory — the home desktop user, the IT network guy, the student notebook user? Why don’t we offer our memory to the public, at factory-direct pricing?
So in 1996, Micron responded to a growing demand for high-quality memory upgrades among end users who wanted the best possible performance from their systems. Micron launched Crucial Technology in September of that year, and for the first time, end users had the opportunity to buy directly from the manufacturer the same memory modules bought by the world’s major OEMs for original installation in their systems.
Having a direct sales division focused on selling Micron’s DRAM to the public was apparently an idea whose time had come, and 10 successful years later, we have expanded our product line to include graphics cards, flash cards and readers, and USB flash drives. In fact, we are celebrating our 10th anniversary at www.crucial.com/ten!
Why is Crucial thriving? We offer our customers a number of clear advantages over our competitors.
Specs and Description
- Write speed up to 13MB/s (80X)
- Read speed up to 25MB/s (160X)
- USB 2.0 flash drive
- Dual-channel controller for high-performance data transfer
- Small form factor — 64 mm by 20 mm (68 mm by 20 mm with cap)
- Rapidly flashing LED indicates when data is transferring
- Plug and Play™ — no drivers required
- Security software (English only) provides password protection, 256kb Blowfish-level encryption, and hide function
- Available in 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB densities
- Ready-Boost capable
The packing is simple and looks pretty much the same as other USB drive boxes; showing off the product. The drive has security software pre-installed on it meaning that you can encrypt your data with a password.
In the box you get a short multi-lingual manual explaining the basics of how to plug it into your PC, a lanyard and the Gizmo! itself. Contary to other manufacturers, Crucial have decided to exclude Windows 98 users and not provide a CD with drivers on for them.
The Gizmo! Overdrive features dual channelling, which essentially works the same way as dual channel RAM. The data is written twice as fast as the information is split and is stored on two separate flash discs inside the Gizmo! Overdrive (think RAID 0). So it’s essentially like storing one file on two flash discs. This should mean that you get twice the performance.
The Gizmo! Overdrive is quite plain and professional looking without all the bells and whistles that are often present on a USB drive. There is a small cap which protects the USB plug. On one side there is a small window with the activity LED behind it. The unit itself is made of glossy black plastic, there is also a white version available.
On the rear of the unit there is a small hole so that you can attach the included (or your own personal favourite) lanyard and wear the drive with pride.
After reading the specs, you’ll probably notice that the drive is Ready-Boost compatible. This is a new technology that Windows Vista introduces. Essentially, it allows you to use a flash disc as RAM. This means that you don’t have to pop open your PC case to get that extra bit of performance. The Gizmo!’s speed should make this drive even better at doubling as RAM.
When I first plugged in the Gizmo! XP popped up a window asking me to start the Portable Vault application (made by Stompsoft, the program is available from their site for $15.99). After typing in a password and clicking ‘Yes’, the Vault screen appeared which allows you to add and delete files from the encrypted sector of the drive. You can drag-and-drop files freely into the program and then the file is encrypted and stored on the Gizmo!. Subsequent uses of the Vault first brings up a screen asking for your password. You can change this password in the program once logged in.
Of course, you don’t have to use the encryption software, or simply delete it from the drive.
To test the Gizmo! I used Sisoft Sandra and HDtach. I also used real world testing copying 900mb in a single file and 900mb in 50mb files (18 x 50mb).
First up Sandra gave me the following results:
(1MB = 1024KB)
Average operations /s
HD tach told me that you can read from the Crucial 1gb Gizmo! Overdrive @ 25.2mb/s which is pretty much the same as Sandra.
I then used real world testing:
900mb (single file)
900mb (single file encrypted)
900mb (18 x 50mb)
900mb (18 x 50mb encrypted)
Encryption using the supplied Personal Vault used about 30% CPU power on an AM2 3800+. When a single file is added the extra encryption time is negligible, however when more than one file is added, the time increases dramatically.
The encrypted files cannot be seen on the drive with Windows, however the drive space reduces as you would expect. I’m sure on another OS you’ll be able to see the encrypted files (but not be able to open them).
The LED on the side of the drive really isn’t very useful. For one, when you plug it in, it flashes. Slowly. It would be quite easy to miss the fact that it is on. Then, when you are reading/writing to the drive, it flashes slightly faster. A better way of doing it would be a green light when its plugged in and a red light for when its in use.
The cap on the drive isn’t connected in anyway and you could quite easily lose it if you are not careful (I lost it twice while testing).
The drive is nice and fast, and with continued use you would appreciate the extra speed. The extra security software cements this as a solid buy and a useful tool in the office.
|Looks simple and professional||Can lose the cap|
|Fast||Use LED is useless!|
I’d like to thank Crucial for providing us with the review sample
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