Silicon Power Marvel M60 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ ModSynergy.com
By: Michael Phrakaysone

With the worldwide acceptance of the game changing portable USB flash drive, the market is highly competitive.  Memory prices have also plummeted over recent years that large capacity drives have become affordable and normal for carrying around.  Drives with the older USB 2.0 standard are saturated within the market, though they only offer so much speed. 

For those looking for something faster, newer USB 3.0 based products are still being integrated into the market as we speak.  Though right now in its infancy you see two things; the expensive cost involved with some, and with other so called USB 3.0 drives that are actually not that all faster than their USB 2.0 counterpart.  The technology is new so there is much more room to improve in terms of speed, and pricing. 

Customer acceptance is still growing with USB 3.0.  Silicon Power knows that USB 3.0 popularity will rise in 2013, so they have recently released their latest line of flash memory drives that run under the new SuperSpeed USB 3.0 standard. USB 3.0 support among industry leading companies and motherboard manufactures have been emerging at a steady pace within the past few months with both AMD and Intel offering it natively on their newest chipsets.

Today I have the chance to share with you my views on the new Silicon Power Marvel M60 USB 3.0 flash drive in 32GB capacity.  Read on to see if it's worth your hard earned money.

About Silicon Power Computer & Communications Inc.

Silicon Power Computer & Communications Inc., founded in 2003 by a group of enthusiastic specialists in International Business, Global Marketing, and Technical Engineering of flash data storage industry. Well dedicated in brand image and product quality, Silicon Power has been recognized and well accepted by millions of end-users in more than 100 countries, becomes the world's leading manufacturer of flash memory cards, USB flash drives, card readers, DRAM modules, solid state disks, and portable hard drives in less than a decade. Headquartered in Taipei, we continuously established various branches throughout the world including Netherlands, Japan, Russia, Mainland China and other emerging market to reach the worldwide market.

Silicon Power's overall performance has gradually drawn great attention worldwide. In 2006, we received Taiwan Rising Star Award for our foreign business achievement. In 2008, we won 17th National Outstanding Small & Medium Enterprise Award for our outstanding progress. Moreover, with superior quality and innovative design, our products stood out in several competitions and awarded Taiwan Excellence and COMPUTEX Design & Innovation Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Winning trust of global consumers, Silicon Power holds a record of successive double-digit revenue growth for last seven years. According to the Common Wealth Magazine's 2010 Survey of Taiwan Top 1000 Manufacturers, our 2009 revenue growth rate was ranked No.11 among Taiwan's top 1000 manufacturers, and even ranked No.1 in semiconductor industry.

Positioned as Passionate, Creative and Hungry for Success, Silicon Power introduces products for users who are seeking individualized, unique and personal digital storage devices. With the mission of creating unprecedented experience for users, Silicon Power will endeavor to deliver a full range of high quality products that have innovative designs, distinctly unique features and comprehensive after sales services to create and fulfill your personal memory.

Marvel M60 USB 3.0 Product Overview


The efficient and stylish Marvel M60: Look no further than the SP/ Silicon Marvel M60, for experiencing the ultimate high speed USB 3.0 flash drive! Leading memory storage brand SP/Silicon Power today introduces its highest read/write speed USB 3.0 flash drive to date, the Marvel M60. The product hits a new milestone among SP USB 3.0 flash drive series by giving a read capability of up to 100/MB/sec. Encased in a uniquely designed, metallic exterior, the Marvel M60 is the consumer's choice, both inside and out!

Marvel M60 USB 3.0 Product Features

The USB 3.0 Speed Evolution - Super High Transfer Efficiency: SP devotes itself developing USB 3.0 products in line with market demands for transfer efficiency. With one of the highest efficiency USB 3.0 interfaces out there, the Marvel M60 offers a maximum read speed of 100 MB/sec, and a maximum write speed of 70MB/sec. In this multimedia age, it's the ultimate information sharing tool!

Compact Lidless Design, Cool Metallic Exterior: With its sleek lidless design and retractable USB connector, the Marvel M60 is compact and convenient to carry around. In addition, an LED indicator light displays power on and data transfer status, and the cool metallic exterior caters to the unique tastes of consumers!

Lifetime Warranty; SP Widget Ensures Data Security: The Marvel M60 comes in a choice of either 32GB or 64GB storage capacity. Every SP flash drive product comes with a lifetime warranty, as well as SP Widget application software, providing 7 major back up and security tools. A 60 day free trial of Norton Antivirus 2011 is also provided, to further ensure value-added services in security and convenience to the consumers.

Data transfer rate:

  • Read speed of 100MB/sec (USB3.0 mode); 30MB/sec (USB2.0 mode)
  • Write speed of 70MB/sec (USB3.0 mode); 20MB/sec (USB2.0 mode)
  • USB 3.0 interface, backward compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices
  • Electro-plated metallic exterior
  • Lidless design, retractable USB connector
  • Usable on plugging in, no additional power source required
  • LED indicator light, displaying operating status
  • Free download SP Widget, providing 7major back-up and security tools

Marvel M60 USB 3.0 Product Specifications

  • Dimensions: 73mm x 22mm x 9mm
  • Weight: 15g
  • Interface: compatible with USB 3.0, 2.0 and 1.1
  • Support OS: Windows XP/Vista/7, Mac OS 10.3.x, Linux 2.6.x
  • Durability: 10,000 insertion/removal cycles
  • Operating temperature: 0° C - 70° C
  • Color: Silver
  • Lifetime Warranty

First Impressions

The Silicon Power Marvel M60 USB 3.0 flash drive I am reviewing today is 32GB in size and comes in a glossy black exterior, but with a stylish plastic front chrome face plate.  One of the nice things about the Marvel M60 is the form factor is compact, thin, and has a retractable USB connector making everything enclosed as one piece.  Now there's no possibility of losing an end cap, something which happens once in a while with drives with an end cap. 

Silicon Power Marvel M60


The Marvel M60 comes in a small compact package.  It consists of an inner plastic clamshell core that protects the contents and the outer paper covering the outside which allows it to showcase the design, features, and basic specifications of the USB 3.0 flash drive.

I mentioned in the beginning of this review that there are some so called USB 3.0 flash drives on the market, but they are inexpensive for a reason.  The components that its comprised of don't even make it stand out compared to USB 2.0 flash drives.  With the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 flash drive I reviewed before, that was a pretty high performance model that was substantially quicker than any USB 2.0 flash drive on the market.

Likewise, the Silicon Power Marvel M60 is not your typical slow USB drive, it also has the performance to boot. When plugged into an USB 3.0 system, you are able to achieve up to 100MB/s read, 70MB/s write, which makes it faster than all USB 2.0 flash/mechanical drives on the market by a wide margin, and makes the Marvel M60 creep into budget SSD (SATA 1 speed) like  territory.

Cutting open the package will reveal the following items...

  • Marvel M60 32GB flash drive
  • Instructions and information provided on the packaging

With the Marvel M60 there is no bundle, just the drive is included in the package.  Not even a lanyard (wrist or neck) or USB extension cable are provided. I don't know why some companies continue to do this with USB drives, at least give a lanyard. The more people will see your branded logo around people’s necks with your own flash drives, the more people will remember the Silicon Power name and be enticed to purchase one down the road.  Remembering the name brand is more important in this case. To me this is a poor decision.

Visual Inspection

The Marvel M60 flash drive measures in at 73mm x 22mm x 9mm and feels lightweight weighing in at only 15g according to the box, but weighing in at 12g with my digital scale. There's no way you will notice the heft in your pocket or hanging off your neck.

Marvel


As mentioned before, the Marvel M60 flash drive is offered in only one color scheme so there is no extra color combinations available.  I think with the front chrome face late, it would have been cool of offering different color face plates to give it some personality.  Things like face plates are pretty popular with the younger generation nowadays.  But just having a chrome face plate allows the USB drive to standout, it's almost a mirror. Aside from the chrome, the casing is shiny glossy black all around.  The disadvantage of shiny glossy plastic is that fingerprints, smudges, and stains are all far too common on the device.

Marvel

On the top of the chrome face plate are the etched logo, capacity, and USB 3.0 designation. Inside the opening of the logo is a blue LED that acts as the activity and power indicator light. 
The whole exterior of this USB flash drive is constructed out of plastic material.  Though to be honest, the plastic is not as strong in comparison to the one used with the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 which we previously reviewed. 

The Kingston is very sturdy thanks to its thicker plastic body, with the Silicon Power Marvel M60, the plastic is thinner and thus has a more flimsy feeling.  It doesn't feel as inspiring compared to the Kingston, construction wise.  Though it should survive most day to day tasks without incident, though I wouldn't be as confident if it fell on the floor compared to the Kingston or even the incredibly durable aluminum Corsair Flash Survivor, in which you can run it over with a vehicle and it still works.

Another point to make is the retractable USB connector on the Marvel M60 USB 3.0 flash drive.  In the past my experiences with a retractable USB connector has been mixed.  The good ones last a long time and don't retract inwards when trying to insert it into a USB port.  The bad ones have a bad habit in retracting inwards which is very annoying, and if the soldering is not good, the wear and tear of sticking it in and out of USB ports will make the USB connector come loose, basically the connector becomes broken over time.  It will be interesting to see whether or not the Silicon Power Marvel M60 is good or bad in this regard 

Marvel M60

But so far with my initial use, the Marvel M60 doesn't have any of those issues.  When retracted outwards by your thumb, it clicks once it fully extends making it snug and secure.  To (close it) retract it inwards requires moderate pressure with your thumb.

As this is a USB 3.0 flash drive, the innards of the connector has the signature blue color scheme with gold plated pins utilized throughout. Being backward compatible with USB 2.0, you’ll notice the pins in their standard USB 2.0 positions along with extra pins in their standard  USB 3.0 positions.

Since there is no supplied USB Y-cable, it means the Marvel M60 doesn't require extra juice to run off the USB 2.0 port, this ensures that any older port should be able to recognize the drive immediately.  With the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0, they supplied the Y-cable because the drive took a little more juice that some older USB 2.0 ports may not be able to have enough juice to operate the drive.  This is not the case with the Marvel M60.  It has worked perfectly without issues on USB 2.0 ports that I have used. 

Testing and Results

The goal here is to verify if claims of 100MB/s read and 70MB/s write speeds can be achieved utilizing an USB 3.0 system under a number of different benchmarks.  Since the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 flash drive that I reviewed previously has similar performance specifications, I will put the Silicon Power Marvel M60 in direct comparison with the Kingston. 

In this particular case, testing was completed on our 2012 ModSynergy Test PC consisting of an Intel Core i7-2600K and Intel DP67BG (B3) P67 chipset motherboard with native USB 3.0 support through its Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 controller. 


The synthetic benchmarks CrystalDiskMark (incompressible data), AS SSD (incompressible data), AIDA 64 Disk Benchmark, ATTO Disk Benchmark (compressible data), HD Tach were used on both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 configurations to verify the manufacture rated speeds. No other USB devices were connected to the USB 3.0 ports on the motherboard.

One of my real world tests consists of transferring a mixture of videos, pictures, setup files, large and small to the Marvel M60 with the use of an SSD to and from the USB drive to confirm the read and write speeds with the program called TeraCopy which electronically times the elapsed time and calculates the speed as it completes. 3.61GB of files are placed onto the USB drive from an SSD, and the same amount is transferred back to another area of the SSD.

I also am including a new verification tool that is called H2testw. The program was not made as a benchmark but after I used it, I felt that it was actually one of the best real-world tool to test USB drive performance with.  I'm going to use this program from now on because it very useful in a couple of ways.  The premise of H2testw was to detect counterfeit USB drives by verifying the capacity. 

Some drives on eBay (and others) advertise a product for example being 16GB, though in reality when using H2testw to verify its capacity, it's really 2GB because the firmware is hacked to trick the drive in thinking it's bigger than it actually is. H2testw verifies the integrity of the drive by writing random data to the drive, and then goes back and verifies if that written data is good or corrupt.  

While filling up the drive, the program also monitors and tracks how long it took to write to the drive (write speed), and it tracks how long it took to verify the drive (read speed) producing the read speed and write speed in Mbyte/s and the length of elapsed time.  I really feel this is a great way in directly comparing drives.  It's as simple as looking at the elapsed time, the shorter the time, the faster the drive.

And with the Marvel M60 being directly compared to the  Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 because of the similar specifications, you will see specifically how much faster and how much longer it takes to fill up the drive to the Megabyte, minute, and second.

CrystalCrystalKingston Technology

Under USB 3.0 operation the Kingston Marvel M60 does have the ability of reaching and beating in some cases its claimed values of 100MB/s read and 70MB/s write speeds, at least in some of the synthetic benchmarks. CrystalDiskMark indicates a sequential read speed of about 171MB/s and sequential write speed of about 70MB/s.  The read speed is substantially larger than the rated 100MB/s read, which is quite impressive to say the least. Write speed was also spot on at 70MB/s which meets what the package says.

512K read performance according to CrystalDiskMark is very fast at 96.72MB/s read.  Unfortunately, 512K write, 4K/4K QD32 read and write performance is quite the opposite. It pales in comparison to the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 flash drive in these benchmarks.  It's funny how the Silicon Power Marvel M60 managed a fast 96.72MB/s read performance, but its 512K write performance drops to only 6.9MB/s.  The Kingston achieves 61.77MB/s in comparison. 

The same slow performance is seen with the 4K and 4K QD32 benchmarks when directly compared to the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0.  Marvel M60 achieves for its 4K benchmark 3.473MB/s read and 0.438MB/s write.  4K QD32 achieves 4.025MB/s read and 0.493MB/s write. Not exactly the best performance. 

The Kingston for comparison achieves 5.393MB/s read and 10.52MB/s write for its 4K benchmark.  For the 4K QD32 it achieves 5.480MB/s read and 10.73MB/s write, better than the Silicon Power Marvel M60.

I use ATTO Disk Benchmark in my SSD reviews too, and now for testing USB drive performance. ATTO Disk Benchmark is a trusted and established application that tests raw data in compressible form within the drive being tested. It's demonstrated over the years to supply steady and consistent results, one of the reasons why ATTO Disk Benchmark is the preferred benchmark by manufactures in order to give a baseline performance reading of full throughput performance of their drives.  ATTO Disk Benchmark usually gives best case scenario performance numbers.  The numbers you see here are based on the default transfer size of 0.5 to 8192KB, as was selected to be tested along with a length of 256MB.

ATTO

Take a good look at the bar graphs throughout the different transfer sizes between 0.5-32K and the performance is lacking.  As with CrystalDisk Benchmark, 4K performance is almost nonexistent with almost 17MB/s read and almost 2MB write. 

Performance starts to climb from 64K onward.  Maximum write performance of about 79MB/s is found under 512K, while the best read performance was found under 64K length at 162MB/s.  Read performance from 64K to 8192K is very consistent between 148MB/s – 162MB/s, easily above the rated 100MB/s read speed stated on the packaging.  Write speed ranged between 55MB/s – 79MB/s from 64K to 8192K, meaning it can come close and in some cases meet and beat its rated 70MB/s write rating on the packaging.

AS SSDSSD

Let's move on to the AS SSD Benchmark.  This benchmark like CrystalDiskMark tests the drive with incompressible data. That is why on occasion you may see the disparity between numbers that are in ATTO Disk Benchmark compared to those of other benchmarks.  If there are no disparity that means the drive performs equally with both compressible or incompressible data, which means its balanced in this regard.

The Marvel M60 achieves a sequential read performance of 170.64MB/s beating the read speed rating on the box yet again by a large margin, and achieves a sequential write speed of 74.03MB/s beating the write speed rating on the box by just a bit. 

As files you will likely dump onto the USB drive vary in file size, compressibility or not, don't be disappointed if in real life you may not always achieve these “above the box rating” numbers. H2testw and its real-world results remain one of the ones you should trust to reflect what the USB drive should be able to do on a consistent basis.

Well let's see the results from the H2testw test.  30143MB were written to the 32GB Marvel M60 USB 3.0 flash drive, receiving no errors completing in 10 minutes, 18 seconds for a result of 48.7MB/s write. 

30143MB was verified and read on the 32GB Marvel M60 USB 3.0 flash drive, receiving no errors completing in only 3 minutes, 44 seconds for a result of 135MB/s read.

H2testw

For direct comparison the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 had the same 30143MB written to the drive and completed the written test in 10 minutes, 41 seconds (23 seconds longer than the Marvel M60) for a result of 47MB/s.

The Kingston's data was verified and read in 6 minutes, 23 seconds (2 minutes, 39 seconds longer than the Marvel M60) for a result of 78.5MB/s read. 

AIDA64AIDA

The Linear Read test was run on AIDA64 Disk Benchmark.  The Silicon Power Marvel M60 completed the test in only 3 minutes, 1 second for an average linear read speed of 177.7MB/s.  The Kingston completed the test in 6 minutes, 18 seconds for an average linear read speed of 84.1MB/s.  So the Kingston's read speed was 93.6MB/s slower than the Silicon Power Marvel M60 and took an extra 3 minutes, 17 seconds.

TeraCopy Results - 3.61GB transferred to and from SSD

Transfer 3.61GB from SSD to USB drive (write speed)

  • Kingston DataTraveler USB 3.0 = 1 minute 13 seconds, 51MB/s
  • Silicon Power Marvel M60 USB 3.0 = 54.649 seconds, 68MB/s

Transfer 3.61GB from USB to SSD (read speed)

  • Kingston DataTraveler USB 3.0 = 55.724 seconds, 66MB/s
  • Silicon Power Marvel M60 USB 3.0 = 38.876 seconds, 95MB/s


Reliability was very good, I only experienced a weird error when running the AS SSD benchmark 4K test, the drive took super long to complete the write access time test and somehow Windows said the test data on the drive got corrupted.  I did not really see the error later on when re-tested.  Everything worked as it should and as speedy as it would allow. From the factory the Marvel M60 comes pre-formatted with the FAT32 file system. It does not run hot or really warm, its only lukewarm to the touch under operation.

The positive that the Marvel M60 has only the Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0  is the thinner size does not obstruct USB ports beside.  You can easily fit another USB plug beside the drive, but with the bulkier Kingston Technology DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0, that was fat and obstructed the USB ports beside making it hard or impossible to add another USB beside it.  The Silicon Power Marvel M60 has no such issues.

Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?

 

Conclusion

USB 3.0

The 32GB Kingston Marvel M60 flash drive can be found for a very competitive and inexpensive price.  32GB capacity was found on Newegg Canada for $35.99 + $9.99 shipping (Canadian Dollars), and was also found for $29.99 (US Dollars) + free shipping on Amazon.com making it an affordable first USB 3.0 flash drive solution for new adopters of the standard.

The drive is much faster than USB 2.0 flash drives and that in turn helps reduce file transfer times that I’ve become accustomed to disliking with USB 2.0 offerings. Things are  substantially quicker with USB 3.0. And if you are forced to use the USB 2.0 aspect of the Marvel M60, it will be one of fastest USB 2.0 flash drives you will use. The Marvel M60 is one of the ones that should be on your short-list of considerations.

About the only negatives are in relation to not offering a lanyard, the plastic construction that is a little flimsy, and the weird occurrence of the AS SSD benchmark data being corrupted for some reason, but other than that it will put up with anything you can throw at it.

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