Kingston DataTraveler Max will make you toss your old flash drives [Review]

By

Kingston DataTraveler Max review
The Kingston DataTraveler Max is so fast it leaves old USB-A flash drives in the dust.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Kingston DataTraveler Max is blazing fast. It supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 so the new flash drive can transfer data at up to 1,000MBps. And it uses USB-C so can be plugged into any Mac and most iPads.

I tested Kingston’s speed claims under real-world conditions. And data transfers are so quick it made me want to pitch out all my old flash drives.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

Kingston DataTraveler Max review

Flash drives are a convenient way to store files, and transfer them between computers. But they’re slow.

Not the Kingston DataTraveler Max. You can move files around at blazing speed. It’s almost fast enough to rival drives that use Thunderbolt.

And it uses USB-C, just like every Mac and nearly all current iPad models. Get this and your hope that Apple will put a USB-A port on its next MacBook models should recede just a bit.

Hardware and design

Kingston’s latest comes in capacities of 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. That’s loads of room for work documents, thousands of images, music files, a video collection… whatever.

While it’s smaller than many portable SSDs, the DataTraveler Max is just a bit large for a flash drive. It measures in at 3.25 inches long by 0.9 in. wide by 0.35 in. thick (82 mm x 22 mm x 9 mm). That said, it’s still easily pocketable, and weighs a mere half an ounce (12g).

The casing is black plastic. It uses a sliding design so the USB-C connector can retract inside for protection. There’s no cap to lose. There is a keyring loop, though.

A blue LED lights up when the flash drive is connected and getting power. And it blinks when data is being transferred so you know when to not withdraw the drive.

The Kingston DataTraveler Max has a sliding USB-C connector.
The DataTraveler Max has a USB-C connector so it works with Mac and most iPad tablets.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Kingston DataTraveler Max performance

The DataTraveler Max supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 so it offers transfer speeds up to 1,000MBps read and 900MBps write. That’s about twice the previous version. And it’s an even greater jump over earlier versions of USB.

Of course, these are top theoretical speeds. To see how Kingston’s flash drive performs in the real world, I transferred a 1GB test file from the drive to my computer. It took about 2 seconds. Moving the same file onto the DataTraveler Max took about 2.5 secs.

For some perspective, I transferred the same 1GB file onto an old USB-A flash drive I’ve been using. Moving the file onto the drive took almost 19 minutes. Not seconds… minutes.

If you have a recently made USB-A flash drive that supports USB 3.0 then you’ll see much better performance. In my tests with one of these, the 1GB file transferred to my computer in 6 seconds and it moved the other way in 21 seconds. Reasonably quick but not as fast as Kingston’s offering.

Bigger test file and Thunderbolt

Because the DataTraveler Max handled a 1GB file so quickly I did a test with a 10.5GB file to give it more of a challenge. The file went from my computer to Kingston’s drive in 22 seconds. It transferred from drive to my computer in 32 secs.

As a comparison, moving the same 10.5GB file from a USB-A flash drive with USB 3.0 to my computer took 50 seconds. Transferring it from my computer to the drive required 7 minutes and 20 secs. (I did multiple test runs and they all took approx. that long.)

The fastest option for transferring files is Thunderbolt. To demonstrate, the 10.5GB test file transfered to my computer from the OWC Envoy Pro FX in 12 seconds, and from the Thunderbolt-compatible SSD to my computer in 18 secs.

Kingston DataTraveler Max final thoughts

Kingston DataTraveler Max makes a fine MacBook accessory.
Plug Kingston’s latest flash drive into your MacBook to add up to a terabyte of storage.
Photo: Kingston

In my real-world testing, the DataTraveler Max completely blew an old USB-A flash drive out of the water. If you’re still using one of these from several years ago, Kingston’s drive is a vastly better option. And it’s noticeably faster than more recent USB-A drives too.

Kingston’s latest can even transfer data fast enough to provide competition for Thunderbolt-enabled SSDs. It’s certainly not as quick, but the difference probably isn’t great enough for it to matter to many users.

Plus, the DataTraveler Max is easily pocketable. It’s much smaller than portable SSDs.

Pricing

Kingston’s official prices for its speedy USB 3.2 Gen 2 flash drive are:

Kingston appears to be having problems meeting demand for this product. It’s sold out on this company’s own website. Online retailer CDW has it backordered. B&H says it’s “coming soon.”

Comparable products

In addition to the OWC Envoy Pro FX discussed earlier, another alternative is the Samsung T7. This SSD is just as fast but it’s bulkier and it requires a data cable. The 1TB version is $149.99 on Amazon, but it goes up to 2TB.

Much the same can be said about the WD My Passport SSD: it’s just as fast but not as portable as Kingston’s drive. That said, WD’s offering goes up to 4TB. The 1TB version can be found on Amazon for $149.99.

Kingston provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out other in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.