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Appeared on: Thursday, June 01, 2006
OCZ Mini-Kart


1. Introduction

OCZ entered into the memory market in August 2000, manufacturing DDR and RDRAM modules. OCZ manufactured the first Dual Channel optimized memories, which originally took advantage of nVidia's Twinbank. OCZ offers a wide range of memory products, including CPU Cooling Products and Memory Sticks.

In the past, we have received and tested OCZ's Rally USB flash memory, but recently OCZ released a new series of even smaller flash memory sticks, called Mini-Kart.

OCZ Technology makes data storage and transferring easier and more portable than ever with the OCZ Mini-Kart USB Flash Drive. The ultra thin and lightweight Mini-Kart holds up to 2GBs of data in an ultra-compact unit.

The Mini-Kart housing is 2.8mm thick, making this compact unit small enough to store in your wallet, ensuring that it is always handy to access and available for transferring documents, music, pictures and videos from your home or work computer. As a result of the incredibly thin Mini-Kart profile, you’ll never have to unplug surrounding USB ports to make room, a common problem with many oversized competitor drives. The Mini-Kart has a highly durable USB connector that is designed to be exposed without any issues.



Instantly play music, view images, or open files as if the Mini-Kart was an onboard hard drive with True Plug and Play functionality. The ultra-thin miniature USB 2.0 Mini-Kart drive is designed with ultimate portability and reliability in mind and is backed by a 3 year warranty.

Features

- True Plug and Play
- Ultra slim design is thin enough to fit in your wallet
- Glowing LED signals high speed transfer activity
- Quick transfer rates for files of all types and sizes
- Store and transport documents, music, pictures, and videos with ease
- Lightweight housing for ultimate portability
- Backed by OCZ 3 Year Warranty

Specifications

- Dimensions: 43mm x 19mm x 2.8mm (L x W x H)
- High Speed USB 2.0 Certified
- True Plug and Play (Compatible with MAC OS X)
- Available in 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB capacities
- Blue LED Status Light
- Small Lanyard Keyring
- 3 Year Warranty

In this review, we will have a closer look at the OCZ MIMI-KART with 1GB capacity.


2. Performance

We tested the performance of the OCZ Mini-Kart 1GB USB Flash Drive, using two well known benchmarking utilities, HD Tach and Sisoft Sandra 2005. All tests were carried out under the WinXP operating system, with a USB 2.0 compatible motherboard (Abit A8N Fatal1ty series).

HD Tach Results


Click to enlarge

Device Av. Read Av. Write
OCZ Mini Kart 10.2 7.7
Creation 1GB 7.9 7.4
OCZ Rally 1GB 14.5 24.7
Memorex 1GB 17.4 10.5

Despite being ultra thin and lightweight, the OCZ Mini-Kart reported a better performance than Creation's USB stick. As was expected, the OCZ Rally and Memorex Traveldrive reported higher reading and writing transfer rates, but are double and more in size. The OCZ Mini-Kart is designed more for convenience and not for high performance, but it is good nonetheless.

Sisoft Sandra 2005 SR1 Results

Sisoft Sandra has two sets of tests.

The "File system" which tests how your drive(s) and controller(s) compare to other devices in a typical system:

· Read Test: Buffered, Random, Sequential
· Write Test: Buffered, Random, Sequential
· Seek Test

The "Drive Index" mark is a composite figure representing an overall performance rating based on the average of the read, write, and seek tests, and file and cache size. The Drive Index is intended to represent drive performance under typical use in a PC. A larger number means better performance. The weighting of the results is not equal and represents the distribution of different files sizes as used on these devices (obtained through field research).

Device Drive Index
OCZ Mini Kart 10MB/s
Creation 1GB 8MB/s
OCZ Rally 1GB 18MB/s
Memorex 1GB 15MB/s

The results here indicate good performance, once again better than Creation's stick.

The "Compact Flash" typical usage model for these devices is File operations, such as Writing a file to the device, reading a file from it, and deleting a file. This benchmark exercises the devices in terms of these operations (to measure the “raw” cluster level performance of the device, it is recommended to also test it by means of the File System Benchmark module). The following characteristics are measured for each of the four representative file sizes of 512 Bytes (representing a minimal single data cluster file), 32kB, 256kB and 2MB. The weighting of the results is not equal and it represents the distribution of different files sizes as used on these devices (obtained through field research). For each of the four file sizes, a Combined Index is then calculated, stating the combined performance in terms of Combined Operations Per Second, with respect to a mix of write, read and delete operations.

Combined Device Index: is a composite figure representing an overall performance rating based on the average of the Combined Index figures over the four file sizes. (Higher is better, i.e. better performance).

Endurance Factor: is a figure representing the Wear and Life Expectancy of flash devices; this is obtained by dividing the average performance (normal condition, i.e. sequential write) to the lowest performance (high-stress condition, i.e. same block re-write). It measures the relative improvement of endurance caused by the wear leveling or flash management algorithm; the absolute endurance of a device (i.e. its expected life-time) is directly dependent, in addition to this Endurance Factor, on the nominal manufacturer rating of maximum erase/reprogram cycles, which is typically 100,000+ for SLC and 10,000+ for MLC devices. (Higher is better, i.e. longer life-time for the device)

Device Combined Index Endurance Factor
OCZ Mini Kart 3864 6.3
Creation 1GB 1192 14.3
OCZ Rally 1GB 6087 5.5
Memorex 1GB 3918 21.2

Good Combined Index results for the OCZ Mini-Kart, which are much better than Creation and close enough to the Memorex stick. The endurance factor is not very high according to SiSoft Sandra 2005, but still better than the OCZ Rally.


3. Conclusion

The increasing demand for high capacity, portable data storage, has lead manufacturers to produce portable and convenient devices. OCZ Technology released its Mini-Kart USB Flash Drive which certainly fits this category of devices. The ultra slim and lightweight Mini-Kart, is an ultra-compact unit, only 2.8mm thick, small enough to fit in your wallet. What else do you need?

The performance of the Mini-Kart is quite good and despite its compact size, it can at times outperform other standard size USB Flash Drives. However, we believe performance, with regard to reading and writing transfer rates, is not the only or main characteristic we should look for in such an ultra-compact device. There's also reliability, which is backed by the OCZ brand name, in combination with the 3 years warranty.

At the time of this review, the price for the 512 MB Mini-Kart was US$37, while for the 1GB and 2GB at US$45 and US $55 respectively. At such prices, especially for the 1GB and 2GB units, we highly recommend this device.

 



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