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The 5 Best USB-C Thumb Drives (8GB to 1TB)

USB-C thumb drives provide portable storage and convenient file transfers between USB-C equipped devices. As the USB-C connector becomes ubiquitous, quality drives are essential.

This expert guide compares 10+ top USB-C thumb drives available today, from compact budget 8GB models to blazing fast 1TB prosumer variants. You‘ll learn how to select the right drive for your needs based on factors like:

  • Capacity
  • Maximum speeds
  • Build construction
  • Feature sets
  • Benchmark performance
  • Firmware hackability
  • Price and value

We‘ll demystify USB generations, analyze drive components like NAND flash and controllers, evaluate encryption schemes, and answer common questions on compatibility, durability and more. Let‘s dive in…

USB Technology Evolution

Before assessing specific thumb drive models, it helps to understand how USB standards, connectors and supported features have progressed over time:

USB Interface Generations by Speed

USB 1.1 – Released in 1998, used primarily for keyboards, mice, and printers. Very slow 12 Mbps data transfer speeds.

USB 2.0 – Released in 2000. Added higher 480 Mbps speeds. Ubiquitous for many years – most flash drives utilize a USB 2.0 interface.

USB 3.0 – Released in 2008. SuperSpeed USB with 5 Gbps throughput. Added new blue connector ports for easy identification.

USB 3.1 – Released in 2013. SuperSpeed+ USB with 10 Gbps potential. First appearance of USB-C connector plus faster USB 3.0 performance.

USB 3.2 – Released in 2017. SuperSpeed+ Gen 2×2 USB with 20 Gbps+ speeds. Available in USB-C and USB-A connector versions.

USB4 – Released in 2019. Equivalent to Thunderbolt 3 support using USB-C connector. 40 Gbps speeds via PCIe and NVMe interfaces.

While USB4 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 deliver the fastest interface speeds, USB 2.0 still suffices for more basic data transfers given the right thumb drive implementation. We‘ll see later that rated specifications don‘t always align with real-world copying scenarios.

Now let‘s explore some top-performing USB flash drives available across the generations…

Best USB-C Thumb Drives

Based on key criteria like sustained read/write performance, design/build quality, feature sets and value, these USB sticks stand above the pack:

Drive Interface Capacities Seq. Read Seq. Write Warranty Price
SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 64GB – 1TB 420 MB/s 380 MB/s 5 years $$$
Samsung FIT Plus USB 3.2 Gen 2 256GB 400 MB/s 400 MB/s 5 years $$
Corsair Flash Voyager GTX USB 3.2 Gen 1 128GB – 1TB 440 MB/s 440 MB/s 5 years $$
Kingston IronKey Locker+ USB 2.0 4GB – 128GB 135 MB/s 40 MB/s 5 years $$
SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Gen 1 16GB – 256GB 130 MB/s 15MB/s 5 years $

We intentionally selected a mix of USB-C drives leveraging various interface generations to exemplify how performance and use cases can vary substantially. Now let‘s explore each recommendation in more detail…

SanDisk Extreme Pro

SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Thumb Drive


  • Blazing sustained read/write speeds
  • Rugged forged aluminum design
  • Sized right for keychains
  • AES 256-bit encryption


  • Premium pricing
  • Attached cap can be annoying

If you want one of the fastest USB thumb drives available in 2023, look no further than the SanDisk Extreme Pro. Achieving sequential reads over 400MB/s and writes beyond 350MB/s, it will slash file transfer wait times.

Note that USB flash performance varies by capacity – higher capacity models generally enable faster rated speeds. Prices also scale dramatically with size, as this chart shows:

SanDisk Extreme Pro price by capacity

The SanDisk Extreme Pro isn‘t cheap, but you‘re paying for superb quality inside and out. The forged aluminum chassis withstands 30G shocks alongside rain, dust and 2 meter drops. An integrated carabiner hook latches securely onto backpacks and keychains for ultimate portability.

On the software side, 256-bit AES encryption password-protects sensitive data. And the SanDisk Memory Zone app enables one-tap backups to both local storage and cloud services.

While USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports are still rare in 2023, this drive delivers excellent backward compatibility with USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 systems. Given impressively sustained transfers – especially for very large movies and archives – media production pros should shortlist the SanDisk Extreme Pro.

Sequential Read: 420MB/s
Sequential Write: 380MB/s

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Samsung FIT Plus

Samsung FIT Plus USB 3.2 USB-C Thumb Drive


  • Streamlined reversible form
  • Generous 5-year warranty
  • Excellent real-world speeds
  • Robust metal enclosure


  • Capless design lacks protection
  • Premium pricing

The aptly-named Samsung FIT Plus delivers a slim yet rugged USB-C thumb drive brimming with performance. Impressively, Samsung packs an NVMe SSD controller into this compact keychain-friendly stick.

Sequential reads and writes exceed 400MB/ps, keeping transfer wait times to a minimum. And that‘s thanks to a high-bandwidth USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface plus quality 3D NAND flash memory components inside.

Note that this drive only ships in a 256GB capacity currently. But that should suffice for most external storage needs given modern cloud backup options. Just take care not to misplace it – the capless metal frame lacks a protective cover or retractable mechanism.

On the durability front, a zinc alloy build encases the drive to absorb 5 foot drops and resist splashes. And file security is addressed through optional password-protected AES 256-bit encryption. At just over half an ounce, it‘s easy to keep the FIT Plus attached for true on-the-go accessibility.

If you can swallow the premium asking price, Samsung delivers range-topping portability and speed in a impossibly tiny irreversible package.

Sequential Read: 400MB/s
Sequential Write: 400MB/s

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… Continued USB Thumb Drive Reviews & Analysis …