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Speed on the Xbox 360

Now we know how these drives compare under normal computing tasks, we can now see whether this is mirrored when using the Xbox 360. As noted earlier the Xbox only allows for up to 16GB of USB-based storage. When you first insert a USB flash drive into the Xbox 360 and try to use it, you're prompted to prepare it. This creates a hidden partition, whose capacity you can specify, which is used exclusively for the Xbox.

To test performance we first ran some read and write tests from the Xbox 360's hard drive, in this case a 20GB drive from an original Xbox 360 Premium. Our test file(s) was the 835MB install of Shadow Complex, an XBLA game we heartily recommend trying if you haven't already.

In the read test, like in the small files read test on the PC, speeds are broadly similar. Corsair still holds the advantage, but it's so slender as to be rendered insignificant.

Looking at the write speeds, however, shows a very different story. Again the Corsair is the fastest, closely followed by the SanDisk drive, but Kingston's DataTraveler 200 is noticeably slower than both and Verbatim's drive is…well…very slow.

Next we switch to some "real-world" tests. First: installing Alan Wake from the disk. Here we've added the Xbox 360 hard drive for comparison and it’s the winner, but the real surprise is that the SanDisk is marginally faster than the Corsair. Six seconds in ten minutes doesn't constitute much of a difference, though. Three minutes after the front-runners is the Kingston drive, while Verbatim's shocking write speeds results in a long 23 minute wait.

Our final test comes in booting Alan Wake, which is arguably the most important test of performance where the Xbox is concerned. Here we can add one further comparison by running the game from the DVD alone.

As expected the DVD is the slowest, followed by the hard drive. All the flash drives perform in the 24-25 second range, with even the Verbatim being within a second of the supposedly much faster Corsair drive. This confirms what we suspected at the start and what we've seen throughout our testing: where read speeds are concerned, any advantage the Corsair drive has in performance on a PC is largely negated when used on an Xbox 360.

This doesn't necessarily mean you should go for any old cheap alternative since - as we've seen with the Verbatim drive - write speeds can be a major issue. This might seem a minor problem if you're only installing games occasionally, but it will escalate if you're more active and will also impact performance if you're storing your save games on the drive at the same time.

Verdict

While we commend the Corsair Flash Voyager GTR for its overall performance, which makes it ideal for use with a PC and for general file transfers, it's overkill if you want a drive solely for use with your Xbox 360 (not least because it's too capacious). As such you're better going for a decent, mid-range performance drive that will offer good read speeds and acceptable write speeds. Both the SanDisk Extreme Cruzer Contour and Kingston DataTraveler 200 will do nicely in this instance. The Verbatim Store 'n' Go will do in a pinch if your budget is tight, but the slower write speeds will make installing games a bit slow.

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