Model: Strontium AUTO USB Flash Drive
Manufacturer: Strontium Technology
Provided By: Strontium Technology
Strontium Technology is a relatively new name in the storage industry. Founded in 2002 by Vivian Singh and Anshuman Gupta, this Singapore-based company has already established itself as a leading manufacturer of computer and flash memory products with a strong market presence in over 30 countries. Along with a full range of memory modules for desktops, laptops and servers, Strontium offers an assortment of flash-based data storage products including memory cards, solid state drives (SSDs) and USB flash drives.
One of the latest additions to Strontium's line of USB flash drives is the AUTO. Available in capacities ranging from 4GB up to 32GB, the AUTO is designed especially for car audio systems. This small, ultra-lightweight drive sports a specially engineered plastic body that possesses double the impact strength and can withstand 40% higher temperatures than a normal USB flash drive. Equipped with the latest COB (Chip on Board) and micro COB USB flash modules, the AUTO is also capable of delivering up to 25 MB/s sequential read and 5 MB/s sequential write speeds.
|Strontium AUTO USB Flash Drive|
The Strontium AUTO comes packaged in a cardboard blister pack. This type of packaging is not only more eco-friendly than the plastic clamshells that most USB flash drives come in, it can be opened by simply cutting along the dotted line.
The AUTO is currently the smallest flash drive in Strontium's lineup. Measuring 35mm long, 17.4mm wide and 6.9mm thick, the drive is barely noticeable when carried on a keychain or when plugged into a USB port on your car's dash.
The AUTO is available in your choice of black, blue or gray. The body and USB connector are constructed out of specially engineered plastic with both high thermodynamic properties and impact strength. The AUTO does not have an LED indicator. However, there is a hole on the end so that it can be attached to your key ring.
As with most USB flash drives, the AUTO was very easy to install. Those running Windows XP, Vista or 7 can simply plug the drive into any available USB port on their computer. If the computer is already turned on, plug and play will automatically detect the drive.
If installed correctly, the AUTO should show up in the Device Manager. Under Windows 7, the drive is identified as a "SRT USB USB Device".
The AUTO comes formatted with FAT32, giving the 16GB model about 14.9GB of usable space. Normally I'd recommend converting or reformatting the drive with NTFS, but in this case you're better off leaving it as FAT32 as a lot of car stereos do not recognize that file system.
Installing the AUTO in your car is going to vary depending on the make and model. In my case, I have a Hyundai Elantra with a USB port built right into the center console. When I plugged the AUTO in, the navigation unit automatically recognized the drive and began to play the MP3 files stored on it.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of the Strontium AUTO, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, HD Tach RW 188.8.131.52 and ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46. To get a feel for the "real world" performance, I also copied and pasted 500MB of random files and directories in Windows Explorer.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to Strontium, the AUTO is capable of reading at 25MB/s and writing at 5MB/s. Looking at the screenshots above, you can see that the drive had no problems exceeding these numbers in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read and write speed tests.
HD Tach RW 184.108.40.206:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the Strontium AUTO's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
The performance here was very similar to what we saw with CrystalDiskMark. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the AUTO had average read and write speeds of 28.0 MB/s and 7.2 MB/s, respectively, as well as a burst speed of 31.8 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the AUTO's sequential read and write speeds. The test was run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the AUTO topped out at 28.2 MB/s when reading and 8.0 MB/s when writing.
"Real World" Benchmark:
To test the "real world" performance of Strontium's new flash drive, I copied and pasted 500 MB worth of randomly generated files and directories. All of the files are between 10 bytes and 32MB in size and no more than four directories deep.
|Strontium AUTO||SanDisk Ultra||SanDisk Cruzer
|Read:||23 seconds||30 seconds||32 seconds||31 seconds|
While the AUTO had the fastest read time of the four drives here, it took nearly 2 and a half minutes to write our test data.
While Strontium is not the first flash drive manufacturer to get into the car audio market, the AUTO is one of the better designs we've seen. Instead of repurposing a drive intended for notebook or desktop computers, the AUTO was developed specifically with car audio in mind. The drive is small and lightweight, yet durable enough to withstand the harsh environment of your car. Performance wise, the AUTO did better than expected, reading at speeds as high as 28 MB/s and writing at 7 MB/s. These numbers aren't nearly as high as what we've seen with some of the newer USB 3.0 flash drives. However, this is more than enough to store and play back your music collection.
The Strontium AUTO is available now in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB capacities and in your choice of black, blue or gray. Prices on Strontinum's website range from $5 up to $14 with the 16GB version reviewed here going for a mere $10. At this price, I'd recommend buying more than one but even with the 8GB version, you'll be able to take days worth of music with you on your next road trip.
- Designed for car audio systems
- Small and lightweight
- Heat and shock resistant
- Supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
- Five year warranty
- Reasonably priced
- Slow write speeds
- Exposed USB connector