Corsair is already well known around the world for their quality RAM, flash memory, and computer hardware. With the release of their "Survivor GT" series of USB flash drives, Corsair may become the de facto flash memory purveyor to high-adventure types, extreme sports enthusiasts, and, perhaps, the woefully accident prone. Let’s take a look at the 8GB USB 2.0 Survivor GT flash memory drive and see if it’s something you’ll need.
Features and Design
The Survivor GT memory drive looks like a cross between a miniaturized Soviet nuke container and a tiny, cylindrical Zero Halliburton case. About the size of a lipstick case and constructed of CNC-milled aluminum, the Survivor GT weighs roughly 4 to 5 times more than other memory sticks. Normally, such a portly peripheral would raise instant doubt as to whether it would be worth carrying around. The Survivor GT, however, is built tough, rough, and ready for whatever grueling computing and data-storage experience you can imagine.
The Survivor GT has anti-shock protection, thanks to double-wall construction and rubber o-rings on the interior and exterior of the drive body. Thanks to the interior o-rings, the Survivor GT is water resistant to roughly 200 meters. (That’s pretty deep for a flash drive — you could ostensibly use it as a fishing sinker!) One thing the Survivor GT cannot handle is extreme heat hot enough to melt plastic and chip components. So go hiking, swimming, diving, parachuting, or even skiing with the Survivor GT… just don’t toss the drive into a camp fire or hot liquid magma (Dr. Evil voice).
Beyond the physical durability, the Survivor GT offers accelerated read/write speeds, boasting throughput 400% to 600% faster than average USB flash drives.
Included with the Survivor GT 8GB flash drive are a 25" USB extension cable and, believe it or not, a military-esque Corsair dog tag. Why a dog tag? It’s a reference to the Survivor GT packaging, which looks like something from Schwarzenegger’s movie Commando (black background, red stencil lettering, camouflage accents, etc.). It’s supposed to hint at a testosterone boost or something, when the really important issue is boosting data rates and safeguarding files.
The Survivor GT works equally well on Mac, PC, Linux, and other USB-friendly operating systems.
The Corsair Flash Survivor outside of the protective case
Setup and Use
A major bugaboo for me is the near-deadly plastic packaging that some companies use to seal their products. Opening something innocuous, like a printer cartridge or MP3 player, often requires the use of sharp knives, kitchen scissors, and razor box cutters. I was very happy to discover that Corsair skipped this dangerous packaging in favor of thinner, more easily opened packaging.
Once the Survivor GT is free from its packaging (“commando,” so to speak), unscrew the end closest to the "GT" logo. The 8GB flash memory stick will slide out. Pop it into any USB 2.0 port and transfer files to it. You may want to install the "TrueCrypt43" data encryption program (Windows 2000, XP and Vista), or you can just delete it.
Sample Transfer Speeds TO DRIVE:
Survivor GT – 700MB file – 43 seconds
150X CF card via ExpressCard adapter – 700MB file – 77 seconds
SanDisk Cruzer Micro – 700MB file – 79 seconds
Sample Transfer Speeds FROM DRIVE:
Survivor GT – 700MB file – 39 seconds
150X CF card via ExpressCard adapter – 700MB file – 50 seconds
SanDisk Cruzer Micro – 700MB file – 43 seconds
As the above tests show, the Survivor GT is pretty quick. It may not exactly prove 4-6X faster as advertised, but it is noticeably faster than average USB 2.0 flash drives. This can be very important, especially when you’re a very busy person and can’t wait around for file transfers to dawdle along.
To test Corsair’s claims that the Survivor flash drive is tough, I decided to treat it very badly over a period of several days. I dropped it from my 2nd floor office window, stepped on it, threw it across the room a few times and kept it in my kitchen sink at home while I did some dishes. I even stuck it in a freezer over night and left it on a table in the sun. If the Survivor could think, it would probably have been bored or slightly amused by my tests. Knowing this, I kicked the torture up a few notches and parked my car on top of the flash drive. It survived (no pun intended) without a scratch.
This fueled my intent to push the drive as hard as I could, and only on my 3rd drive-by did the outside case suffer a 1/8" crack. While the Survivor was no longer 100% water proof, the drive itself still worked fine and transfer speeds were 100% up to spec. My tests were great exaggerations of typical flash drive abuse and the fact that the Survivor finally suffered a booboo is in no way indicative of a flaw. Everyone and every device has an ultimate breaking point. The Corsair Survivor’s breaking point is very impressive – something most people will likely never experience.
Yes, the Survivor lived to tell about it
The average price of $125 USD for the 8GB Survivor GT is a little steep. Less durable 8GB USB drives sell for about $70 USD online. If you don’t need extra strong physical protection of your data, go with a cheaper plastic drive. If you know you’ll be in situations where the flash drive could get wet, dirty, trampled, dropped, or submerged, then by all means, spend the extra $55 USD and know your data is safe.
It seems like the Survivor GT would be an ideal data-protection product for the military, police, search and rescue teams, and those active in water sports. Even though I don’t fit into a single category above, I remain very impressed with the Survivor GT and would consider it an invaluable asset in my tech tool kit.
• Extra strong body
• 8GB capacity
• Fast data transfers
• Bulky & heavy
• More expensive per GB than other drives