The new Apple MacBook comes with with a USB-C port precluding the use of any USB-A Flash drive without an adapter. Patriot Memory has solved that problem by launching a dual port USB-C, USB-A, combo Flash drive in 32 and 64 GB sizes at good price points. It's called the Stellar-C, and I liked it.
The first thing to note about this ultra-miniature, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Flash drive is that is has a USB-C connector on one side and a USB-A connector on the other. The idea is that you can use it to easily transfer large files to or from a 2015 Apple MacBook and any other computer with a standard USB-A port.
A small, metal, hinged swivel head can cover one port or the other, affords an easy way to handle the device, and also has a small loop at the end for a keyring. The loop is very small, so you'll either need a very thin keyring or a slender twist tie as an intermediary. [UPDATE: Patriot told me that a keyring is included in the retail packaging.]
Speaking of small, this is the smallest USB Flash drive I've ever used. It's 5.8 mm thick, 12.2 mm wide. The length when the USB-C port is exposed is just 30 mm. It weighs 5.2 grams (0.18 ounces), about the same as a U.S. Nickel at 5.0 grams.
While the spec page cites USB 3.1, it's actually USB 3.1 Gen 1 which is distinguished from the faster Gen 2. (For more on that, see: "USB 3.1: What’s in a Name?)
This device is so small, it could well be too small. The first thing I did was attach a keyring so I wouldn't misplace it. Also, I noticed that because of its size, the swivel head can slide sideways a bit in your hand as you push it into a USB port. As the swivel head rotates on the hinge, it can appear to be connected askew when it isn't. Larger, more hefty USB drives don't have that problem. This is a nit, but should be noted.
On the plus side, thanks to the keyring loop, you can be carrying 32 or 64 GB on your keychain and never notice it.
L: Stellar-C, Middle U.S. Nickel, R: Conventional Flash drive
The device comes formatted as FAT32, and so it can be used back and forth from a Mac to a PC. Patriot claims a read speed of up to 110 MB/s and write speed of up to 20 MB/s. I tested it with several different software tools, and can generally confirm that claim. For example, Blackmagic's Disk Speed Test, with a focus on video files, reported a peak of 158 MB/s read and a peak of 20 MB/S write. (1 GB file)
But I did notice an oddity. When I switched to Intech's QuickBench, I noticed that the Random Write portion of the test took much longer for FAT32 and exFAT (30-40 min) than for HFS+ (a few minutes). However, the test results were about the same on all thee formats. More concerning, all three Random Write results were much inferior to that of another (16 GB) USB 3 Flash drive I pulled out of a bin at Micro Center in Denver.
As an aside, recall that random writes to a Flash drive take a lot longer than random reads because because the memory must be erased before it can be written. The speed of this proces depends on the Flash Translation Layer, charmingly called the FTL.
Even so, in routine Finder copying, I had no trouble repeatedly copying a 1.028 GB .iso file back and forth from my Mac. The 1028 MB file was read in 7.03 sec (146 MB/s and written in 52.6 sec (19 MB/s). These times were almost identical to the Micro Center Flash drive I co-tested. As a result, I don't believe there's any practical issue with the Patriot drive for the typical copy operations by users.
In any case, I've asked Patriot about the QuickBench relative slowness in Random Write test times of FAT32 (and exFAT) compared to HFS+. They wrote:
HFS+ access tables have had improvements in the new OS, making it more efficient over Windows (aimed) partitions. 30 to 40 minutes is long for a test result but we have this drive as a part of our value aimed segment. We will be releasing high performance drives shortly which will be aimed at those seeking raging speeds.
Above: Stellar-C, HFS+ Journaled format
Above: Stellar-C, FAT32 format
Above: Micro Center 16 GB USB 3 Flash drive, HFS format
As you can see from the top two tables, the sequential reads and writes in the mid-size transfer files are comparable to my Finder copy tests, the Micro Center drive and the developer's specifications.
Price, Packaging and Warranty
The Stellar-C is scheduled to start shipping on September 7. The two Stellar-C models are priced at US$24.99 for 32 GB and $34.99 for 64 GB. There is a two year warranty. Packaging wasn't yet available to me, but because this item is so small and likely to be purchased online, I don't think it's much of an issue.
USB--C side revealed and keychain loop visible.
The Stellar C is compatible with Macs back to MacOS9, Linux (2.4 or later) and all Windows versions.
The Bottom Line
This is a nifty device that I know will never be far from my MacBook. It worked well, never failed to mount, has the dual USB-C and USB-A ports, includes a loop for a keyring on the swivel head, comes with a two year warranty and is well priced considering its features.