The LaCie XtremKey USB 3.0 (32GB) might be the roughest, toughest USB flash drive we’ve ever dealt with. Protected by a metal alloy enclosure and sealed against dirt and moisture by a rubber O-ring and threaded screw-on cap, the v is nigh invincible. But it’s not just rugged—we’ve seen rugged drives before, like the Corsair Flash Survivor (32GB)—it’s also surprisingly stylish, with a sleek, tapered design and smooth, milled surface that reflects LaCie’s always impressive design aesthetics. And with USB 3.0 connectivity, you’ll also get excellent performance, approaching the blazing speeds offered by the Editors’ Choice SanDisk Extreme 3.0 (64GB).
LaCie has made the XtremKey USB 3.0 to not only survive the usual bumps and bangs of daily life—the reasonably stout LaCie RuggedKey (16GB) accomplishes that with a rubber sleeve—instead the XtremKey is designed to survive far more. Like tsunamis, or earthquakes, or alien invasions. The metal canister-style cap will withstand almost any abuse, while the screw cap and O-ring seal out the more insidious threats of moisture and dirt.
The drive is made to endure all manner of unfriendly conditions, from extremes in temperature (ranging from -30 degrees to 200 degrees Fahrenheit), to submersion in water (up to 200 meters), crushing force (it will withstand 10 tons) and serious shock and vibration (10 meter drop, 50 Gs of force). LaCie’s YouTube channel shows the XtremKey being brutally tested by cooking it in a deep fryer, running over it with a steamroller, and dipping it in liquid nitrogen. While our own testing wasn’t quite so severe (apparently, we don’t have the budget to rent a steamroller), we did what we could to put it through its paces. Whether we tossed it down stairs, ran over it with a car, or froze it in a block of ice, it continued to work as if nothing had happened.
Open up the metal alloy cap, and you’ll find a fairly normal looking USB drive attached to the cap. The drive looks very similar to LaCie’s RuggedKey. While the drive itself is of regular proportions, the end cap is nearly an inch in diameter, and may not fit into a plug adjacent to another drive.
The drive, when sealed in its enclosure, measures 2.9 by 0.9 by 0.9 inches (HWD). Instead of a plain looking cylinder, the drive housing instead has a slightly tapered design, with a rounded base that actually allows it to stand on end, wobbling like the Weeble toys that won’t fall down.
In fact, if there is any fault to be found in the XtremKey (beside its irritatingly spelled name, of course) it’s that the design is a little too slick, literally. The sleek exterior looks great, but it can be a bit too smooth to get a good grip on to open. A knurled cap would have made opening the drive easier, especially when dealing with any of the wet or dirty conditions this drive is made to endure.
Features and Performance
The XtremKey doesn’t merely protect your data against physical damage, it also defends it against other risks. When configured with the downloadable LaCie Private-Public password protection, the drive is protected with 256-bit AES software encryption, the same level of encryption required by the government for securing top secret classified files. You’ll be able to back up your files to the cloud, as the drive comes with 32GB of Wuala Secure Clouds Storage (free for one year). You can also use the XtremKey to protect your PC as a whole, with both LaCie Genie Timeline and Intego Backup Assistant, for backing up Windows and Mac, available for free download. And, in the unlikely event that the XtremKey breaks or falters, LaCie covers it with a three-year warranty. While this isn’t nearly as generous as the 10-year guarantee offered on the Corsair Flash Survivor, it’s still a respectably long coverage period.
All of this protection will cost you $84.99 (direct), or roughly $2.65 per gigabyte. By comparison, the fairly rugged Corsair Flash Voyager GT (32GB) and Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 Generation 2 (32GB) offer the same storage capacity and USB 3.0 performance for $2.03 per GB and $2.34 per gigabyte, respectively. If you don’t need something rugged, you’ll do a lot better with the Editors’ Choice SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0, which sells for $2.18 per GB.
While the impervious and unstoppable ruggedness of the XtremKey is impressive, the performance wasn’t too shabby either. In our timed file transfer tests, the XtremKey managed 101 MBps (read) and 67 MBps (write) using a USB 3.0 connection. While it doesn’t beat the SanDisk Extreme (110 MBps read, 105 MBps write), it still tops other rugged contenders, like the Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate 3.0 (99 MBps read, 61 MBps write) and the Corsair Flash Voyager GT (95 MBps read, 36 MBps write). Even using USB 2.0, the performance is still decent, cranking through that same test with 31 MBps (read) and 29 MBps (write). It’s also worth noting that during testing the drive ran pretty hot, (83 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured by a Fluke IR thermometer). It’s not a dangerous temperature by any means, but it is noticeably hot to the touch.
While the nearly invincible LaCie XtremKey USB 3.0 may be overkill for most people, it’s the clear winner for those who need their data safe, regardless of the circumstances. Whether you’re diving off the Australian coast or on the run from a runaway steamroller, the ExtremKey will survive whatever you throw at it (or throw it at). While you’ll get better performance and a more convenient form factor with the Editors’ Choice SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0, the LaCie XtremKey is hands down the toughest drive we’ve seen, making it our Editors’ Choice for rugged flash drives.
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|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||32 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc