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June 19, 2014 • Reviews

Leef Flash Drive Review: Magnet 3.0 and Ice 3.0 16GB Copper Edition

These copper-colored Leef flash drives with white soft-glow LEDs are supremely attractive and small, to boot. They each hold 16GB data, while being less than the size of a battery. Both flash drives are also said to reach USB 3.0 data transfer speeds. The Leef Copper Edition Ice and Magnet flash drives retail for $18.99 and $19.99, respectively.

Leef Flash Drive Review: Magnet 3.0 and Ice 3.0 16GB Copper Edition

Both of these flash drives use Leef’s PrimeGrade memory, which is how memory is secured in Leef flash drives. PrimeGrade memory uses memory die that are known to contain 100% functional cells and coats the memory die and its controller in a protective thermoplastic casing. This makes the memory waterproof, dust proof, and shock proof. To learn more about Leef’s PrimeGrade memory, check out the video below:

Both the Ice and Magnet flash drives are clad in a copper-colored aluminum body to protect the device. They also have a tip made of methacrylic resin, which Leef says is the most translucent non-glass material in the world. Behind the methacrylic resin is a soft-glow LED that lights up when the flash drive is in use. It creates a beautiful light show coming from my computer. However, this light could be annoying to some if additional lights in the room distract you.

Leef Flash Drive Review: Magnet 3.0 and Ice 3.0 16GB Copper Edition

Leef Magnet on the left and Ice on the right.

The Leef Magnet 3.0 is fully clad in an aluminum body, including the cap. The cap on this flash drive is magnetized, hence the name of the product. The magnet isn’t super-strong, but it’s strong enough to make sure that the cap won’t accidentally come off and go missing.

Leef Flash Drive Review: Magnet 3.0 and Ice 3.0 16GB Copper Edition

The Leef Ice 3.0 has a small band of copper-colored aluminum, while most of the rest of the body is made of the super-clear methacrylic. The cap for the Ice 3.0 is a black plastic material and the cap fits extremely snug. Not snug enough to make it hard to remove the cap, but just snug enough to make you feel comfortable that the cap won’t come off on its own.

Leef Flash Drive Review: Magnet 3.0 and Ice 3.0 16GB Copper Edition

Size comparison. Magnet on the left and Ice on the right.

Now that the aesthetics are out of the way, I’d like to talk about the actual capacity and performance of each Leef flash drive. When I plugged in my new Leef Ice 3.0 and Magnet 3.0 flash drives, I was slightly surprised to see that although these drives were advertised to hold 16GB worth of data, less than that was available as free space on each of the drives. As you can see in the screen shots below, the Ice 3.0 came with 16,107,118,592 bytes free, which my Windows computer translated to 15 GB of free space. The Magnet 3.0 came with 15,896,903,680 bytes free, which my Windows computer translated to 14.8 GB of free space. Now, I’m not a scientist, but it looks like I’m missing at least 1 GB of storage space on each Leef flash drive.

This is the Magnet's properties window when inserted into a Windows PC.

This is the Magnet’s properties window when inserted into a Windows PC.

This is the Ice's properties window when inserted into a Windows PC.

This is the Ice’s properties window when inserted into a Windows PC.

However, before you get all up in arms about the differential between advertised capacity and actual capacity, keep in mind that some of the storage space is taken up by the file system and other highly technical stuff that we don’t need to get into here. Just keep this in mind, the typical differential between reported and actual drive capacity is typically around 7%, and these flash drives are no different.

Performance, however, is a whole other ballgame. Both the Leef Magnet 3.0 and the Leef Ice 3.0 are advertised as USB 3.0 speed devices. USB 3.0 devices are said to reach transfer speeds of up to 625 MB/second, which is more than 10x faster than the previous USB 2.0 iteration, at 60 MB/second. Keep these numbers in mind as I tell you about the transfer speeds I witnessed in my testing. Also, keep in mind that I did use a USB 3.0 jack in my testing.

With the Ice 3.0, I wanted to test it by transferring an 8 GB movie file to the Ice 3.0. Unfortunately, since the file system came formatted to FAT32, it was unable to transfer a file of such size. So, I had to reformat the drive to NTFS, which can accept larger files. After reformatting, I performed my first test of these Leef USB 3.0 drives. I transferred a file whose size was 8,203,785,216 bytes. This transfer took exactly 9 minutes 38 seconds, or 578 seconds. For those keeping track at home, that’s a speed of 14.19 MB/second … Not what I was expecting.

With the Magnet 3.0, I decided to keep the file system as FAT32 and transfer around 6 GB of photos to the flash drive. I figured that maybe there could be a slowdown with such a large file with my first test, so I would try transferring many smaller files this time. All of the photos added up to 6,643,221,504 bytes and they transferred in 13 minutes and 27 seconds, or 807 seconds. That’s a rate of 8.23 MB/sec.

A photo of the white soft-glow LED in both the Ice and Magnet.

A photo of the white soft-glow LED in both the Ice and Magnet.

Let’s just say that I’m not impressed with the transfer speed of these flash drives. I could understand if the transfer speeds were slightly less than advertised, but the speeds I was encountering during my testing were AT BEST 2.3% of the speeds that would be considered USB 3.0 speeds.

Overall, I’m pleased with the design of the Leef Ice 3.0 and Magnet 3.0. The soft-glow lights are pleasing and the copper color enhances the look tremendously. Unfortunately, I was expecting a giant leap in transfer speeds, and these drives just did not deliver.

If you are looking for a high-speed USB flash drive, I would suggest you look elsewhere. If you are looking for a large capacity, beautiful looking flash drive and don’t need high-speed transfers, Leef flash drives may be a great product for you.

You can purchase the Leef Ice 3.0 and Leef Magnet 3.0 directly from the manufacturer.

Source: Each Leef flash drive, the Ice 3.0 and Magnet 3.0, were provided to me as review samples by the manufacturer.

MSRP: $18.99 for the Ice 3.0 and $19.99 for the Magnet 3.0

What I Like: Beautiful copper-colored aluminum bodies; Crystal clear tips with soft-glow LED; Decent storage for the price; Small form factor.

What Needs Improvement: Performance is not at all close to USB 3.0 speeds in my testing.

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