Super-sport motorcycles, computer tweaking, camera lenses and even camera memory. Ever since I was little, I was obsessed with speed and making things go faster. Famous video game character Sonic the Hedgehog appealed to me more than Mario did. Why? Because he was blazing fast!
Today, I get to pit out two of the fastest cards and card readers that specifically pair up with my weapon of choice – the Fujifilm X-T1. It’s one of the few still cameras that is capable of using the speed of a UHS-II standard card at the moment, so if you’re not looking at the X-T1, at least as other cameras emerge, you’ll be able to find some fast memory!
I’ve personally been using a 32GB SanDisk Extreme PRO 280/MB in my camera since that was the fastest available when I bought the camera, and was recently introduced to competition that I was unaware of.
At WPPI 2015, I came to know that Lexar also produces two lines of UHS-II cards a x1000 line and a x2000 line — of which, I have the top of the line in my lucky hands — Lexar’s 64GB Professional x2000 300/MB card.
The Testing Environment
I first started with this whole testing with the following set of conditions:
- The cards were formatted on my Fujifilm X-T1.
- The cards were tested on a standard issue Mid-2014 13-Inch MacBook Pro with Retina display 2.6 i5 Processor/8GB RAM running 10.10.2 with Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0.
- The cards were tested using Black Magic’s Disk Speed Test, with the stress test set to 5GB to eliminate any bursts of speed provided by any sort of cache.
- The cards were tested using multiple readers – Lexar’s Workflow SR2 USB 3.0 SD card reader — standalone as well as plugged into Lexar’s Professional Workflow HR2 Hub over Thunderbolt 2, Lexar’s USB 3.0 reader that was included with their x2000 card and SanDisk’s Extreme PRO UHS-II SD Reader/Writer.
- Captured images of the software indicate the fastest speed that I was able to witness after 10 tests. Your milage may vary when it comes to specific systems and setups at home, but you’ll get the general idea.
The tests and the methods applied were quite simple. I plugged the first card into a reader, plugged the reader into the computer, selected the drive in Black Magic’s Disk Speed Test and hit start. I watched the speed numbers pop up, and took screenshots as I went. With that same reader plugged in, I swapped cards, and took screenshots. After both cards were recorded, I changed readers, plugged in a card, took screenshots, and repeated until I had no more readers left.
I’ve got screenshots for days– feel free to look at them all, or just scroll down to read the ridiculously simple chart that I made.
Lexar x2000 300/MB Card
SanDisk Extreme PRO 280/MB
And here is a simple chart containing the data from the screen shots… Simple, but it works.
|Lexar x2000 300/MB vs SanDisk Extreme Pro 280/MB|
|Lexar x2000 300/MB||SanDisk Extreme PRO 280/MB|
|Lexar USB 3.0 (Included with the card)||202.5 MB/s||280.5 MB/s||103.9 MB/s||255.6 MB/s|
|Lexar SR2 over USB 3.0||202.9 MB/s||278.5 MB/s||105.3 MB/s||254.6 MB/s|
|Lexar SR2 in HR2 Thunderbolt 2.0 Hub||203.3 MB/s||270.8 MB/s||109.5 MB/s||247.4 MB/s|
|SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II SD Reader/Writer||220.9 MB/s||234.4 MB/s||73.1 MB/s||185.3 MB/s|
Running these tests show that in order to utilize the speed of a card, you have to have a capable reader. As these numbers show, not all readers are the same.
SanDisk’s reader with Lexar’s card produced some interesting gains in terms of write speed, but didn’t produce those gains for SanDisk’s own card.
I can’t exactly explain why SanDisk’s card ran slower on their own reader, and I’m not going to try– strange huh…
It is quite clear to see that the the SanDisk is quick, but the Lexar is quicker than quick, it’s fast. Given that both cards are extremely speedy compared to the standard SD cards that we are using over the past couple years, either one of these cards is capable of working well with the X-T1.
But, an advertised 20/MB read speed difference only hides the biggest difference between the two cards. With write speeds that almost double what you see with the SanDisk, Lexar’s card makes shooting pretty ridiculous– Now, theoretically, the buffer on the X-T1 would dump faster because of the write speeds on the Lexar, but I have yet to try that. Both cards will increase the speed of your workflow as you import images onto your computer with a capable reader and will help you capture more images with less buffer overload, if you’re shooting the 8 frames per second.
Both cards didn’t reach their maximum rated speed in my tests, but the Lexar card came closer to its max than the SanDisk card. Lexar’s card only need 20MB/s more, while the SanDisk needed about 25MB/s more.
I think I’ll have to repeat myself about this though. Both cards are fast, but the Lexar card is faster– also I should note, it’s cheaper too.
Now, the Card Readers
Now oddly enough, Lexar’s included USB 3.0 reader makes for more throughput than their hub-capable variant, both on Thunderbolt 2.0 and USB 3.0, as it consistently shows faster speeds for both cards. I’d mark this down to internals of the reader itself rather than connection type. It’s only a giant benefit that this reader comes with the purchase of the Lexar card. I remember having to purchase the SanDisk UHS-II card, then trying to find the reader and purchase that too–at an affordable price.
Lexar makes a pretty awesome customizable setup for dumping multiple cards with the HR2 Thunderbolt Hub (head over to my friend Jaron’s review of it here at Resource Magazine for more in-depth info). The different options for storage plus the capability of reading multiple UHS-II cards is pretty phenomenal. If I shot more video and had multiple sources from which I’m filling up cards, I would totally opt for this time-saver. The 10/MB of difference in read speed is totally worth overlooking if you have multiple cards being read at once, and in all reality, that little of a speed isn’t something you’re going to notice at all. All of this, of course, is for the die-hard, number and stats buffs. I’m all about the bragging rights :D
SanDisk’s card reader is kind of a strange one. It showed the slowest speeds, with the exception of write speeds for the Lexar card. At an additional $40 more on top of the SanDisk card, I wouldn’t say that it’d be worth it to get. The numbers in the Pricing section make purchasing this reader kind of pointless.
For the sake of using a standard, I’ve used B&H Photo to compare pricing. Prices shown are reflective of what was found at the time of writing and may not reflect any current price changes.
- SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II in 32GB for $114.95
- SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II reader for $39.95
- Lexar 64GB Professional 2000x UHS-II SDXC Memory Card with SD UHS-II Reader for $116.95
- Lexar Professional Workflow HR2 Hub with SR2 SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Card Reader Kit for $229.94
In my random techie/gaming/photo world, I often call things “pro-status” that is : Having the status of something/someone professional. Elite. Superb. Executed flawlessly.
Lexar’s Professional x2000 series cards and their accompanied Professional Workflow accessories are just that– Pro-Status. There’s no messing around.
For more information, about those cards, visit Lexar’s 2000x Card Information page: Here
On a personal note: I had some strange intermittent write-error issues with both of my 16GB and 32GB SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II variants while shooting in Continuous High mode and have yet to experience that with the Lexar card at all. I’m not entirely sure if anyone else is experiencing the same issue. If you have, let me know about it, I’m curious to see if my cards from SanDisk are defective or not. I’m pretty sure that’s an important thing to note. So I’m pretty dang stoked on having this reliable card in my camera. Special thanks to Lexar for being willing to send me a card and reader to test and share with you all!