Lexar demonstrates well that the limits of SDXC are about to be breached
With people starting to transition to 4K video capture, the SD and micro-SD card really needs to up its game, given that it’s the most popular flash storage media for cameras.
The standards for SD cards were enhanced first by micro-SDHC and then micro-SDXC specs in 2009. SDXC supports speeds of up to 300MB/s and capacities up to 2TB on SD cards, and 200GB on micro-SDXC.
And seven years later we’re at last we’re starting to see cards that really live up to those ambitions, like the very latest Professional 1800x models by Lexar.
Why they’re still using the multiplier of 1x being the speed of a baseline CDROM is entirely beyond this writer, as it makes as much sense relating it to the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow (African).
More useful information is a quoted transfer speed of 270MB/s, taking this UHS-II technology (UHS Speed Class 3) device close to the edge of what SDXC was ever designed to deliver. However, to get those speeds you need a very specific environment where the target or source system has a faster than 270MB/s capability (i.e. an SSD), and you also need a card reader up to the job.
Lexar very kindly helps out with the latter necessity by providing a SD UHS-II adapter along with the card, and also a SD adapter with UHS-II contacts for those that use a DSLR or whatever that takes cards that size and spec.
You get those accessories regardless of the capacity that you buy, and Lexar delivers this product in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB versions. However, the 32GB model is just micro-SDHC and not micro-SDXC.
Testing the 64GB micro-SDXC card, I soon became aware that exactly how fast it would go is dependent on the adapter you use with it, because they’re not all made equally.
For example, the Lexar LRWM05U-7000 micro-SD UHSII card reader that’s included accepts the card without the SD adapter and can read the extra UHS-II contacts directly on the micro-SD card.
But trying it out on a number of alternative card readers revealed that while many of them do support UHS-II contacts on SD, many don’t bother on micro-SD.
Depending on what reader I tried, performance often dropped to much less than 100MB/s, even on those that are connected by USB 3.0. The best results, unsurprisingly, are those with the official adapter included in the packaging.
Using the official Lexar adapter, I was able to get great speeds, even if they never quite reached the 270MB/s levels quoted on the packaging.
The best I managed was 238MB/s read and 220MB/s write. That’s nothing to be sniffed at on a micro-SD card, as the 32GB model can be fully read in around two minutes and 15 seconds, give or take.
This is the first UHS-II micro-SD I’ve seen that can achieve this level, and most of the competing products have yet to breach 100MB/s in even their premium product ranges.
Another value proposition Lexar slung in here is the inclusion of a downloadable software tool for when things go utterly wrong. Image Rescue is designed to recover most photo and select video files, even if they’ve been erased or the card has been corrupted, according to Lexar. Obviously, some fiascos aren’t fixable, but it’s better than just accepting that your data is lost without exploring some options.
I can see that these cards are going to be massively popular with those filming HD video and RAW still images, who typically don’t like waiting for their memory cards to dump onto the computer.
Because this is a ‘Professional’ product, they’ll also have less of an issue with the price, which is good, because this module is least three times what you’d reasonably expect to pay for a decent Class 10 card.
I guess it comes down to how much your time is really worth and how that adds up over the course of a working year. For home users, this probably isn’t a factor, but for professional photographers and film makers, it’s yet another performance enhancement they can use.
As I fully expected from Lexar, these are the micro-SD UHS-II cards to have, if you can afford them. Mark Pickavance
A micro-SD card that can perform like an SSD.
• High-speed performance-leverages UHS-II technology (U3) for a read transfer speed up to 1800x (270 MB/s).• Includes micro-SD UHS-II reader for high-speed file transfer from card to computer, dramatically accelerating workflow.• Includes an SD UHS-II adapter for easy transfer between devices.• Designed for high-speed capture of high-quality images and extended lengths of 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video.• Includes lifetime copy of downloadable Image Rescue software.