SD Cards – Are All Things Created Equal

EyeFi-cardMemory card manufacturers are always touting the latest and greatest cards with ever increasing speeds, but does it really matter how much you spend on a card. To put this idea to the test, we took a handful of different cards and used CrystalDiskMark to test the read and write speeds of the different cards. Continue reading to see how low-budget generic cards stood up to the top brand name’s cards.

The Cards

The cards that were tested are all very affordable being SD cards and included:

The Testing

sandisk-cardThe testing was all done on an Alienware  i7 laptop using the built-in SD card reader. The software used was CrystalDiskMark. The test settings used the default of 5 tests at 1,000MB.  The sections below are as follows:

  • Seq : Sequential Read/Write Test (Block Size = 1024KB)
  • 512K : Random Read/Write Test (Block Size = 512KB)
  • 4K : Random Read/Write Test (Block Size = 4KB)
  • QD32 : Random Read/Write Test (Block Size = 4KB, Queue Depth = 32) for NCQ&AHCI

Test Results

Card Price SEQ
Read
SEQ
Write
512k
Read
512k
Write
4K
Read
4K
Write
QD32
Read
QD32
Write
Kingston $16.98 23.27 14.52 22.29 0.544 3.351 0.113 2.464 0.072
Micro Center $14.99 21.90 10.47 21.85 1.758 8.283 0.018 8.697 0.020
Sandisk $18.99 23.66 23.02 23.09 1.541 5.239 1.490 4.538 0.473
Eye-Fi $99.99 12.10 11.75 11.99 1.705 5.095 1.372 5.813 1.702

Interpreting the numbers

Kingston-cardI was actually a little surprised at the numbers as I expected more consistency across the board. As you can see, difference cards performed differently, and sometimes drastically, from each other. Generally speaking, the Sandisk card will have the best overall performance for use in a camera….you would think.

To validate the data, I then used a MacBook Pro with Black Magic Disk Speed Test and redid all of the tests and got the following results:

Card Write Speed Read Speed
Kingston 15.3 MB/s 20.3 MB/s
Micro Center 7.7 MB/s 14.4 MB/s
Sandisk 12.9 MB/s 19.3 MB/s
Eye-Fi 8.4 MB/s 19.0 MB/s

 

Using the Black Magic Speed Test the Kingston reigned supreme with the Sandisk coming in a close second. The Micro Center generic card came out on the bottom and the expensive Eye-Fi card had really bad write speeds but quite fast read speeds.

What does this tell you, it tells you not all cards are created equal and often times you do get what you pay for as higher end cards generally have better performance than lower end budget cards

KerryG

Kerry Garrison is a wedding, portrait, and product photographer living in southern California. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 3 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms. Kerry's work can be found at http://kerrygarrison.com and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/KerryGarrison

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