Media Card Readers

USB 3.0 CF Card Reader Study


USB 3.0 CF Card Reader Analysis

(Last updated: 9/13/2013)

The purpose of this study is to perform a hands-on comparison of USB 3.0, UDMA 7, Compact Flash Card Readers.  This study includes one card reader from each manufacturer of every USB 3.0, UDMA 7 card reader sold by Adorama:

  1. Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader
  2. Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader
  3. Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader
  4. SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader / Writer
  5. Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader

All card readers were tested using the following equipment:

Media:

  1. Lexar 32GB CompactFlash Memory Card Professional 1000x
  2. SanDisk 32GB CompactFlash Memory Card Extreme Pro 600x UDMA
  3. Transend 32GB CompactFlash Memory Card Ultimate 1000x UDMA
  4. Delkin 32GB CF 1050X UDMA 7 Cinema Memory Card
  5. Sony 32GB SDHC Class 10 UHS-1 Memory Card
  6. SanDisk 32 GB SDHC Memory Card Extreme Pro Class 10 UHS-I
  7. Delkin Devices 32GB SDHC Memory Card Elite 633x UHS-I

Computer:  15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and 2.6 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 processor.  16GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM and 768GB Flash Storage.

Software:  Blackmagicdesign Disk Speed Test Version 2.2.

Methodology:

Each card reader was tested 20 times against each card for write and read throughput.  The testing yielded 240 results for each card reader, 120 write results and 120 read results.

Each card reader was evaluated and compared against the following criteria:

  • Average Write Speed averaging all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Average Read Speed averaging all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Maximum Write Speed over all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Maximum Read Speed over all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Minimum Write Speed measured over all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Minimum Read Speed measured over all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Median Write Speed the middle test result over all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Median Read Speed the middle test result over all test results in MBytes/sec
  • Write Mode:  Most frequently occurring write speed over all 100 results in MBytes/sec.
  • Read Mode:  Most frequently occurring read speed over all 100 results in MBytes/sec.
  • Card formats accepted:  All of the readers tested accepted SD and CF card formats, a few accepted microSD, a couple accepted Memory Stick and one accepted xD-Picture cards directly.
  • Insertion Distance:  A relative measure (shallow, medium and deep) of how deeply the CF card is inserted into the reader.
    Deep implies the card is fully inserted into the reader where a push button is required to eject the card from the reader.  As an example, card insertion distance on the Canon 5D Mark III is deep.
    Medium depth of insertion implies the card can be removed from the reader by pulling on the card, no eject button is necessary.
    Shallow implies more than half the card protrudes from the reader when fully inserted.
  • Insertion Difficulty:  A relative measure (easy, medium and hard) of how difficult it is to get the CF card properly seated in the reader.  It may very well be that a reader rated as “hard” could become “easy” if the user gets used to it.  The optimal CF card ease of insertion, against which all the readers were judged, is the Canon 5D Mark III.  None of the readers tested had an ease of card insertion equal to the Canon 5D Mark III.
    Easy implies the card is always seated properly on the first attempt. The Canon 5D Mark III is an example.
    Medium implies the insertion process, once successfully started, is usually successful.
    Hard implies it is rare to get the card properly inserted on the first attempt.
  • USB cord length in inches.
  • USB ports:  Number of available USB 3.0 ports available on the reader to simultaneously hook up additional devices.
  • Cost in US dollars.
  • Build quality:  A subjective appraisal taking into account construction materials, perceived durability, cleverness of design, and aesthetics.  Note that these card readers represent the best, and most expensive, card readers sold by B&H and Adorama.  An “average” for this group might be substantially better than the sub $20 readers out there.

Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader Review

Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader

Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader

  • Average Write Speed 83.7 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 57.0 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Average Read Speed 101.1 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 79.1 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Write Speed 91.5 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 71.7 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Read Speed 120.1 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 82.0 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Write Speed 71.9 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 31.7 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Read Speed 66.3 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 69.4 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Write Speed 85.4 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 63.5 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Read Speed 117.8 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 80.4 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Write Mode:  78.6 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 63.7 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Read Mode:  66.4 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 80.9 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Card formats accepted:  SD and CF card formats.
  • Insertion Distance:  Medium.  See photo below.
  • Insertion Difficulty:  Hard
  • USB cord length:  42 inches.  See photo below.
  • USB ports:  none.
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013  $49.99 from adorama.com  (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)
Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader.

Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader.

  • As demonstrated in the picture above, the usable cable length of the Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader is around 42 inches.
  • The amount of card insertion, also visible above, is medium.
  • The ease of card insertion is less than optimal, however, once started the card is unlikely to bend pins.
  • Construction and quality of build is above average amoungst the tested devices.  The reader has  a pin protection door that swings out of the way when a CF card is inserted. The reader is wrapped in a metal protective sheath.  The reader has two substantial rubber strips on the bottom to secure its position on a table top.  One item of note is that the Sony SD card used in testing had problems when mounted in the Hoodman.  The Sony card had no problems in any of the other readers.  The Hoodman had no problems with any of the other cards, CF or SD.
  • This reader provides only an SD and CF card slots.

Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader Review

Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader

Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader

  • Average Write Speed 79.4 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 54.0 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Average Read Speed 108.1 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 78.1 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Write Speed 94.0 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 65.8 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Read Speed 120.7 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 80.5 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Write Speed 56.6 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 35.6 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Read Speed 86.5 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 75.1 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Write Speed 77.1 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 59.2 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Read Speed 118.1 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 78.7 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Write Mode:  76.7 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 39.2 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Read Mode:  118.1 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 76.5 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Card formats accepted:  SD, microSD and CF card formats.
  • Insertion Distance:  Shallow.  See photo below.
  • Insertion Difficulty:  Medium
  • USB cord length:  3 inches.  See photo below.  This reader is designed for travel with a short, permanently attached cord stored behind the sliding bottom panel.
  • USB ports:  Two USB 3.0 ports available.  This is the only reader tested supporting this feature.
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013  $48.95 from adorama.com  (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)
Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader

Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader

  • As demonstrated in the picture above, the usable cable length of the Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader is around 3 inches.
  • The amount of card insertion is less than average.
  • The ease of card insertion is less than optimal, but about average for most of the CF card readers tested.
  • Construction and quality of build is apparently less than average as the card reader stopped working with CF cards during testing.  This card reader is very cleverly designed with a sliding panel into which the cable is stored.  The cable does not remove from the reader, but stores within the reader.  Great for transportability since the cable cannot get lost.  The dot above the i in Moshi is lit with a blue light, very noticeable when not using a flash to photograph the device.
  • Unlike any of the rest of the readers tested here, the Moshi doubles as a USB 3.0 hub providing 2 additional USB 3.0 ports.
  • This reader provides SD and CF card slots as well as a microSD slot.

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader Review

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

  • Average Write Speed 83.9 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 56.3 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Average Read Speed 101.2 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 77.5 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Write Speed 91.3 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 70.9 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Read Speed 119.9 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 81.9 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Write Speed 75.0 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 28.7 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Read Speed 66.3 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 69.6 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Write Speed 85.0 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 63.2 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Read Speed 117.9 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 81.0 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Write Mode:  79.0 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 38.9 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Read Mode:  66.4 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 81.4 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Card formats accepted:  SD and CF card formats.
  • Insertion Distance:  Medium.  See photo below.
  • Insertion Difficulty:  Medium.
  • USB cord length:  42 inches.  See photo below.
  • USB ports:  none.
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013
    • $34.95 from adorama.com  (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)
    • $64.99 from lexar.com
Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader

  • As demonstrated in the picture above, the usable cable length of the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader is around 42 inches.
  • The amount of card insertion is about average.
  • The ease of card insertion is better than average.
  • Construction and quality of build is above average.  This reader is designed to pop up from an integrated case providing some protection to the  card slots.  You must press buttons on either side of the case to pop up the reader.  The reader has a substantial rubber strip on the bottom to secure its position on a table top.
  • This reader provides only an SD and a CF card slot.

SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer Review

SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer

SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer

  • Average Write Speed 83.0 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 54.4 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Average Read Speed 109.5 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 79.2 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Write Speed 95.4 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 66.2 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Read Speed 121.8 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 81.5 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Write Speed 63.5 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 34.1 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Read Speed 87.5 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 75.7 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Write Speed 82.4 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 60.0 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Read Speed 119.9 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 80.0 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Write Mode:  77.2 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 65.9 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Read Mode:  120.4 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 81.1 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Card formats accepted:  SD, microSD, Memory Stick and CF card formats.
  • Insertion Distance:  Shallow.  See photo below.
  • Insertion Difficulty:  Easy
  • USB cord length:  46 inches.  This is the longest cord provided by any card reader tested.  See photo below.
  • USB ports:  none.
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013  $32.95 from adorama.com  (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)
SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer

SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer

  • As demonstrated in the picture above, the usable cable length of the SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer is around 46 inches.  The longest of any cable tested.
  • The amount of card insertion is less than average.
  • The ease of card insertion is the best of the card readers tested.
  • Construction and quality of build is above average amoungst the tested devices.  This reader looks like a block of white plastic with slots cut in it.  This reader has a clever magnetized stand to hold it erect.
  • This reader provides SD and a CF card slots along with a microSD slot and a Memory Stick slot.

Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader Review

Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader

Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader

  • Average Write Speed 62.9 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 45.8 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Average Read Speed 99.0 MBytes/sec averaging all CF cards tested and 63.4 MBytes/sec averaging all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Write Speed 72.1 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 58.0 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Maximum Read Speed 65.9 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 66.9 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Write Speed 47.9 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 27.3 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Minimum Read Speed 65.9 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 54.5 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Write Speed 67.8 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 45.6 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Median Read Speed 110.0 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 63.4 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Write Mode:  69.1 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 36.8 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Read Mode:  110.8 MBytes/sec over all CF cards tested and 63.5 MBytes/sec over all SD cards tested.
  • Card formats accepted:  SD, microSD, xD-Picture card and CF card formats.
  • Insertion Distance:  Medium.  See photo below.
  • Insertion Difficulty:  Medium
  • USB cord length:  38 inches, which is the shortest of the removable cords.  See photo below.
  • USB ports:  none.
  • Cost: Valid as of 09/13/2013
    • $24.95 from adorama.com   (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)
    • $36.95 from delkin.com
Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader

Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader

  • As demonstrated in the picture above, the usable cable length of the Delkin Devices USB 3.0 Universal Memory Card Reader is around 38 inches.
  • The amount of card insertion is about average.
  • The ease of card insertion is medium.
  • Construction and quality of build is below average compared to the devices tested.
  • This reader provides xD, SD and a CF card slots along with a microSD slot and a Memory Stick slot.

CF Card Reader Comparison

The table below only covers reading from the devices.  Including the “write” results added substantially to the complexity of the table while adding little to the conclusion.  The following table separates the CF card results from the SD card results.  Green is good, red is bad.  Light red and green are SD card specific.

Read Throughput in MBytes/sec Hoodman Lexar Moshi SanDisk Delkin
CF SD CF SD CF SD CF SD CF SD
Avg 101.1 79.1 101.2 77.5 108.1 78.1 109.5 79.2 99.0 63.4
Max 120.1 82.0 119.9 81.9 120.7 80.5 121.8 81.5 111.4 66.9
Min 66.3 69.4 66.3 69.6 86.5 75.1 87.5 75.7 65.9 54.5
Median 117.8 80.4 117.9 81.0 118.1 78.7 119.9 80.0 110.0 63.4
Mode 66.4 80.9 66.4 81.4 118.1 76.5 120.4 81.1 110.8 63.5
StdDev 24.8 3.0 4.9 5.1 15.0 1.5 15.4 1.9 16.4 1.9
Distance Medium Medium Shallow Shallow Medium
Difficulty Hard Medium Medium Easy Medium
microSD Yes Yes Yes
MS Yes Yes
xD Yes
Cord 42 42 3 46 38
Ports 2 USB 3.0
Cost $US High Medium High Medium Low

If you need the fastest possible UDMA-7 card reader get the SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer (Disclosure:  clicking this link to get to adorama.com, and buying something, helps fund this site. Thanks!)

If you already own the Hoodman, or the Lexar, don’t get rid of them to buy the SanDisk.  There is not enough difference between the Hoodman, SanDisk or Lexar card readers to justify buying a new one.

 

2 thoughts on “USB 3.0 CF Card Reader Study

  1. J R

    Thank you for this review!! The SanDisk gets terrible reviews for its flimsiness, so I’m going with the Moshi (despite its high cost). It almost keeps up and seems much more loved by owners.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      J R, you have done your homework, excellent! I think you will be happy with any of them. We picked up a few very cheap ones, not from Adorama, that didn’t make it through testing so we didn’t include them in the study. FYI, the SanDisk is still working great. The biggest issue with the SanDisk, not mentioned in the study, is the difficulty of knowing which way is up. If you get one, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The stand is a throw away. We really liked the Moshi design for travel, but our test model did quit reading CF cards during the “extended daily use” phase of testing.
      Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Reply

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