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The Fastest Memory Cards | SD, MicroSD, CF, CFast 2.0, XQD

March 4th 2017 1:47 PM

If there is a single binding agent in photography, it’s memory. Like film before it, memory cards are what store the fruits or our labor and we all need them regardless of what camera brands we are loyal to. As camera performance improves so too must the memory on which it stores your images, in a type of escalation.

The wrong memory card can act as a bottleneck to your cameras’ ultimate performance, and in turn, that could limit your ability to get the most out of it. That said, the abundance of options when it comes to memory cards between class, type, brand and so on means we’re buried under a hundredweight of choice, and that makes it difficult to know what’s at the leading edge. Well, we’ve done the digging and you’ll find here a selection of the memory cards that are the tip of the spear for their class.

Note* – it’s imperative you identify what type and what class of cards your camera can utilize, particularly when it comes to SD cards.

We will continue to update this list. 

[REWIND: This Is The World’s Fastest SD Card]

FASTEST SD CARDS

SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card: 32GB-128GB

  • 128GB Storage Capacity
  • UHS-II / U3 / Class 10
  • Max. Read Speed: 300 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 260 MB/s
  • Min Write Speed: 30 MB/s
  • Records Full HD, 3D, and 4K Video
  • Water / Shock / X-Ray Proof
  • Built-in Write-Protect Switch
  • Supports Advanced Shooting Modes
  • Downloadable RescuePRO Recovery Software

Lexar Professional 2000x UHS-II SDXC Memory Card: 32GB-128GB

  • 128GB Storage Capacity
  • Class 10 / UHS-II
  • UHS Speed Class 3
  • Max. Read Speed: 300 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 260 MB/s
  • Built-In Write-Protect Switch
  • Downloadable Image Rescue Software
  • Includes SD UHS-II Reader

Delkin Devices UHS-II SDHC Memory Card (U3): 32GB-256GB

  • 256GB Storage Capacity
  • Class 10 / UHS-II
  • Max. Read Speed: 285 MB/s
  • Min. Write Speed: 100 MB/s

For those without UHS-II and still want a fast UHS-I SD Card:

SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I SDXC Memory Card (V30): 32GB-256GB

  • 256GB Storage Capacity
  • UHS-I/V30/U3/Class 10
  • Max Read Speed: 95 MB/s
  • Max Write Speed: 90 MB/s
  • Min Write Speed: 30 MB/s
  • Records Full HD, 3D, and 4K Video
  • Water / Shock / X-Ray Proof
  • Temperature Proof
  • Built-In Write-Protect Switch
  • Downloadable Photo Recovery Software

Fastest microSD Cards

SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-II microSDXC: 64GB-128GB

  • 64GB Storage Capacity
  • UHS-II / U3 / Class 10
  • Max Read Speed: 275 MB/s
  • Max Write Speed: 100 MB/s
  • Min Write Speed: 30 MB/s
  • Records Full HD, 3D, and 4K Video
  • Shock/Temperature/Water/X-ray Proof
  • Includes USB 3.0 Card Reader
  • Downloadable ResucePRO Deluxe Software

Lexar 128GB Professional 1000x microSDXC UHS-II : 32GB-256GB

  • 128GB Storage Capacity
  • UHS-II / U3 / Class 10
  • Max Read Speed: 150 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 45 MB/s
  • Records Full HD, 3D, and 4K Video
  • Downloadable Image Rescue Software
  • Includes UHS-II USB 3.0 Card Reader

SanDisk 32GB Extreme PLUS UHS-I microSDHC: 32GB-128GB

  • 32GB Storage Capacity
  • UHS-I/V30/U3/Class 10
  • Max. Read Speed: 95 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 90 MB/s
  • Min. Write Speed: 30 MB/s
  • Records Full HD, 3D, and 4K Video
  • Water, Shock, X-Ray, & Temperature Proof
  • Includes SD Adapter
  • Built-in Write-Protect Switch on Adapter
  • Downloadable RescuePRO Recovery Software

FASTEST CF CARDS

Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash Memory Card (UDMA 7): 16GB-256GB

  • 256GB Data Storage Capacity
  • 1066x Speed Rating
  • Max. Read Speed 160 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed 155 MB/s

SanDisk 256GB Extreme Pro CompactFlash Memory Card: 16GB-256GB

  • 256GB Storage Capacity
  • Optimized for 4K Video Recording
  • Up to 160MB/s Read Speed
  • Up to 150MB/s Write Speed
  • Compatible with RAW & JPEG Formats
  • Includes RTV Silicone Coating

FASTEST CFAST 2.0 CARDS

SanDisk Extreme PRO CFast 2.0 Memory Card (ARRI and Canon Cameras) 64GB-512GB

  • 512GB Storage Capacity
  • SATA III 6 Gb/s Bus
  • Max Read Speed: 525 MB/s
  • Max Write Speed: 450 MB/s

Lexar 128GB Professional 3500x CFast 2.0 Memory Card: 32GB-256GB

  • 128GB Storage Capacity
  • CFast 2.0 Card Type
  • 3500x Speed Rating
  • Max. Read Speed: 525 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speeds: 445 MB/s
  • Includes Lexar Image Rescue Software

FASTEST XQD CARDS

Sony XQD G Series Memory Card :32GB-256GB

  • 256GB Storage Capacity
  • Max. Read Speed: 440 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 400 MB/s
  • XQD Format Version 2 Compliant

Lexar 128GB 2933x XQD 2.0 Memory Card: 32GB-128GB

  • 128GB Storage Capacity
  • 2933x Speed Rating
  • Max. Read Speed: 440 MB/s
  • Max. Write Speed: 400 MB/s
  • Water/Temp/Shock Resistant
  • Downloadable Image Rescue Software

 

About

Kishore is a photographer and writer based in Miami, though he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. With a passion for beauty and aviation photography his work is all at once focused and eclectic. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Comments [3]

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  1. Matthew Saville

    THANK YOU KISHORE, for including both the READ and WRITE speeds for these cards!

    Unfortunately, for far too long memory card companies have hidden behind vague “X” speed ratings, or have simply used huge font to only display the READ speed and completely bury the WRITE speed in fine print, or sometimes not even post it at all at the storefront or on the packaging.

    Unfortunately, the READ speed is only how fast your computer will be able to get images off the card, and if the WRITE speed is not as fast, your camera will totally bottleneck.

     If you look closely at some of the cards listed here you will notice that some of them have a rather significant difference between read/write; for these top-class cards that’s probably not a problem, however it is VERY important to look up the WRITE speed of a card before you buy it. Just a few years ago, it was not uncommon for companies (Lexar SD cards were the biggest culprit) to brag about a ~100MB/s READ speed, and yet only offer 15-30 MB/s WRITE speed! For a 24+ megapixel camera, that is way slower than 1FPS, as soon as your buffer is full.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Yeah man. It’s still something I see frequently with the write speeds being nowhere to be found on packaging or even on sites. I’ve inquired directly about it before and was told, by the manufacturer, that they couldn’t print it because there was a variance…. a variance? really?….

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    • Matthew Saville

      …talk about a crock! Yeah, when the write speed is like 1/4 or 1/5 the read speed, then you KNOW they’re peddling junk in a high-end package.

      This is one reason why I’ve usually preferred Sandisk over most others, because they usually post both read and write speed right next to each other, same font size lol, and they’re usually within 5-10% of each other. To me, that’s the mark of a high-quality card.

      Although these days lol, if the write speed is 100 MB/s, then that’s great for almost any type of shooting…

      Then again, I did notice that a couple of the cards listed here had both a min and max write speed, and one was what, 30 MB/s min, 260 MB/s max? that’s a huge gap, and I’d think twice about buying such a card…

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