SanDisk Extreme Pro CFast 2.0
CFast 2.0 memory cards were specifically developed for next-generation professional video applications as 2K video was common and full-frame 4K video was gaining traction among high-end production companies and individual enthusiasts. Obviously, the video and photographic applications capturing these high resolution images generate very large files that need fast data transfer rates that would normally overwhelm normal CompactFlash memory cards. The CFast 2.0 specification features theoretical performances of up to 600 MB/sec, which is four times faster than a typical CompactFlash memory cards.
When SanDisk Corporation originally announced their CFast 2.0 spec card in 2012, they followed closely the framework that the CompactFlash Association developed. At this time, this newly specified card was touted as the memory of choice for the next-generation of photo and video applications which delivered up to four times the speed and performance over the standard CompactFlash cards used for DSLR cameras and imaging devices.
Today, SanDisk has launched their latest CFast 2.0 card, the SanDisk Extreme PRO to give professional videographers and photographers the ability to squeeze out the best performance from their camera equipment. The SanDisk Extreme PRO is designed to have write speeds up to 450 MB/s and read speeds up to 525 MB/s. These speeds allow a user to capture multiple frames per second in a burst photography mode and it also lets your capture uninterrupted cinema-quality 4K video guaranteeing sustained write speeds of 130 MB/s allowing it to be the perfect complement to today’s latest video cameras.
These newest CFast 2.0 cards from SanDisk hit streets a short time ago and come in three different sizes: 64GB ($199.95
or $3.12/GB), 128GB ($349.95
or $2.73/GB), and 256GB ($679.99
, or $2.66/GB). In this review we will be testing the 64MB variant of this monster, the 64GB version (part number SDCFSP-064-A46D) has read speeds of up to 525MB/s, but with a slightly slower read speed rating of 430MB/s (the 128GB and 256GB versions of this card have write speeds of up to 450MB/s).
Let's get straight to testing!
SanDisk Extreme Pro Testing
Before we get to our world tests, let’s take a closer look at how the SanDisk Extreme Pro CFast 2.0 card does with our suite of benchmarking tools. For our test, we used thr Lexar Professional CR1 CFast 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader (Part #LRWCR1TBNA) that is designed specifically for CFast and CFast 2.0 cards. This reader runs $36.95 shipped
and supports today’s latest card formats—SDHC/SDXC UHS I and UHS-II, CompactFlash UDMA 7, XQD 2.0, CFast and CFast 2.0. When it comes to performance the Lexar CR1 supports data transfer speeds up to 500MB/s (taking into account some system overhead), similar to other USB 3.0 readers (USB 3.0 theoretical max being 625MB/s). It is true that depending on the system configuration and CFast 2.0 card’s speed the actual transfer performance could vary from card to card using the same reader. So, keeping that in mind let's see what this card can do on our Intel Core i7 powered desktop PC!
First up is one of our favorite tools to use here at Legit Reviews, ATTO, which is one of the oldest drive benchmarks and very relevant in the solid state storage world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.
Benchmark Results: We ran our test a number of times on a few different machines since the measured speed for both read and write were slower than what we had expected from advertised speeds. Ultimately, we published the fastest speeds that we measured on the SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 card: Read at 380MB/s and Write at 317MB/s. This is a 27.6% and 26.3% hit from the advertised speeds respectively for Read/Write speeds. While these speeds aren’t pedestrian, they are slower than what we expected from this $200 card.
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.4 x64
CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) and shows the highest score of five runs.
Benchmark Results: Our first measurement results of the SanDisk are somewhat confirmed as we look at our CDM results. Here, we measure Read speeds of 362MB/s and Write speeds of 286 MB/s. Again, these are under the well under the advertised speeds of the CFast 2.0 card.
Let's take a look at real world use and wrap this up!
Real World Use and Conclusion
The SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 card didn’t exactly light up our benchmark tests, we really should talk about the real-world functions that the card had and how well it works with professional cameras that are designed to utilize this form and throughput.
We not only tested the card using some storage memory benchmarks in the lab, but we wanted to make sure the SanDisk worked for all our applications and we looked at how well the SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 paired up with our newest video camera, the Canon XC15 UHD Compact Lightweight Professional Camcorder ($2,399 shipped
). The XC15 was introduced recently and is the “little brother” of the Canon EOS C300 Mark II camera used for film and news production. The Canon XC15 really is a monster of a camera that features a 1” 12MP CMOS sensor capable of capturing Ultra HD 4K resolutions at up to 29.97 fps and 1080p at up to 59.94 fps. (Let’s see your iPhone or Android do that!) The XC15 supports both CFast and SD cards but records 4K at up to 305 Mbps via the CFast slot only. The SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO CFast 2.0 Memory Card was hitting write speeds of just over 300MB/s in our ATTO benchmark, so it looks like this camera will be able to use all the write speed this card has to offer.
We had been shooting with the Canon XC15 for some time in 1080p60, but really wanted to see the difference in picture quality and was hoping the SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 card would work with our Canon.
Happily, the SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 card and Canon XC15 camcorder made for a great pairing. Shooting 4K video in the field was problem free and there were no issues of buffer underruns or overheating at the highest possible settings on the camera.
Our only problems with the SanDisk Extreme CFast card came when transferring these large data files off of the card to our drive or NAS. Many times during transfer, we saw the card struggling to stay at its optimal transfer speed. We did not, however find that the card, when filming or when transferring data, lost any data whatsoever.
The Canon XC15 generates huge files when shooting in 4K. A 20 second clip at the highest settings is around 750MB! This means our 64 GB SanDisk Extreme card can shoot for under 30 minutes before it runs out of space. Of course moving up to a larger card (128GB at $349 or 256 GB at $679) is costly to say the least.
While we spent an extensive amount of time using the SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 card for video, we didn’t use the card too much for burst photos.
One of the reasons that the CFast 2.0 cards out today are so expensive is that the film and video industry does not have any entry-level equipment out that supports this format. Unfortunately, only medium and high-end equipment supports CFast 2.0, thus the price has not dropped like SD or microSD cards.
Today there are still only a limited number of memory manufacturers who sell CFast 2.0 cards, but if you are a video enthusiast or professional that owns equipment to take advantage of these super-fast throughputs, you need to look at purchasing a CFast 2.0 card. Is the SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 the best out there? Who knows? At $199 for 64GB, we have only had the chance to use the SanDisk. While the usability with the Canon XC15 is flawless, we have to worry about our benchmarks that measured speeds that were quite a long ways away from what SanDisk claimed the card could do.
Another great thing about the SanDisk Extreme CFast 2.0 memory card is that Western Digital/SanDisk gives the purchaser a lifetime limited warranty. This is great and somewhat expected on a $199.95
Legit Bottom Line: The SanDisk Extreme 64GB CFast 2.0 memory card is an overall solid performer when looking at typical benchmarks. We never saw the card come close to the theoretical maximum Read/Write speeds but yet our real-world tests with Canon’s XC15 UHD Camcorder showed that the SanDisk CFast 2.0 card could handle anything that we threw its way with no frame drops or other issues to affect the capture video. This might be an instance where we need to pay less attention to the benchmark and more attention to beautiful images captured.
Update May 22nd, 2017 -
We spoke with Lexar about our performance numbers on the Lexar CR1 reader and were curious if the reader was the bottleneck. They got back to us with the following statement:
We can’t speak for the SanDisk card, but we tested Lexar Professional 3500x CFast 2.0 512GB card (pricing) with Lexar CR1 reader in a faster system and our result looks better with 369MB/s write, 425MB/s read.
That card is rated at up to 525 MB/s read and 445 MB/s write and they were only able to get 425 MB/s read and 369 MB/s write on their own CFast 2.0 card reader. So, if you happen to buy one of these cards and don't see that you are getting close to the rated speeds in a memory card reader don't be too shocked!