With CFexpress Type-B memory cards now a mainstream format, with many different types of cards and many different types of memory card readers, you may be wondering what are the best cards and readers?
Use this guide to find the best CFexpress Type-B memory card reader for your system.
Before we get into it, you can see the growing list of benchmarked cards here – Best CFexpress Type B memory cards.
Best CFexpress Type-B Memory Card Reader
Before you buy a CFexpress Memory Card Reader, there are a few details you need to know and there are a few different types of readers.
There is a new format of USB 3.2 2×2 that allows 20Gbps of data. Some brands like Lexar and Angelbird are now making CFexpress card readers for this new USB standard but many computers still do not take advantage of this.
M1 macs as an example don’t support this and I’m not sure if M2 macs do yet either, so you’ll be limited to a PC build if you want to take advantage of these speeds. If you’re buying a new CFexpress reader, it makes sense to get the USB 3.2 2×2 20Gbps readers as something that is future-proof and these will be the fastest readers you can buy once you get the hardware support for them.
If you go with an older 3.2 10Gbps reader, I would recommend getting a dual reader that can also take UHS-II SD cards and there really isn’t any point of spending money on a CFexpress Reader if it’s still only using the older 10Gbps USB mode.
Here are the best single slot CFexpress Type-B readers right now.
Fastest USB-C 3.2 2×2 20Gbps CFexpress Type-B Reader
At the time of writing this, there are only two CFexpress Type-B readers with the 20Gbps USB-C Interface. Lexar has one and now Angelbird has one.
Which to buy? Pretty simple.
If you’re using Angelbird CFexpress Memory cards, then buy the Angelbird reader since you can only upgrade the firmware on Angelbird cards with the Angelbird reader.
If you want the fastest CFexpress Type-B memory card then that crown goes to the Lexar reader and currently, Lexar has some of the fastest cards as well that you can often get bundled with the reader at a discount. I’m also seeing the Lexar reader work better with most brands of memory cards.
Although Angelbird just released a new 2×2 USB-C 3.2 reader, It’s looking like the Lexar CFexpress reader is the fastest reader overall since it’s outperforming the Angelbird Reader slightly with various brands of cards. For example, Delkin, Prograde and Sony cards were performing noticeably better in the Lexar reader.
This is a high-quality reader and has a solid build with a plastic casing, and the reader does not heat up the cards to lava temperatures. It also comes with a great universal cable. The Lexar reader has a spring-loaded safety click, where you push the card in past the spring and it locks in place, push it again to unlock it.
You can usually get this reader bundled with Lexar cards and sometimes they offer some significant savings.
The Angelbird reader is also a very high-quality reader with an aluminum casing and comes with a USB-C cable and also a USB Type-A adapter. You have to have to apply your own rubber padding to the bottom of this reader that it comes with, and it also comes with some cable management wraps. Overall it’s a solid reader and if you’re using Angelbird cards, you will need this. It doesn’t seem to be as fast at or as compatible with various brands of memory cards so I would only recommend this reader if you’re using Angel Bird cards. Otherwise, I would go with Lexar or one of the dual readers by Prograde.
This reader is said to be compatible with Thunderbolt 3/4 which should have a 20Gbps throughput, but I’m still only seeing 10Gbps when I plug it into a Macbook with Thunderbolt 3.
The process of upgrading the firmware of Angelbird cards with this reader was very simple. You download their app, and it pretty much automates the whole process. Angelbird has some great cards at various speeds and prices so the Angelbird ecosystem might make a lot of sense for some photographers.
CFexpress Type B Memory Card Reader Benchmarks
For these tests, I ran the cards through the AJA system test freshly formatted in the Nikon Z 6 on a 2018 Macbook Pro. Each test I ran a few times to get the fastest results. Usually, the cards performed best after being freshly formatted, and usually with each test the results would only fluctuate a few MB/s. Most of the cards hit the read speed bottleneck of my machine which seems to be around 995MB/s. I imagine they would all break above this if I had the latest USB-C hardware which Apple hasn’t released yet in their machines.
All cards were tested cold to avoid any thermal throttling. While I have a newer M1 Mac Mini the speed of the USB-C port is much slower as there seems to be some other bottleneck in the basic M1 Macs slowing things down. Intel or AMD users with new motherboards should be able to get the appropriate 20Gbps from USB 3.2.
|Memory Card reader||USB-C Write||USB-C Read|
|Lexar 20Gbps Reader||Lexar Pro Diamond 256GB||983 MB/s||995 MB/s|
|Lexar Professional 512GB||902 MB/s||991MB/s|
|Angelbird Pro 256GB||946 MB/s||987 MB/s|
|Angelbird SX 160GB||943 MB/s||988 MB/s|
|Delkin Black 128GB||960 MB/s||980 MB/s|
|Prograde Cobalt 325GB||958 MB/s||980 MB/s|
|Sony G Tough 128GB||957 MB/s||995 MB/s|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB||429 MB/s||990 MB/s|
|AngelBird 20Gbps Reader||Lexar Pro Diamond 256GB||983 MB/s||994 MB/s|
|Lexar Professional 512GB||891 MB/s||991 MB/s|
|Angelbird Pro 256GB||943 MB/s||963 MB/s|
|Angelbird SX 160GB||944 MB/s||986 MB/s|
|Delkin Black 128GB||707 MB/s||386 MB/s|
|Prograde Cobalt 325GB||742 MB/s||990 MB/s|
|Sony G Tough 128GB||933 MB/s||991 MB/s|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB||484 MB/s||990 MB/s|
As a side note: When I set up the Lexar reader and did a file transfer to the AngelBird reader, so CFexpress card to CFexpress card, I only saw speeds of between 700-800MB/s. However, to benchmark each card with the AJA system test, data is written to and from my internal Macbook Pro drive that runs at around 3000MB/s read and write. So if you are transferring to an external drive, you’ll probably get around 700MB/s on a 10Gbps USB-C connection.
Best Combo CFexpress+UHS-II Reader
ProGrade has a few combo readers and these are great for photographers and videographers that need UHS-II and CFexpress Type-B readers and don’t really care about bleeding-edge speeds or don’t have the hardware for 20Gbps USB-C.
ProGrade CFexpress Type-B & UHS-II 10Gbps Reader
This reader has a magnet on the bottom which allows you to stick them to any metal on your desk. Sometimes over time the adhesive will not hold and the magnet can break away, but some higher-quality double-side tape can fix this. Overall Prograde makes a nice CFexpress Type B combo reader that works great with Prograde cards but also with the various brands of memory cards that are out there, including all the different UHS-II cards.
I’m not sure what’s going on with the Sandisk cards. I’m thinking they are still using old tech.
|ProGrade Memory Card Reader||Memory Cards||USB-C Write||USB-C Read|
|Lexar Pro Diamond 256GB||974 MB/s||965 MB/s|
|Lexar Professional 512GB||897 MB/s||965 MB/s|
|Angelbird Pro 256GB||930 MB/s||795 MB/s|
|Angelbird SX 160GB||933 MB/s||956 MB/s|
|Delkin Black 128GB||957 MB/s||954 MB/s|
|Prograde Cobalt 325GB||953 MB/s||955 MB/s|
|Sony G Tough 128GB||946 MB/s||965 MB/s|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB||432 MB/s||960 MB/s|
Best CFexpress Type-B Memory Card Reader
It would seem the overall best CFexpress Type-B reader is still the Lexar 20Gbps 2×2 USB-C reader. If you own a variety of brands it seems to have the best compatibility overall with the fastest potential speeds.
If you only ever plan on owning one brand of cards other than Lexar like Prograde, Delkin, or Angelbird, then it might be a good idea to just stick with the same brand reader as your cards, but if you like to just buy good cards on sale and don’t care about sticking with any particular brand, right now Lexar is the way to go.
Disclaimer – I did buy all these readers, but some brands are sending me their latest cards to make sure I’m updated for these tests. For example, Lexar just send me the updated cards and RitzGear is now in communication, although I’m currently up to date on their cards, which I did not benchmark since they don’t have fast cards yet. I would be curious to know what Sandisk is up to but don’t have communication with them.