The latest CFexpress Type-B memory cards are some of the fastest and most robust types of media you can use for your cameras today. But just how fast are they?
This guide will look at the different performance metrics of the various brands of memory cards.
Best CFexpress Memory Cards – Benchmarks
CFexpress Type B cards can be very fast with USB 3.2 2×2 which runs at 20Gbps, or Thunderbolt 3. Mac Computers, even the new ones M2Pro in 2023 do not support USB 3.2 2×2 even the new computers that USB4 are only backward compatible with USB 3.2 10Gbps, but they do use Thunderbolt 3 or 4 at 20Gbps. PCs can be found with motherboards that support USB 3.2 2×2.
All USB-C CFexpress readers you buy for Mac will only run at 10Gbps, even though some advertise 20Gbps. For 20Gbps speeds you can buy Thunderbolt readers, there are only a few on the market.
For these benchmarks there are two column sets, one set is taken with USB 3.2 2×1 speeds on a Macbook Pro with an Angelbird or Prograde reader (whichever worked best), and the Second Row was tested with an OWC Thunderbolt 3 reader.
What you should pay attention to is the Heat column as this shows the card’s performance after thermal throttling or it’s sustained speed.
The software used was AJA System Test Lite. Resolution: 5120×2700 5k Red / Test File Size: 4GB / Codec Type 16bit RGBA, Single File, DMA Mode: Dual Engines.
USB and Thunderbolt speeds are taken by recording with a 4GB Test File Size to simulate burst shooting, since few cameras have a buffer larger than 4GB, and the heat column is taken with 64GB file sizes to simulate video recording.
Click the plus button to see rated read and write speeds as well as the rated sustained speeds – not all brands of cards advertise their rated sustained speeds, although they should all write it on their cards as Prograde now does since that’s the only spec that matters for videography.
|Memory Cards||RatedW||RatedR||Sustained||USB Write||USB Read||TB3 W||TB3 R||Heat||Links|
|Lexar 512 Pro Diamond||1700||1900||1600||1011||1024||1325||1625||1278||B&H|
|Lexar 128/256/GB Diamond||1700||1900||1600||1013||1023||1329||1601||1283||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar Gold 1TB/2TB||1500||1900||1300||1019||1020||1331||1605||1266||B&H|
|Lexar Gold 512GB||1000||1750||1002||1020||560*||893*||897||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar Gold 64/128/256||1000||1750||957||1022||530*||894*||927||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Pro-Cinema 256GB||1400||1700||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme 512GB||1400||1700||X|
|Sandisk Extreme 128/256GB||1200||1700||489||1020||526||1570||316||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme 65GB||800||1500||X|
|Sony Tough 128/256/512GB||1480||1700||989||1024||1168||1245||349||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Prograde Cobalt 165/325/650GB||1500||1700||1400||1002||1022||1341||1569||1304||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Prograde 1TB gen3||1,500||1700||1300|
|Prograde 512GB gen3||1,500||1700||850|
|Prograde 512/1TB gen2||1500||1700||400|
|Prograde 256GB gen2||1400||1700||300|
|Prograde 128GB gen2||1400||1700||140||679||778||747||1361||583||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Delkin Black 150/325/650GB||1530||1700||1300*||1003||1023||1343||1568||1305||B&H|
|Delkin Black 75GB||1240||1725||979||1022||1227||1569||1195||B&H|
|Delkin Black 128GB||1000||1022||1339||1569||1304||X||B&H|
|Delkin Power 128/256/512/1TB/2TB||1540||1730||1300*||999||1022||1341||1569||1305||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Delkin Prime 64GB||974||1023||1236||1570||1205||X||Amazon|
|Nikon 660GB||1500||1700||1300*||987||1022||1318||1566||1278||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Hoodman Steel 128GB||608||1018||608||1398||176||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Wise Pro 640GB||1550||1700||1400|
|Wise Pro 160/320GB||1550||1700||1300||964||1024||1135||1591||1106||B&H|
|Wise 1TB Mk II||1550||1700||1300|
|Wise 512GB Mk II||1550||1700||850|
|Wise 128GB||1050||1700||140||190||1023||189||1352||142||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Angelbird Pro 1TB/2TB/4TB MkII||1785||1550||1300||872||835||969||1601||852||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Angelbird Pro 2TB MkI||1500||1700||1000|
|Angelbird Pro 256GB||844||961||828||1354||800||X||B&H|
|Angelbird Pro XT 330/660/1320GB||1600||1785||1480||994||1020||1309||1602||1260||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Angelbird Pro SE 512GB||850||1785||800||822||878||830||1590||796||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Angelbird Pro SX 160GB||1600||1785||1480||973||1021||1251||1600||1176||Amazon||/ B&H|
|OWC Atlas Ultra 165/325/650GB||1500||1700||1300||996||1010||1329||1562||1295||Amazon||/ B&H|
|OWC Atlas Pro 512GB/1TB/2TB||1500||1700||400|
|OWC Atlas Pro 256GB||1400||1700||300||X|
|OWC Atlas Pro 128GB||1400||1700||140||239||978||241||1328||158||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sabrent Rocket 512GB/1TB/2TB||1700||1800||1300||B&H|
|Sabrent Rocket 512GB/1TB||1500||1700||400||X||Amazon|
|Pergear Ultra 1TB/2TB||1400||1600||1300||Amazon|
|Pergear Pro 512GB||750||1200||700||Amazon|
|Pergear Pro 256GB||400||1200||360||Amazon|
|Pergear Lite 128GB||250||1000||200||324||978||322||1486||224||Amazon|
|Pergear Lite 64GB||90||300||80||Amazon|
|Silicon Power Cinema 512GB/1TB||1500||1700||350||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Silicon Power Cinema 256GB||1200||1700||300||453||996||380||1569||319||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Silicon Power Cinema 128GB||600||1700||150||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Transcend 820 512GB||1000||1700||B&H|
|Transcend 820 256GB||1300||1700||B&H|
|Sony Tough 640GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony Tough 320GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony Tough 160GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony Tough 80GB||641||852||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 320GB||837||885||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 160GB||825||886||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 80GB||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Delkin Black 160GB||X||B&H|
|Delkin Black 80GB||639||852||X||B&H|
|Delkin Power 160GB||X||B&H|
|Delkin Power 80GB||641||847||X||B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro V90||252||279||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 2000x V90||219||256||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Toshiba Exceria Pro V90||213||244||X||Amazon|
|Transcend v90||175||263||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony G Tough v90||239||275||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Delkin Black v90||253||278||X||B&H|
|Delkin Power v90||240||275||X||B&H|
|Fujifilm Elite II V90||158||277||X||X|
|Hoodman Steel 2000x V90||155||249||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|ProGrade V90||229||270||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|PNY EliteX-Pro90 V90||X||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Amplim 2000x V90||X||X||Amazon|
|Angel Bird V90 II||257||271||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|OWC Atlas Ultra V90||X||X||B&H|
|OWC Atlas S Pro V90||X||X||B&H|
|Kingston Canvas React V90||256||274||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Kodak V90 64GB||260||272||X||Amazon|
|Ritz Gear VideoPro V90||258||273||X||Amazon|
|Wise V90 Pro||256||275||X||B&H|
|Lexar 1800x V60||176||242||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 1667x V60||99||242||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Lexar 1000x V60||108||167||X||X|
|Sony M Tough V60||155||268||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony M v60||X||X||B&H|
|Sony E v60||142||252||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sony E v30||73||247||X||X||B&H|
|Delkin Prime v60||98||275||X||B&H|
|Hoodman Steel 1500x V60||99||273||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|ProGrade V60||98||155||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|PNY EliteX-Pro60 V60||X||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Amplim 2000x v60||136||253||X||Amazon|
|Amplim 1900x V60||97||275||X||X|
|Angel Bird V60 II||144||243||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|OWC Atlas Pro V60||X||X||B&H|
|FreeTail Evoke Pro V60||96||272||X||X|
|Ritz Gear Video Pro V60 A1||X||X||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro U3||144||172||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme Plus U3||61||143||X||X||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme U3||51||93||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Sandisk Ultra U1 Old||27||93||X||X|
|Kingston CanvasGo! Plus U3||124||161||X||Amazon|
|Kingston Canvas Select Plus U3||84||93||X||Amazon|
|Lexar 633x U3||35||93||X||Amazon|
|Sony Professional U3||84||91||X||X|
|Sony U3 94||60||91||X||X|
|Sony U3 95||81||90||X||X|
|Transcend U3 High Performance A2||X||X||Amazon|
|PNY Pro Elite U3 256GB||87||93||X||Amazon|
|PNY Elite-X U3 128 GB||56||92||X||Amazon|
|PNY Elite Performance U3||63||91||X||X||Amazon|
|Delkin Black U3||86||93||X||B&H|
|Delkin Advantage U3||77||93||X||Amazon||/ B&H|
|Toshiba Exceria Pro U3||74||91||X|
|Toshiba Exceria U3||29||91||X|
|Verbatim Pro+ U3||77||91||X||Amazon|
|Verbatim Pro U3||46||90||X||Amazon|
|Amplim 667x A1 V30||50||93||X||X|
|RitzGear Extreme Performance A1 V30||62||93||X||Amazon|
Few notes. Some cards work better in different memory card readers. If a card was not performing well in one reader I would swap the reader to see if I could get better results. You probably should just buy the same reader as the cards you buy unless you buy an OWC reader or one of their docs that has the CFexpress slot. A few cards seemed to have some compatibility issues with the Thunderbolt OWC reader and I could not get proper speeds with them, these include the Lexar 512GB and 128GB cards.
Top 3 Best CFExpress Cards – The All-Around Best Brands For 2023
After benchmarking all the different cards in all the different cameras there have been a few brands that have stood as being better than others.
For Nikon shooters, my top picks of brands would be Lexar or Delkin, also the Prograde cards can be a nice option.
Nikon shooters should stay away from OWC and Angel Bird cards since they are a little too thick for the Nikon card slots and can get stuck.
Sandisk has a new Pro Cine card that I’ve yet to test, but this could put Sandisk back on the recommendation list.
The Sony Tough card still thermal throttles too aggressively for it to be a top pick.
Why some cards were so much slower?
There are now a lot of options for CFexpress cards and some are intentionally designed slower to make them cheaper. These are great for photographers that are only concerned with casual photographers or low-bitrate video recording. Not everyone needs the fastest CFexpress card, especially if you’re on something like a Nikon Z6 II that only records video at 150Mbps.
Some cards have very aggressive thermal throttling profiles which were more apparent with the large file size tests vs smaller file size tests.
I performed these tests using the AJA System Test using 4GB file sizes. The reason I chose 4GB is that this is about the buffer we see in some of the best cameras like the Sony A1 or A9. The Nikon Z9, also a great camera, only looks to have about a 2GB buffer. This makes sense, it’s using faster CFexpress Type-B cards instead of Type-A cards.
If I chose a larger size than 4GB in these benchmarks, it could cause the card to engage the thermal throttling more aggressively, and it wouldn’t show the potential capabilities of a camera like the Sony A1 which would be limited to a 4GB buffer. However, cameras with a smaller buffer like a Nikon Z9, could show better performance with some of those slower cards because they would not be used as often under the throttled conditions. While these slower cards do show tested results significantly slower than their rated performance, their peak bursts were actually showing closer to those rated numbers.
In other words, if you have a Nikon Z6 or Z7 with only a 2GB buffer, you may not notice the difference between a super-fast card or a slower card, especially since those early CFexpress cameras were still only using one PCIe 3.0 lane anyway. The new cameras like the Z9 are looking like they are taking advantage of the dual lanes of the CFExpress Type B cards.
Best CFexpress Type-B Memory Card Reader
Although I can’t see the full speeds of USB 3.2 gen 2 2×2 with a 2018 Macbook Pro, the Lexar CFexpress Type-B reader is clearly performing better than the other brands. I have two other Prograde readers a Pergear reader, a Sandisk reader, and an Angelbird reader. If you’re on a USB 3.1 or M1 Mac, it won’t matter which reader you use since the speeds will be throttled by the bus throughput.
I recommend these two readers unless you use Angelbird cards, then go with the Angelbird reader so you can update the firmware.
See the Best CFexpress Type B Memory Card Readers for more information.
USB-C CFexpress Type-B Readers
These are the readers I have and use. They all work great. Some can be slightly faster than others depending on what card is used, but for the most part they are all very close in speed.
Lexar CFxB + USB-C Reader – Amazon / B&H
If you can’t take full advantage of USB 3.2 setup or need UHS-II, the Prograde UHS-II + Cfexpress reader is only slightly slower, most would never notice the difference.
Prograde UHS-II + CFxB Reader – Amazon / B&H
The Prograde readers all now support the faster Sandisk interface so a lot of those UHS-I cards now run properly at the 170MB/s read speeds.
Angelbird CFxB Reader – Amazon / B&H
You’ll need an Angelbird Reader to upgrade the firmware in Angelbird Cards.
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Reader – Amazon / B&H
OWC also has a few Thunderbolt 3 docs with a built-in CFexpress reader.
ProGrade CFxB + XQD Thunderbolt 3 Reader – B&H
Fastest CFexpress Type B Cards Bottom Line
Now that the CFxB space has matured, there are a lot of great options for cards at various prices. You don’t always need the fastest CFexpress card and can save a lot of money buying a card that only has the specs you need.
Keep an eye on thermal throttling with the higher-end cameras and cards as that’s going to be a better benchmark to look at compared to RAW speed if shooting video is the primary use of the camera.
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