Lexar has released a new Silver Edition to their CFexpress Type B memory cards.
With the CFx technology now in a relatively mature state, we’re starting to see various brands segment out performance capabilities of their cards into various price points.
With Lexar, we now have their top-of-the-line Diamond cards and their Gold Series cards which perform very close to the Diamond cards. Now just below that we have the new Silver Series cards which are great for video or photographers taking a more casual approach to photography, but still want cards that are fast enough at an affordable price. Since spending a premium on the top-tier Diamond cards for 200-400Mbps video might be overkill for a lot of shooters.
The Silver series is one the best bangs for the buck out there right now for photographers who don’t demand the most bleeding edge write speeds.
Also, many cameras today like the Nikon Z7II, Z6II, or the Canon R5 have pretty severe performance bottlenecks when it comes to writing to memory cards and often we see speeds capped at around 300-400MB/s, more or less. So with these cameras, it really makes no sense to buy the top-of-the-line in the current market which makes the Lexar Silver Series of CFxB cards probably the best option for these cameras.
Lexar Silver Series CFxB Review & Benchmarks
I have a 128GB Silver Series card and Lexar just sent me a 512GB card to look at. So we can take a look at two things, the fast cache of the card and the slower sustained write speeds.
|Card Size||Write Speed||Read Speed||Sustained|
|Lexar Silver CFx B 128GB||749MB/s||1750MB/s||490MB/s|
|Lexar Silver CFxB 512GB||1141MB/s||1624MB/s||891MB/s|
Like our internal M.2 drive we find in our PCs and Mac computers, CFexpress cards are set up with a fast SLC-type cache and a slower TLC or QLC flash that is written once the SLC cache is filled.
For bursting photography most of our cameras only have a buffer from around 2GB to 4GB, so we’re looking for cards with a fast SLC cache that can match that buffer, however, when that cache is exhausted we still want to see good performance as the camera writes to the slower memory which is especially useful when shooting high bitrate video.
With the Lexar Silver Series (like with most CFxB memory cards), we get different speeds depending on the capacity of the cards.
When pushing a 4GB file to each card, we’re seeing the cards run at around 749MB/s on the 128GB cards and closer to 1150MB/s on the 512GB card. Once that fast cache is exhausted we see speeds of around 490MB/s with the 128GB card and closer to 900MB/s with the larger 512GB card.
Give or take depending on what reader you use, if you’re using a 20GBps reader, TB reader, or a 10GBps reader. I was using a CFtek Trimmer 20GB reader for these tests – which I believe is still a prototype.
When running the Memory Card Speeds For The Nikon Z8, the 128GB Silver Series card ran at 528MB/s and the 512GB card ran a little faster at 678MB/s.
But let’s take a closer look at the two different sizes of cards I have to get a better look at how they are set up.
the Lexar 128GB Silver Series.
In this 16GB test size in the AJA System Test, we can see it writes at around 1700MB/s for around 2GB until the cache is exhausted and it drops to the slower cache where it maintains a speed of around 420-500MB/s.
Lexar 512GB Silver Series
With the Lexar 512GB Silver Series card we see a different picture.
Here we have a short warmup period before it ramps up to around 1677MB/s for around 2GB and then it drops to a much faster sustained speed of around 800-900MB/s.
While I haven’t seen any product pages listing these cards as having different sustained speeds between the different size cards, here we can clearly see the larger card is faster.
It could be possible that because these are the more budget cards from Lexar, there might be a varying degree of performance between different cards as it’s possible they could be using different quality of flash in different production runs for this series. So maybe they don’t guarantee a sustained speed at the moment.
I’m also unsure how the 256GB card would run.
Lexar Silver Series CFexpress Type-B Review – Bottom Line
Both the 128GB and 512GB cards are pretty good budget cards or general-purpose cards. A fast 2GB cache in the Silver series will be great for most shooters doing simple general-purpose photography, and even with the slower 490MB/s sustain speed in the 128GB card, we still get a performance rating that’s still going to be more than good enough for most video codecs, and still much faster than any UHS-II card with a significant cost advantage.