CF-card reader speed?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Opspin, May 7, 2011.

  1. Opspin macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2011
    I'm just musing a bit about what card reader to get for when my iMac arrives.

    A USB CF card reader would allow transfer of pictures at a maximum of 480Mb/s or 60MB/s one of my cards is rated at 60MB/s so that would be enough for that (or I could even just use the USB cable).

    My other card is a SanDisk Extreme Pro card rated at 90MB/s so that would be limited by the USB cable or the card reader, the solution could be to get a FireWire 800 card reader allowing the 90MB/s card to be used to it's fullest potential. Problem is that only Lexar has made one, and it's not available any more, it's also a rather expensive piece of plastic.

    The last option would be to play the waiting game until someone makes and releases a ThunderBolt CompactFlash card reader which would be quite future proof with read speeds of up to 864 MB/s almost 10 times faster than my current card (and probably much faster than what current cameras can write anyway)

    So what does this mean in time saved importing pictures or video?

    Well the 16GB 60MB/s card could theoretically be emptied in just under 5 minutes, while the 90MB/s card would empty 16GB in just about 3 minutes, my card is 32GB so that would take 6 minutes or 10 minutes depending wether I got a USB or Firewire card. Of course if one got a much faster card and a ThunderBolt reader it could be emptied in under half a minute.

    Practically though according to apple, the 32GB card would empty in 13.5 minutes with USB or 6 minutes with Firewire, current cards wouldn't get any speed improvements using ThunderBolt.

    I could probably just browse reddit or Macrumors while the card emptied, and then enjoy all the speedy photo and video editing afterwards :(
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    USB 2.0 tops out at around 35MB/s in real world. While USB is pretty slow, I think it is your best option. Nobody knows when TB adapters start to roll out so you might be waiting for months, even years.
  3. maxtheswift macrumors newbie

    Jun 24, 2008
    I've got the Lexar FW 800 Reader that I use for my compact flash and I love it. That being said, as you mentioned they don't make them anymore, so I would say pick up a cheap USB reader until they come out with a Thunderbolt one rather than getting the Lexar.
  4. caribousteaks macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2008
    washington dc
    Thunderbolt readers will be released by Lexar et al. probably Spring 2012. This will probably be in coordination with the XQD cards to be used in the new Nikons. It is impossible to get value out of a cable unless the card in question can be read at speed and the fastest out there now are about 100mbs. So thunderbolt couldn't even be fully utilized at the moment due to the read bottleneck at the card itself. XQD will start at 120 so that will be able to be fully utilized by thunderbolt. The best match up at the moment with macs in real world numbers is Firewire 800 card reader with a 60mbs card. These are being fazed out now with the advent of XQD and faster CF cards (any card above 60mbs will outperform Firewire 800). Sonnet has a new express slot that will use thunderbolt but again if the card can't read that fast then there is only slight advantage over old firewire 800 readers. Who knows if USB3 will ever be taken on by Apple? I doubt it but you never know if USB3 ever catches on like USB2 did.
  5. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    Yep, I've got one of these. It's fantastically fast. I'd try and track one down on eBay.
  6. Opspin, May 24, 2012
    Last edited: May 24, 2012

    Opspin thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 25, 2011
    Usb 3

    Now with USB 3.0 possibly on the way for the new MacBooks and iMacs the obvious question is wether Apple will let the iMac keep its old FireWire 800 port.

    I say probably not, as those who needs it, can buy a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, and USB 3.0 is faster anyway.

    So now the question is how fast you can expect to unload, say 32GB of photos from your 90MB/s CF Card over USB 3.0, just over 6 minutes. This is only limited by the card, but real world situations would have us believe that it always tends to take a little longer than we actually have when trying to get out the door and shoot more pictures.

    Wikipedia say it is reasonable to expect 400MB/s but the cards are still limited. Sandisk seems to have the fastest that tops out at 100MB/s

    So 128GB of raw photos (prepare your servers Flickr with your unlimited uploads) can be downloaded in just 22 minutes, pretty neat, I don't want to know what those monster cards costs.

    [​IMG] This is the best looking card reader in my opinion

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