Today we get a chance to step outside of our little box at Overclockers.com and have an opportunity to take a look at a Compact Flash card from Transcend. Sure this isn’t a GPU, Motherboard, or CPU, but I’m more than certain at least some of us have used these before. If you’re a photographer, own a decent Digital SLR (DSLR) camera, or even have a device that records video, then CF cards should be familiar to you. That out of the way, we get a chance to look at the 32GB version from their “Ultimate” line, which comes in at 1000x speeds or 160MB reads and 120MB writes (UDMA7). Also included in the review is their USB 3.0 card reader (TS-RDF8K), to get data from the card to your PC. Let’s take a look at see how it performed in both with synthetics, and with some real life use.
Specifications and Features
Below I shameless used the Key Features from the Transcend website showing what this card has to offer. We see 1000x performance on the CF 6.0 spec and UDMA7 (fastest for CF which is based off of MLC NAND Flash chips for long life and low power consumption.)
This card also supports the “Video Performance Guarantee” or VPG-20, which is a standard in video capture that requires the card to maintain at least a 20MB/s sustained write environment. So this card should be solid in both still photography and videography.
The last thing that jumped out to me on this page was the Limited Lifetime warranty the card carries. Most others carry this as well, but its nice to know they also stand behind their product too.
- Ultra-fast 1000X performance with four-channel support
- Supports the Compact Flash 6.0 Specification
- Manufactured with brand-name toggle mode MLC NAND Flash chips
- Supports high-speed Ultra DMA transfer mode 7
- Low power consumption and fast write speed help extend battery run time
- Extra-large capacity for storing high resolution movies and pictures
- Built using MLC Flash chips for guaranteed performance and durability
- Built-in hardware ECC technology for detecting and correcting errors
- High-speed transfers between card and computer
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
The “Ultimate” series 1000x CompactFlash cards implement the Video Performance Guarantee (VPG-20) to enable professional-quality video recording without dropping frames, even in 3D.
(image from Transcend website)
First up, we take a glance at the retail packaging for the card. As you can see on the front, the Transcend name is emblazoned on the front along with a picture of the card, its speed, the VPG-20, as well as showing the software you can download called “Recover Rx”.
Moving over to the rear of the packaging shows more marketing information, as well as some high level specifications.
Last up for this grouping of pictures show what is included in the packaging. The card and case, instruction manual, and a catalog.
Alright… now we get to see the card! And there it is! Not much to see here… If you have used Transcend cards lately, the rainbow theme should be pretty familiar. Flipping the card over reveals an area to write on if you feel inclined to do so. I’m certain professional photographers appreciate this ability, as I’d imagine they have more than a few cards around for their work.
Next up is the reader, a TS RDF8K USB 3.0 multi card reader to be exact. It comes in clam-shell style packaging with the USB 3.0 cord that attaches to the device for power, and of course data transfers. When powered on, and a card in it, the unit has a blue light. The light stays solid when idle, and flashes when data transfer is in progress.
On one side of this petite device (not sure what I was expecting, but the CF card is 2/3 its size!) you have inputs for mSD, SDHC/SDXC, and CF, while on the other is the MS PRO/XC MS Duo. Overall build quality seems just fine for the plastic and PCB that it essentially is.
Of course to test all this out, we need a card reader. With 1000x speed cards easily surpassing the available bandwidth of USB 2.0, one really needs a USB 3.0 based solution to be able to realize the full speeds of this media… not to mention a camera that supports the UDMA7 specification. So, we used Transcend’s TS-RDF8K device as listed and linked to below to get around that problem!
- Intel i7 3570K CPU @ 4.5 GHz, 1.2v
- Gigabyte Z77X UD5H
- GSkill Ares 2 x 8 GB 1600MHz CL10 @ 1.5 V
- 256 GB OCZ Vector SSD
- Seasonic X550
- EVGA GTX 690
- Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
- Nvidia 314.07
- Transcend TS-RDF8K USB3.0 Super Speed Multi Card Reader
- Sandisk 4GB 15MB /s CF card
- Transcend 32GB 1000x CF card (TS32GCF1000)
- Canon EOS Rebel Xti
So let’s see, synthetically how this card performs. On the left will be the Transcend 1000x card, while on the right is my Sandisk 4 GB 15 MB/s card. Clearly the Transcend card will smoke the latter, but I wanted to give you an idea of the differences between technologies and speeds.
Ugh, I cant even tell you how long it took some of these tests to run all the way through on the Sandisk. Hours people, Hours. You should be able to tell in ATTO that we are peaking at 130 MB with the higher file sizes, which the average file size for my 10.1 MP camera is around 4 GB with high quality, or about 10 MB in RAW format. So, these cards hit their stride where they need to. In Crystal Disk Mark, we see a strikingly similar story, as expected. We don’t deal with small files, think 4k, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the 4k readings. Next up is, AS SSD, and again the story doesn’t change. So I reached out and asked how they got their numbers for transfer speeds, and they had mentioned Sandra so we took a stab at that to see if we could get closer to their values…
…and we didn’t. So nothing here really reached the 160MB read and 120MB write speeds. But its tough to pinpoint why that didn’t happen really as we only have this one device to test with. It could be a slew of things, including the card, but I did expect a bit more I have to admit. I also tried it on two different PC’s and all the USB3 ports I had in case it was a controller limitation. That said, the card is still very fast on the benchmarks and moving a ton of pictures was still pretty darn quick and a HUGE performance increase over the 15MB card as we expected.
Real World Use
Outside of the synthetics we saw above, I had the chance to use the card in my Canon EOS Rebel Xti DSLR Camera. This is a significant upgrade in both capacity and speed from the 4 GB 15 MB/s card that is currently provisioned for use. I really had no issues with the current CF card, and moving to the new one was no different. I could run the burst function to my hearts content, even with the photos in RAW mode (~10MB files).
As far as transfer speeds to my SSD from the USB reader, this card moved files at 112 MB/s versus moving the same exact files at 15 MB/s with the slower Sandisk 4 GB card. An amazing, and again, expected, difference!
There isn’t too much to say here really. The card benchmarked a bit lower than its specifications across our normal SSD test suite. It did rebounded nicely on Sandra’s testing, where they get their values from in the first place. I believe the camera I have just can’t handle the speeds a card like this is capable of, so I really didn’t notice any performance increase. I’m sure that story would be different with a more modern DSLR camera.
The price of this card is $119.99 on Amazon placing this toward the lower end of the competition.
As far as negatives with the card, well, it isn’t with the card directly really. Just make sure your camera or device used to transfer the data can keep up with the card. No point in buying a 1000x speed card if you are using a USB 2.0 based device, for example.
This is where the Transcend TS- RDF8K USB 3.0 card reader comes in to play. I had no troubles with this device in my limited use either. It handled both CF cards I had, and the micro SDs without any issues. You can find that device for $15.99 on Amazon.
Overall, you have a very fast card that seems to be reliable from the reviews/forums I read (it didn’t break on me!), and it sits at a reasonable price among its peers. From our quick look here, it seems like you have a very viable option in the populated Compact Flash card market from Transcend.
~Joe Shields (Earthdog)