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CompactFlash Reader Roundup - Continued

The data in the tables below was derived from the time it took to transfer about 225MB of Nikon D1X JPEG and NEF files to the internal hard drive of a 2003 model Dual 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 desktop Mac running OS X 10.2.6 (except for the Powerbook tests, which were conducted with a 15" G4/1GHz and the same operating system version). Each transfer was performed twice and the results averaged.

All data has been converted to Kilobytes/second (K/sec). Highest throughput for each CompactFlash card is in bold. For comparison purposes, note that the highest throughput we measured with the USB 1.1 Microtech Zio! was 674K/sec.

Brand and Model
Addonics FireWire Mini DigiDrive
Lexar Media FireWire CF Digital Film Reader
Microtech FireWire CameraMate
Delkin Devices PRO 512MB
4295K/sec
3077K/sec
4214K/sec
IBM Microdrive 1GB
3369K/sec
3139K/sec
3375K/sec
Kingston Memory 512MB
3767K/sec
2969K/sec
3313K/sec
Lexar Media 512MB 24X
3879K/sec
2624K/sec
3752K/sec
Lexar Media 512MB 40X Write Acceleration
3690K/sec
2520K/sec
3611K/sec
Microtech 512MB
3471K/sec
2798K/sec
3082K/sec
Sandisk "standard" 512MB
1410K/sec
2005K/sec
1383K/sec
Sandisk "original" Ultra 512MB
1809K/sec
2795K/sec
1739K/sec
SimpleTech 512MB
2614K/sec
2394K/sec
2555K/sec
SimpleTech PRO X 512MB
3335K/sec
2751K/sec
3227K/sec
Transcend 512MB 30X
3537K/sec
2816K/sec
3104K/sec
Average1
3198K/sec
2717K/sec
3032K/sec

Brand and Model
Powerbook 15" G4/1GHz
Sandisk Ultra ImageMate
Delkin Devices PRO 512MB
see 2 below
3634K/sec
IBM Microdrive 1GB
see 2 below
3347K/sec
Kingston Memory 512MB
see 2 below
3415K/sec
Lexar Media 512MB 24X
see 2 below
3237K/sec
Lexar Media 512MB 40X Write Acceleration
see 2 below
3143K/sec
Microtech 512MB
see 2 below
3071K/sec
Sandisk "standard" 512MB
see 2 below
1368K/sec
Sandisk "original" Ultra 512MB
see 2 below
1642K/sec
SimpleTech 512MB
see 2 below
2463K/sec
SimpleTech PRO X 512MB
see 2 below
2940K/sec
Transcend 512MB 30X
see 2 below
3358K/sec
Average1
see 2 below
2874K/sec
(1) An average of the throughput of the eleven CompactFlash cards tested.
(2) Throughput ranged from about 1200K - 1600K/second. Apparent operating system bugs in OS X 10.2.6, however, made us uncomfortable with reporting specific results, given that the Powerbook G4 15" PC Card slot has been rendered almost entirely unusable as a CompactFlash card reader since OS X 10.2. See the detailed description of the problems we encountered on the Card Readers in this Report page.

If maximum transfer speed is your primary consideration, the Addonics FireWire Mini DigiDrive is the clear winner, with the Microtech FireWire CameraMate close behind. Sandisk card owners will spot one noteworthy exception: the Lexar FireWire CF Digital Film Reader clocked the fastest results for both the standard and Ultra series models.

Note: Spot checking of the results with a Powerbook G4/800 revealed only a slight drop in throughput across the board, making it likely that the FireWire ports of most modern desktop and laptop Macs will allow card reader performance roughly comparable to that of the Dual 1.25GHz test mule.

Update, November 5, 2003: We've done additional spot-checking with later versions of the Mac operating system. Up to OS X 10.2.8, the results are comparable to the numbers reported on this page. OS X 10.3 features under-the-hood changes that bring about a dramatic speed boost in card-to-computer transfer rates on the Mac.

Next Page: Card-to-Computer Throughput: Windows XP
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