Sabrent, the memory card and reader maker that’s been on a bit of a streak over the last year with product releases, now makes a Thunderbolt 3 interface CFexpress reader that matches the fastest readers we’ve tested. Technically, it’s the fastest CFexpress card we’ve seen (and we have most here in the office). That said, the previous title winner – the Prograde PG04 – is slower by such a ludicrously small amount that simply glaring at the thunderbolt cable may make a greater difference. Basically, Sabrent’s recent entry into the field puts them on top along with the Sonnet Dual, Blackjet and ProGrade Thunderbolt readers.
While there are many read/write tests we do on these cards and readers, there’s really only two tests that matter to Camnostic readers: how quickly with the files go onto the card from a camera; and how quickly will they come off the card and onto the computer. For CFexpress card readers, only that last test matters much, as few people are using their readers to place files onto their camera cards. So here’s the main result:
Gobbling up 15.12 GB of image files from the cards into a Lightroom catalog sitting on an internal SSD takes 30 seconds. That’s a few hundredths of a second faster than the ProGrade reader, and almost two seconds faster than the Sonnet Dual, the slowest of the Thunderbolt readers. Any of the readers in this class is going to push your workflow to the maximum efficiency.
But the Sabrent and ProGrade Thunderbolt CFexpress card reader costs $130, versus the Sonnet SF3 dual card reader’s price of $400 and the Blackjet reader’s $150.
This compares with prices around $50 for may of the USB-C readers, which sport Lightroom throughput speeds from 20 percent to 60 percent slower.
The form factor of the Sabrent reader is very nice, among the smallest of all of the readers and definitely the smallest of the Thunderbolt readers. It sports a little removable jacket bumper, which surprised me at first. Most CFexpress components through off so much heat, we didn’t expect one of the makers to put a heat-retaining protective bumper on the device. But the Sabrent reader doesn’t produce nearly the same amount of heat as the others. This is not something we measured precisely, but it was an obvious difference in operation. Since heat is usually the prime factor shortening the life of electronic components, it can’t hurt to have a card reader shuffling $800 cards that keep the temps down.
Our CFexpress card reader article from two years ago will be updated in the next few months with this entrant, along with a couple other new ones; one of which is already in the shop.