32Gb microSDHC Shootout: Sandisk Extreme, Toshiba Exceria HD, Kingmax Pro

This is the final part of my little crazy venture into testing 32Gb microSDHC cards. All seven cards that I ordered have finally arrived, and in this post, we will see how the Sandisk Extreme, Toshiba Exceria HD and Kingmax Pro perform relative to the rest of the pack. All three cards represent the higher end of the performance spectrum, so we can expect to see some impressive figures.

The previous cards part of this shootout were reviewed as other separate blog posts:

As a note, all cards passed a full random fill, and three pass verify. To my knowledge, all cards are genuine products.

Don’t care about the details, and just want the juicy numbers? Skip right to the heading labelled Shootout Analysis for the quick details!

Sandisk Extreme

The penultimate card in Sandisk’s range (exceeded by the absurdly priced Extreme Pro), this card cost AU$38. It should be the “other” benchmark by which more premium cards are judged by – I know I personally hesitate when I’m asked for more than $1/Gb, but this was only a little bit more.

DSC_8711 DSC_8712

The package is traditional Sandisk, but with a black background (as the old Ultra II’s used to have). Gold foil lettering imparts the sense that it’s a premium product, along with the replacement of the silver-grey colour band in the Ultra with the gold colour band in the Extreme. It claims a speed of up to 45Mb/s for both read and write which is not really impressive for reading, but definitely interesting for writing!

DSC_8715

Rather unexpectedly, there is a bonus to the card, aside from the adapter, which is an one year subscription to Rescue Pro Deluxe from LC-Tech. It might be useful in the future, I don’t know as I didn’t use it. It seems to be bundled only with the Sandisk Extreme and Extreme Pro series of cards.

DSC_8721 DSC_8724

The front colouration of the card seems to be poorly error-diffusion-dithered print, with the rear featuring an unusual green PCB solder resist colour. There is a thick black pad covering the rear, likely covering some gold test pad contacts for factory use to prevent them from shorting out on the user’s device.

The card data is as follows:

Size: 31,914,983,424 bytes
CID: 035344534533324780231f9dcd00dc7b
CSD: 400e00325b590000edc87f800a4040c3

The card capacity is identical to that of the Sandisk Ultra, but judging from the PCB colour, the Ultra likely has a different internal design (so my hunch of software limitation is probably unfounded).

Performance Test

HDTune Pro with Transcend RDF8

Sandisk-32Gb-Extreme-HDT-RDF8

Unexpectedly, out of the box, this card exhibited read speeds way below expected levels. As it turns out, this card requires to be written first before it will achieve its read speeds as the flash may not have been properly pre-formatted at the factory. After a full random fill, the speeds much better approach specifications.

Sandisk-32Gb-Extreme-HDT-RDF8-AW

It is a hair under 45Mb/s, but this may be due to the reader.

HDTune Pro with Kogan RTS5301

Sandisk-32Gb-Extreme-HDT-RTS5301

Initially I suspected the blank card problem was reader related, so I tested the fresh card in the Kogan RTS5301 only to have the same result. But after it was filled, it much better approached its specification although it didn’t quite get to 45Mb/s on the RTS5301 either.

Sandisk-32Gb-Extreme-HDT-RTS5301-AW

No compatibility issue was experienced – the card worked in UHS-I speeds (or maybe SDR-50/DDR-50) on the first insertion, thus being able to reach its stated speeds.

CrystalDiskMark with Transcend RDF8

Sandisk-32Gb-Extreme-CDM-RDF8

Under CrystalDiskMark, the card shows its write speed prowess. This is a very impressive write speed figure, beating out all the other cards tested for write speeds across the board. The read speeds do take a hit, topping out just shy of 45Mb/s.

CrystalDiskMark with Kogan RTS5301

Sandisk-32Gb-Extreme-CDM-RTS5301

A similar result is reflected with the RTS5301, with the read speed exceeding 45Mb/s.

H2testw with Transcend RDF8

Sandisk-32Gb-Extreme-H2testW-RDF8

No problems were detected with H2testw, although its write speed only reached 35.1Mb/s, and the read speed only reached 41.1Mb/s.

Toshiba Exceria HD

Toshiba memory products don’t really have much exposure here in Australia, but their Exceria range have a decent reputation. This card is part of their HD series, intended for “video” usage, although that really doesn’t stop you from using it for anything else. This card cost AU$35.50, which isn’t quite as expensive as the Samsung Pro or Sandisk Extreme.

DSC_8713 DSC_8714
The card itself comes in a box which boasts one of the most impressive read speeds of 95Mb/s, but the write speed is a more tame 30Mb/s. It’s definitely the highest read speed boasted for this price-range of card. It claims to be waterproof compatible (most microSD cards are), but strangely, it also asks you to Please do not use any microSD adapter. This may be because the adapters may have trouble with the high-speed signalling used by the UHS-I standard but that doesn’t stop the other cards from bundling adapters.

The rear of the box makes a claim that the card size is 28.8Gb where they define a gigabyte as the real binary gigabyte rather than the decimal gigabyte. It’s nice to see honesty there.

DSC_8716

As with other Exceria cards, the inside of the box forms a manual with a disclaimer that maximum speeds can only be achieved by hosts running UHS-I SDR104 rates, and those running DDR50/SDR50 or regular 25Mhz SD modes will be limited to the figures presented above.

DSC_8717 DSC_8719

The card itself is fairly plainly marked, Made in Japan, which is quite a nice touch! The rear also has a black pad covering factory test pads.

The card data is as follows:

Size: 31,893,487,616 bytes
CID: 02544d534433324789e4697d4a00d9bb
CSD: 400e00325b590000ed9f7f800a400093

The size of the card is shy of the 32-weasel-gigabyte level by a small amount and is 20.5MiB smaller than the Sandisk Extreme/Ultra card. It is still 432MiB larger than the Samsung Plus (the smallest card in the roundup).

Performance Test

HDTune Pro with Transcend RDF8

Toshiba-Exceria-HD-HDT-RDF8

The card itself fell somewhat sort of the speed promised on the box, but suspecting the same issue as the Sandisk Extreme card above, I filled it with data and then retested.

Toshiba-Exceria-HD-HDT-RDF8-AW

This bought the performance closer, but still it fell behind the 95Mb/s claim by a significant margin. This may be due to the reader’s limitation.

HDTune Pro with Kogan RTS5301

Toshiba-Exceria-HD-HDT-RTS5301

The card actually performed erratically with the RTS5301 – it seems to have connected in DDR50 mode, and not the full UHS-I SDR104 mode. Plugging it into an adapter (as the workaround discovered before) didn’t fix it either. This might imply a “weaker” drive strength of the signal from the card, causing interface errors, or merely an incompatibility. After a write, we achieved similar, but slightly faster results.

Toshiba-Exceria-HD-HDT-RTS5301-AW

Again, a perplexing result. After all these problems with the Kogan RTS5301 reader, I think it might be time to retire it from testing altogether. It’s interesting to note, the Samsung Plus and Sandisk Ultra/Extreme cards all had no trouble …

CrystalDiskMark with Transcend RDF8

Toshiba-Exceria-HD-CDM-RDF8

You will note that filling the card is not necessary for accurate CrystalDiskMark benchmark results as it fills the card with the test file before it performs its testing. It fell short on its read speed, but is still the fastest reading card across the board (except for 4k, where it was beaten out by the Sandisk Extreme) tested in this shootout. The write speed exceeded its claim of 30Mb/s, achieving 34.68Mb/s which is the second fastest writing card in the bunch. It’s still a significant gap of 10Mb/s to the Sandisk Extreme though.

CrystalDiskMark with Kogan RTS5301

Toshiba-Exceria-HD-CDM-RTS5301

The write performance sees similar results, but the read performance is severely limited by the reader.

H2testw with Transcend RDF8

Toshiba-Exceria-HD-H2testW-RDF8

Due to the card size not being exactly on the 1MiB boundary, H2testw complained of not being able to test the whole card. But half a megabyte off is enough – it registered lower speed numbers of 25.7Mb/s write and 72.6Mb/s read.

Kingmax Pro

Kingmax is not a name which many people recognize, but I have purchased Kingmax cards before and generally have not been disappointed. They’re a memory OEM from Taiwan which has been around for quite a while, so I decided to give their offering a go. I could have also given many other Taiwanese OEMs a go, but … who has the money and time?

This card was just AU$29.80, so I didn’t expect much from it as the third cheapest card in the roundup.

DSC_8728 DSC_8729

For that price, you get an adapter too! The biggest drawcard of this card is a claim of read up to 80Mb/s which is mighty fast for this price range. I wonder what the write will be like …

DSC_8730

The inside of the box gives a bit of an introduction to the company. Of course, you get the card and adapter.

DSC_8734 DSC_8735

The card is a bit of an odd thing – it’s Made in Taiwan, but its rear is double laser etched – notice the two different fonts. This suggests it’s been OEM’ed by someone else and then additionally marked by Kingmax (I presume). As a result, it means Kingmax might not be making these in-house.

The card data is as follows:

Size: 32,127,320,064 bytes
CID: 134b47534433324700210023a400dc0d
CSD: 400e00325b590000ef5d7f800a4000df

The card is the most generous card in the set in terms of space, exceeding even 32 weasel-gigabytes. The Samsung Pro is the only other card in the roundup to exceed 32 weasel-gigabytes, and this is 32MiB larger than the Samsung Pro.

HDTune Pro with Transcend RDF8

Kingmax-Pro-32Gb-HDT-RDF8

The card achieved its full speed result straight out of the box. No change was observed with a full pass overwrite.

HDTune Pro with Kogan RTS5301

Kingmax-Pro-32Gb-HDT-RTS5301-mSD

Interestingly, this card behaved similarly to the Toshiba Exceria HD in the RTS5301, and appeared to operate in DDR50 mode. Inserting it into an adapter and putting it into the full size SD slot did allow it to run at full speed for this test, but later, the card reverted to a slower mode.

Kingmax-Pro-32Gb-HDT-RTS5301-SD

At least, when it worked with the RTS5301, it was faster than the expected 80Mb/s value.

CrystalDiskMark with Transcend RDF8

Kingmax-Pro-32Gb-CDM-RDF8

The CrystalDiskMark result reveals a very exciting sequential read speed, but at the cost of the write speed which is positively average-to-poor in regards to UHS-I cards. That seems to be a common trade-off, especially at the low-price end of the market.

CrystalDiskMark with Kogan RTS5301

Kingmax-Pro-32Gb-CDM-RTS5301-SD

Here, without touching the card at all, it reverted back to its DDR50 mode despite using the adapter workaround. Maybe the problem is inside the RTS5301 reader’s PCB which may not be cleanly preserving the signals.

H2testw with Transcend RDF8

Kingmax-Pro-32Gb-H2testW-RDF8

Again, as the card wasn’t exactly on the MiB boundary for size, it couldn’t test the complete card, but it’s close enough. It achieved an even lower 15.9MB/s write speed and 74.7Mb/s read speed. The write speed still satisfies the Class 10 “nature” of the card, but keep in mind, other “Class 10” cards can write much faster, as it only represents the minimum write speed.

Shootout Analysis

In all, I spent about AU$200 on UHS-I microSDHC cards, and in return, I obtained seven microSDHC cards which represent some of the most popular choices on the market today. In this era where most devices are capable of >10MiB/s transfers, buying older “Class 10 only” cards isn’t the sensible choice.

By running them through these methodical tests, we can draw some conclusions about which cards to buy for a given price-range, and what the strengths and weaknesses of each card are. The following is a table of the CrystalDiskMark results sorted by price.

Summary Table

For the full breakdown, see the conclusion for the final verdict. Interesting to note, for the cards chosen, is that the size of 32Gb cards ranged by 655MiB. The difference between the most expensive and least expensive card was AU$11.40, with the cheapest card being 70% of the price of the most expensive card. The price per gigabyte ranged from AU$0.83 to AU$1.19.

When I get the time, I will update the SD card performance table, CID and CSD lists and post them up under Other Pages … when I get the time …

Conclusion

If you’re read this far, thanks for sticking with me. It is evident that different microSDHC cards have different strengths and weaknesses. Many of the fastest read cards have sacrificed write performance. Other cards that are fast at sequential performance seem to have poorer small-block performance.

We also experienced certain compatibility issues with the RTS5301-based reader which may imply some sort of possible device compatibility issue, although the Transcend RDF8 was solid throughout.

Of all the cards, while the Sandisk Ultra is the cheapest and arguably most popular choice, its performance is not particularly special. Likewise, the Sony High Speed seems to be a fairly expensive “basic” card, which isn’t that interesting at all. Finally, the Samsung Pro is equal most expensive, and while it does offer a high read speed, it is not the fastest, and is hampered by its poor write performance.

As a result, I will give my verdict as follows:

  • For the value price range, my choice would be the Samsung Plus based on its good balance of performance across the board, and decently fast write speeds. No compatibility issues were detected, which is a bonus.
  • Where read speed is paramount, I would choose the Toshiba Exceria HD based on its excellent read speed and decent write speeds. If price is paramount and write is entirely unimportant, the Kingmax Pro also deserves a mention. Unfortunately, it seems the fastest read speed cards all experienced issues with the RTS5301 – the safe option of the Sandisk Extreme is only half as fast in read.
  • Where price is not primary, but a good balance is desired, the Sandisk Extreme delivers good performance across the board with no real deficiencies, and excellent compatibility.

I’m glad that’s sorted!

About lui_gough

I’m a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!

This entry was posted in Computing, Flash Memory, Photography, Raspberry Pi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 32Gb microSDHC Shootout: Sandisk Extreme, Toshiba Exceria HD, Kingmax Pro

  1. Pingback: Quick Review: Sandisk Ultra 128Gb UHS-I microSDXC Card | Gough's Tech Zone

  2. Justin L. says:

    Sorry about commenting on an old thread, but the newest Sandisk Ultra can reach speeds of 80MB/s and you can find it on Amazon for about $16 USD. 🙂

    • lui_gough says:

      I think readers should always keep in mind the date that the article is published and the style of packaging and marking on the cards, as of course, improvements are made to products over time and the article only reflects my experiences with the product I have at the time of testing.

      That being said, I find it highly unlikely that Sandisk *ULTRA* can achieve 80MB/s (given that it’s the most basic of their performance series). Indeed they now claim up to 48MB/s I believe, with the Sandisk Extreme claiming 60MB/s for reading.

      – Gough

  3. Jim says:

    Thanks for this article and the detailed tests done.

    Could you please tell which is the best 32gb or 64gb micro sd card today for my Samsung Note 4.

    Jim

    • lui_gough says:

      Dear Jim,

      Your question is definitely not an easy one to answer. Best for you may not be best for someone else – what do we mean by best? Best value? Best performance? Best price? Best compatibility? Best small block performance? That’s the whole reason I provide data – so that people can make their own judgements about what is best for them as products may not be available worldwide. The latest list of performance is given here: http://goughlui.com/other-pages/sdsdhcsdxc-performance-test-database/

      If you’re after best performance from a brand name, the Sandisk Extreme PRO would be among the fastest, along with the Samsung PRO and Toshiba Exceria PRO. Commendable performance can be had from Sandisk Extreme and Toshiba Exceria cards. Mainstream “basic” no-frills Class 10 performance is generally achieved with the Samsung Evo (formerly Plus), Sandisk Ultra lines. As I have had issues with Lexar, I am reluctant to recommend them anymore.

      – Gough

  4. Jim says:

    Dear Gough,

    Thanks for reply.

    Best in reliability and speed comes next but even if it is a bit slow, I wont mind as long as it is reliable.

    I bought a Samsung EVO class 10 in Jan 2015, it was the best at that time. This one has failed
    twice and shows errors when connnected via a cable to my computer. I removed the card and plugged it via USB stick holder and it worked only once. The next time via same usb it showed card error. I formatted it in my Note 4 and it worked fine. Again once it was around 23gb full and I wanted to copy via a cable to my computer, it wouldn’t same error and this time I lost all the data etc as I was unable to copy it.

    I must add it did allow me to copy via the cable to my computer when it was only about 10gb full, so I would the problem kicks in once it is over 20gb full.

    So after what I have gone thru, I am looking to buy a new one which is reliable.

    Jim.

  5. Jim says:

    Dear Gough

    My last comment does not show up, what happened.
    Am I going to get a reply.

    Thanks / Jim

    • lui_gough says:

      Jim,

      All comments are screened and manually approved before publication. As you posted at 2:16am and 4:06am Sydney Time … well I was in bed. So of course, I couldn’t write a reply!

      That being said, you should watch out for counterfeit cards, and test your cards with H2testW before accepting them. I’m not sure that your EVO was real judging on your experience – having cards which fail at particular capacities are a normal tell-tale that it is a counterfeit item. This is especially likely if you buy cards from market stalls, eBay, Alibaba or get a deal that’s “too good to be true”, or a card “bundled with a second hand phone” etc. I’ve had compatibility issues with the Samsung Evo cards where some devices will not work reliably with them, whereas others will, so it may have been that as well.

      Even genuine cards can fail, especially depending on the workload as well. I’ve also had two Sandisk Ultra cards and a Lexar 600x card fail on me as well – it’s just a fact of life that most high capacity microSDXC/HC cards are made with TLC flash which is not designed for high endurance applications – the more often you write to them, the more likely they will fail (especially in data-logging applications). Sometimes it boils down to luck, as each flash chip as manufactured is subject to a variable amount of bad blocks from the factory which are hidden by using spare blocks – once all blocks are depleted, then the card will fail or become read-only permanently.

      There is no way to determine compatibility or reliability ahead of time, especially with small sample sizes, but at least you can verify the card operates correctly with a card reader up to its full capacity before actually commissioning it, to avoid cases of counterfeit cards with less-than-rated capacity from spoiling your day.

      – Gough

Error: Comment is Missing!