Posted February 27, 2013 by Gavin Hoey in Reviews

SD Memory Card Group Test

SDHC-Group-TestThere was a time when any old memory card would do but today there’s a huge range of SD memory cards to choose from and the price per gigabyte is ever falling. In this group review I’ll be looking at five 32GB SD cards which all claim to offer super fast speeds and all retail for less then £26.00.

At first glance all these class have very similar specifications. They all offer class 10 performance which in itself isn’t that impressive now a days. In fact they all claim to offer write speeds of around 45MB/s which makes them the perfect choice for DSLR video and shooting bursts of RAW still images.

All the cards also read speeds of at least 60MB/s and that’s good news for everyone (with a USB3 card reader) as it massively reduces the time spend downloading images and videos from the card.

Transcend-SDTranscend 32GB WINNER

Write Speed ~ Claimed 45MB/s ~ Actual 61MB/s
Read Speed ~ Claimed 85MB/s ~ Actual 84MB/s
Recovery Software ~ Yes (1 year licence)
Protective Case ~ No
Retail Price UK £21  (My Memory)
Retail Price US unkown

On paper this card looked every bit the winner and it doesn’t disappoint.

Transcend claim a respectable write speed of 45mb/s which is average for the group but the claimed read speed is nearly double at an eye watering 85mb/s. That’s a big claim which testing proved to be 100% correct. Not only that but my tests the write speed smashed Transcends claim and all the opposition by hitting a whopping 60mb/s

Transcend also add in a 12 month licence for RecoveRx recovery software extra piece of mind. The only blot on the Transcend’s copy book is a lack of protective case but with super fast speeds and a bargain price tag it’s an oversight that’s easily forgiven.


Panasonic-SDPanasonic Gold  32GB – Runner Up

Write Speed ~ Claimed 45MB/s ~ Actual 51MB/s
Read Speed ~ Claimed 90MB/s ~ Actual 84MB/s
Recovery Software ~ No
Protective Case ~ No
Retail Price UK £25  (My Memory)
Retail Price US $110   (Adorama)

Panasonic is not a name I previously associated with memory cards but it is a brand that’s well known. The memory card itself performed rather well with some excellent results. Sure the read speed missed the claimed 90MB/s but the write speed was better then claimed by the exact same amount.

Sadly there’s no recovery software or protective case here although if the claims on the packaging are to believed you’ll never need it. Panasonic say it’s resistant to water, shock, magnets, x-rays, electrostatic and temperature. I’ll let you test all those claims out but it certainly with stood the usual treatment I dish out to my cards… as did all the other cards in this test.


Lexar-SDLexar professional 400X 32GB – 3rd Place
Write Speed ~ Claimed 60MB/s ~ Actual 49MB/s
Read Speed ~ Claimed More then 60MB/s  ~ Actual 82MB/s
Recovery Software ~ Yes
Protective Case ~ Yes
Retail Price UK £25  (My Memory)
Retail Price US $33   (Adorama)

Lets start with the positive points. The Lexar card comes with both a protective case and downloadable data recovery software. There’s also a very fast read speed of over 80MB/s which puts it up with the best in the read department, which is odd as Lexar make no mention of read speeds on the box.

The box does promise a “guaranteed minimum write speed of 60MB/s” which sadly I wasn’t able to achieve. In fact the best I could get was a pretty average 49MB/s. To be fair Lexar does say, in the tiny small print on the back, that the minimum guaranteed speed depends on your equipment. That said it’s worth remembering, all my testing was done on the same machine with the same equipment.

Sandisk-SDSandisk Extreme Pro 32GB – 4th Place
Write Speed ~ Claimed 45MB/s ~ Actual 43MB/s
Read Speed ~ Claimed 45MB/s ~ Actual 45MB/s
Recovery Software ~ Yes (1 year licence)
Protective Case ~ Yes
Retail Price UK £26  (My Memory)
Retail Price US $32   (Adorama)

Sandisk has been the first choice of many professional photographers, me included for many years. However in this group review the Sandisk Extreme is looking a bit out of its depth.

The claimed write speed was very close the actual speed but unlike all the other cards in this review, the read speed is no faster then the write speed. To be fair to Sandisk it is exactly what they said it would be but it’s still almost half as fast as the best card in this review.

All in all the Sandisk Extreme is a safe bet but there are currently better options out there when it comes to read speeds.


Samsung-SDSamsung Pro 32GB – 5th Place
Write Speed ~ Claimed 40MB/s ~ Actual 39MB/s
Read Speed ~ Claimed 80MB/s ~ Actual 77MB/s
Recovery Software ~ No
Protective Case ~ No
Retail Price UK £26  (My Memory)
Retail Price US $120   (Adorama)

Someone has to come last and sadly, in this test, it’s the Samsung Pro. Not so long ago its 40MB/s write speed would have been top class stuff but now it looks, at best, very average indeed. The read speed is also slightly off the mark too.

No recovery software and no protective case don’t help matters either and when you discover the price is at the higher end of the scale it’s game over for the Samsung Pro. It’s also worth noting the eyewateringly high price for US buyers!

There is however one area where the Samsung beats all the other cards in this review and that’s in looks. I love the engraved surface on this card.

Click the image below to see the benchmark results for all the cards. Benchmark-SD-Cards

Gavin Hoey