The Truth About SanDisk’s New 170MB/s SD Memory Cards Are the new SanDisk's 170MB/s SD memory cards really faster?

Sometimes when you dig a little into a subject you find interesting things. This is exactly the case with this video by photographer Dave McKeegan who looked at the new SanDisk’s 170MB/s SD memory cards and found something unexpected.

Until recently Sandisk’s fastest SD memory cards (in a UHS-I format) were rated at 95MB/s (this is for reading, the write is set officially at 90MB/s). However somewhat quietly the company seems to phase out those cards in favor of newly branded Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I cards rated at 170MB/s.

Now, first, you need to realize that these new cards can only provide 170MB/s read speed (i.e. transferring files from the card to a computer) and the write speed is the same as the older generation – 90MB/s (this means that writing to the card from the camera will have the same speed as before – your cache will clear at the same time and you won’t be able to shoot faster even if your camera can).

Now to be fair, SanDisk does mention that the new cards require a compatible device capable of reaching the aforementioned 170MB/s read speeds so there is no wrongdoing here. What is unexpected is that this is also true for the older 95MB/s cards (at least the ones that McKeegan tested – we would suspect these are relatively new although we need to test some older ones that we have with the new reader to really know for sure).  If you try and read off of them using the new SanDisk card reader you will get the same (read) speeds as the newer cards.

The bottom line here is simple. If you already have a bunch of 95MB/s Sandisk cards that fulfill your needs don’t go out and buy the new 170MB/s cards just yet – instead, try getting the new SanDisk fast card reader first and see what transfer speeds you are getting with your existing cards. If you are indeed getting around 170MB/s to the computer – you just saved yourself some money.

Sandisk Cards and reader prices

  • The new SanDisk SD UHS-I Card Reader – $15 on Amazon (See update below).
  • The SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS (170MB/s) – $20.
  • The SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS (170MB/s) – $40.
  • The SanDisk 256GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS (170MB/s) – $75.
  • The SanDisk 512GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS (170MB/s) – $185.


We got the SanDisk SD UHS-I Card Reader and we discovered (like many other users) that for some reason SanDisk made this reader way too narrow and you need to almost force the card in. This is unfortunate and reflects a very poor design from a company that typically has very good quality control. We are still hoping to test the reader and see how it performs later on.

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