by Lyle Smith

SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Memory Card Review

The SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Memory Card is designed for professional photographers and videographers that require some serious performance. The new Extreme Pro line is certainly specced to satisfy these needs (and then some), with SanDisk boldly claiming that they are the world’s fastest SD cards available on the market. If the quoted performance numbers of 280MB/s read and 250MB/s write (maximum) are any indication, it will definitely rival any SD cards that are currently out there. The new Extreme Pro line is optimized for top-end cameras that support the new UHS-II standard and also has a UHS Speed Class 3 Rating, which is the highest available that supports 4K, Full HD, and 3D video recording. SanDisk's cards are quoted to at a minimum sustained write speed of 30MB/s in these conditions.

All SanDisk Extreme Pro cards also come with an offer for a one-year subscription to RescuePRO Deluxe data recovery software, which gives users an easy way to recover lost data as well as saving content to a PC, even if the files were deleted a several months ago. For further protection, the SanDisk cards have a built-in write-protect switch prevents accidental data loss.

Like all SanDisk storage devices, the Extreme Pro line is a tough bunch of SD cards, which includes a shockproof, X-ray proof, and waterproof build as well as the ability to operate in temperatures ranging from -13 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

Backed by SanDisk’s extensive life-warranty, the Extreme PRO SDHC/SDXC UHS-II memory card line comes in capacities of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB at a street price of $72, $124, and $230 respectively. We will be looking at the 16GB model.

Specifications

  • Available capacities:
    • 16GB (SDSDXPB-016GB)
    • 32GB (SDSDXPB-032GB)
    • 64GB (SDSDXPB-064GB)
  • Card dimension: 0.94" x 1.25" x 0.08" (24 mm x 32 mm x 2.1 mm)
  • Operating temperature: -13ºF to 185ºF (-25ºC to 85 ºC)
  • Storage temperature: -40ºF to 185ºF (-40ºC to 85ºC)
  • Performance/speed: Up to 280MB/s read, Up to 250MB/s write; U3 video recording speed
  • Tested under extreme temperature conditions
  • Compatibility: Backwards-compatible with SDHC/SDXC supported host devices. UHS-II supported host required for UHS-II performance
  • Warranty: Lifetime limited warranty

Design and Build

The Extreme Pro SD cards sport the usual SanDisk design (which is the normal wave of information on the front side) with a slight variation of colors compared SanDisk’s other classes of SD cards. Here, you will find the card name, read speed, class designations, and capacity with the SanDisk logo boldly placed at the bottom. It’s not an attractive looking by any means (especially when compared to the new Samsung line), but that really doesn’t matter since it will spend the majority of its life span inside the device it is being used for.

The side of the card shows the sliding lock mechanism, which enables the write-protect functionality to prevent accidental data loss. On the back side, you will see the connector pins in addition to the model number as well as an embossed SanDisk logo.

Performance

In this review, we will include the following comparables with their respective advertised performance numbers:

Using our Consumer Testing Platform, we measured transfer speeds from the SanDisk Extreme Pro SD memory card using both our Lexar Professional Workflow Card Reader in the StorageReview lab and one that was provided to us by SanDisk: the SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Card Reader/Writer, which is specifically designed for use with high-performance SD UHS-II memory cards like these. As expected, the SanDisk card reader showed much higher performance numbers.

In our 2MB sequential test, using our Lexar card reader, it posted speeds of only 45.7MB/s read and 43.8MB/s write. With the SanDisk reader, however, it posted significantly better results with read and write speeds of 180.4MB/s and 161.4MB/s, respectively. Though these read and write numbers were pretty good, the Extreme Pro's performance was still well under what was quoted by SanDisk.

When comparing its speeds to the other memory cards of the same test, they expectedly couldn’t touch the Extreme Pro when using the high performance SanDisk card reader, as they are not of the same class designation (UHS-II vs UHS-I); however, it was a different story when using the Lexar reader. That being said, the Samsung PRO posted sequential speeds of 87.4MB/s read and 75.8MB/s write; while the EVO had speeds of 19.0MB/s read and 44.6MB/s write. As for ADATA cards, the Premiere Pro recorded speeds of 90.3MB/s read and 65.3MB/s write, while the XPG had sequential speeds of 94.1MB/s read and 81.3MB/s write.

Switching to random large-block transfers, we measured 45.0MB/s read and 9.1MB/s write for the SanDisk Extreme Pro in our Lexar card reader. In the provided SanDisk reader, it posted speeds of 111.7MB/s read and 10.3MB/s write. 

As for its comparables, the Samsung Pro and Samsung EVO boasted 81.6MB/s read and 18.1MB/s write and 44.0MB/s read and 31.6MB/s write respectively, both of which handedly beat the write performance of the Extreme Pro. The ADATA cards once again couldn’t touch the SanDisk, with the Premiere Pro measuring 56.4MB/s read and 2.4MB/s write and XPG measuring 56.8MB/s read and 9.1MB/s write.

Conclusion

The SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II line is a high-performance family of SD memory cards, which come in three capacities: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. Additionally, these speedy cards are also compatible with the latest, high end ultra HD (4K) cameras and camcorders. They are also pretty tough for being little guys, as they are water, x-ray, and shock proof as well as able to withstand some extreme temperatures.

Diving into its performance, the results were good overall, as it was pretty obvious that the SanDisk card took full advantage of its UHS-II Speed Class 3 (U3) designation when using the high-performance SanDisk card reader. Unfortunately, however, it didn’t come close to what was quoted by SanDisk when all was said and done and when we tested the cards in a normal card reader, performance suffered considerably. That being said, for sequential speeds using the SanDisk reader, the 16GB Extreme Pro boasted results of 180.4MB/s read and 161.4MB/s write, with 280/250MB/s being the claimed speeds. When looking at the large-block random transfer results, we saw a further decrease in speed, with a read speed of 111.7MB/s and a write speed 10.3MB/s. Even though SanDisk over-quoted its performance, the results were still very good comparatively speaking, specifically its sequential read/write activity. That being said, when using a card reader that is not designed for high-performance SD UHS-II memory cards, transfer speeds will be significantly lower, as is obvious in our above performance section.

As for the market price of the SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II line, it can get a bit expensive, going for roughly $72, $124, and $230 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB respectively. In comparison, the new Samsung Pro line (UHS-I) goes for a less than third of that cost at $24.99, $39.99, and $69.99 for the same capacities, all the while still offering great performance for its class. That said, it all comes down to what the consumer is looking for. Those looking for great performance at a more affordable price point, might want to stick with a line like the Samsung Pro SD family. Enthusiasts who need the fastest, top-in-class performance necessary cannot go wrong with the SanDisk Extreme Pro line if cost isn’t an issue. The SanDisk pedigree and reliability, along with its market leading warranty, goes a long way with the high price tag.

Pros

  • Great performance under the right circumstances
  • Life-time warranty
  • Durable

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Didn't reach quoted performance
  • Performance suffers when not using a high-performance card reader

Bottom Line

Though expensive and a bit over-quoted performance-wise, the SanDisk Extreme Pro (UHS-II) family of SD cards still offer industry leading performance. This, combined with its life-time warranty and SanDisk reliability, make the Extreme Pro line an ideal choice for enthusiasts and mulit-media professionals.

SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC at Amazon

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