There are an abundance of USB card readers available. Some are essentially the size of a USB flash drive (remember those?) and are priced accordingly; in fact, you can purchase a quality card reader for very little money. There are also thicker readers that essentially serve as desktop docking stations. They can be a great tool to streamline intensive workflows, as they typically have extremely fast transfer rates. Especially if you’ve paid a premium for one of the greatest memory cards, this is an excellent way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your card speeds.
On this list, we have included memory card readers ranging in price but all being of high quality. There should be a reader for you on this list, regardless of whether you use a normal SD card, microSD card, CompactFlash, CFexpress, or XQD card in your camera.
1. SanDisk ImageMate Pro Multi-Card Reader
Although it is a very inexpensive card reader, the ImageMate Pro seems like a high-quality device due to its sturdy construction and weight. And this is where it belongs, given its dimensions of 122 x 58 x 17mm are large for a card reader.
There are three card slots on the front of the device, including CF, UHS-II SD, and MicroSD. A detachable USB Type-A cable is included, thus an adaptor will be required to connect to a USB-C port.
Tests with a UHS-II SD card revealed highly impressive video transfer rates of 252MB/s read and 210MB/s write – comparable to the far more expensive ProGrade Digital USB 3.1 Gen 2 Dual-Slot Card Reader. In our testing, the read and write speeds of 202MB/s and 107MB/s when moving images are likewise exceptional.
UHS-I SD cards with maximum sustained transfer speeds of 96MB/s read and 83MB/s write are not class-leading, but not by a significant margin.
2. ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type B & SD Reader
Several current high-end cameras use both CFexpress and SD card formats, thus it makes sense to have a card reader that supports both formats. This offering from Prograde Digital is of superior quality and a perfect match for mirrorless and DSLR cameras of today.
It measures a discreet 68 x 68 x 19 mm, comes with a metal plate for attaching it to your computer, and has a magnetic base for storing it safely. The CFexpress slot is positioned on the reader’s upper surface, while the SD slot is located below.
The reader has a quick USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface, and we measured CFexpress read/write rates of 687MBs/645MBs, which is a reasonable performance. In addition to a USB Type-C connector cable, the package includes a Type-A cable for use with older PCs.
3. Dock for the Kingston Workflow Station
In the age of digital devices, simplicity is something that we all crave. We need fewer wires, simpler devices, and more easier file organization and transfer solutions. The Kingston Workflow Station Dock is an attempt to achieve this goal. It is a USB-C docking station with a stack of SD card readers, allowing you to connect multiple USB-C or USB-A devices and simultaneously download from up to eight SD cards.
What’s more, the aforementioned modularity makes it possible to purchase specific readers based on your needs. Hence, if you have more microSD cards than SD cards, the station can be configured accordingly. Instead, you could connect eight cameras through USB-C and download photographs from all of them concurrently if you were capable of doing so. Modules can also be utilized independently, allowing you to bring a single reader on set and afterwards link it to the main dock.
While it is more complicated than other SD card readers, the entire system requires power. In addition, there is presently no CFExpress support; however, the modular design makes it simple to add this capability in the future. All of this does cost more than the other card readers on our list, and if you’re a “one card, one camera” kind of photographer, it’s almost probably overkill.
4. Kingston Nucleum Type C USB Hub
With the latest computers, such as the MacBook Pro, eliminating all ports save Thunderbolt/USB Type-C, you may have trouble connecting more than just your memory card.
The Nucleum from Kingston is a premium, metal-encased hub with SD and MicroSD connectors, as well as two standard USB Type-A ports, a full-size HDMI port, and two USB Type-C ports, one of which is used to connect your MacBook’s charger. There is a short, hard-wired cable that terminates in a USB Type-C socket, and all of this is contained within a device that is not much larger than typical card readers.
The SD slot is UHS-II compliant, although it performed poorly with our UHS-II test card, attaining video read/write rates of only 189MB/s and 179MB/s, respectively. Image transfer rates of 164MB/s for reading and 97MB/s for writing are acceptable, though unimpressive. However, when utilizing UHS-I SD cards, read/write speeds of 96MB/s and 83MB/s are significantly more acceptable.
5. Anker USB 3.0 Card Reader
Due to its USB 3.0 connection, this little reader is capable of achieving rapid data transmission rates yet being incredibly inexpensive. It does not support all card formats, notably XQD, CompactFlash, and UHS-II SD (though it does support UHS-I), but if this is not an issue for you, the Anker USB 3.0 Card Reader will get the job done swiftly and effectively.
It is also portable, measuring 5.3 x 2.7 x 1.1cm and weighs 16g, and comes with an 18-month warranty for your peace of mind. Need something easy and simple? This small reader is a worthy investment.
A common name for an SD card reader is memory or camera card reader. It is a gadget that can read, write, and transfer files directly from the memory card of your digital camera to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Historically, most PCs included SD card readers. Yet, it has becoming increasingly usual (particularly in laptops) to eliminate them. This has led to an increase in the use of portable card readers. Moreover, mobile memory card readers are typically significantly faster than those that are built-in.