The UHS-II Performance Advantage
We shared news of PNY’s latest and greatest SD cards a week ago, and shortly thereafter one of these new products arrived for our inspection. So, what is special about this SD flash memory card?
The card carries so many performance specifications on it that I wouldn’t blame you for being a little befuddled, and I can’t explain the differences between speed classes, grades, and bus modes as well as our former storage editor Allyn did way back in 2015.
Suffice it to say, these new X-PRO 90 UHS-II cards from PNY should be very fast, with advertised speeds of up to 300 MB/s sequential reads and 280 MB/s sequential writes, and minimum sustained read and write speed of 90 MB/s.
PNY’s X-PRO 90 cards are offered in capacities of 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, with pricing ranging from $77.99 to $239.99. Our 128GB sample is right in the middle, and carries a list price of $129.99.
- Capacities: 64GB-256GB
- Format: SDXC
- Bus Interface: UHS-II
- Speed Class: Class 10, U3
- Video Speed Class: V90
- Read Performance: Up to 300MB/s
- Write Performance: Up to 280MB/s3
- Compatibility: DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras, advanced & professional HD-
enabled video cameras, and more
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime
- 64GB: $77.99
- 128GB: $129.99
- 256GB: $239.99
“The PNY X-PRO 90 Class 10 U3 V90 UHS-II SD Flash Memory Cards are the ultimate solution for seamless content capture for professional photographers and videographers. They have been designed to harness the power of UHS-II in order to support the most demanding, write intensive applications such as 8K videography.”
Testing the X-PRO 90 UHS-II Card
Before we look at performance let’s have a look at the back of the card itself, which is physically different than your average SD card thanks to that additional row of contacts. This is the key to the very high speeds of UHS-II cards.
A UHS-II card’s max throughput (up to 312 MB/s) is possible by having both of these rows of contacts work in tandem. This must be supported by both SD card and reader, and such speeds are only possible in one direction (half duplex), as full duplex is a max of 156 MB/s in each direction. Read more in Allyn’s excellent write-up here.
Having established this physical difference, and using a UHS-II compliant reader, we quickly assessed the performance of our 128GB sample by running the same CrystalDiskMark test as other recently-reviewed SDXC cards, and charted the results. We don’t have any other cards on hand with this level of performance, so these results will be lopsided.
Clearly, sequential performance from PNY’s X-PRO 90 128GB card is on another level in this group, and would require other UHS-II cards for a proper comparison. Our 128GB sample reached the advertised read/write speed performance, and while Samsung’s PRO Plus still has the edge on 4K random performance, the PNY X-PRO 90 is obviously the fastest card we’ve tested in sequential read/write.
If you’re reading this review then the process of choosing your next high-end SDXC card will probably be influenced by performance, but pricing and availability always plays a role. There are other UHS-II options on the market right now that advertise 300 MB/s speed, such as the SanDisk Extreme PRO and Lexar Professional 2000x, and PNY joins this group with an impressive offering. Long-term reliability is beyond the scope of this review, but PNY offers a limited lifetime warranty to ease your mind.
PNY’s X-PRO 90 is priced at $129.99, which is very competitive when you consider that the SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-II 128GB card is currently $169. I won’t go too far into current pricing since this is the season for aggressive sales on such things, and Black Friday deals are irrelevant to readers after this weekend.
If you’re in the market for a new SDXC card and can take advantage of the high throughput of a UHS-II solution, then this PNY X-PRO 90 is a very fast option at a fair price.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from PNY for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of PNY but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
PNY had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by PNY for this review.
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Thank you for the review, Sebastian. Can you run the random I/O tests as well in CDM? Those are often much more meaningful indicators of relative performance.
It’s cool to see those sequential R/W speeds in such a small form factor, but the number of applications for such a card are pretty darn small. Thinking in terms of the Single Board Computer world, it makes a lot more sense to use a USB3 connected SATA SSD–faster, cheaper, and more flexable. Cell phones are less and less likely to have an SD slot of any kind these days and even if they did, the relative speed of an SD card vs the >1GB/s internal flash speeds is still prohibitive for anything other than bulk storage of things like music and movies. The only application for cards like this are in pro level DSLRs and most of those have already committed to other even higher performing standards.
I like to see more variety in products in this market, but I don’t know where these will manage to find a home.
They’re quite common for cameras. Helps to clear the buffer when taking a ton of pictures in a burst.