1. Battle of the 1066x 128GB CF cards
CompactFlash (CF), a flash memory mass storage device used mainly in professional devices and high end consumer devices such as digital cameras, is possibly the most successful of the early memory card formats.
Today we are testing two 128GB CompactFlash cards that offer high-speed performance by leveraging the UDMA 7 technology to deliver a read transfer speed up to 1066x (160MB/s): The Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash and the Toshiba EXCERIA PRO - C501.
UDMA 7, which stands for Ultra Direct Mode Access 7, is the latest transfer mode under the UDMA interface. UDMA 7 allows a maximum transfer rate of up to 167MB/sec. This can be compared to the previous UDMA mode, UDMA 6, which allowed transfer rates of up to 133MB/sec.
The cards both conform to the CF 6 Specification and can be used with existing CF and CF UDMA devices (backwards compatible).
Both cards lets you capture and transfer high-quality photos and 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video. And you’ll power through post-production with high-speed card-to-computer file transfer, when paired with a UDMA 7-enabled reader.
Below you see the basic specifications of the cards we are testing:
||Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash
EXCERIA PRO - C501 (model THN-C501G1280E6 )
CF+ and CompactFlash Specification Revision 6.1
|Video Performance Guarantee (VPG)
|Max read speed (MB/s)
|Max write speed (MB/s)
36.4mm (L) x 42.8mm (W) x 3.3mm (T)
||Limited lifetime warranty (10 years from purchase in Germany)
||5 Year Warranty
|Software & Services
||Downloadable Data Recovery Software using the activation code on the package
Both cards support the Video Performance Guarantee (VPG-65) specification. This means the cards have been tested and guaranteed for professional video capture streams at a minimum guaranteed write speed of 65MB/s for compatible host devices and recording media.
2. Meet the Lexar Professional 1066x 128GB CF card
The Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash retails in the package you see below.
Besides the card, the package includes Image Rescue software, which recovers most photo and select video files, even if they’ve been erased or the card has been corrupted. The software is available for free download with purchase of the card, using the passcode found into the package.
3. Meet the Toshiba Exceria Pro C501 128GB CF card
Below you see the package of the Toshiba EXCERIA PRO - C501 128GB CF
Toshiba is offering LC TEch's Data Recovery Software with the card. This is an easy-to-use recovery application that recovers images, movies, sound files, and other file types from all types of digital media. The software also supports all RAW files and HD Video, along with all major camera manufacturers including, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Sony, Kodak, Casio, Panasonic, Samsung, Fuji, Pentax, and many more. File formats supported include, MOV, AVI, ASF, M2TS, MOD, WMV, MP4, JPEG, TIFF, BMP, GIF, PNG, CRW, CR2, NEF, ORF, SRF, PEF, DNG and others.
To recover your files, simply attach the media to your computer (using a card reader) and run the Data Recovery Software. The recovered files are automatically saved to a folder on your computer’s hard drive.
The face of the card has standard branding which also displays capacity and its speed ratings. The back is simple black and white with a labeling sticker for organizational purposes. Standard CF connectors line the side of the card.
Both 1066x 128GB cards were put through a series of benchmark tests in the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7)
USB 3.0 card reader, ( 48$ sold separately).
The USB 3.0 reader leverages SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology to deliver high-speed file transfer from card to computer, with a USB interface speed up to 500MB/s. It supports CompactFlash (including UDMA 7), SD, SDHC, SDXC, and SD UHS-I and UHS-II memory cards.
The reader has the ability to read from both card slots simultaneously, and it also allows for file transfer from one card to another.
It boasts a pop-up mechanism that protects the card slots by allowing you to close the reader when not in use.
Crystal Disk Mark Benchmark measures the speeds at which your storage device reads and writes in both compressible (0F ill/1Fill) and random, mostly incompressible, data. We run the benchmark twice, using 0Fill data first, and then proceeding to test with random data.
The latest version of Crystal Disk (v.5.1.2) adds measurements (Seq Q32T1, 4K Q32T1) with multi queues and threads, as you see below:
- Seq Q32T1: Sequential (Block Size=128KiB) Read/Write with multi Queues & Threads
- 4K Q32T1: Random 4KiB Read/Write with multi Queues & Threads
- Seq: Sequential (Block Size=1MiB) Read/Write with single Thread
- 4K: Random 4KiB Read Write with single Queue & Thread
In order to offer results consistent to previous reviews, we have included the results from both Crystal Disk Mark v3.0.4 (read/write with single Queue & Thread) and the new Crystal Disk Mark v5.1.2 (read/write with multi Queues & Threads).
Each test was set to run 5 times:
The differences in the performance of both CompactFlash cards are very small:
- The Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash 128GB has a small lead (~ 10-15 MB/s) over the Toshiba EXCERIA PRO - C501 128GB in the sequential read /write tests with single Queue & Thread.
- Toshiba's card seems to be a slightly faster in read tests with sequential multi Queues & Threads
- The Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash gave its maximum sequential read speed of 155MB/s in single Queue & Thread
- The Toshiba EXCERIA PRO - C501 128GB card topped at 161.5 MB/s in the sequential read test with multi Queues & Threads.
Below you see a sequential reading test for each card using the HD Tach RW benchmark.
Lexar's card tended to read faster than 130MB/s speed through out the test, and its average speed in the end was 135.7 MB/s.
The Toshiba EXCERIA PRO maintained an overall stable speed throughout its capacity but the average read speed was slower than 's Lexar's card, at 118.2 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark performs file transfers ranging from 0.5 KB to 8192 KB. ATTO can be adjusted to do overlapped I/O, in a variety of queue depths. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 8MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB and QD4.
Both cards go head to head in both the read and write tests across the various file transfers. The Toshiba card gets a small lead with files larger than 256K.
Lexar's card was slightly faster with write transfers of 128K-1MB files, but again, the differences are almost negligible at about 4MB/s:
We also tested both cards using the Canon 5Ds and the Canon 1D X cameras. The Exceria Pro 1066x 128GB performed nearly the same as the Lexar Professional 1066x.
Write speed (MB/s)
||Canon 1D X
|Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash
EXCERIA PRO - C501
5. Final thoughts
Both Compact Flash cards we presented today have been developed
to deliver fast transfers for media enthusiasts or professionals. They offer a generous 128GB storage space and seem to be compatible with many different brand hosts, capable of handling 1080p, 3D, and 4K video formats.
The cards can be protected with the downloadable software packages offered by both Lexar and Toshiba, in order to help you recover some photo and video data in the event of data loss.
Transfer rate tests did not unveil a winner. Both the Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash and the Toshiba EXCERIA PRO - C501 went head to head in most benchmarks, scoring read and write speeds close to those reported by Lexar and Toshiba - about 135-150 MB/s in sequential reads and a bit slower at 105-110 MB/s in sequential writes. On the other hand, they both suffered in random write tests with small files, but that was expected from this kind of media.
The CF cards were also compatible with two digital cameras we had in our labs - the Canon 5Ds and 1D X. Write speeds with these cameras was at the 90-99 MB/s range.
Besides compatibility with cameras, another important aspect of an CF card is its reliability. You may have heard about corrupted files when shooting large RAW files, or about CF cards that return errors after heavy usage or after a relatively short period of time after purchase.
Fortunately, we did not experience any issues during our testing with digital cameras, although we plan to update this review in case we experience any reliability problems in the future. Don't forget that the Lexar CF is covered by a limited warranty, which is 10 years if you have purchased the card from Germany, while Toshiba is also offering a 5 year warranty for the Exceria PRO.
It's time to get down to the price of these cards. Lexar is selling the Professional 1066x 128GB CF for $233 (;euro;2015), but it also retails over Amazon.com and B&H for just $143.
The Toshiba EXCERIA PRO - C501 128GB is not currently available in many online shops. We have spotted online in European stores for €300-350 (!). Obviously, the price is very high compared to Lexar's card, making Toshiba's offering less attractive even for the professional user. Whether the EXCERIA PRO - C501 128GB deserves some extra credits in terms of reliability is something we cannot answer now. But could reliability justify a double price?
In any case, the Lexar Professional 1066x CompactFlash card seems to be the winner of this round.