When it comes to picking up an SD card for your camera, action-camera or drone, there are a lot choices on the market… so why not Toshiba? The proud inventors of flash memory have sent us their latest and greatest SD card to test, so let’s do just that.
Summary and score
The Exceria Pro N101 offers insanely fast read and write speeds that actually live up to Toshiba’s promises. In a UHS-II DSLR or mirrorless camera, this thing will absolutely sing, making it ideal for 4K video footage or extremely rapid burst captures. The only problem is that this card is way more expensive than its nearest competitors, making it hard to recommend unless you can find it on sale for less than £100.
Features & Specifications
- Capacities: 16 / 32 / 64 / 128GB
- Up to 240 MB/s write speed
- Up to 260 MB/s read speed
- UHS-II interface
- UHS U3 speeds (min 30MB/s)
- SDA version 4.20
- X-ray proof ISO7816-1 compatible
- 5 year warranty
We tested the Exceria Pro N101 in a Kingston USB 3.0 UHS-II card reader to perform benchmarks, then in a Nikon D7000 DSLR for our real world test.
It was tested against two other SD cards we had on hand, a £10 Sandisk Ultra (32GB) and a £30 Transcend R95 / W60 (64GB). Both of these are UHS-I cards and cost much less than the Exceria Pro, so it’ll be interesting to see the performance differential. The Sandisk Ultra is also the most popular SD card on Amazon, so it should be a good representative of the genre.
We’ll be testing the Samsung T3 in our new test rig, which has a Core i5 6600K processor, 16GB of Crucial DDR4 RAM and runs Windows 10. We’re plugging into a USB 3.0 port in the back.
CrystalDiskMark has been one of my favourite benchmarks for evaluating storage speeds for a while now, thanks to its varied incompressible workload and extremely readable results. Here’s the 3.0.3 x64 version of the benchmark; all results are in MB/s.
|Read (Seq)||Write (Seq)||Read (4K)||Write (4K)|
|Exceria Pro N101 (UHS-II & U3)||248||220||13.2||0.9|
|Transcend R95 W60 (UHS-I & U3)||94||66||5.5||0.7|
|Sandisk Ultra (Class 10)||96||15||7.5||2.2|
Right out of the gate, we can see that the Exceria Pro’s UHS-II connection and more powerful innards offer better performance as expected. Read and write speeds are approximately 250 MB/s and 220 MB/s, respectively; well within the ‘up to 260 MB/s’ and ‘up to 240 MB/s’ speed ratings quoted by the manufacturer. This also confirms that we don’t have any bottleneck in our testing setup that could skew the results significantly.
While sequential importance is the most important for cameras, it’s amusing to look at 4K performance as well — you can see it’s well below what we’d expect from an SSD; this is the trade-off of stuffing insane sequential performance into a tiny space (and accessing it via USB 3.0, to an extent).
AS SSD Benchmark
AS SSD is another benchmarking tool quite similar to CrystalDiskMark, which uses predominantly incompressible data across a range of workloads including sequential tests, random performance and access times. First three numbers are MB/s and access time is in ms.
|Read (Seq)||Write (Seq)||Access (Read)||Access (Write)|
|Exceria Pro N101||211||214||0.377|
|Transcend R95 W60||90||28||0.615||7.05|
The Exceria Pro again makes its presence known, with about double the read speeds and an order of magnitude better write speeds. Read access times are also a bit better, at 0.4ms, but write access times are super slow compared to SSDs, at 3.77ms. Still, this isn’t too important — at least while DSLRs lack M.2 SSD slots.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO produces rather less comprehensible results than CrystalDiskMark, but still provides a good test of compressible data transfer. It also provides a lot of data points; I’ve selected six from across the range. Settings were the default: 256MB total length and queue depth of 4, testing from 1KB to 8MB. All results are in MB/s.
|Exceria Pro N101||5||19||178||244||257||257|
|Transcend R95 W60||2||9||90||94||95||95|
|Exceria Pro N101||.3||1||185||220||228||228|
|Transcend R95 W60||.2||1||61||63||64||64|
It’s interesting to see how quickly performance ramps up for the Exceria Pro N101. At 1KB and 4KB block sizes, we’re looking at similar performance to the other two cards, but the Exceria blows them out of the water once we start to hit 64KB and larger, already twice as fast reading and three times as fast writing.
By the time we reach the most sequential segment (the largest block sizes), we’re hitting a maximum read of 257 MB/s and a maximum read of 228 MB/s — awesome. That’s 2.5x faster read speeds and almost 4x write speeds compared to our second place contestant, the Transcend R95 W60 (it’s kind of annoying these cards don’t have proper names!).
We conclude with HD Tune, a benchmark which produces three scores for average read speed (in MB/s), read access time (in ms), and burst read rate (in MB/s).
|HD Tune Pro 5.50 Read||Average Read||Access Time||Burst Rate|
|Exceria Pro N101||160||0.4||82.8|
|Transcend R95 W60||80||0.6||35.4|
Again, it’s much the same story as before. Average read times are double that of either competing card, with lower access times and higher burst rates too. The line is also the most stable out of all three cards, riding along that 160 MB/s average for much of the test apart from squiggly bits at the start and end.
Real world test
We’ll also perform one real-life benchmark. Now, right off I’ll say that we don’t have a UHS-II-capable camera; sadly that wasn’t included in the review package from Toshiba. That means we’re using a Nikon D7000, a capable (if entry-level) DSLR.
That means this test is useful to see how this card’s UHS-I limits stack up against our other card, the Transcend R95 W60 we looked at earlier. In theory, we should still see a difference, given that UHS-I is limited to 104 MB/s, but it won’t be anywhere near as big as in a UHS-II capable mirrorless or DSLR. With that said, let’s proceed.
We’re using a benchmark proposed by Bob Janes at dpreview.com. His original post is fairly comprehensive, so we’ll give the TL;DR version:
- Set up the camera to shoot RAW files at its highest continuous shooting rate at a fixed exposure, fixed shutter speed and with manual focus.
- Bring up an online stopwatch on a PC monitor, and make it giant.
- Ensure that focus and ISO are set to get a readable image down to 1/100th of a second accuracy
- Start the stopwatch and shoot continuously using the camera
- After some time, the rate of shooting will slow significantly, as the camera’s buffer is full. Continue shooting for 10 more shots.
- Note the stopwatch reading from each shot, starting one shot after the first slow-down. This should show how quickly each image is written to the card.
So, we did that; here are the results. We noted that after the buffer filled, we got two shots quickly, then a delay, then another two shots… so we’ll calculate our speed rate by dividing the file size of two images (2 * 17.3 MB = 34.6 MB) by the average time between each two shot burst.
For the Exceria card, we got an average time of 1.502 seconds, for a rate of 23.03 MB/s. On the Transcend card it was an average time of 1.609, for a rate of 21.50 MB/s. (Feel free to check our math). Let’s put that in a table!
|File size||Average shot-to-shot time||Write speed|
|Exceria Pro N101||34.6 MB||1.502 seconds||23.03 MB/s|
|Transcend R95 W60||34.6 MB||1.609 seconds||21.50 MB/s|
So it’s not the biggest difference in the world, but it’s still noticeable even on an older UHS-I camera; basically what we expected. Ideally we’d run this test on a UHS-II camera, so if anyone wants to send us one please do (a Fujifilm X-T1 would be ideal, thanks).
The Exceria Pro N101 is far and away the fastest SD card in XSReviews HQ right now, boasting crazy-fast read and write speeds that live up to Toshiba’s claims. It’s more than fast enough for 4K video recording, and should work for comparatively niche uses like extremely rapid bursts and slow-motion video capture as well. If you need to write a lot of data very quickly, the N101 is perfectly capable. Combined with professional features like x-ray protection (which someone presumably needs) and a five year warranty, it’s a great choice if you have a UHS-II capable DSLR, video camera, mirrorless, action cam or drone.
However, there are some alternatives that are worth looking at; take a look.
Lexar Professional 2000x 64GB
The Exceria Pro N101 isn’t the only UHS-II card pushing the limits of the standard. Lexar’s Professional 2000x 64GB boasts even faster speeds (300 MB/s) and costs about half of the Exceria Pro N101. It also comes with a UHS-II capable card reader and ‘Image Rescue 4’ software. I’m not sure how this is possible, except the Lexar card is stocked by Amazon and the Toshiba card is not. Still, given the price differential the Lexar Professional 2000x is the obvious choice even if Lexar are exaggerating its performance.
SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB
SanDisk is another big player, so it’s no surprise that they have a competitive card as well. Their Extreme Pro comes with a stated speed rating of 280 MB/s for reading and 250 MB/s for writing. Word on the street is that their card doesn’t quite live up to these claims, and it’s also a little worse value for money than the Lexar card (even without taking into the free card reader and software into account). It doesn’t come in as many capacities as either of its competitors either, only offering 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options. Still, it’s nearly half the price of the Toshiba card, so it’s a better value-for-money choice as well.