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PNY Optima and Optima Pro (32 GB, 4 GB)

13 SDHC Memory Cards Reviewed

PNY sent us two SDHC cards for review: an Optima card at 32 GB, and an Optima Pro model at 4 GB capacity. Optima cards are rated Class 4, and they are available in 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB sizes; the Optima Pro series is Class 6 rated and can be purchased at 4 GB, 8 GB and 16 GB. The 32 GB top model is still rather expensive, at $149.99, but you’ll get the largest available SD card capacity for your money. Read throughput reached 15.5 MB/s, while sequential writes were between 9.7 and 10.8 MB/s.

We were surprised to see the write performance numbers of the Optima Pro card, which was designed to be the faster card. It maxed out at 8.4 to 9.0 MB/s, which is actually less than the regular Optima card reached, and is the slowest write performance in this roundup. It is still well within the necessary 6 MB/s minimum sequential write throughput, but you’d expect something better from the top model. Read performance, however, was nice, as the Optima Pro maxed out our test environment at up to 19.7 MB/s.

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  • 0 Hide
    hustler539 , February 17, 2009 6:09 AM
    Well written article and very informative. Now I know what to look for when purchasing my next sd.....I hate waiting on the camera to store a picture when I want to take the next shot!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2009 7:40 AM
    I'm looking for SDHC card but this article is absolutely confusing. I was looking for the Silicon Power results but there are a lot of mistakes or mistyping in the article. On some of the I/O meter charts it's line is light gray on some other it is dark grey. On some pages there is the 16GB listed, on some other there is the 32GB version. Due to all these mistakes this article became absolutely confusing and unreliable!
  • 2 Hide
    aapocketz , February 17, 2009 1:17 PM

    On some of the I/O meter charts it's line is light gray on some other it is dark grey

    that IO meter plot is very hard to read, even when zooming in using firefox on a dell 3007wfp-hc
  • 2 Hide
    Robert17 , February 17, 2009 1:48 PM
    As usual, a well written and informative article from the Pros at Toms. Thank you.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 17, 2009 3:04 PM
    Bought the transcend 16gb yesterday for $33 looks like I didn't do to badly, I'm happy with 15mb/s read and I bet it does faster than 19.7 read with a quicker reader.
  • 7 Hide
    Deliriou5 , February 17, 2009 3:13 PM
    What about a price/GB chart or a price/performatnce chart? If one is 3% faster, but costs 40% more, that's a "no deal".
  • 6 Hide
    igot1forya , February 17, 2009 3:21 PM
    I really think someone should come out with an external RAID array for these things. You can fit a bunch of these in a very small space, and if you stack the performance/capacity in parallel you could potentially get some amazing numbers. Make one massive RAID50!
  • 2 Hide
    one-shot , February 17, 2009 3:21 PM
    If you use a d-SLR, the speed is well worth the price. I have a 266X Transcend Compact Flash card and it works great. The bottleneck is my camera's buffer and not the memory card when shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , February 17, 2009 8:45 PM
    Welldone! I was looking for something like this. Quite useful.
  • 1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , February 17, 2009 8:47 PM
    one-shotIf you use a d-SLR, the speed is well worth the price. I have a 266X Transcend Compact Flash card and it works great. The bottleneck is my camera's buffer and not the memory card when shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG.

    Agreed! Not to mention with increasing resolutions for DSLR you need faster and bigger cards.
  • -1 Hide
    ram1009 , February 17, 2009 9:07 PM
    IMHO, reviews like this aren't much good without a cost comparison. Bang for the buck and all that.
  • 0 Hide
    angry_ducky , February 17, 2009 9:35 PM
    I'm so glad I found this article; I just bought a Nikon D60 digital SLR, and have no idea what memory card to get for it. I want something with fast writes, as the camera can shoot up to 3 MB/s, but I don't care how long it takes to transfer pictures to the computer.

    While I have a digital camera, I normally use a 28-year old Minolta SLR, as well as a Holga and other film cameras, so memory cards and lens systems are very confusing to me.
  • 3 Hide
    Darkk , February 18, 2009 2:12 AM
    Sandisk SD cards always worked well for me. Even their 4GB Ultra II model works great in my Canon camera. Not the fastest but it's fast enough for my needs at a low price point and not one of them ever failed on me.

    Costco usually carries em at decent prices.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 18, 2009 8:19 PM
    Well I use a SDHC 4gb from Veho, which is class 6 and excellent..But really it is a *lot* about bang fer Buck. The card was as cheap as other lower rated cards .. so why not? I would like to see the use of these as storage and storage extenders on all manner of devices explored. I use mine as a surrogate blank DVD. A Cheap 32gb would be lovely..
  • 1 Hide
    matjazz , February 20, 2009 10:44 AM
    I'd like to add that Transcend 150x is probably the only one with SLC memory. Advantage over MLC is that SLC can handle 10x more read/write cycles is more reliable in low temperatures. If you look up the price of Transcend 150x SDHC cards you'll see that they cost somewhat twice as much per GB as regular SDHC class 6. Here's what I found on SLC vs MLC whitpaper from Super Talent:
    "Single-level cell (SLC) and multi-level cell (MLC) Flash memory are similar in their design. MLC Flash devices cost less and allow for higher storage density. SLC Flash devices provide faster write performance and greater reliability, even at temperatures above the operating range of MLC Flash devices"
  • 2 Hide
    bfrazier , February 24, 2009 5:08 PM
    I would have appreciated some discussion about the speed of CF relative to Flash Memory Camcorders such as the Canon FS Series. Isn't that where consumers really need the faster cards anyways?
  • 1 Hide
    ppj , February 27, 2009 5:55 PM
    Silicon Power SDHC class 6 is excellent choice for movie recorders. You might have noted that camcorders are moving towards flash memory for movie recording and to record the high resolution HD movies at real time speed, high speed cards are required, and high speed SDHC silicon power memory cards to my opinion is really a good choice.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 16, 2009 10:01 PM
    Great article but it is lacking. You mentioned but didn't list the OCZ Gold Series, the Extreme III 30MB series or the Sandisk VideoHD series of cards all of which are options I think need to be addressed.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 23, 2009 1:36 AM
    Should retest with a faster card reader ... SanDisk ImageMate Multi-Card Reader ... 30MB max.
  • 0 Hide
    kbuchanan , June 15, 2009 10:45 PM
    I agree with Delirious5 - I found this article very helpful - recently being a first time digital camera owner. However the price comparison for write speed in my case would be very helpful. I was surprise I couldn't tell the comparison chart ranked maybe I looked over it too fast. Also Transcend in their online store indicates a much lower write speed (8MB) on the 16 GB Class 6 and shows their 8GB being faster(13MB) than their 16GB? Is there reasons for these differences?
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