Written review & video produced by Young Jeohn
Kingston has 3 lines of SD cards, but here's the most interesting thing... the card we tested read data 17 TIMES FASTER at its peak than they rated it for! How's that even possible?
To get the basics down first, Kingston's consumer SD card line is called the Canvas series that includes 3 lines: SELECT, GO and REACT.
Thankfully these cards are color coordinated, so I've devised for myself an easy way to jog my memory about which is which.
TRAFFIC LIGHTS ARE BEST
Most people (in first world countries at least), know of traffic lights and its signals - red on top, yellow in the middle and green on the bottom. The Kingston Canvas SD cards can be likened to these lights when it comes to speed - React is red, Select is green, and the Go is a substitute for yellow (actually a blue color).
That's easy enough for a gray haired guy like me, as long as I remember one thing - the best and fastest card sits on top (red) as performance trickles down to the green.
BUT WHAT DOES FAST ACTUALLY MEAN?
Regardless of manufacturer, there are generally two performance measures that give us an idea of this - READ and WRITE speeds, with higher numbers being faster.
WRITE speed is how quickly data can be written to a card (every time you take a picture or take a video, you're writing data to a card.) This speed is crucial when you're saving huge megapixel photos (e.g. RAW format) from a DSLR or rolling on 4K uncompressed video.
READ speed is how quickly data can be read from a card (usually when you're copying pictures or video to your computer for editing.)
Unfortunately, the problem regarding READ and WRITE numbers are that no company lists them. Instead, you'll be bombarded by a bunch of icons that are either obsolete or mean very little due to constantly changing standards and technology. You have to delve into product sheets and white papers for such info, but we've done the work for you here:
Kingston Canvas SD cards
READ: 100 MB/s
WRITE: 80 MB/s
good for: 4k video, DSLR raw files
READ: 90 MB/s
WRITE: 45 MB/s
good for: compressed 4k video, DSLR raw files
READ: 80 MB/s
WRITE: 10 MB/s
good for: Full HD video (1080p), point-and-shoot cameras
ONE WEIRD TEST
For shits and giggles, we decided to see what the REACT SD card was capable of using Kingston's own MobileLite G4 card reader. We'd copy several large files to and from the card to show us what the real-world transfer rates would be like. WRITE speeds were as expected, with a consistent average of almost 70 MB/s (plus the cost of overhead like file handling.)
What we WEREN'T expecting was a READ rate that approached 17 times the listed rating of 100 MB/s - I mean, 1.7 GB? Very speedy indeed. Granted, it wasn't a sustained copy rate and that number did go up and down. But if you have a lot of data to transfer, every bit helps (even short bursts), especially with content like 4k video.
It reminds me of not-so-fun times wrangling data on a film set, saving just-shot footage to backup drives. The problem was the amount of 4k footage that needed transferring, which were handed to me in rather large memory cards hot out of camera. The "slow"-ish copy speeds then guaranteed a backlog, resulting in me being the last one to leave set.
On one hand, you could calculate how long it'd take to finish it all. But I'd much rather have had high burst speeds here and there and gone home earlier.
COMPARED TO A "FASTER" CARD
This piqued my interest in seeing how fast a competitor's card would perform. It was a "professional" card of a company I shall not name, but the READ speed was 150 MB/s, theoretically 50% faster than the Kingston REACT. Interestingly, the card had another row of pins (UHS-II) - which should have increased throughput.
It shouldn't have been a letdown, but the "pro" card never surpassed 130 MB. In fact, it was doing a consistent 130 MB in READ speed, which is great because it doesn't actually slow down. But I'm reminded of my data wrangling experience, and my dashed hopes of going home on time because there's never a surprise burst of speed. Pity.
Kingston's Canvas line of SD cards offer 3 levels of speeds from the base SELECT, to the best and fastest REACT. It CAN be challenging to remember these names, but since they are color coded, you can simply relate them to my traffic light moniker with red being best, and sitting above the rest.
In addition, I'd like to say that Kingston's been around a very long time. Even now, I still have a 19-in-1 card reader manufactured by them in the late 2000's - of which I just upgraded the firmware to (still available on their website!)
It goes without saying that I find them to be a reliable company, and given the lifetime guarantee of their SD cards, it looks like Kingston is willing to stand behind their products as well. Definitely worth checking into the next time you need SD cards.
More info: https://kingston.com
(Test unit provided by Kingston for this review)
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