ProGrade 64GB SD Card Review

Let me state right up front that ProGrade is being a bit deceptive in their packaging, as is pretty much everyone these days. The ProGrade 64GB UHS-II SDXC cards are labeled 200MB/s on the label. 

bythom prograde sd

Which immediately gets us into a discussion of what card speeds are all about. Most SD cards have a read speed, and a different write speed. And for most cards, those speeds are different. The ProGrade 64GB SD card being reviewed is 200MB/s read, 80MB/s write. Thus my comment about the deceptive labeling, as you're more likely to notice the write limitation than the read one.

What's that mean in real terms? Well, it can mean nothing of consequence, or it can be substantial.

For example, a lot of current cameras have card slots that max out at about 95MB/s. Some, such as the D7500, are still UHS-I and can be a bit slower than that. But in terms of UHS-II cameras, probably the Sony A9 is the best case example at the moment, and it maxes out in writing somewhere around the 150MB/s mark. The ProGrade card being reviewed is going to limit the buffer in that camera. On my Sony A6300, nope, the ProGrade card is actually far faster than the camera can write, so I see no differences there between using the ProGrade or a faster card.

The 200MB/s read speed comes into play for photographers when you transfer images from card reader to computer (assuming you have a state-of-the-art card reader). That, too, isn't as fast on the ProGrade as what you can buy, though it tends to be a bit better than some other cards in its class.

The fastest UHS-II cards I've seen to date are 300MB/s read, 280MB/s write. That would be the Sony SF-G 300MB/s UHS-II card. 

But to ProGrade's credit, there are plenty of UHS-II cards on the market now that, when you look closely at them, are 150MB/s read, 96MB/s write. ProGrade isn't exactly off the mark here, but don't let them fool you into thinking they're at the top of the heap in speed. They're a bit slower at write—akin to the Lexar 1000x UHS-II cards—and a bit faster at read than those same 1000x cards (200MB/s versus 150MB/s read). 

The going price for a 150-200MB/s read, 80-96MB/s write card seems to be about US$50-60, which is exactly where the ProGrade card falls. ProGrade also has a more expensive 250MB/s read, 200MB/s write card, but that's not what I reviewed. Curiously, the label for the less expensive and slower 200MB/s cards is gold, the more expensive and faster 250MB/s cards is silver (or I suppose they'll claim platinum; but in terms of consumer marketing, gold will always be perceived as higher than what looks to be silver). 

The ProGrade cards do match all current video camera write speed needs (V60, class 10). I tested in all my current gear for video and found no issues. If for some reason you need V90, you'd need the faster 250MB/s ProGrade card.

The card appears well made and has a stiff write protect switch. ProGrade claims the ability to "withstand" -13 to 185°F temperatures, but no current camera is specified to operate in that extreme range. I tried putting the card in my freezer and leaving it on the dash on a very hot day. I noticed no operational differences afterward.

In terms of speed, I get within sample/rounding error performance measurements that say, yes, this really is a 200/80 MB/s card. I've been using a pair of these cards for most of the year in all the SD-capable cameras coming across my desk, and have encountered no issues. 

As such, I'd call the ProGrade 200MB/s cards a reliable and solid performer. Just make sure that your camera can't take advantage of 95MB/s and faster write performance. Otherwise, you'd need ProGrade's 250MB/s marked cards, or my current favorite, the Sony SF-G 300MB/s card.

Source of review cards: purchased

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