Reviewer Tryouts: OCZ SD 150x card
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October 24, 2007, 02:08 PM
Hardware Canucks Reviewer
Join Date: Oct 2007
Reviewer Tryouts: OCZ SD 150x card
Secure Digital Flash Memory was created by a joint venture of Toshiba, Sandisk and Matsushita (AKA Panasonic) in 1999. It was done for express purpose of making a better, more secure storage medium for the burgeoning new portable device market. SD officially premiered at the 2000 CES trade show and has been a success ever since. However the "Secure" part of SD never really took off. As the Secure part comes from the fact that it has a hardware level encryption built right into the spec. It was designed to combat the then "new" idea of digital piracy. As with similar schemes it was a disaster from the get go.
Even though this DRM'ed version of MMC storage failed at its intended goal it still remains one of the more popular storage choices when it comes to digital cameras, PDA, phones and other such "portable devices".
The reason for this success is its strong, yet user friendly format. The body is small enough to fit in just about any device and is "keyed" so as to make backwards insertion nearly impossible, something the Multi Media Card (what Sd is based on) did not have. Of course it is a nonvolatile flash memory so there is no moving parts and this coupled with a beefy external “case” with no external pins to break means that they can be left in a pocket with little fear of breaking it.
Today we will be looking at the OCZ High Speed 150x SD card in 1gb (with of course 1GB =1 billion bytes NOT 1024 billion bytes). This card comes with a lifetime warranty, is preformatted and is packaged in a std plastic clamshell. It sells for about 38 dollars but can be found for about $32 online. Either way it is about twice as expensive as the 60x version. What do you get for twice the money? Lets find out!
Comment on Package:
Yes the hated plastic clamshell package is the de facto standard for all storage cards and OCZ has followed suit but this really needs to be improved upon. Security and protection of the device must be the major considerations when designing a cheap throwaway package; BUT shouldn't the end-users "ease of opening" also be taken into account? Doesn't the packaging of a product give a person their first impression of your product? Someone really needs to take this to the next level and come out with a improved package container. However, as this IS the industry standard I can't hold this against them in this review.
First Impressions: 8.5 out of 10
Storage Speed ratings explained:
A brief note on what the 150x really means. In the early days (way back when we had to walk UPHILL...BOTH WAYS...IN BLINDING SNOWSTORMS) floppy disks were the standard storage medium. Reading at approximately 150 kb/s (also assuming you had really good disks AND had sacrificed a virgin chicken to the right computer gods...the IBMerman...and not the heretical Golden Apple of Knowledge gods).
This was good, this was considered FAST…But then came CDs. To make things easier for comparison purposes CD-Rom and cd writer manufacturers based the read/write speed in factors of 150kb/sec. Thus an 8x burner, burned data 8 times faster than a 3.5inch floppy disk could...’ish (once again only under PERFECT conditions, and only on rated media). In technical terms this meant that 150kb/sec Multiplied by the rated Speed is how fast a device could read. In their infinite wisdom the creators of flash memory decided to follow suit.
This is a long winded way of saying that 150X is theoretically 22.5 mb/sec (150x150). However, this ONLY relates to the READ speed AND only under "optimum conditions" I have yet to see a SD card reach 15mb second over USB. Would it be better on a dedicated firewire card reader...it is possible, after all "YMMV" is ALWAYS in effect.
Please also not that based on my previous experience WRITE speed is ALWAYS less. Usually its in the 2-10 mb/sec range or 15x to 82X. Also based on previous experience the higher the READ speed the higher the WRITE speed. Since the 150X speed is the top end of the SD spectrum right now I expect this ‘lil guy to write at the upper end of the scale.
Theoretical Speed: 10 out of 10
SUBJECTIVE testing (AKA real world testing):
The reason this card was purchased was to be used solely in my point and shoot "super zoom" Cannon 3S IS digital cameras. The first thing I do when getting any new card is do a low level format in my camera. This is to help ensure that my camera knows how to read and write it properly as it helps reduce the potential for write errors. I highly recommend you only format your card in your camera and never in windows. I also recommend that you do quick formatting instead of deleting images when the card is full and they have been transferred and CONFIRMED to be OK on your computer. This will help keep your card from dying young.
My Cannon is capable of a continuous 2.3 frames per second...or until the card screams and can no longer keep up...OR the batteries can't produce enough continuous voltage that the camera demands. As with all things portable if your battery can't keep up your camera WILL slow down. To remove this from the equation I used fresh AA energizer E-squared lithium ion batteries. With lithium ions I have yet to have them hit the wall before my cards do :)
I set my camera to take the biggest pictures possible making each image in the 2.4 to 2.9 megabyte range. The camera was set to ISO 800 and the aperture was on auto. With such a fast ISO rating the shutter speed was also taken out of the equation. IF I had shot at ISO 80 for example I am may not have noticed the first card write slowdown.
All in all I was able to get between 20 and 25 continuous shots before the first slow down in shooting occurred. They were not long pauses but where just long enough to be perceptible. If I hadn't let up on the trigger they would have gotten longer and longer. To put this in perspective I was also able to get 20 - 25 continuous shots with a my 1gb 60x card. IS my camera able to stress this card enough? Probably not. In fact I KNOW it doesn't. It is only when you get into the "pro-sumer" level Dslr's would a higher speed be warranted.
As for longevity, this card has over 8000 shots used and is still going strong. My last card (a competitors 2gb 133x) died after only 7500 shots. Is this normal life expectancy...no. BUT I do usually shoot in continuous mode as I am trying to capture good shots of puppies. This continuous shooting produces lots of hear and HEAT kills these little guys faster than a brick...OK maybe a brick is SLIGHTLY faster but no by much. This is caused by the placement of the SD card right next to batteries. IMHO it is a definite design flaw that is prevalent throughout the digital camera industry.
When shooting continuous shots the batteries do get HOT as they try and maintain enough volts. The amout of heat is not hot enough to burn, but hot enough to shorten a SD cards life expectancy. When I shoot 1gb in a long continous bursts the batteries are hot to touch and the cards is also very warm.
The worst offenders for this were my 2800 mha NIMH rechargeable batteries which actually killed another brands card in only 2000 shots. That is when I swapped over to E-squared for continuous shots and regular cheap ("Wal-mart specials") AAs for normal "walking around" shooting. Yes I am all for saving the planet, but not if that means I end up throwing away SD card after SD card!
To get a feel for how long it takes to transfer files from my card to my computer I first filled the camera with shots and then used SD/MMC USB 2.0 card reader to transfer them to a 2ndary raptor 150 hard drive. This was done to remove any possibility of OS activity skewing the results. I repeated this test 3 times to make sure I had a clear representation of what this card can do. In each instance the amount transferred was about 976mb.
Overall it took on average 3.5 minutes to transfer 976mb to my hard drive.
Real world benchmarks: 7 out of 10
BENCHMARKS (aka synthetic tests)
As with all storage testing the best (or at least most ubiquitous) is HDTach. I used the larger 32mb test.
I also like using SiSoft Sandra, and since the LITE version includes a Removable Storage benchmark I have included its results as well.
Here is what I found out:
Random access was 1.1ms
Burst Speed was only a 4.9 mb/s
Avg read speed was only 4.8 mb/s
SiSoft give it an overall 2049 opts/sec and a 55.3 endurance factor.
Speed 6.5 out of 10
"slower" 60x cards are a lot cheaper for the same storage size and nearly the same speed
I Went into this review with high expectations of this card and I honestly don't think this High Speed OCZ SD card lives up to the OCZ reputation. While it has held up remarkably well and is still going strong is not as fast as I expected. Overall, I have do have some reservations in recommending this card to anyone who doesn't own a high end camera; especially when 60x cards can be found for a lot less. This card will be quicker when transferring the files to your desktop BUT it will not make your camera shoot any faster. If you do need a fast SD card OR just are impatient (like me) and hate to wait for your images to download...well then you might consider spending twice as much. Otherwise, save your money and get the 60x version.
Overall a 6.5 out of 10 with reservations
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