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If you’re a professional photographer who often makes use of various memory cards or if you just need a convenient solution for reading a card through a computer, you’ll need a capable SD card reader. Many laptops may offer built-in card readers but they’re usually not very reliable and limited when it comes to compatibility with more card types. Those with desktop computers will also probably need a separate card reader. To make a smarter decision, it’s worth checking out certain features of these devices and the most important characteristics that you should be aware of are:
1. Supported card types
The more card types the better, but that’s not always the case for everyone. For some people, it’s only important for the reader to be able to handle that particular format they use. There are different SD formats supported by card readers and some are even more adapted to cameras which use other types like CF cards.
All SD card readers nowadays come with USB 3.0 high-speed transfer rates but other models may also be compatible with the latest speed standards such as UHS-I and UHS-II. You will need to spend a little extra if you want a more performant model but it could be worth saving time when transferring large files. More performant units are capable of better read/write speeds so if you have a lot of data to transfer on the regular you should check out these details.
3. Portability and overall ease of use
Most basic SD card readers are fairly portable, some come with designs resembling USB flash drives. They’re compact enough to take anywhere without taking too much space. There’s also the matter of using them, which could be simpler to do for some units which are more intuitively designed.
These are the essential aspects to consider before you go ahead and make a decision. Purchasing a reliable SD card reader shouldn’t be a difficult task for many but if you’re interested in a selection of the best products on the market in terms of value per cost, the following models represent a solid starting point. In this article you will discover the most relevant card readers only from trusted manufacturers. If you wish to make the right choice, you can see each of our picks reviewed and analyzed extra carefully so you can be sure that it matches your particular needs and budget. You might also be interested in our articles about the best vhs to dvd converters and the best wireless hdmi transmitters and receivers.
Best Buy SD Card Reader
Anker’s 8-in-1 card reader is capable of transferring data quickly and efficiently and is compatible with basically all the relevant formats out there. At an great price, this unit provides many advantages including a quality build, easy operation, and the ability to read and write on two cards at the same time.
The reader is fairly compact and small, fitting with ease in your pocket. It’s built with high-grade plastics and it has durable chips inside. To more easily check out its status you can rely on the integrated LED light. All in all, the design of this card reader seems to be better than you’d expect at this kind of price.
When it comes to compatibility, this reader can deal with many different types of cards including SD-XC, MMC, micro SD, and even mini SD (you’ll need an adapter for this one though). Data transfer rates are quite fast as this promises USB 3.0 speeds. It does depend on the memory card how fast you can realistically write on it and always remember to plug the reader into a USB 3.0 port so you won’t get limited by the computer’s slower ports.
You’re not required to have a particular operating system as this unit works with all the popular versions of PCs and Macs. There’s no driver that you have to install so just plug the device in the port and start transferring valuable data.
Considering the competitive price, Anker did an excellent job with this SD card reader. It’s extremely portable, has an attractive glossy finish and is easy to operate. It can handle a wide range of SD cards and micro SD variants so you shouldn’t have any compatibility issues. Overall, this should be one of your top options if you’re shopping for a high-quality card reader.
- USB 3.0 powered
- No drivers required
- Compatible with Windows 10 and older as well as Mac OS X 10.2+
Designed for the fastest data transfer performance, the Transcend RDF5 is a very reliable USB 3.0 card reader that can handle high-speed SD formats such as SDHC and SDXC as well as any microSDHC or microSDXC cards you throw at it. It comes with other interesting features so let’s take a closer look at it.
As it weighs just around one ounce, it’s a very portable device allowing you to enjoy blazing-fast data transfer rates when you’re on the go. The length of only 56 mm allows for the reader to be conveniently held in your palm. The simple design is nicely complemented by a LED indicator. Just plug it into the USB 3.0 port of your computer and enjoy quick data transfers in no time.
This is a very flexible card reader. It can handle any USB 3.0 interface but it’s compatible with older ones like USB 2.0 too. The reader is performant enough to accept all the major card types, but it also boasts support for UHS-I and UHS-II speed standards. No matter the platform or what kind of devices you use, this seems to be able to do a great job.
Besides the card reader, the package for this device also contains the right to download and use Transcend’s exclusive software called RecoveRx. This application enables you to recover erased data from your storage device, a handy ability to have when you accidentally delete important data and need a way to get it back.
In conclusion, the Transcend RDF5 is a solid SD card reader in all regards. It works without any flaws and can handle a decent range of card types. Even if you lack a USB 3.0 port, the performance of this card reader is much better than its competition, so this is why it gains a top spot on this list. Highly recommended.
- SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface
- SDHC / microSDHC / SDXC
- LED card activity indicator
- RecoverRx software
Best USB SD Card Reader
Kingston is one of the largest manufacturers of memory cards and they also have a nice selection of card readers. The FCR-HS4 is a solid unit in all regards and is a bit more advanced in terms of features, to be able to cover more demanding needs. This could be an ideal tool for any photographers or design studios.
By far one of its most imposing features is the elegant white body design. The brushed nickel case with a honeycomb pattern completes the overall look. There’s a built-in LED indicator and the form factor is reasonably small. The fact that it looks nice is a good aspect, but most people are probably more interested in performance.
This reader is capable of transferring files with full USB 3.0 performance achieving almost 10 times faster speeds when compared to USB 2.0. It reads many popular card formats and its versatility extends to UHS-I and UHS-II SD speed standards. As opposed to other readers out there, it even offers support for CompactFlash cards.
Another feature that’s prized by many who use card readers is the ability to transfer data from more than just a single inserted card. The host computer can read and write data from more introduced memory cards in the slots of this unit which can be convenient in certain situations.
One thing that you need to be careful regarding this reader is its CF slot which is fairly large. If you’re not paying attention you can actually render the slot inoperable as you risk bending a contact inside. This is only relevant to photographers who probably use this slot on the regular.
With a simple setup, an elegant design, and an unparalleled level of performance, the Kingston FCR-HS4 is strongly recommended for those who need a versatile and fast card reader. It works just as advertised and it could be considered a valuable product for its cost.
- USB 3.0 performance
- Portable and versatile
- Supports cards with the latest UHS-I and UHS-II standards
- Sleek and elegant design
- All major memory card formats supported
Best USB 3.0 SD Card Reader
A great inexpensive option for an SD card reader is this unit from Saicoo. It features four slots to handle pretty much all SD variants including micro SD cards. There are some great abilities packed in this little card reader so let’s take a more in-depth look at it to see if it’s worth purchasing.
This is an 11-in-1 card reader and one of its highlight features is the ability to read two memory cards at the same time even if they’re totally different. This is a convenient function to have when you’re in a hurry and want to be able to transfer things on one card and access data on another.
When it comes to design and construction, you should probably not expect much but there are a few elements that stand out. One of them is the LED indicator which shows the current activity status of the reader. It keeps on when connected and flashes repeatedly when data is being transferred. Another great aspect is the flexible 13 cm cord which enables a more convenient connection in tighter spots.
With this card reader, you can expect some generous transfer speeds. It has a USB 3.0 interface so make sure you use a USB 3.0 port on the host computer. One nice ability is to automatically detect the memory card type and make it ready for reading and writing data. It supports SDXC, the extended capacity version of SD cards, with a maximum size of 2 TB. There’s also compatibility with the latest micro SD cards, MMC, and the UHS-I standard.
All things considered, the Saicoo card reader works without any problems for what it’s designed to do. The only speed limit is your card’s capabilities. The reader is able to read and write in a reasonably quick manner, but it’s recommended to use newer card types with it. Despite being a low-cost item, this reader is worth the money and even if you have any issues with the product, it’s nice knowing that Saicoo’s customer service is also top-notch.
- Dual slots for SD and MicroSD cards
- Supports SDXC up to 2TB
- 13 cm flexible cord
- LED indicator
Those who own a Mac computer will be pleased to find out that there’s a card reader specially designed to fit alongside it. The Unitek Aluminum card reader can handle lots of card formats, offers truly plug-and-play functionality, and has a very stylish design that’s very appealing to many Apple fans.
This multi-card reader can handle micro SD, MMC, SDHC, and SDXC cards but it also provides compatibility for CF cards including CF Elite Pro, Turbo, Ultima and many others. It accepts SDXC cards with a maximum capacity of 2 TB and there’s no required adapter for micro SD cards.
When it comes to operation, you can expect this unit to be recognized immediately by your computer. There are no drivers needed for all Windows versions, as well as Mac and Linux computers. The elegant aluminum design probably works best with MacBooks, but there’s also compatibility for Microsoft Surface Pro or Google Chromebook among many others.
A slight disadvantage of this model is that it won’t allow a shared channel for reading cards from different slots simultaneously. It only reads one card at the same time but it’s not an issue for those who don’t plan on using it too intensively. The read and write speeds are quite decent considering the USB 3.0 interface.
Taking everything about the Unitek SD card reader into account, it can be said that this brings some nice value to the table. It reads CompactFlash cards as well as the usual SD, micro SD, and MMC card variants and even if it’s a little basic in functionality, it could be worth it for those who like a nicer design on their products. It’s not without its flaws but the solid metal casing is a really great touch.
- USB 3.0 fast transfer rates
- Multiple formats supported
- Apple aluminum style design
- Plug-and-play functionality
If you’re looking for one of the most compact solutions for your card reading needs, perhaps this unit from Rocketek will be an excellent choice. Besides an attractive price tag, this reader comes with a special built-in card cover design permitting you to safely store cards inside. There are other great features included so let’s take a better look.
Portability-wise, this reader is clearly superior to others thanks to its ingenious design. If you plan on transferring data at a later date and want to keep your memory card in a way so as not to lose it, this is the ideal reader to have. It stores the card inside and you can carry the whole unit like you would take a USB stick.
When it comes to performance, you can expect a nice selection of ports for all the major memory card types including SDXC and SDHC, MMC, and micro SD. Some variants like RS-MMC and mini SD will require an adapter so keep this in mind if you use those types of cards. The RTS5306 chipset used in this unit is capable of delivering the maximum performance up to the card’s limits. The USB 3.0 interface helps a lot with the overall speed.
There’s support for a wide range of operating systems including Windows 10 and older variants, Mac OS 9 and more recent versions, and even Linux modern kernel distributions. The reader accepts Android devices as long as they come with support for USB Mass Storage and run 4.0 and later versions.
Inexpensive and reasonably performant, the Rocketek USB 3.0 11-in-1 memory card reader could be a nice choice if you want a performant model that resembles a USB stick. Expect it to be a bit bulkier than other models, but it’s not an issue, the reader is very versatile, and the card cover is definitely worth it.
- USB 3.0
- Two media slots
- Support for SDXC up to 2TB
- Card cover design
- Plug-and-play and Hot-swapping
- Auto-detect memory card
- LED status indicator
Those looking for a nice blend of design and performance with just the right amount of versatility should orient towards the Kingston MobileLite G4, a card reader with great potential. While it’s a bit more expensive than other models, just by taking a look at the way it looks, you will quickly understand the reason.
This card reader is constructed to be attractive but also more durable than its plastic competitors. It has a slim profile but it’s rugged enough to withstand shocks and accidental bumps. This is a nice ability to have especially if you’re traveling very often. It could be a perfect match for an ultra-thin notebook.
Even though it’s so small, the card reader can actually pack quite a punch when it comes to performance. It’s compliant with the USB 3.0 standard for unmatched data transfer speeds and allows for quick reading and writing of a numerous range of SD and microSD cards. Worth also mentioning that it’s fully compatible with UHS-I and UHS-II card speeds and it will support SDXC cards with a maximum capacity of 2 TB.
Backward compatibility is also ensured with older USB interfaces such as USB 2.0. To fully take advantage of this unit’s speed potential is recommended to use it with a USB 3.0 port on the host computer. A nice feature for any card reader fit for more professional use is the ability to access two cards in different slots at the same time and this reader can do that.
A very functional and stylish model, the Kingston MobileLite G4 is an SD card reader which offers a lot for its cost. The sleek and durable design is considered an advantage though some people might experience a slight difficulty when inserting the reader because the port feels a little too snug for some USB ports. For most people, this shouldn’t be an issue. Overall, this reader is strongly recommended considering its features and performance.
- USB 3.0 performance
- Support for SD/SDHC/SDXC and micro SD
- UHS-I and UHS-II standards compatibility
- Elegant design
- Compact and portable
Another versatile solution worth considering is the UGreen card reader which is a bit bulkier than other models but comes with some interesting features. Perhaps its most impressive ability is how it can provide access to 4 cards at the same time which saves you from the hassle of constantly plugging and unplugging cards.
The first step to get this device to work is to connect it to any computer equipped with a USB 3.0 port. Pretty much all modern operating systems are accepted, including Windows 10 or older, Mac OS, and Linux. Installing drivers is not necessary as this is a plug-and-play type of device. The hot-swapping function is available and the reader can auto-detect the type of your inserted card.
When it comes to compatibility with memory cards, this unit definitely manages an impressive result. All of the most widely used cards work without any issues. There are four slots (SD/microSD/CF/MS) and they all can read different cards simultaneously. Besides the usual variants, it also accepts some high-speed options like SDXC, SDHC or micro SDXC and micro SDHC.
In terms of design, this model doesn’t disappoint. It’s compact and well-built with a reinforced cable and heat-resistant connectors to guarantee the best results when transferring data. The 1.5 feet short cable tail can limit the stress on your USB port and will also keep other ports more accessible.
A durable and efficient SD card reader, this model by UGreen is worth a shot as it brings some very competitive features on the market. It’s nicely constructed and performs as expected. The price is a bit higher than other models but it could be worth it if you want a more professional solution for managing data transfers of your memory cards.
- USB 3.0 transfer speeds
- Versatile, compatible with the most important card types
- Compact design with 1.5 feet cable tail
- LED indicator
- Plug-and-play installation
- Compatible with all computer operating systems