Transcend CFexpress 820: Practical test of the CFexpress card

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Transcend CFexpress 820 CFexpress memory card © COMPUTER BILD

W.hen it comes to speed, nothing beats CFexpress when it comes to memory cards. As the name suggests, with built-in PCI Express technology. The cards were instantly faster than all other memory cards for digital cameras, but unfortunately also very expensive. The Transcend CFexpress 820 turns out to be significantly cheaper – and without any major compromises in speed, as the practical test shows.

CFexpress is extremely fast

When it comes to memory cards for digital cameras, CFexpress cards are clearly the fastest, even the Transcend CFexpress 820 easily outperforms any SD card, no matter how fast. When transferring photos and videos between the memory card and a computer, the CFexpress 820 managed on average 924 megabytes per second when reading, it was even a touch faster than the previous front runner Sandisk Extreme Pro CFexpress (up to 915 megabytes per second) – the Sandisk card, however, was clearly ahead in writing with 778 megabytes per second. The Transcend “only” managed 630 megabytes per second – but was still almost four times faster than an SD card tested for comparison with the current fastest technology (UHS-II).

Fast USB sockets are a must

When transferring photos and videos to the computer, the reader belongs to one fast USB socket – everything under USB 3.1 Gen2 or USB 3.2 Gen2 (data transfer up to 10 gigabits per second) slows down the pace significantly: with USB 3.1 Gen1 (maximum 5 gigabits per second) the Transcend CFexpress 820 only has a good 400 megabytes per second. This is still faster than all other current cards (SD UHS-II, XQD), but only half as fast as with USB 3.1 Gen2. For the full speed of the CFexpress 820, a socket with USB 3.2 Gen2x2 or USB 4 with up to 20 gigabits per second would be necessary – unfortunately there are no suitable readers for this yet.

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CFexpress: Current status for professional cameras

CFexpress: There is (maybe) more to come

In addition to the popular cards from Type B like the Transcend CFexpress 820, the standard also knows cards from Type a like the Sony Tough CFexpress Type A and from Type c – which are not yet available to buy. Type C is almost twice as large as type B and is therefore more likely to end up in professional camcorders than in digital cameras. Type C also has four PCIexpress data lines. This would mean data transfers with up to 4 gigabytes per second possible, with type B up to 2 gigabytes per second are possible with two data lines, with type A with one data line up to 1 gigabyte per second. Even more speed would be possible if CFexpress adopts the higher speed of newer PCIexpress versions, which manage more than 1 gigabyte per second per line.


Transcend CFexpress 820: Conclusion of the practice test

Anyone who has been deterred by the high prices of CFexpress cards so far will get the Transcend CFexpress 820 a real alternative: significantly cheaper than many competitors, but still top in terms of speed. SD cards are no competition for the Transcend: The CFexpress 820 is up to four times faster than the fastest SD models and it also clearly outperforms the older XQD cards with up to three times the speed.

CFExpress 820

Those who have been put off by the high prices of CFexpress cards up to now will get a real alternative with the Transcend CFexpress 820: Significantly cheaper than many competitors, but still top in terms of speed. SD cards are no competition for the Transcend: The CFexpress 820 is up to four times faster than the fastest SD models and it also clearly outperforms the older XQD cards with up to three times the speed.


  • Extremely fast when writing
  • Extremely fast when reading

* The cheapest price may now be higher.

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