By May 6, 2009

SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader

A few weeks ago I wrote a quick review of the SanDisk Extreme IV compact flash card. At the time I mentioned that the although the card seemed to pretty fast I thought it was being held back by the speed of the USB card reader.

So I asked SanDisk if I could have a look at their Extreme Firewire Reader to see if this could make the most of the fast UDMA technology of the Extreme IV compact flash card. So this is my quick review of the Firewire Reader.

The SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader

The SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader


What’s in the box?

Not a great deal in the box as you might expect.

  • Card reader
  • 2 Firewire cables
  • Driver Software
  • Data recovery software
  • Manual and Warranty Card



The SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader is a simple and attractive looking unit. It’s silver and black and doesn’t look vastly different to any other memory card reader.

Where the Extreme Firewire Reader is different though is that it has ONLY a Compact Flash memory card slot and is not a multi-card reader.


The other difference is on the rear of the unit. Here you’ll find a Firewire socket rather than the ‘usual’ mini-USB style connector.



An attractive looking silver unit the SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader is small enough to fix in even the smallest of kit-bags. It also comes with a decent length Firewire cable, about 1 metre or so.

But I’m guessing that, if you are anything like me, you wont be terribly interested in what the thing looks like, you just want to know how fast it is!

So to test the speed this is what I did.

I used a SanDisk Extreme IV compact flash card in a USB 2.0 card reader. I then ran a drive benchmarking tool several times in a row and took the average results from the tests. Then, using the same memory card I put that in to the SanDisk Firewire reader and re run the tests again taking the average of the test results.

Here’s the results of the tests:



USB2.0 card reader

SanDisk Firewire Reader

Uncached Write (4k blocks)

15.65 MB/sec 25.29 MB/sec

Uncached Write (256k blocks)

15.51 MB/sec 24.32 MB/sec

Uncached Read (4k blocks)

3.9 MB/sec 7.65 MB/sec

Uncached Read (256k blocks)

17.17 MB/sec 36.9 MB/sec



As you can see from the results above, clearly the Firewire reader is faster than the USB2.0 model more than twice as fast at reading in fact and getting close to hitting the claimed 40 MB/sec that SanDisk say that they Extreme Reader is capable of.

So what does this mean in real terms? Well using the Firewire Reader to copy 890MB of photos from the Compact Flash card to the desktop took just 28 seconds compared to 53 seconds for the USB2.0 reader which is, again, close to twice as fast. So with the amount of photos that I take during the week transferring the images to the desktop will be significantly faster.



The results above speak for themselves, the SanDisk Extreme IV Compact Flash Card and SanDisk Extreme Firewire Reader make a fast combination, almost twice the speed of the USB2.0 reader.

Whether or not it’s worth splashing out on the £80 SanDisk Extreme Firewire reader depends upon how often you use your camera/memory card and how many photos you take.

If you are a pro or just plain impatient then I’m sure you’ll want to consider this card reader for everyone else you’ll just have to sit and watch the progress bar for a few extra minutes!


Posted by: Matt

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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