Lexar 128GB CFExpress Review

Lexar 128GB CFExpress review
Review
Website: Lexar

Price when reviewed

£224

$199
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Our Verdict

It may be due to CFExpress being a relatively new format, trying to impress, but it does seem that the build quality of these next-generation memory cards seems to be excellent across the board. Herewith the Lexar 128GB CFExpress that quality is instantly apparent with the metal casing and solid build. The robustness of design probably has something to do with the need to keep things cool, but still, after using SD for so long, these things just feel solid. Build quality is good, but it's those speeds that make this 128GB CFExpress card a must-have for the latest generation of cameras.

For

  • Fast read/write times
  • Future proof technology

Against

  • Expensive
  • Limited camera compatibility
What is the Lexar 128GB CFExpress

The Lexar 128GB CFexpress features next-generation technology that exceeds the transfer speeds required by most mirrorless and DSLR cameras.

In this review I’m taking a look at the 128GB version, there are four capacity variants in the range which cater for all levels of photographer, from those simply hobbying, right through to photography and video Pros.

Lexar 128GB CFExpress review

As with the SD card format, there are several different types of CFexpress, and the Lexar card falls into Type-B, which is the most common for mainstream cameras.

What makes CFexpress so special is the PCIe 3.0 interface technology which provides 1 GB/s data transfer per lane. Type B features two lanes so theoretically you could be looking at 2GB/s transfer speeds which is impressive.

As it is, the Lexar 128GB CFexpress quotes 1750MB/s read, and 1000MB/s write, that’s more than enough for all compatible cameras on the market at this moment in time.

Features

The Lexar 128GB CFexpress is available in 64, 128, 256, and 512GB capacities and all capacities are Type B.

As is standard with this type of memory card, a PCIe Gen3x2 interface is used.

All cards in the range quote read speeds of up to 1750MB/s and write speeds of 1000MB/s – that’s well beyond the present crop of SD cards.

As these cards are designed to store data from today’s advanced go-anywhere cameras, Lexar has ensured that their storage technology is equally robust.

Each card has an operating temperature of between -10 and 70ºC and can be stored without damage at between -40 and 85ºC. At either end of the storage scale, you’ll be fried or frozen, but the card will be fine.

Dimension wise the card measures in at 29.6 x 38.50 x 3.80mm and weighs in at 7.65g.

 

Build and Handling

If you recall the old CF (Compact Flash) format, you’ll remember just how robust the design was. When CF was launched it was revolutionary, removable flash memory with speed and storage capacity combined.

The issue with flash memory is that it can get hot when under load, but the physical size of CF meant that it was easy enough for the card designers to add small design features that not only helped with the robustness of the card but also the heat.

Lexar 128GB CFExpress review

As we all transferred to the smaller SD cards, that robustness of build disappeared. SD cards don’t seem to last that long, they’re plastic, and bits fall off.

CFexpress meets the two formats in the middle; it’s a decent size and far easier to handle than either. But best of all it feels like it will last a good few years.

Performance

Lexar CFexpress 128GB review

To test out the card out we used a Nikon Z6, the list of compatible cameras is still relatively small and Sony have complicated things by launching the Sony Alpha 7S III which takes Type-A.

In the Z6 the card performed without a hitch, it appeared to be as fast as the camera, storing both stills and video as quickly as the camera could record.

Lexar 128GB CFExpress review

Removing the card and downloading the footage and images, the transfer speeds were impressive. How impressive is seen when we look at the Blackmagic disk speed test.

Read = 892MB/s
Write = 765MB/s

These are by far the fastest speeds that I have ever recorded for a memory card. The only issue is that this is recorded through a USB Type-C card reader so the speed recorded is limited, I’m sure if I used a Thunderbolt 3 reader those speeds would leap further.

Verdict

The Lexar 128GB CFexpress and for that matter, all CFexpess card raise an interesting question. They’re all fast, really fast, and at the moment all cards from all manufacturers are of a really good quality, so what differentiates one from another.

Lexar 128GB CFExpress review

The answer is not a great deal. The warranty? That’s all good, backward compatibility with XQD? That’s covered as well.

Really at present, at least, it comes down to brand loyalty and Lexar is well known and trusted. The quality is excellent, and the performance impressive.

If you’re in the market for CFexpress, then the Lexar 128GB CFExpress is a great choice and although expensive its a reasonable price for the format.

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