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CFast cards offer faster transfer speeds compared to SD cards. However, the speed of the transfer depends on your card reader and PC.
The latest CFast 2.0 card readers support the SATA-3 interface and offer continuous transfer speeds up to 600MB/sec.
So, what’s the best CFast card reader? Here are the five top recommendations.
1. Angelbird CFast 2.0 Card Reader
The Angelbird CFast 2.0 card reader is the top-of-the-line option for those who want a dedicated CFast reader. It features a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C cable and supports Thunderbolt 3, helping you achieve the fastest transfer speeds.
Angelbird is one of the most trusted brands by ARRI, RED, Blackmagic Design, and Canon, which sell Angelbird cards with their brand name. Anglebird also tests its cards with hundreds of different cameras.
I use this reader with Angelbird CF Cards to unload 6K footage from the RED Komodo, and it’s lightning-fast!
This reliable card reader has several useful features, including an energy-efficient design. The heat-dissipating housing keeps the device cooler, reducing the risk of damage to CFast cards. The flat design also allows you to stack Angelbird card readers.
Other highlights include no-slip rubber pads and a write-protect switch, which are not commonly found on other card readers. You also get a 19.7-inch USB type-C 3.2 cable and a type-A-to-C adapter.
- Supports Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2
- Provides the fastest potential transfer speeds
- The design is durable and safer for continuous transfers
- Costs a little more compared to other options
2. Lexar Professional Workflow CR1 CFast 2.0 Reader
The Lexar Professional Workflow CR1 is a CFast 2.0 card reader with USB 3.0 connectivity. It is an affordable choice from a dependable flash memory card industry brand.
Unlike the Angelbird card reader, the Lexar Workflow CR1 supports multiple types of memory cards. Along with CFast 2.0, the device supports SD, microSD, and CompactFlash cards.
While the device uses USB 3.0 technology, it also supports Thunderbolt 2 when connecting CFast, CompactFlash, and standard SD cards. It may not transfer as quickly as the Angelbird reader, but it is more reliable than budget readers.
As a bonus, the CR1 fits the Lexar Workflow HR1 and HR2 hubs. You can stack multiple readers in a convenient hub.
- Supports CFast, CompactFlash, SD, and microSD cards
- Uses USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2 for reliable transfer speeds
- Includes a USB port for connecting a USB flash drive
- Does not support Thunderbolt 3, which may limit transfers for 4K video
3. Delkin USB 3.0 Multi-Slot CFast 2.0 Memory Card Reader
The Delkin card reader is another multi-use reader that supports several types of memory cards. The Delkin card reader can read CFast, SD, and microSD cards. It also has a USB port for USB flash drives.
Connectivity is provided by a USB 3.0 cable, with transfer speeds up to 500MB/s. However, the card reader does not support Thunderbolt. It is a step down compared to the Lexar card reader but allows simultaneous transfers from multiple memory cards.
- Relatively affordable price
- Allows for simultaneous transfers
- Supports multiple types of memory cards
- Does not support Thunderbolt, which may limit transfer speeds
4. Unitek CFast Card Reader
Unitek is another popular brand that makes budget peripheral devices and electronics, including this CFast 2.0 card reader. It is a dedicated CFast card reader with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.
The design is compact and features aluminum housing. The main drawback is that it may heat up when transferring files continuously. You may need to take breaks from your workflow occasionally.
- Decently priced option
- Supports Thunderbolt 3 for faster transfers
- Plug and play compatible with macOS and Windows devices
- The device can heat up when using continuously
5. Rocketek CFast 2.0 Card Reader and SATA Adapter
The Rocketek card reader is one of the most affordable CFast 2.0 card readers you can trust with your expensive CFast cards. Rocketek makes many adapters, memory card readers, and docking stations. The company has a history of releasing quality products at decent prices.
The Rocketek card reader uses USB 3.0 connectivity, with maximum transfer speeds of up to 500MB/s for CFast 2.0 cards. It does not include Thunderbolt 3 support. With the USB 3.0 connection, you may get transfer speeds up to 80MB/s.
What makes this card reader stand out is the built-in SATA III SSD reader. One side of the device has a slot for CFast cards, while the other fits SATA drives.
- One of the most affordable options
- Includes a slot for a SATA III hard drive
- Plug and play for quick setup
- Does not support Thunderbolt 3
- Does not offer the fastest CFast 2.0 speeds
How to Choose the Right CFast Card Reader: Things to Consider.
If you want the fastest transfer speeds, look for CFast card readers that support CFast 2.0.
As with microSD cards, the technology used for CFast cards has improved over the years.
CF Card and Card Reader Generation
The first CFast 1.0/1.1 cards used the Serial ATA (SATA) interface instead of the parallel ATA interface used by earlier CompactFlash cards.
Using SATA 2.0 allowed CFast 1.0/1.1 cards to achieve transfer speeds up to 300MB/s. Older CompactFlash cards were limited to 167MB/s using the PATA interface.
CFast 2.0 was introduced in 2009 and commercially available in 2013. The newer cards used SATA 3.0 interfaces instead of SATA 2.0, increasing the read/write transfer speeds.
CFast 2.0 card readers can theoretically achieve transfer speeds up to 600MB/s. They are also backward compatible, allowing them to read CFast 1.0/1.1 cards.
USB and Thunderbolt Interfaces
The next consideration is USB connectivity. Many of the latest card readers have USB 3.x connections, while some only include USB 2.0.
USB 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2 can transfer speeds up to 5GB/s, which is more than enough bandwidth to support the maximum transfer speeds of the latest CFast cards. USB 2.0 is limited to 480MB/s and typically performs slower.
While USB 3.0 connectivity offers enough bandwidth, using a Thunderbolt 3 port provides even greater performance.
It theoretically allows speeds up to 40GB/s, ensuring you can reach the peak transfer speeds for CFast 2.0 cards, especially when transferring high-resolution images or 4K video.
The CFast card readers listed above provide the fastest transfer speeds and superior reliability.
As a final suggestion, make sure that your PC or laptop can support your chosen card reader. You cannot take advantage of Thunderbolt 3 without a Thunderbolt 3 port.
With these details in mind, you should have no problem finding the right CFast card reader.