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Crucial 256MB CompactFlash Crucial 256MB CompactFlash: From digital cameras, to PDAs... CompactFlash memory is an easy way to add more storage. We take a look at 256MB of it from Crucial.
Date: December 29, 2003
Written By:

Many portable devices allow you to add additional storage. Digital cameras, some MP3 players and PDAs are a few that allow additional memory to be added to the device for more storage. CompactFlash Type I is a popular format that works in a wide range of devices, and is relatively well priced compared to other forms of removable media.

CompactFlash Type I is a removable storage standard. It conforms to ATA specifications, and use flash technology, which is nonvolatile and does not require a power source to retain data. It's solid state, meaning there are no moving parts which will make it more durable. CF specifications call for support of up to 137GB, but don't expect to find these in the consumer market.

Today, we'll be looking at Crucial's 256MB CF card. The packaged arrived in their standard brown box, and the CF itself inside a plastic shell, which is resealable. Standard CF cards can resists drops of up to ten feet, so the added protection is a bonus should the delivery person in your area is a bit of a klutz.


Module Details: CT256MBC1
Module Size: 256MB
Package: CompactFlash Type I
Feature: CompactFlash

About the size of a pack of matches, the Crucial CF measures 43mm x 36mm x 3.3mm. Like PCMCIA cards, it connects via pins, but only 50 instead of PCMCIA's 68-pins. The card can operate in 3.3V and 5V environments, making it quite flexible compared to other memory types that only operate in one voltage environment. There isn't much more to say about Crucial's card, other than having their own branded stickers on front and back indicating the size of the module.


MSI K8T Neo-FIS2R: Athlon 64 3200+, 2x512MB Kingston HyperX, 120GB SATA Seagate, ATI AIW 9600 Pro, Windows XP SP1, ATI Catalyst 3.9.

We will be benchmarking the Crucial 256MB CompactFlash card against a Sandisk 256 Ultra CF card, using Removable Storage/Flash Benchmark, as well as copying a folder with mixed media files, totaling 244MB. We'll also be zipping the folder up to test large file transfer rates. We'll be displaying read and write speeds.

The card reader used for the tests is Crucial's 7-in-1 Card Reader.

SiSoft Sandra 2004 Removable Storage/Flash Benchmark


According to SiSoft, the read performance is higher on the Sandisk, whereas the write performance is higher on Crucial for large files, but things tip in Crucial's favour as we move towards the smaller files. These are synthetic tests though, so let's see how real-world performance is reflected.

Write Speeds - Small File Test

Lower is Better

We copied 244MB of small media files, varying in sizes of 2MB to 10MB, from a freshly defragmented hard drive to each CF card. The Sandisk wins the write tests quite convincingly, beating Crucial by 52 seconds.

Read Speeds - Small File Test

Lower is Better

From the CF cards, we copied the same files back to our hard drives. Here, Crucial proves it's much faster at reading data than the Sandisk by being 43 seconds faster at reading data.

Write Speeds - Large File Test

Lower is Better

We deleted all the data off the CF cards, and as mentioned before, we zipped the folder of files, creating one large 242MB archive. Times were reduced in our copy from hard drive to CF tests, but again, Sandisk takes the crown here by writing to the disk a good 57 seconds faster.

Read Speeds - Large File Test

Lower is Better

In our file copy from the CF cards to the hard drive, Crucial takes this one by 44 seconds. The Sandisk is built for writing speeds, which explains the results we've seen here today, but for the read speeds are well behind Crucial.

Final Words

Despite the back-and-forth we've seen today for read and write testing, both cards are suitable for storage on the go if you need it. I have tried both in my Kodak DX3900, and admittingly, the time the camera took to capture an image was almost instantaneous on the Sandisk. On the Crucial, there was a slight pause, but we're only talking about a second or so.

Transfering the images off my camera was noticably quicker with the Crucial, copying the images to the hard drive using Kodak's Easyshare dock about 3 seconds faster than it did with the Sandisk. This pretty much supports the findings of our tests today, where writes were faster with Sandisk, and reads faster with Crucial.

Pros: Fast read speeds.

Cons: Slower than the Sandisk in writes.

Bottom Line: Device support is identical for both, so what it's going to come down to in the end is price. Crucial's 256MB CompactFlash sells for about , whereas the SanDisk 256MB Ultra II CompactFlash will set you back . If you got any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.


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