3.5"/5.25" Internal Card Readers

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by jnewell, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I just built a new PC and have been looking at internal card readers. I need both CF and SD physical form factors and USB 3.0 speeds. The reviews at Newegg and Amazon (among others) are pretty depressing, especially for the ones that provide a genuine USB 3.0 connection on the card readers (many seem to use a USB 2.0 connection for the card readers and USB 3.0 for USB ports on the reader chassis).

    If you have had notably good or bad experiences, I'd be interested to hear them. Sifting through massive amounts of commentary and reviews, the readers I'm more or less left with are the Atech Pro 37U and the Silverstone Tek FP37.

    I'm not sure the best solution isn't a good external reader like the Lexar, though...

    In any case, all thoughts welcome and appreciated.
  2. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    Consider where you will have the base unit, I built one with a built in reader and used the machine for a couple of months whilst I was between Mac's. It lives on the floor and I got sick of bending down to insert cards so I plugged in an old Sandisk reader and it was faster. There is a Lexar unit that is modular it has both SD and CF modules and a rack thing that looks interesting but is expensive, both Lexar and Sandisk do dual CF/SD readers and they are not much money, the Lexar Firewire CF reader I have used for years has been sterling in its work.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. unstable_rider

    unstable_rider Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2014
    Land of Lakes
    I get the cheap ones from Micro Center, and install them myself.

    I plan on them crapping out within a year, and just buy another cheap one. I can change mine pretty easy.
  4. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    All of the cheap ones, and most of the more expensive ones, seem to be USB 2.0.

    One thing that puzzles me is that a fair number of these seem to be made without the key/guides for the CF cards, which means it's easy to insert the card incorrectly and bend the pins. :rolleyes:
  5. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I decided to be my own tester. I bought the Atech Pro 37U over the Silverstone Tek FP37 because (1) the ST requires CF cards to be inserted upside down (a small issue by itself) and (2) the ST CF slot is not keyed to prevent accidental "upside down" (i.e., rightside up) insertion of a CF card, which I think I could pretty much guarantee would happen within a dozen uses. :frown:

    USB 3.0 tests against the Lexar Pro USB 3.0 reader show the same speeds for SD and CF cards, which is a good sign.

    Durability remains to be determined...

  6. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    For some reason, several readers seem to adopt the upside down approach. Mine is a Roswell (USB2) and the SD and Micro SD go in upside down.
  7. Reflector

    Reflector Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 31, 2013
    Complicated setup if you want to drive yourself insane but have something very nice at the end (Or something that will only drive you insane.)

    Try this:
    5.25" to Expresscard 54(x2 or more if possible) Bay with PCI-E cable linkage

    5.25" Expresscard bay -> PCI-E Interface

    If you can't find a bay like that, try to find something like PCI-E to Expresscard PCI-E card and an Expresscard cable (They make these things. Don't think too hard about why but they do make these things.)

    Now you have an Expresscard bay setup on the 5.25" bay. Find a flush Expresscard 54 reader for the CF card. The flush Expresscard 34 SD reader will probably be easier.

    Now everything is connected to your system bus via PCI-E. Make sure you do your research to find the things that'll actually make your card the limiting factor and not bad reader implementations.
  8. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I googled around some and haven't seen any ExpressCard readers that look like they'd beat the throughput of a reader like the Lexar Pro Dual Slot USB 3.0 reader - do you have any links? The fastest ExpressCard reader I see maxes out at ~130 MB/s, and (like everything else) would probably be lucky to actually hit that. My experiments lead me to think that I'm limited by the cards (UDMA CF and 95mb/s SD) rather than the interface, but I'd love to be pointed in a faster direction.

    (Actually, I did find one reader that is significantly faster, but it is not ExpressCard, and it sells for $1k, so I don't think that's a reasonable solution in the context of a forum like this. :wink: )
  9. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    I got an Atech 57U last fall and have been very happy with it; my previous reader was very hard to figure out the orientation for everything; the Atech is clearly labeled, reliable, sturdy, and fast.

  10. jziegler

    jziegler Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 15, 2012
    Salem County, New Jersey
    Same here. USB2 Rosewill, and SD goes in upside down. I think CF does too, but I don't have any CF cards anymore.

    Of course, all I was looking for at the time was USB 2, since that's what my machine supports.
  11. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    I noticed Costco uses Atech 2.5" readers in their photo kiosks.

  12. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 26, 2014
    I removed the card readers from both my large computers and replaced them with blanking plates. I had tried several types and always found them badly made and unreliable. I won't be trying any more.

    Now I use a little USB3 card reader from USpeed and it works perfectly.
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