Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A Card Review


The Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A card uses the PCIe Gen 4 interface, doubling the bandwidth to 2GB/s. This makes the CFexpress 4.0 Type A card twice as fast as its predecessor.

The Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A card joins the range in 256GB and 512GB capacities. It is one of the latest CFexpress Type A cards to hit the market. It took quite some time for other companies besides Sony to start producing CFexpress Type A cards, but now we have Exascend, Pergear, Angelbird, ProGrade, Delkin Devices and Lexar offering third-party solutions.

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As far as I know, the Exascend Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A card, the OWC 960GB Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A memory card, the ProGrade Digital 960GB CFexpress 4.0 Type A Iridium memory card, and the Wise CFexpress 4.0 Type Ak-k-II, are currently market. The only CFexpress 4.0 card on the market with similar capacity.

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There aren't many options for CFexpress Type A cards, which isn't surprising since you can currently only use these cards in Sony cameras, such as the Sony a1, a7S III, A7 IV, A7V, FX30, FX3, and FX6. Apart from Sony, no other manufacturer uses this type of recording media.

When CFExpress Type A cards were first launched, they were only available in smaller capacities, with capacities initially limited to 160GB, but over the past year or so we've seen higher capacities being introduced.

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In April 2023, Angelbird released the AV PRO 1TB card, which was the highest-capacity card on the market at the time. Unfortunately, since its launch, it has been out of stock or out of stock in many locations around the world.

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The largest capacity currently is the Sony 1920GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH memory card (currently priced at $998).

In some ways, CFexpress Type A is an odd format because of its limited capacity and the fact that only a handful of cameras (all made by Sony) use this type of media.

Okay, let's get back to the Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A card.

Main features

  • 1TB storage capacity
  • PCIe 4.0 / NVMe 1.4 interface
  • Maximum read speed: 1800 MB/s
  • Maximum write speed: 1650 MB/s
  • Minimum write speed: 400 MB/s (VPG-400)
  • Dustproof, weatherproof and impact resistant
  • Resistant to X-rays and magnetism
  • 2 million hours mean time between failures
  • Endurance (TBW): 600TB
  • Includes data recovery

feature

This card is dustproof, weatherproof, impact resistant, X-ray safe and antimagnetic. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty and data recovery services.

The card also claims to be thermally efficient via Exascend's trademark Adaptive Thermal Control technology.

high speed?

Exascend CFexpress Type A Card 6701

The Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A card claims write speeds of up to 1650 MB/s and sustained write speeds of a claimed 400MB/s, which makes it VPG-400 compliant.

So, how do these claimed speeds compare to the OWC 960GB Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A Memory Card, ProGrade Digital 960GB CFexpress 4.0 Type A Iridium Memory Card? I also added some 1TB PCIe 3.0 cards.

Reading speed writing speed
Exascend 1TB Basic Pro 1800MB/sec 1650MB/sec
Wise 1TB CFexpress 4.0 Type A Mk-II 1750MB/sec 1865MB/sec
OWC 960GB Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 1850MB/sec 1850MB/sec
ProGrade Digital 960GB CFexpress 4.0
Type A Iridium
1800MB/sec 1700MB/sec
Beyond 1TB Essential 900MB/sec 800MB/sec
Sony 1920GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH 800MB/sec 700MB/sec
Sony 960GB CFexpress Type A Tough 800MB/sec 700MB/sec
Angel Bird AV PRO 1TB 820MB/sec 730MB/sec

What you obviously need to note is that these listed speeds are largely irrelevant to the real world, and you won't see maximum read or write speeds. The most important speed to try to find out is the sustained read and write speed, which is usually well below the maximum speed. Unfortunately, some manufacturers do not quote sustained speeds.

So what is the minimum sustained write speed of a card? Well, below you can see what I was able to find relevant information for.

at the lowest limit continued
writing speed
Exascend 1TB Basic Pro 400MB/sec
Wise 1TB CFexpress 4.0 Type A Mk-II 4000MB/sec
OWC 960GB Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 400MB/sec
ProGrade Digital 960GB CFexpress 4.0
Type A Iridium
200MB/sec
Beyond 1TB Essential 200MB/sec
Sony 1920GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH 200MB/sec
Sony 960GB CFexpress Type A Tough 200MB/sec
Angel Bird AV PRO 1TB 650MB/sec

Note that this is a guaranteed minimum write speed and isn't necessarily as high as the speeds you'll get in the real world.

capacity

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I checked the card's capacity on my Mac and it said 1.02TB.

If you record UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) on a Sony a7R V in H.264/XAVC SI 4:2:2 10-bit format at 59.94 fps, a 1TB card can record for approximately 4 hours.

If you record UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98p in H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:2 10-bit format, the card allows you to record for more than 45 hours.

Record 8K

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Exascend 1TB Essential Pro is not only capable of recording 8K and 4K high frame rate footage from Sony a1 and Sony a7V.

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Above you can see Sony's listed recording data rate for the a1.

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Above you can see the Sony FX6's recording data rate. Again, the Exascend card can easily meet all these requirements without any hassle.

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Having a high-capacity card also allows you to record for long periods of time. At the Sony FX3's highest quality 4K settings, you can record 8 hours and 24 minutes of 4K 25p footage.

Fast media uninstall

What you obviously need to remember is that with any type of media, transfer speeds will vary depending on the read and write speeds of your card, card reader, computer, and the type of hard drive you're transferring to.

If you use a CFexpress Type A card and transfer to an HDD drive, you won't get fast transfer speeds. If you are moving to a very fast SSD/NVMe then you will see lightning fast offload speeds.

real world speed test

I did some testing to see what the sustained read/write speeds of the Exascend 1TB Essential Pro were. In my testing, I used an M1 MacBook Pro with an Exascend CFexpress 4.0 Type B card reader and a CFexpress Type A to Type B card adapter.

Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A

Disk speed test 5GB

Above you can see the results for the Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A card with a stress setting of 5GB. My sustained write speed was 1,398MB/s and my sustained read speed was 1514.1MB/s.

Beyond 1TB Essential

Disk speed test is indispensable

For comparison, you can see the results above for the Exascend 1TB Essential card with the stress set to 5GB. My sustained write speed was 451.7MB/s and my sustained read speed was 779.5MB/s.

Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A

I also tested the Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A using AJA System Test Lite software under 16GB load to see how the read and write speeds were. The sustained write speed is 1269MB/s and the sustained write speed is 1531MB/s. The lowest recorded write speed was 465 MB/s.

I also tested under a 256GB load and got a sustained write speed of 1424MB/s and a sustained write speed of 1617MB/s. The lowest recorded write speed was 1349 MB/s.

As you can see from the graph above, under the same test conditions, how many frames per second can be processed when recording 8K DCI in ProRes 422HQ.

Well, can the 4K DCI ProRes 422HQ handle that many frames per second? Well, you can see that above.

The results I obtained in all these tests clearly show that the card is capable of recording 8K 29.98p H.265/XAVC HS 4:2:2 10-bit with ease. The maximum data rate when recording 8K 29.98p on the Sony a1 is 520 Mb/s. It also handles the Sony a7V's 8K 25p with ease.

Okay, what if we load the recorded archive on the card (about 70% full) and see how it performs? As you can see, the average write and read speeds did drop a bit. Minimum. The recorded write speed was just 158MB/s, but the sustained write speed was 419MB/s, which is higher than the minimum advertised speed. Sustained speed 400MB/s. This test clearly showed me that once a considerable amount of data is recorded on a memory card, its performance does suffer.

Let's do another test with the card loaded with the recording file (about 70% full) to see how it performs when the test file size is set to 256MB and 16GB. As you can see, the average write and read speeds are very similar to when the card is empty. Interesting minutes. When the test setting is 256MB, the recorded writing speed is 936 MB/sec; when it is set to 16GB, the writing speed is 430 MB/sec.

You can use CFexpress Type A cards in cameras that support CFexpress Type B cards

What? You may ask how is this possible. Well, since Exascend makes a CFexpress Type B to Type A adapter, I just put the Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A into that adapter and then into the Nikon Z9.

I could record 5.4K 25p in ProRes RAW without any issues, and 7680 x 4320 30fps in H.265 4:2:2 10-bit.

I tried recording 8.3K 60fps in N-RAW (12-bit), but the recording only lasted a few seconds. This is because the card's minimum sustained write speed isn't high enough.

Price and availability

The Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Model A is available now for $699.

How does the price compare to competitors?

price
Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A $699
Wise 1TB CFexpress 4.0 Type A Mk-II $549.99
OWC 960GB Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 $519.99
ProGrade Digital 960GB CFexpress 4.0
Type A Iridium
$679.99
Beyond 1TB Essential $499
Sony 1920GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH $998*
Sony 960GB CFexpress Type A Tough $578*
Angel Bird AV PRO 1TB $499.99

*B&H is currently running a special offer through May 15, 2024

price per GB
Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 Type A $0.69
Wise 1TB CFexpress 4.0 Type A Mk-II $0.55
OWC 960GB Atlas Pro CFexpress 4.0 $0.52
ProGrade Digital 960GB CFexpress 4.0
Type A Iridium
$0.68
Beyond 1TB Essential $0.50
Sony 1920GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH $0.52
Sony 960GB CFexpress Type A Tough $0.58
Angel Bird AV PRO 1TB $0.50

Above you can see how much the card costs per gigabyte.

in conclusion

If you own any Sony camera that uses a CFexpress Type A card, the Exascend 1TB Essential Pro CFexpress 4.0 offers good capacity and great performance. It has very good sustained read and write speeds, and the card effortlessly handles anything you can throw at it.

Sony FX30 88

The card works flawlessly in every camera I've tried, and that's all you can ask for. Yes, you may not need those CFexpress 4.0 card speeds yet, but it does offload your media faster (with a 4.0 card reader). There may be new cameras in the future that can take advantage of the higher speeds, and it's good to know that your card will work with a card with an adapter in a camera that uses CFexpress Type B media.





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