If your new desktop computer or laptop do not include a card reader, and they most probably won’t include it nowadays, you’ll definitely need one to transfer your pictures and videos. Now, what kind of reader do you need?
We all need it to be fast and cheap, of course. But, is there more to know about SD card readers?
In this guide, we will explain how to choose the best SD card reader, and recommend some of the products that we found to be of great value.
So, let’s start!
How to Choose the Best SD Card Reader
There are two generations of USB 3.1, of which Gen 2 is significantly faster than the first generation. However, it’s a double-edged sword as the Gen 2 is quite rare to see it in a reader, and even rarer to see an SD card fast enough to exploit the second generation.
Of course, if you have Gen 2 and an SD card that can meet its standards, think no more. Otherwise, just go with Gen 1.
Also, USB 3.0 is still the most widespread choice and will do the job just fine so it’s not something to avoid.
Type of Connection
There are 6 different types of USB connections. They all differ, mostly in size and speed. However, there’s only one thing you should know and look for: USB 3.1. Now, don’t get fooled by USB type C, as it’s just a connector shape.
True, type C is something new, and you’ll see a lot of it, but that doesn’t mean that it is better.
In fact, most of the type C USBs have the technology of USB 2.0 or USB 3.0, which is quite huge as the difference in speed between USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 doubles.
Long story short, when buying a product, make sure you buy devices and cables compatible with USB 3.1.
UHS-I vs UHS-II
UHS-II is a bit pricier variant. They are faster, and most of the readers will be compatible with them. However, if you are searching for something simpler (read: cheaper), UHS-I is what you are looking for. They are slower, but they can read UHS-II all the same.
In the age when our PCs and laptops lack ports, additional ones on your reader might be a useful thing.
There are readers with hard-attached wire. Even if it sounds strong, what happens if the wire gets damaged and malfunctioned?
Don’t get yourself into situations where you are throwing the whole reader away just because of the wire. Look for the reader with detachable wire, which can easily be replaced.
1. FA-STAR SD Card Reader
Now, if you intend to transfer data through and to your iPhone or iPad, this one is definitely our warm recommendation. It’s fully compatible with SDHC and a standard SD memory card. The only condition is for it to be 64 GB or less.
Also, it supports Jpeg/raw images and MPEG-4 video format. The transfer speed is quite good, ranging from 14MB/s to 16 MB/s.
You don’t need any apps to run it. All you need to do is plug and play. Just leave it for 5 seconds, and you are ready to transfer those freshly taken photos from your camera directly to your iPhone or iPad.
Furthermore, it offers great compatibility, as it will work on any iPhone that runs on iOS 9.2 and later, as well as iPad that runs on iOS 8.0 and up.
The good thing about this reader is that you won’t need any medium (PC or laptop) to directly download photos or videos to your mobile phone.
- Perfect for iPhone or iPad
- No drivers or apps needed
- Supports SD and SDHC
- Great compatibility regarding iOS
- Pretty solid transfer speed considering it’s a USB 2.0
- We’d prefer if the cable was detachable
2. Kingston Nucleum USB C Hub
Finally, here is one great example of SD card reader with various possibilities. True, it’s a bit pricier compared to the rest of what we have reviewed, but with this one, you’ll get 7 in 1.
It acts as a bridge and can act like a USB hub as well. It connects almost anything you want, reads and writes simultaneously within seconds. It has 7 ports to offer, including USB 3.0, SD card slot, USB 3.1 C-type power pass through, USB 3.1 C-type transfer data port, Micro SD and many more.
That’s not all – it’s backward compatible with USB 2.0 and even with 4K HDMI. What does this mean? It means more pixels! You can plug it even on a larger monitor and enjoy a high-quality image.
Now, this hub uses a USB C-type connection, its cable is detachable and being highly portable, you can easily carry it anywhere. It has nucleum USB C-hub adapter for increased safety.
- 7 in 1, extremely versatile
- Compatible with 4K HMDI, ensures more pixels
- The nucleum is designed to prevent magnetic interference
- Great value
- None found so far
3. Anker USB-C SD Card Reader
If you are constantly on the go, and just need to read and write those photos quickly, this portable little reader might be the thing you are looking for.
It’s fully optimized and compatible with a wide range of USB C-type devices, from Galaxy 10, MacBook, to even older ones. It has both micro SD and regular SD slot that will quickly read, swap, or sync files.
Simply, it’s practically designed to transfer the data onto it on the go. In the pack, you’ll get a welcome guide, which will introduce you to all the features, and 18 months warranty.
Finally, it belongs to an affordable price point category. It’s not a big investment, but it’s definitely of great help on the go!
- Great for on the go
- Perfect for every C-type devices
- 18 months warranty
- 2 in 1- swipe and sync
- Compatible only with C-type devices
4. UGREEN SD Card Reader
This one is truly the “one to rule them all”! It has unbelievable 4 slots capable of reading and transferring data from whatever card you have. It allows extremely fast transfer of data that goes up to blazing 5 Gbps, which is almost 10x faster than with USB 2.0.
It’s compact and perfect for those on the go.
Moreover, it has reinforced cable, it’s multi shielded inside, and what’s more important – it’s heat-resistant. It may sound insignificant, but heat resistance is quite important (it can’t melt your SD card, for example).
Reading and writing all four at once? Not a problem. This reader got it all. You don’t need to unplug and plug cards back and forth and juggle with the data – you can do everything at once, simultaneously.
It’s compatible even with Windows XP, and of course, all newer operating systems, MAC, Linux, etc. Takes seconds to install it, plug and play – no drivers needed.
- Unbelievable 4 slots for various cards
- The blazing speed of up to 5Gbps
- Reinforced cable, multi shielded inside
- Heat resistant
- Great compatibility
- The cable is not detachable
5. Cable Matters Dual-Slot USB C Card Reader
Here’s another example of a great C-type connector reader. The good thing here is that C-type connector won’t block any adjacent ports, as some bulky readers might do.
And even better, C-type connector offers great flexibility and can conveniently read almost everything – from regular SD to SDHC, SDXC, to micro SD. There are two ports, one for micro SD card and the other one for the rest of the aforementioned cards.
You can read and access data simultaneously from both cards, and transfer it really quickly with USB 3.1 transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps. It’s a multi-tasking tool that saves a lot of time. And it’s compatible with almost every operating system.
There is a LED lamp indicator that shows whether the device is on or off.
Simple design, the C-type connector of 6-inches length, and unseen compatibility are the things that make this reader a great asset.
- Amusing versatility
- Handy C-type connector
- Simultaneously reads and writes from both cards
- USB 3.1 for the faster transfer
- Plastic seems to be a bit off the quality considering other features of the device
6. IOGEAR USB-C 3-Slot Card Reader/Writer (GFR3C13)
Now, we’ve seen that most of the readers have 2 slots (at best). The thing with this one is that it has 3 slots – SD, CG, and micro SD card slot. That makes it quite unique on the market.
Secondly, you can see the USB 3.1 C-type connector, which is, again, quite rare to see. As mentioned in our guide, this is the type of connector you should be looking for. This connector is detachable, and in case the cable gets damaged, you can easily replace it.
Enjoy the UHS-I mode for SD, SDHC, and SDXC with the speed of up to 104 MB/sec. The reader is backward compatible with USB 2.0.
The most impressive thing is that its versatile design supports up to 9 card types, meaning that this one will be the only thing you’ll ever need to read almost any card type.
Lastly, it belongs to an affordable price point category and definitely pays its value for the price.
- Detachable C-type connector
- Versatile 3 slots that support 9 card types
- Good speed
- Plug and play, no drivers needed
- USB powered
- Lightweight and portable
- Might have some overheating problems
7. Sony MRW-E90/BC2
Now, what we have here is a bit more “professional” SD card reader.
With that said, we must add that the price comes with the quality. So, you will need to invest a bit more, but it will surely pay its value.
It’s compatible with every XQD, and most importantly, with the second generation UHS SD memory cards. To simplify and translate it, the speed it offers can’t get much better (at least in the near future).
We are talking about the reading and writing speed of more than 400 MB/s. It has USB 3.0 Gen 1, and you will easily transfer the data to your PC or Laptop. It can read and write simultaneously.
Being USB powered, you won’t need any additional power supply to run it. As you can assume, it has XQD and SD slot, which makes things much easier. It’s perfect for professional photographs and those who make hundreds of footage daily.
It supports both UHS I and II, which is great if you have an SD card compatible and fast enough to exploit the second generation.
- Great value
- Supports XQD
- Professional SD card reader
- Amazing read and write speed
- USB powered, no additional power supply needed
- The price is a bit higher than the average, but this one is far better than an average SD card reader
8. Transcend TS-RDF5W
Transcend is on top of the market when it comes to best memory card readers. This budget-friendly SD card reader is small and portable, yet a super-fast solution for quick transfer of videos and pictures.
It offers a regular 3.0 interface and is backward compatible with USB 2.0 as well. It supports almost everything – from SDHC (UHS-I), SDXC (UHS-I), micro SD, micro SDHC (UHS-I), to micro SDXC (UHS-I).
Moreover, it features data transfer indicator and an LED card insertion. There are two slots – one for micro SD and another for regular SD so that you can transfer the data from one to another effortlessly.
It’s compatible with almost all Windows OSs, Mac, and later Linux kernel, so you won’t have any troubles running it. What’s cool with this one is that it offers data recovery software in case something goes wrong. And yes, it’s free!
USB powered, cheap, portable, and quite fast – is there anything more to ask for?
- High compatibility with various operating systems
- Supports SD and CF
- Free recovery software
- LED card insertion
- Nice speed
- Cheap price point category
- It might overheat sometimes
9. Kingston Digital USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader (FCR-MLG4)
This little, versatile SD card reader is a budget-friendly solution if you are in an urgent need, and with a lack of cash. It reaches up to 5 Gbps transfer speed, which is quite impressive.
What’s more important, it supports both UHS-II and UHS-I, which will improve the experience even more.
It can read almost anything – SD, microSD/SDHC/SDXC, SDHC, and SDXC. Being backward compatible with USB 2.0, you will be able to use it with a bit older devices as well.
The amazing feature of simultaneous reading and writing is one of the best advantages of Kingston, all thanks to its smart design. It comes with a 2-year warranty which speaks much about the quality itself.
- Blazing speed
- Versatile use, reads SD, microSD/SDHC/SDXC, SDHC, and SDXC
- Read and write simultaneously
- Warranty 2 years
- Cheap price point category
- Supports UHS-II and UHS-I
- It’s a bit bulky, and it might block other adjacent port
10. Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader – LRW400CRBNA
Now, if you are looking for an advanced SD card reader, you will have to spend a bit more money.
This Lexar Professional offers great interface speed that can reach up to 500 MB/s. With maximized bandwidth and speed similar to a 3.0 flash drive, you will surely speed up your digital workflow.
There are two concurrent slots on Lexar. This enables you to use a so-called card-to-card transfer. You don’t need to juggle with data, but simply plug any two cards into the reader while the reader is connected to your PC and transfer data directly from one to another.
It supports both SD and CF formats and is compatible with older USB 2.0. Versatility at its finest!
Furthermore, it features pop-up design, so once you are not in need of this reader anymore, simply “fold” it and protect the slots from potential damaging, dust, or whatever may occur.
- Great interface speed (up to 500 MB/s)
- Amazing compatibility (UDMA CompactFlash (including UDMA 7), SDXCTM, and SD UHS-I/UHS-II (SD 3.0) card formats)Two ports for card-to-card transfer
- Great design (pop-up)
- Slots protected when you’re not using them
- The plastic might seem flimsy
11. Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader
Anker did it again! This small and portable device is everything you need from a reader. It has double card slots which help you write and read data simultaneously.
What does it mean? Just plug your SD card into it while the reader is plugged into your PC, and transfer the data with up to 5 GB per sec speed.
This one is completely powered by your PC’s USB port, and it’s compatible with almost any operating system. Moreover, you won’t need any additional driver updates or installations, which is quite cool.
Since it is compatible with USB 2.0/1.1, naturally, you will be able to run it and read almost any device there is, even older ones.
Now, here is the list of what Anker can read: UHS-I Cards Micro SDHC Card, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, R, Micro SDXC, Micro SD, SD, and S-MMC. As you can see, they covered pretty much everything!
Moreover, it has a LED display on which you can check whether the device is working or not.
This Anker reader is made of high-quality materials and premium chips, so rest assured that longevity is guaranteed. 18 months of warranty that the manufacturer gives are saying a lot. You’ll get a welcome guide, as well, that’ll introduce you to all of the amazing benefits of this cards reader.
- Reads and writes at the same time
- Small and compact
- Up to 5 GB per sec
- No additional drivers needed
- Powered by USB port
- Compatible with older USB 2.0/ 1.1 as well
- High-grade plastic and premium chips
- High-speed syncing
- Dual card slots
- None thus far
So we’ve narrowed our choice to these ten. All of them have some advantages and flaws, but all comes down to one thing – fulfilling your needs.
Hopefully, you are now one step closer to choosing the best SD card reader that’ll fit those needs.