As photos and videos get higher in quality each time camera technology improves, the picture’s file size increases too. It’s crucial to not only find a fast memory card with lots of storage but also a device that can get that data off your card and onto your computer or mobile device.
In our time checking out some of the best card readers, we feel the Kingston USB 3.0 High Speed Media Memory Card Reader is the best out there. Read on to discover why we liked it so much and our thoughts on the other best memory card readers out there.
Our Top Memory Card Readers At A Glance
- Kingston USB 3.0 High Speed Media Memory Card Reader
- Lexar Multi-Card 25-in-1 Reader
- Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 Card Reader
- ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type B & SD Reader
- Transcend RDF9 Memory Card Reader
Best Memory Card Readers To Buy
Kingston USB 3.0 High Speed Media Memory Card Reader
Best overall memory card reader
Brand: Kingston | Interface: USB 3.0 | Connector: USB-A | Card Formats: CompactFlash, SD, MicroSD, and Memory Stick | Transfer Speed: 625 MB/s | Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS
The Kingston Memory Card Reader takes up less than a 4 inch by 2 inch space on your workstation or desktop. With a stylish flat brushed nickel case, it’s even possible to set something on top if need be.
The four ports extend out the front of the reader, each representing one type of card format this device reads. It features the standard SD slot and has a separate slot for microSD cards. In addition, it supports CompactFlash and is one of the few with a port for a Memory Stick.
Furthermore, the Kingston Memory Card Reader supports both UHS-I and UHS-II card speeds. This card reader meets all the requirements for USB 3.0 but is fully backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports as well. USB 3.0 pushes transfer speeds up as high as 625 megabytes per second.
A built-in LED indicator lets you know when at least one of the cards is transferring or receiving data.
The Kingston card reader does come with its own USB 3.0 cable. You can use this cable on all major computer operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome.
- Small footprint
- Works with many operating systems
- One of the few readers with a Memory Stick spot
- Stylish nickel case
- Can perform card to card transfers
- Only one LED indicator light
Lexar Multi-Card 25-in-1 Reader
Most compatible with card formats
Brand: Lexar | Interface: USB 3.0 | Connector: USB-C | Card Formats: Reads 25 different formats | Transfer Speed: 500 MB/s | Operating System: Windows and Mac
The Lexar Multi-Card 25-in-1 Reader is, as advertised, able to read just about any storage card under the sun.
Without listing all the specific formats, the Lexar has no issue with any type of SD, miniSD, microSD, MultiMediaCard (MMC), Memory Stick, xD, and CompactFlash card. If you have a storage card, there’s a very good chance this device can read it.
If you’re worried about physical space, this reader takes up a 4.5 by 6.5 inch space wherever you’re using it. The device itself pops up out of its case when you need to use one of the ports and snaps back down when not in use to protect the card slots.
Using SuperSpeed USB 3.0 technology, this card reader boasts transfer speeds of up to 500 megabytes per second. For those that don’t yet have devices with USB 3.0, it also supports USB 2.0 – just at a much slower speed.
The Lexar Multi-Card 25-in-1 Reader reads multiple card slots simultaneously and allows transfer between them. This makes it very easy to keep your files, videos, photos, and more organized between cards.
This device includes a USB 3.0 card reader and does not require an external power supply to operate.
- Reads 25 different card formats
- Card to card transfers
- Case protects slots when not in use
- Fast transfer speed
- Slightly larger footprint than some
- Limitations on compatible operating systems
Anker 2-in-1 USB 3.0 Card Reader
Most compact memory card reader
Brand: Anker | Interface: USB 3.0 | Connector: USB-A | Card Formats: SD and MicroSD | Transfer Speed: 625 MB/s | Operating System: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Chrome OS
The Anker 2-in-1Card Reader is a super small offering to the memory card reader space.
The device shows no favoritism when it comes to operating systems and works flawlessly on a vast majority of PC, Mac, and mobile devices. The computer or mobile device does need to connect via USB-C.
This Anker memory card reader easily slips into a pocket or purse at just 2.5 inches by 1.3 inches when not in use. When it’s time to transfer data, the device plugs directly into any USB-C port without the need for a cable.
However, it is worth noting that the Anker’s 1.3 inch width butts right up to the USB port, so you’ll need enough space around the port to plug this in.
The memory card reader itself has two card slots, one for a standard SD card and the other for microSD. Both slots can be read from or read to at the same time, providing efficient data transfer.
Speaking of data transfer, USB 3.0 technology allows data transfer speeds of up to 625 megabytes per second. A bright blue LED light indicates when the card reader is on and transferring.
- Made with durable plastic
- Works on many PC, Mac, and mobile devices
- Tiny size
- Need space around the USB port to plug in
- Limited card format types
ProGrade Digital CFexpress Type B & SD Reader
Fastest memory card reader
Brand: ProGrade | Interface: USB 3.2 Gen 2 | Connector: USB-C | Card Formats: CFExpress B and SD | Transfer Speed: 1.25 GB/s | Operating System: Windows and Mac
The ProGrade Digital Card Reader showcases some of the newer memory card technology in a compact package.
With the ProGrade, you are getting what you pay for. It is the most expensive model on this list, but it is also the fastest. At a max transfer speed of 1.25 gigabytes per second, data transfer is a snap.
These high speeds are due in part to the fact that it utilizes USB 3.2 Gen 2 technology. This reader also has a slot for a CFExpress B card, which is effectively the next generation of CompactFlash memory devices. The ProGrade also has a slot to handle SD cards up to UHS-II speeds.
Orange LED indicators for each card slot let you know if the card is in use. Since you can transfer data from both cards simultaneously, the LED tells you at a glance which transfer is done.
The ProGrade Digital Card Reader has a small footprint on a table or desk, but it also comes with an adhesive metal plate. You can attach this plate to a laptop and affix the card reader with built-in magnets.
The card reader also comes with a USB-C cable to connect to your computer.
- Insane transfer speeds
- Individual LEDs for each card slot
- USB 3.2 Gen 2 technology
- Next-gen card format slots
- Not backward compatible with XQD or CompactFlash
- Limited to Mac and Windows
Transcend RDF9 Memory Card Reader
Best value memory card reader
Brand: Transcend | Interface: USB 3.1 Gen 1 | Connector: USB-A | Card Formats: CompactFlash, SD, and MicroSD | Transfer Speed: 260 MB/s | Operating System: Windows, Mac, Linux
The Transcend RDF9 Memory Card Reader is smaller than a deck of cards but offers multiple options for data transfer.
At just over 2.5 inches by 1.75 inches and only 0.6 inches tall, the RDF9 is easy to keep in a computer bag, pocket, or purse until you need to use it. This makes it simple to access files stored on a memory card anywhere you need them.
The card reader provides three unique slots, including SD, microSD, and CompactFlash cards. In this way, you can transfer files from three different card formats, all from the same reader.
The Transcend RDF9 uses newer-than-most USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface technology, allowing faster speeds than the more common USB 3.0. Unfortunately, this memory card reader uses a USB-A connector which throttles back some of that potential speed.
That being said, this device is still capable of up to 260 megabytes per second of transfer speed. While slower than some, it can still knock out 10 gigabytes of data in less than 40 seconds.
The card reader includes a USB-A cable with purchase for data transfer. Should some information go missing, Transcend’s RecoveRx software can look through your memory cards to locate them.
- Small size
- RecoveRx software
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface
- Features the most common card formats
- Slower speeds than most
- USB-A connector type
Memory Card Reader Buying Guide
How Do I Choose a Memory Card Reader?
When deciding on a new memory card reader, there are a few essential details to consider.
It’s important to make sure that your new card reader features slots for the card formats you’re going to use. This may seem straightforward, but even a standard SD card slot can house SDHC or SDXC cards, for instance. Your card reader needs to match the exact type of card format.
Most computers feature a USB 3.0 or higher port nowadays, but this isn’t always the case. Most memory card readers use USB 3.0 but are backward compatible with USB 2.0. This isn’t always the case either.
You’ll want to do your research to ensure these devices will be able to talk to each other. Keep in mind, too, that a lot of mobile devices still use USB 2.0.
Just about every memory card reader works with Windows and Mac operating systems. However, some do not support Linux, Chrome OS, or mobile operating systems.
It’s also worth checking out what the maximum transfer speed of the memory card reader is, in case you’re in the habit of transferring large files (or a large number of small ones).
What Factors Affect Transfer Speed?
With memory card readers, a few factors can affect how fast data transfers to and from storage slots.
The card slot plays a significant role, as it limits the type of memory card that the reader can use. Less expensive card readers may not be able to accommodate the fastest cards.
The type of technology the card reader uses to communicate with your computer or mobile device makes an enormous impact as well. Most devices use USB 3.0, but USB 3.2 currently offers the highest transfer speed. Make sure both devices share the same interface.
To a lesser extent, the connector type plays a role as well. Slower USB-A connectors won’t transfer as fast as USB-C connectors.
What Connection Type Do I Need?
There are two main types of connections between memory card readers and computers or mobile devices. Most computers still have USB-A type connectors, but many newer platforms have the faster USB-C connector as well.
Most phone and tablet manufacturers have used a micro-USB connector for many years. Now, for faster speeds and hoping to commonize with computers, more and more phones and tablets are switching to USB-C.
How Many Slots Should My Card Reader Have?
There’s no obvious answer to this question, as it depends mainly on the devices you use and the type of data you’re needing to transfer.
Your best bet is to consider all the devices you currently use that contain a memory card of some sort. This could be a cell phone, game console, MP3 player, digital camera or camcorder, or even a small computer.
Take stock of the different types of card formats that these devices use and purchase a card reader accordingly. Some card readers will even let you quickly transfer from card to card. It’s worth noting, though, that most readers only have one slot per card format type.
With all factors considered, our clear winner for the best memory card reader is the Kingston USB 3.0 High Speed Media Memory Card Reader. A mix of fast transfer speeds and compatibility with several types of memory cards make the Kingston stand out.
Furthermore, It features a small footprint on a desk, is easily portable, and allows transfer from multiple cards at a time – and card to card transfer as well. If that’s not enough, the Kingston High Speed Card Reader has a durable case and works with just about any computer.
All of these attributes make for an exceptional memory card reader, and the Kingston just happens to have all of them.
Should the Kingston High Speed Card Reader not suit your needs, we’re confident one of the other memory card readers on this list will do the trick.