By: Jonathan Kwan
October 4, 2008
Here's some food for thought: SD cards have been around for quite a while now, what's the whole deal with SDHC cards if it's in the exact same physical form? If you already know the answer, carry on. If you don't, I won't keep you waiting for all too long. Although Secure Digital High Capacity -- or otherwise SDHC -- cards have the same physical format as a standard SD card, they are not backwards compatible with drives that don't specifically support SDHC. The reason behind this is different memory addressing methods. SD1.x cards uses byte addressing, while SD2.0 uses sector addressing which theoretically allows maximum capacity of up to two terabytes. Compatibility and technical issues aside, SDHC cards may yield much better file performance compared to SD cards; and SDHC cards are thus classified into Class 2, 4, or 6 depending on their minimum write speed by the SD Association. Yes, it may be weird that we have a 2GB sized ATP ProMax II Class 6 SD cards for our tests today, as this product scales all the way up to 8GB according to ATP's product page, but the 2GB version is actually just a regular Secure Digital card. That aside, let's take a close look at the ATP ProMax II SD Class 6 2GB, and then we'll put it to the tests.
Our review unit of the ATP ProMax II SD Class 6 2GB card came in a small padded FedEx package from ATP's headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan. Using FedEx Priority Pak, everything arrived safely and in mint condition -- a good sign that it appears to be well handled by the carrier.
ATP sent us a retail clamshell blister pack of the ATP ProMax II SD card. The packaging design evokes an prominent photography equipment theme, as put forth but the literal aspects such as the personal with the dSLR near the top right corner, a camera icon located in the bottom right, as well as strong resemblance of other photography products of this nature. Secondly, the speed motif is also put forth by the purple speedometer under the ATP logo, the "150x" term printed twice, and the such. The card itself is placed in a clear case towards the bottom middle of the packaging, as seen in the photo above. Features and some non-technical miscellaneous info are listed at the back of the retail blister pack.
Before we move on, let's take a look at the specifications of this product, as obtained from ATP's website:
Transfer Speed: Up to 22.5MB/sec Read Speed, Up to 20MB/sec Write Speed; Class 6
Connector Pin: 9 Pins
Durability: Waterproof, Dust Proof, ESD Proof, Extreme Temp
Electrical characteristics: Supply voltage SD: 2.7V-3.6V; Low Power Consumption (<50mA)
Clock speed: 50MHz max.
Environmental Characteristics: Operating Temp - -25C to 85C; Storage Temp - -40C to 85C; Humidity - 8 - 95 % non-condensing; Vibration - 15Gs peak-to-peak; Max
Reliability: MTBF (mean time between failures): 1,000,000 hours
Number of insertions: 10,000 minimum
Data retention: 10 years
Endurance: >100,000 cycles (read/write and erase)
Physical characteristics: Protected Switch; Length 32mm 0.1mm; Width 24mm 0.1mm; Thickness: 2.1mm 0.1mm
Weight: 2 g max
Warranty: 5 Year Limited
The front of the ATP ProMax II SD Class 6 card has a sticker that covers the majority of the face of the unit, and it's standard configuration as far as most SD/SDHC cards goes. It would be nicer if it's physically printed onto the card instead of just a self-adhesive sticker, especially if you want it to stay on as demonstrated later in this review.
A purple/blue gradient color scheme will immediately be noticeable to the end user. The brand and model is printed prominently across the top, while what seems to be a figure 8 or infinity logo (We would guess it is the second for symbolism purposes -- like 'infinite' possibilities of this high performance SD card). An SD Class 6 is printed on the sticker's bottom left corner, while the bottom right corner states the storage capacity of the card; which, in our case, is 2GB.
The ProMax II SD card's blue casing is more prominently revealed at a look at the back of the card, assuming you didn't notice it earlier haha. The standard nine pin connector is placed at the top as well as the also-standard-placement of the write protect switch right below. A bunch of what appears to be part and serial numbers are printed onto the card at the bottom, along with a line that says "Made in Taiwan".
It's interesting how ATP explicit states that the ProMax II SD cards are "waterproof, dust proof, ESD proof" and capable of withstanding "extreme temperatures". In light of that, before we move onto our standard performance benchmarks, here's a little story I want to tell you before we get to that. Here we go!
Now this morning I was talking on the cordless phone while shaving. At the same time, the bathroom sink is filled with an undetermined small amounts of water. Suddenly, something slipped out of my hands and the ATP ProMax II SD Class 6 2GB fell into the small body of water. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
After some quick drying, plugging it into my computer shows that the drive still works -- but requires "formatting" (A sign of a semi-dead storage device). So I formatted the card, and hoped for the best. And it worked flawlessly.
Immediately I rushed downstairs because I was going to be late. I don't know why, I must have mistaken the ATP ProMax II SD Class 6 2GB card for sliced bread, since they're roughly the same size that you Wonder Bread sells anyways. Leaving it in my toaster oven for 5-10 minutes at 170F/77c, I realized my mistake. I heard that this card can withstand up to 85c though, at least according to ATP. The glue that holds the sticker and the ATP SDHC card together seems to be a bit melted, but everything looks fine, right?
And it sure is!
Well, I don't know why, but the only computer that's left and runs the ATP SD card properly is my Asus Eee PC 4G. Therefore, the benchmarks were conducted on it -- the specifications of the Asus Eee PC 4G as follows:
- Intel Celeron-M ULV 353 @ 630MHz
- Asus motherboard (Intel i910GML Northbridge and ICH6 Southbridge)
- 1x512MB Samsung DDR2 RAM
- 4GB Silicon Motion SM223A flash SSD
We benchmarked the ATP ProMax II SD Class 6 2GB using HDTach with our Asus Eee PC 4G. Performance is very consistent across the board in both read and write. Our previous tests of the A-DATA SDHC Class 6 Eee PC Edition 8GB card shows that results are generally better with my Dell Inspiron laptop -- but for some reason this card unreasonably slow on it for some odd reason. This means that the Eee PC's card reader (And generally, USB interface) may have limited the performance of the card to a certain extent. That said, it's still very good throughout in our tests. Our HDTach results indicate that the ATP ProMax II SD Class 6 card to have an average read speed of 16.8MB/s read and 14.8MB/s write on the Eee PC. The read speed is still roughly a megabyte slower than the A-DATA Eee PC edition SDHC card on the same computer, but the write speed is almost 3MB/s better. Quite comparable results, and the ATP ProMax II's results are pretty dang good in the performance category.
You know what? ATP's ProMax II SD cards absolutely sucks. I mean, it really sucks in users who simply crave performance for their flash memory cards! (Sorry for the lame joke. Haha.) For those with dSLRs that can burst photos as fast as you can store them onto your card, the recorded 14MB/s write speed in our tests shows that the ATP ProMax II SD cards are more than capable -- not to mention the card reader we tested the SD card on isn't exactly the fastest one in the market today. We would have expected slightly better read performance though. Performance aside, it seems to us that it does live up to its durability statements after being in the toaster oven and a sink containing water. I don't usually comment on the price -- but the fact is that, despite the undisputed excellence of the ATP ProMax II SD card, it appears that it costs a significant margin more than its competitors. That is what's left for the user to ponder: Are you craving for the best in performance and better-than-average durability?
Special thanks to Mike over at ATP for making this review possible.
APH equal.balance Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.5/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
ATP's ProMax II SD cards are seriously fast, and has great durability for users who craves for such with regards to their flash memory cards.