ProGrade Digital 650GB Cobalt 1700 CFexpress B Card & Dual Slot CFexpress/SD Card Reader Review

Less than two weeks ago, we posted a report on the ProGrade Digital 1TB 1700 Gold and 325GB 1700 Cobalt CFexpress B Cards, along with their Thunderbolt 3 CFexpress Card Reader. We were so impressed we just had to do it again.  Admittedly, we were floored by the Cobalt 1700 speeds while maintaining anything but what could be considered the norm with respect to temperatures while moving data.  Early reviews of even the best CFexpress Type B cards warned users not to remove them from the Canon R5 too soon as they just might be a bit warm to the touch. Today, we brought along the ProGrade Digital 650GB Cobalt 1700 CFexpress B Card and their Dual Slot CFExpress/SD Card Reader for a bit of a look.

We also had an opportunity to speak with ProGrade Digital and it quickly became apparent that this company just may be the direct result of Lexar’ departure from the Micron folder.  Wes Brewer, former Lexar VP and GM, is ProGrade Digital’s CEO. Mark Lewis, VP of Marketing, was formerly the Director of Marketing for Lexar.  Ed Chelini, VP of ProGrade Operations, was the former Senior Director of Worldwide Planning for Lexar. Farshid Tabrizi, VP of Engineering, held similar roles with Lexar, Micron, HGST and Avalanche, and  Kazuhiko Oki, Japan Country Manager, was also a former Micron employee.  Prograde Digital’s lineage is as good as it gets in the storage industry.

“To achieve the sustained write speeds of 1,400MB/sec, we have architected our FW to access the NAND flash in a way that allows us to achieve the full performance available.   This architecture results in marketed capacities that are non binary.” Wes Brewer, CEO.  What many don’t know is the fact that their Cobalt line just might be the best in the business made for the demands of media professionals.  We were somewhat caught off guard when we learned that the 325GB Cobalt 1700 contains 1TB of NAND flash before overprovisioning, and the 650GB Cobalt 1700 contains 2TB of NAND flash memory.

ProGrade Digital Cobalt 1700 cards come in 325GB and 650GB capacities and are NVMe CFexpress cards that use PCIe 3.0 x 2. Performance is listed at 1700MB/s read and 1500MB/s write, and although its not advertised, we might expect to see sustained write performance up in around the 1300MB/s mark. This card comes with a limited 3-year warranty and we would recommend this card for any media device available that requires CFexpress Type B cards. ProGrade Digital has also posted a camera compatibility chart which can be found here.

While we are at it, we might also take the time to show off ProGrade Digital’s CFexpress Type B Card Readers.  The bottom of the two is their Thunderbolt 3 CFexpress B/XQD Reader that we are using to test today as it comes in with performance up to 2.8GB/s.  The top reader is the ProGrade Digital USB 3.2 Gen 2 Dual Card CFexpress B/ SD UHS-II Card rRader.

This card reader performs to speeds of 1GB/s read and write and its packaging includes the reader, a Type-C to Type-C cable, a Type-C to Type-A cable, metal ProGrade plate which can be affixed to your PC by its adhesive back, operating instructions and a free trial copy of Pro-Grade Digital Recovery Software.  It also provides the opportunity to purchase their ‘Refresh Pro’ which is available for $29.99 from ProGrade directly, but is only Windows compatible at this time.  This software application enables one to check their CFexpress card life, clean data on the card, as well as the ability to sanitize the card to like new condition.

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