What Is the Difference Between Sandisk Extreme & Sandisk Ultra Compact Flash Cards?

By Steve McDonnell

Close-up of hands inserting a SD card into a card reader
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The memory that you buy for your company's camera or video recorder will influence the kinds of pictures and videos you can take. If you choose SanDisk CompactFlash memory cards, you will need to choose from the SanDisk Extreme and SanDisk Ultra lines. The Extreme line is newer than the Ultra line and takes advantage of advances in technology to deliver higher speeds and larger capacity suitable for even HD video. The Ultra cards are better used to store pictures because of their smaller size and lower speed. As you might expect, however, the Extreme cards are more expensive than the Ultra cards.

Storage Capacity

You can purchase more storage space with a SanDisk Extreme CompactFlash card than a SanDisk Ultra CompactFlash card. Extreme cards come in sizes of 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. Ultra cards are available in 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB versions. Both the Extreme and Ultra cards come with a limited lifetime warranty.

Read/Write Speeds

The Extreme card uses Ultra DMA technology to achieve read and write speeds that are double the speed of an Ultra card. Ultra cards read and write at a maximum of 30 MB per second, except for the 2GB version which only has a 15 MB per second maximum. Extreme cards read and write at a maximum of 60 MB per second.

Pictures vs. Video

Because of their larger storage capacity and higher read/write speeds, Extreme cards are suitable for storing pictures and recording video. Standard Ultra cards can only store pictures, although the SanDisk Ultra SDHC cards can support video. The 64 GB version of the Extreme card guarantees a minimum sustained recording rate of 20 MB per second, which is fast enough to successfully record true HD video on the card. Ultra cards do not support HD video.

Additional Technologies

Extreme cards were introduced to the market after Ultra cards and contain a number of technology enhancements that Ultra cards don't have. For example, SanDisk created a card controller technology for parallel processing to increase speed and included it with the Extreme cards. Extreme cards also contain additional silicone coating to protect against moisture and humidity.