Lexar Professional Workflow Card Reader and Drive Hub Review

by - 4 years ago

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Introduction


Lexar Workflow Photo-complete header

There are many ways to get your data from memory cards to your system, server, or other memory cards, but it is far from all of these ways that are equally great. One of the best solutions for this comes from Lexar in the form of their Professional series Workflow card readers, portable SSDs, and storage drive hubs. Lexar provided me with a full set of these readers and a drive hub for reviews and today I’ll be showing you what they can do.

We’ve previously already reviewed the very affordable and compact Workflow DD512 portable USB 3.0 SSD and that is just one of the many options you have in this series. No matter what memory card type you use, you’ll find a reader for it and best of all, you can easily hook them up by simply plugging them into the drive hub.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub front

Let us first talk a little about the drive hub itself, The Lexar Professional Workflow HR1. This is a four-bay drive hub that connects through a single USB 3.0 cable and comes with an external power supply to make sure that you got the optimal performance to all four readers at the same time.

While an external power supply can a little annoying, it is necessary to ensure a proper power supply to all four connected devices. The included AC adapter isn’t large and it won’t be a power hog either with its 20W maximum power consumption.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub rear angle

There is a second model available that also features a Thunderbolt 2 connection that will be particularly useful for Mac OS users on their iOS based systems. Whether you’re a pro photographer or videographer or an adventure seeker using a sports camcorder or aerial camera, it’s easy to create your custom workflow setup.

Thunderbolt 2 technology gives photographers and videographers the power to quickly transfer 4K video and other large media files at up to twice the speed of Thunderbolt and up to four times the speed of USB 3.0 devices. With a hub, you can easily copy and move files from one memory card to another, or back them up on a portable SSD that fits right into the hub next the card readers.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub front loaded all

There are quite a few card readers available, among them the Workflow UR1 three-slot microSDHC/microSDXC UHS-II reader, the Workflow SR2 SDHC/SDXC UHS-II  reader, the Workflow CFR1 CompactFlash reader, and the Workflow CR1 CFast 2.0 card reader that I’ll be stocking my drive hub with today. All card readers are available with USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 to match your needs and drive hub.

The modular design allows you to easily swap card readers and storage drives depending on your needs, without the hassle of extra cables for each drive and the at times difficult connection access. Do you need four SD card readers at the same time? No problem. Do you need up to 12 micro SD cards at the same time? That’s no problem either. As you see, the choices are many and they are yours.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub front loaded

Feature Highlights:

  • Transfers images and video from multiple memory cards at once
  • Hubs leverage Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3.0 technologies for high-speed transfer of RAW images, high-res photos, and HD, 3D, and 4K video
  • Readers support today’s latest card formats—SDHC/SDXC UHS-I and UHS-II, CompactFlash UDMA 7, XQD
    2.0, CFast and CFast 2.0 (Thunderbolt or USB 3.0), and microSDHC/microSDXC UHS-I and UHS-II
  • Innovative, modular design
  • Use the card readers with a hub or on the go
  • Two-year limited warranty on hub and readers
–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Test Procedure


Test system:

Software used:

  • Anvil’s Storage Utilities
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark
  • AS SSD Benchmark
  • CrystalDiskMark 64bit

Memory Cards used:

  • Kingston SDCA3 64GB Micro-SDXC
  • Kingston SDA3 256GB SDXC
  • Kingston CompactFlash Ultimate 600x 64GB

I will be connecting the Lexar Professional Workflow HR1 hub to an Intel controlled USB 3.0 port and use Windows 8.1 for proper USB driver support. I will then run a series of benchmarks with Kingston’s great memory cards to see who well the card readers perform and whether they can deliver the performance that the cards are rated for.

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Workflow HR1 four-bay drive hub


Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub front angle

The Lexar Professional Workflow HR1 drive hub comes with easy pop-out cover plates that protect unused ports from unnecessary dust and dirt, and they also give the unit a more streamlined look than with the bays open and unused. We can see that each slot in the drive hub has its own USB 3.0 connector where the card reader connects.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub front open

Each of the Lexar Professional Workflow card readers and drives has a corresponding USB 3.0 port at the proper location. This generalized design allows for easy swapping of drives and readers as if they were normal thumb drives, maybe even easier.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader rear

The included AC adapter provides a total of 20W via the 5V at 4A that it can deliver. It’s a pleasure to see that Lexar stamped the power supply with their own logo and thereby quality standard instead of just adding a random OEM AC adapter that might fail down the line.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub psu

The rear of the HR1 drive hub only features the main USB 3.0 connection port and power connector at the bottom. The glossy black finish is particularly visible in this photo and it gives it a great look when placed on your desk.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub rear

The bottom of the hub has a large silicon anti-slip piece that covers almost the entire surface. This gives the hub a great stability, even on slippery surfaces. As seen below, it works so well that it sucked out every piece of dust from a cloth I tried to clean it with. You might want to use a slightly wetted paper towel to clean those parts instead.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub bottom

When you’ve inserted a reader into the hub, you’ll naturally have to remove the dust cover from the hub. Lexar thought of this too and each of the card readers in the Lexar Professional Workflow series comes with their own protective silicon cover. This is a great bonus that again prevents dust collection in unused readers and it easily fits while the reader is plugged into the hub.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader cover

There is also a USB 3.0 cable in with each reader for those who want to use them separate and without the drive hub.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader accessoires

Now that we’ve had a look at the drive hub and the basic features on the card readers, it’s time to look at the readers performance figures on the next few pages.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-hub side

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Workflow UR2 – Three-slot microSD UHS-II


Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader ur1 angle

The first reader that I’ll be testing is the Lexar Professional Workflow UR2 and it is a three-slot microSDHC and microSDXC card reader. With cards as small as micro SD cards are, it would have been a true waste to include just a single port, so it seems a logical choice to add three next to each other

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader ur1

Each of the three card slots has its own blue activity LED and the UR2 supports the UHS-II specifications. The UHS-II interface consists of at least two Lanes based on two differential signaling lines. Each Lane provides up to 156MB/sec.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader ur1 bottom

Test Results

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a new benchmarking utility that we have started using here at eTeknix, it’s completely free to download and has the ability to test mainly hard drives and solid state drives, but also any other form of storage medium that you can throw at it.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchUR1-anvils compr

Lexar_Workflow-BenchUR1-anvils incompr

AS SSD Benchmark

The AS SSD software determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains five synthetic and three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are performed without using the operating system caches. In Sequential tests, the program measures the time it takes to read and write a 1 GB file respectively. To give a clearer picture of the drives tested, I’ve chosen to include all tests. Special the copy test is one that I think is relevant on the consumer level as it gives the user a view into one of the operations he’s going to do many times.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchUR1-asssd

Lexar_Workflow-BenchUR1-asssd compr

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchUR1-atto

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random 4KB/512KB read/write speeds.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchUR1-cdm

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Workflow SR2 – SD UHS-II


Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader sr2 angle

The Lexar Professional Workflow SR2 is the big brother to the UR1, allowing you to read SDHC and SDXC UHS-II cards. SD cards, whether micro, mini, or normal, are probably the most widely used memory cards.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader sr2

The SR2 features a blue activity LED and supports the UHS-II specifications. The UHS-II interface consists of at least two Lanes based on two differential signaling lines. Each Lane provides up to 156MB/sec.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader sr2 bottom

Test Results

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a new benchmarking utility that we have started using here at eTeknix, it’s completely free to download and has the ability to test mainly hard drives and solid state drives, but also any other form of storage medium that you can throw at it.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchSR2-anvils compr

Lexar_Workflow-BenchSR2-anvils incompr

AS SSD Benchmark

The AS SSD software determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains five synthetic and three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are performed without using the operating system caches. In Sequential tests, the program measures the time it takes to read and write a 1 GB file respectively. To give a clearer picture of the drives tested, I’ve chosen to include all tests. Special the copy test is one that I think is relevant on the consumer level as it gives the user a view into one of the operations he’s going to do many times.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchSR2-Bench-asssd

Lexar_Workflow-BenchSR2-asssd compr

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchSR2-atto

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random 4KB/512KB read/write speeds.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchSR2-cdm

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Workflow CFR1 – CompactFlash


Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader cfr1 angle

The third card reader that I’ll be testing today is the Lexar Professional Workflow CFR1 that can read normal CompactFlash cards. CompactFlash provides some extra speed and reliability over SD cards and they’re often used by photo and videographers that require speed and reliability at all times.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader cfr1

CompactFlash originates all the way back in 1994 and there have been many improvements since then. The speed rating for CompactFlash is calculated the same way as those for CD-ROMs, x times 150KB/s.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader cfr1 bottom

Test Results

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a new benchmarking utility that we have started using here at eTeknix, it’s completely free to download and has the ability to test mainly hard drives and solid state drives, but also any other form of storage medium that you can throw at it.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchCFR1-anvils compr

Lexar_Workflow-BenchCFR1-anvils incompr

AS SSD Benchmark

The AS SSD software determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains five synthetic and three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are performed without using the operating system caches. In Sequential tests, the program measures the time it takes to read and write a 1 GB file respectively. To give a clearer picture of the drives tested, I’ve chosen to include all tests. Special the copy test is one that I think is relevant on the consumer level as it gives the user a view into one of the operations he’s going to do many times.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchCFR1-asssd

Lexar_Workflow-BenchCFR1-asssd compr

 

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchCFR1-atto

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random 4KB/512KB read/write speeds.

Lexar_Workflow-BenchCFR1-cdm

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Workflow CR1 – CFast 2.0


Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader cr1 angle

For the fourth card reader I sadly had no card at the time of writing, so I can only show you how it looks and not how well it performs. Lexar CR1 Professional Workflow CFast 2.0 USB 3.0 Reader is compatible with CFast 2.0 memory cards as the name already suggests.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader cr1

Other than the type of cards it loads, it is the same as the rest and it will fit snugly into my Lexar Professional Workflow drive dock.

Lexar_Workflow-Photo-reader cr1 bottom

I didn’t have any CFast cards available at the time of writing, so I sadly wasn’t able to test this reader’s performance yet. That will be caught up on as soon as I get the first CFast card in the office.

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Final Thoughts


Pricing

At the time of writing, the Lexar Professional Workflow HR1 hub can be had for $47.66 at NewEgg, £39.48 at Amazon UK, and €51.89 through Geizhals.

The Lexar Professional Workflow UR1 triple microSD card reader can be found at Amazon US for $42.95, Amazon UK for £23.00, or through Geizhals for €29.61.

The Lexar Professional Workflow SR2 SDXC card reader will set you back $39.32 at NewEgg, £14.78 at Amazon UK, and €19.40 through Geizhals.

You can get the Lexar Professional Workflow CFR1 CompactFlash reader for $16.99 at NewEgg, £14.95 at Amazon UK, or starting from €21.89 through Geizhals.

Finally, the Lexar Professional Workflow CR1 CFast 2.0 card reader can be found for $41.43 at NewEgg, £22.20 at Amazon UK, or starting from €28.86 trough Geizhals.

Conclusion

There is no shortage of card readers on the market, but it is far from all of them that have the same capabilities as the Lexar Professional Workflow series that I tested today. While it might be tempting to get something small and universal that will read everything, these direct readers with their individual design will provide you with the best possible transfer speeds.

The Workflow HR1 drive hub adds an awesome convenience to the entire system. You can simply plug and play up to four card readers or Workflow portable SSDs into the slots and connect it to your system with a single USB 3.0 cable. You can naturally also connect all the readers individually if you should wish to do so. The HR1 hub also features a dedicated power supply to make sure that there is enough power for that many drives at once.

The Lexar Professional Workflow UR1, SR2, and CFR1 card readers all performed very well and easily achieved the memory cards speed ratings. The CFR1 even managed to take the Kingston Ultimate 600x card far beyond its 90MB/s rating and provided us with speeds up to 150MB/s. This all speaks for the quality of these card readers.

Lexar included plenty of coverage on the Workflow series as each of the drive bays in the hub can be covered with a hard plastic piece and each of the card readers front can be covered with a silicone cover. Both things will extend the overall lifetime of both your readers and memory cards by keeping it dust and dirt free.

Pros

  • Card reader and portable SSD hot-swapping
  • Mix and match readers and drives as you please
  • USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2 support
  • Firm stand
  • Individually connectable readers

Cons

  • none

“Lexar Professional Workflow card readers and drive hub provide the ultimate flexibility for video-, photographers, and other people using a lot of memory cards. Simply mix and match the Workflow series to create your perfect memory card and backup station.”

innovation-award2

Lexar Professional Workflow Card Reader and Drive Hub Review

Thank You Lexar for providing us with this sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Test Procedure
  3. Workflow HR1 four-bay drive hub
  4. Workflow UR2 three-slot microSD UHS-II
  5. Workflow SR2 SD UHS-II
  6. Workflow CFR1 CompactFlash
  7. Workflow CR1 CFast 2.0
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. View All

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