As laptops slim down, they're also making the move to compact, versatile USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports, as well as microSD card readers. Where you used to see a few USB-A, HDMI, and an SD card reader, you'll now often see one of two Thunderbolt 3 and a microSD card reader. So what happens to those who still use SD cards for photography and other specialized media work? A dongle or adapter is slipped in along with our laptops. There are multiple solutions on the market for those who need just one or two card readers, but IOGear's GTR360 one of the few bulk readers available. It has six slots for full-size SD cards, and it connects back to your laptop with Thunderbolt 3. Let's take a closer look at this adapter to see whether or not it's worth the rather hefty price.
$135Bottom line: Need to read six simultaneous SD cards? The IOGear GTR360 is a logical solution. Don't have more than a few SD cards? Save your money and opt for something different.
- Compatible with UHS-II SD cards
- Can read SD cards simultaneously
- Six total card readers
- Status lights on all slots
- Slim, light construction
- Host cable is hard-wired
- Most people don't have six SD cards
- Gets hot while reading and writing
What you'll love about the IOGear GTR360
The IOGear GTR360 is a rather straightforward device. It's a thin, rectangular box that can slip into a laptop bag, and it has rubberized feet that keep it from slipping around on a desktop. Its chassis is rigid but lightweight, making it a non-issue to carry around with you for work in the field. It's also bus-powered, meaning it doesn't require a separate external power source. IOGear's feature sheet says the chassis is aluminum, but it's far more likely it's some type of magnesium alloy. In any case, it feels durable and doesn't seem too prone to scratches with regular use.
|Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C form)
|Six SD card readers
|SD, SDHC, SDXC
|3.23 x 5.31 x 0.61 inches
(82mm x 135mm x 15.4mm)
|0.30 pounds (140g)
The front edge of the adapter houses all six SD card slots, each with their own blue status LED to denote which cards are in use. I expected the card slots to have a simple friction lock — push in and pull out without any sort of hold — but they are instead the type that locks the card in place when inserted. Push in to click and lock, push in again to unlock and remove the SD card.
It's a nice feature, though I know some people would prefer the friction lock on a portable device like this. Several times I had the adapter and my laptop on my lap without noticing that the reader had fallen between my leg and the chair. Accidental presses can release these cards without them being ejected properly. These are fringe cases and unlikely to happen, but they're a possibility. All slots have smooth action, and everything on the reader is machined smoothly.
Thanks to UHS-II and SD 4.0 compatibility, the GTR360 offers some impressive read and write speeds, especially for professionals using high-end SD cards. With the Lexar 1000x UHS-II SD card — about the most performance I need for general photography work — I got back 145.2 MB/s sequential read and 98.3 MB/s sequential write speeds, both the upper limits of the card. And there's still twice as much headroom for improved performance, as the reader is capable of hitting about 312 MB/s read and 260 MB/s write speeds. High-end cards, like the Sony SF-G128 or the Lexar 1667x will push this performance, but the average SD card isn't going to come close.
There was no slowdown with multiple SD cards being read thanks to Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, and there were no issues with one card ejecting the others when being read. You can plug in cards separately, eject cards individually, and swap between them without issue. Setup is a breeze, taking no more than a few seconds on Windows 10. Plug it in, give the Thunderbolt 3 permissions, and you're ready to read SD cards.
What you'll dislike about the IOGear GTR360
The GTR360 does what is advertised, but there are some downsides to note. First, the host cable is hard-wired to the card reader, meaning if it breaks, you'll have to replace the entire device. If you're mostly using the reader on a desk, you shouldn't have any issues, but if you're often traveling with the reader, it might see enough wear and tear to have the cable break down.
This is a strict SD card reader, and if you have microSD cards lying around, you will have to use a size adapter. It's not a big deal, but it's not the same as having an actual microSD slot on the reader for more varied use.
Finally, the GTR360 does get quite hot, especially with multiple SD cards inserted. The shell does a decent job of dissipating heat, and the result is a temperature that you probably don't want to expose your legs to if you're using the card reader on the go.
Should you buy the IOGear GTR360?
The GTR360 is built well with smooth edges, and it's small enough to slip into a laptop bag or reside on your desktop. It doesn't need an external power source, keeping it portable. Professionals with a ton of SD cards can connect them all at once to the same device, and they can enjoy fast UHS-II read and write speeds for improved productivity. The hard-wired host cable would be problematic if it ever failed, and the reader does get relatively hot under load, but it does ultimately fulfill its advertised role quite well.
Compared to other six-slot SD card readers, you'll pay about the same (or less), but the price is still up there at about $135. If you only regularly use two or three SD cards, you will no doubt be able to find a far cheaper alternative that won't take up as much space on your desk or in your bag.
Six-slot SD card reader
UHS-II and SD 4.0 compatibility
The GTR360 isn't cut out for everyone, but if you have a lot of SD cards lying around and can't stand swapping them out for transfers, it will make your life a lot easier.
Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.