The very best microSD playing cards in 2023

If you wish to add cupboard space to a Nintendo Change, GoPro or Raspberry Pi, you want a microSD card. However whereas a number of playing cards shall be quick sufficient for many use instances, some cheap choices will carry out higher than others. We lately put a dozen fashions via a variety of benchmark assessments that can assist you discover the very best microSD playing cards on your wants.

What to search for in a microSD card

Capability

The very first thing to determine when shopping for a microSD card is how a lot house you want. Fashionable playing cards are normally out there in sizes starting from 32GB to 512GB, whereas a handful supply 1TB fashions as effectively. 2TB playing cards are theoretically attainable however still in the prototype stage.

For many, a 128GB or 256GB mannequin ought to be the candy spot between value and capability. However for those who want extra room – say, for stashing a bunch of video games on a Steam Deck – a 512GB card may make extra sense and sometimes gives a greater cost-per-GB ratio. Lately, yow will discover an honest 128GB card for round $15 or much less, an honest 256GB card for lower than $30 and (with sales) an honest 512GB card might be as little as $40 (although most price nearer to $50 or $60). There’s a starker enhance if you go as much as 1TB playing cards, which generally price round $100.

Observe {that a} microSD card’s efficiency might differ relying on what capability you purchase. SanDisk says its 128GB Extreme card delivers sequential write speeds as much as 90 MB/s, for instance, whereas the higher-capacity fashions in the identical line supply as much as 130 MB/s.

After we speak about microSD playing cards in the present day, we normally check with playing cards that use the microSDXC (eXtended Capacity) standard, which have a capability between 32GB and 2TB. Your machine must help this for it to work with a microSDXC card. This can nearly by no means be a problem today, however some older units (a Nintendo 3DS for example) are solely appropriate with microSDHC (Excessive Capability) playing cards, which vary from 2GB to 32GB.

Learn and write speeds

MicroSD playing cards are primarily judged on their learn and write speeds, that are normally measured in megabytes per second (MB/s). Usually talking, most microSD playing cards have sooner learn speeds than write speeds. These metrics can then be damaged down into sequential and random efficiency. Sequential learn and write speeds matter if you’re making an attempt to entry or save lengthy, fixed streams of information, reminiscent of opening a big video or copying an enormous batch of recordsdata from a PC. If you wish to use a microSD card for media storage, that is notably essential.

Random efficiency, in the meantime, is about how shortly a card can learn and write small recordsdata scattered all through the machine. Since random learn/write speeds are a lot decrease than sequential ones, storage machine makers have a tendency to not promote them as loudly. However they’re essential for those who use a card with a gaming machine or a single-board pc just like the Raspberry Pi, the place it typically has to quickly save and entry small bits of information in random areas.

SD Affiliation

Velocity scores

Should you take a look at a microSD card, you’ll see a buffet of numbers, letters and symbols. Most of those check with the cardboard’s speed class and efficiency scores, that are decided by the SD Association.

A card’s Video Velocity Class, or V-rating, particulars its minimal sequential write pace, which is particularly essential when recording video from a digital camera. It ranges from V6 to V90. Many of the playing cards we examined had a V30 ranking, in order that they have a sequential write pace of no less than 30 MB/s. This ought to be sufficient to help as much as 4K video at decrease bitrates. Increased-rated V60 and V90 playing cards are normally higher for capturing 8K, however they arrive at a a lot increased price.

The UHS Velocity Class, or U-rating, additionally refers to a card’s minimal sequential write pace. It is available in two varieties: U3, which mandates a minimal of 30 MB/s, and U1, which is rated for 10 MB/s.

The older Velocity Class ranking overlaps with the opposite two methods. It’s signified by a C image and goes from Class 2 to Class 10, with the quantity (once more) indicating minimal sequential write pace. This ranking is much less related these days, however you should still see a “C10” emblem on some playing cards.

The Utility Efficiency spec, marked by an An emblem, is an indicator of random learn/write speeds. That is measured in IOPS, or enter/output operations per second, slightly than MB/s. There are two classes right here: A1 playing cards supply a minimal random learn pace of 1,500 IOPS and a minimal random write pace of 500 IOPS, whereas A2 playing cards bump these as much as 4,000 IOPS and a pair of,000 IOPS, respectively. Each scores additionally assure sequential write speeds of no less than 10 MB/s.

Most individuals ought to search for a card with V30, U3 and A2 scores. It’s completely attainable to get a strong card with out these: A U1 card is likely to be value it for those who simply want an inexpensive choice with a excessive capability to carry recordsdata, for instance. V60 and V90 playing cards are value a glance for those who’re severe about taking pictures high-resolution pictures and video as effectively. However usually talking, playing cards with the certifications above ought to present the very best mix of value and efficiency in the present day.

It’s essential to emphasise that these scores are baselines. Many V30 playing cards supply considerably increased write speeds than 30 MB/s, for example, and a few A1 playing cards can outperform some A2 fashions in apply. The speeds marketed by producers aren’t at all times 100% correct, both: Typically the cardboard shall be slower in real-world use, different instances it might really be a bit sooner.

UHS bus speeds

The opposite spec to notice is the cardboard’s bus interface. Most microSD playing cards out there in the present day are UHS-I, which have a theoretical most pace of 104 MB/s. There are additionally UHS-II playing cards, which have an additional row of pins on the again and may attain as much as 312 MB/s. (A more recent UHS-III normal exists as effectively however hasn’t seen broad adoption simply but.) These are labeled on the cardboard with a Roman numeral I or II.

Absolutely the quickest microSD playing cards proper now are UHS-II playing cards, they usually’re normally those with V60 or V90 scores. Should you shoot plenty of 4K to 8K video or steadily use burst mode to seize extremely high-res pictures, the efficiency good points of UHS-II card can prevent time.

However these are rather more costly than UHS-I playing cards: This 128GB model from ProGrade Digital, for instance, is a relative discount at $55. You want a tool that’s appropriate with the UHS-II interface to see any advantages, too, and as we have been placing this information collectively, inventory for UHS-II playing cards was spotty. For now, the upper speeds aren’t definitely worth the value premium for the overwhelming majority of individuals, so we principally caught to UHS-I choices.

Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED, face down

Kris Naudus / Engadget

A be aware on card readers, the Nintendo Change and Steam Deck

Whereas the UHS-I spec has a theoretical most of 104 MB/s, some UHS-I playing cards can exceed that pace via proprietary extensions. You want a appropriate card reader and host machine to benefit from that further efficiency, although. Should you discover a UHS-I card promoting speeds increased than 104 MB/s, that is what’s occurring. You possibly can see these limits in motion with a Nintendo Change or Steam Deck: Both of those gaming units help the UHS-I interface and don’t transcend its official pace, flattening any sequential good points some playing cards might have elsewhere. The broader takeaway: Your microSD card will solely be as quick because the slowest hyperlink in your chain.

Guarantee

Many microSD playing cards are designed to be sturdy, with safety from water, excessive temperatures, X-rays and drops. Nonetheless, in case of disaster, a protracted guarantee is at all times good to have. Many producers supply lifetime restricted warranties, although we’ve observed that “endurance” playing cards marketed to face up to extra hours of writing are normally coated for a a lot shorter time frame.

Avoiding counterfeits

The reminiscence card market has had a specific downside with scammers promoting faux merchandise. To protect in opposition to this, solely purchase from a identified model and a good retailer reminiscent of Greatest Purchase, B&H Picture or Adorama. Should you store at Amazon, solely purchase if the shipper and vendor is Amazon.com. (Although a handful of customers have reported receiving counterfeits even from Amazon instantly prior to now.) Bear in mind: If a value appears too good to be true, it most likely is. Be cautious of any retailer providing considerably a cheaper price than others.

When you obtain a card, verify its packaging for any irregularities. You possibly can run benchmark assessments like CrystalDiskMark or BlackMagic Disk Speed Test to confirm its speeds aren’t drastically decrease than what’s marketed (or attainable, given its specs). You may as well use software program that’s designed to confirm the true capability and efficiency of your card, reminiscent of H2testw and FakeFlashTest.

How we examined

We put 12 microSD playing cards via a collection of assessments to confirm their sequential and random efficiency. These included benchmarks like CrystalDiskMark, BlackMagic Disk Speed Test, ATTO Disk Benchmark and AJA System Test, in addition to just a few “real-world” assessments. We copied and pasted a small folder of pictures about 1.15GB in dimension to and from every card, then did the identical with a bigger 12.2GB folder containing a number of file sorts and subfolders, timing the method every time. We additionally checked how every card carried out on the Steam Deck, downloading video games of various sizes – together with Stardew Valley, Aperture Desk Job, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Apex Legends – then timing how lengthy it took to launch every sport and cargo save recordsdata.

We used a Kingston USB 3.2 UHS-II reader to check every card on each Home windows 11 and macOS Ventura. For the previous, we used an Alienware gaming PC with an Intel Core i9-10900F, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. For the latter, we used a 2021 16-inch MacBook Professional with an Apple M1 Professional chip, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. To make use of our card reader on the MacBook, we used Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter.

We examined the 128GB model of every card wherever attainable, although for a few playing cards – the SanDisk Excessive and Samsung Professional Plus – we have been solely capable of take a look at their 256GB fashions. We additionally reformatted every card earlier than testing with the SD Affiliation’s Memory Card Formatter tool.

Greatest for many: Samsung Professional Plus

Greatest for many
Samsung Pro Plus (128GB)

Picture by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Samsung Pro Plus (128GB)

Samsung’s Professional Plus was essentially the most constant card we examined and is broadly out there from retailers. Simply be certain that to get the newest mannequin, which is rated for 180 MB/s sequential learn speeds and 130 MB/s sequential write speeds.

The Samsung Pro Plus provided nearly the very best sequential write efficiency of the playing cards we examined (round 130 MB/s in CrystalDiskMark) and topped all of them by way of random learn/write speeds, so it ought to work nice whether or not you’re shopping for for a digital camera, pill or gaming handheld. Unsurprisingly, it has all of the requisite scores: U3, V30 and A2. Its sequential learn efficiency isn’t fairly as fast as a few of our alternate picks beneath, however it’s not far behind. In our massive file switch take a look at, for example, it was solely 4 seconds off the quickest fashions.

The Professional Plus initially began at $19 for 128GB, $30 for 256GB and $60 for 512GB, however current gross sales have introduced these fashions as little as $12, $20 and $35, respectively. When it’s that low cost, the Professional Plus makes most competing microSD playing cards irrelevant. Samsung additionally sells the cardboard with a USB reader that’ll assist it attain its most speeds for just a few {dollars} extra. Both manner, the cardboard comes with a 10-year restricted guarantee.

Should you decide to purchase the Professional Plus, be sure you get the latest-generation mannequin, which Samsung launched in April 2023. In the mean time, the corporate continues to be promoting the prior iteration of the Professional Plus, which appears to be like an identical however isn’t as fast, particularly in relation to random learn/write speeds. (Search for the mannequin with sequential learn speeds rated at 180 MB/s and sequential write speeds rated at 130 MB/s.) We examined the 256GB model of the Professional Plus as a consequence of inventory points with the 128GB mannequin on the time of testing, however this shouldn’t have a serious affect on real-world efficiency, as Samsung charges each playing cards identically.

Runner up: Kingston Canvas Go Plus

Runner up
Kingston Canvas Go Plus (128GB)

Picture by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Kingston Canvas Go Plus (128GB)

Kingston’s Canvas Go Plus presents sturdy sequential learn and random learn/write efficiency, so it is a good various to the Professional Plus if the latter ever turns into unavailable.

If the Samsung Professional Plus ever turns into unavailable, the Kingston Canvas Go Plus is a powerful various. It is a U3-, V30- and A2-rated card backed by a lifetime restricted guarantee. It delivered the best sequential learn speeds of any card we examined throughout CrystalDiskMark, ATTO and the BlackMagic Disk Velocity Take a look at, simply edging out SanDisk’s Excessive and Nintendo Change-branded playing cards. It successfully tied with these two playing cards in our massive file switch take a look at. Its sequential write speeds (simply over 100 MB/s on CrystalDiskMark) are the place it lags behind the Professional Plus, however they need to nonetheless be fast sufficient for a lot of makes use of. Its random learn/write speeds have been solely bested by Samsung’s card, too, so it’s nonetheless choice for apps and video games. It’s exhausting to justify for those who see it priced increased than the Professional Plus, nevertheless.

Greatest worth: Samsung Evo Choose

Greatest worth
Samsung Evo Select (128GB)

Picture by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Samsung Evo Select (128GB)

The Evo Choose is not the quickest card we examined, particularly in relation to write speeds, however it’s adequate for those who simply want a bit of cupboard space and wish to save a couple of bucks.

The Samsung Evo Select is a step behind our high picks, notably in relation to sequential write speeds (just below 70 MB/s on CrystalDiskMark), so it’s not excellent for a digital camera. Nonetheless, it’s completely usable for a lot of use instances, and we have seen its 128GB, 256GB and 512GB fashions fall as little as $12, $18 and $35, respectively, prior to now. All of these are about on par with the SanDisk Ultra, a steadily beneficial cheapo card, regardless of the Evo Choose having increased V30, U3 and A2 scores. The Professional Plus has been out there for round these costs, too, however the Evo Choose tends to sit down there extra often.

One other good choice: SanDisk microSDXC Card for Nintendo Change

One other good choice
SanDisk microSDXC Card for Nintendo Switch

Picture by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

The SanDisk microSDXC Card for Nintendo Switch is one other worthwhile choice for those who ever see it out there for lower than the Professional Plus and Canvas Go Plus. Its sequential learn speeds have been about the identical because the Kingston card in our benchmarks, however its sequential writes have been barely slower (and farther behind the Professional Plus). Its random learn/writes have been a step behind in keeping with CrystalDiskMark, as effectively. The 128GB version of this card is normally priced round $20, however currently the 512GB version has gone for $10 or so lower than the Canvas Go Plus. SanDisk backs the cardboard with a lifetime guarantee, too. Observe that we examined the Apex Legends model of the 128GB card. SanDisk additionally sells a Super Mario model, however we will’t converse as to whether that one performs any in a different way.

One other good choice: Lexar Skilled 1066x

One other good choice
Lexar Professional 1066x (128GB)

Picture by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Lexar Professional 1066x (128GB)

The Lexar Skilled 1066x has sooner sequential write speeds than the Kingston and SanDisk fashions above, so it is a respectable various for recording video or burst-mode pictures for those who see it on sale.

Equally, the Lexar Professional 1066x is an honest various to the Professional Plus for those who see it cheaper. It’s one other V30, U3 and A2 card, and like Samsung’s card, its sequential write speeds have been a bit sooner than the Canvas Go Plus and SanDisk Change card in our benchmarks. These write speeds weren’t as fast as Professional Plus, and its sequential reads trailed all three playing cards. Random learn/writes additionally lagged behind the Professional Plus and Canvas Go Plus, and we observed its speeds peak and dip extra noticeably in our file switch take a look at. Nonetheless, it’s not sluggish, so relying on its value, it is likely to be discount in order for you higher write speeds than the Kingston card can supply. It additionally comes with a lifetime restricted guarantee.

Different notable microSD playing cards

The SanDisk Extreme and PNY Elite-X microSD cards.

Picture by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

We didn’t use it ourselves, however for those who’re prepared to pay for a extra highly effective UHS-II card constructed for heavy-duty video recording, the Delkin Devices Power has tested well elsewhere and may ship considerably sooner sequential write speeds than our picks above. It’s one of many few UHS-II playing cards we may really discover in inventory, however it prices a ton, normally beginning at $55 for simply 32GB.

The SanDisk Extreme successfully matched the Professional Plus in just a few of our sequential write assessments and delivered sequential reads about on par with the Canvas Go Plus, however that was partly as a consequence of us solely having the ability to safe the cardboard’s 256GB mannequin, which is higher-rated than the 128GB model. Its random efficiency was effectively behind the Samsung and Kingston playing cards, too, and it is sometimes price extra as of late. Should you see it on sale from a good vendor, nevertheless, it’s one other high quality choice.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro, in the meantime, is rated for even increased speeds (as much as 200 MB/s sequential reads), however it seems to be both unavailable at most trusted retailers or priced considerably increased as of this writing.

The PNY Elite-X wasn’t far off the random learn/write efficiency of the Professional Plus and Canvas Go Plus in CrystalDiskMark, and it typically goes for affordable, however it was effectively behind in our sequential assessments.

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