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Published Sep. 19, 2021

MicroSD cards are the smallest memory devices available today and a great option for extra storage in portable electronics like cellphones, digital cameras, handheld gaming devices, and more. They’re perfect for any gadget too small to handle the standard SD (or secure digital) cards that used to slide neatly into laptops. A microSD card uses similar connections, but works with more devices because they are one-sixth the size of their larger predecessor. You can even slide them into standard SD slots using an adapter. Despite their diminutive size, these cards can support up to 1 TB (terabyte) of data, which will keep most photographers, videographers, and on-the-go gamers going for quite some time. 

Methodology

In order to recommend the best MicroSD cards, we consulted various articles and publications produced by the SD Association, a nonprofit that determines memory card standards and classifications. We also spoke to peers and combed through additional articles to collect first-hand experiences. Finally, we analyzed storage capacity, writing speeds, data transfer rates, and bus modes to provide a wide range of options to suit various needs. 

The Best Micro SD Cards: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: SanDisk 1TB Extreme MicroSD

Vast and Versatile

This versatile card is one of the fastest and most reliable on the market. SanDisk

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Why It Made The Cut: The SanDisk Extreme is a versatile option that will satisfy gamers, photographers, and videographers. You can never have too much storage, so 1 TB is certainly tempting; but if your needs aren’t that great,  other Extreme models range from 32GB to 512 GB. 

Specs:

  • Card Type: MicroSDXC
  • Capacity: 1 Terabyte
  • Speed Class: V30 / U3 
  • Read Speed: 160 MB/S 
  • Write Speed: 90 MB/S
  • Bus Mode: UHS-I

Pros:

  • Several storage size options
  • Fast read and write speeds 
  • Reliable 

Cons: 

  • Frequently counterfeited, so buy from a reputable dealer 
  • Pricey

The SanDisk 1TB Extreme MicroSD is a widely regarded, high-speed card from a reliable brand. It features one of the largest capacities of any microSD card on the market. It is capable of transferring high-resolution images and 4K video at speeds up to 160 MB per second and can produce writing speeds up to 90MB/s. It has an A2 performance rating for app support and can withstand water, shocks, extreme temperatures, and X-rays. The 1TB Extreme is a high-speed card, so make sure you check your existing electronic devices for compatibility. 

Best for Nintendo Switch: SanDisk 128GB microSDXC Card

A Mini Gaming Library

Compatible with a range of devices, this card is great for gaming. SanDisk

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Why It Made The Cut: This card, licensed by Nintendo, is made by one of our favorite companies, and maintains fast read and write speeds for a smooth gaming experience that won’t leave you waiting when it’s time to save.  

Specs: 

  • Card Type: microSDXC
  • Capacity: 128GB
  • Speed Class: U3/V30
  • Read Speed: Up to 100MB/s
  • Write Speed: Up to 90MB/s
  • Bus Mode: UHS-I 

Pros: 

  • Price 
  • Fast download speed for games  
  • Fun design

Cons:

  • Limited storage capacity options 

The SanDisk 128GB microSDXC Card is licensed by Nintendo and designed to work well with its devices, specifically the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite. You can store games, replays, and screenshots without fear of running out of room. Although it’s great for gaming, with quick read and write speeds, it’s an excellent choice for other devices and activities. It delivers impressive download speeds and has tested well on a variety of devices, including Android phones, cameras, and tablets. 

Best for GoPro Cameras: Samsung EVO Select 128GB

Never Miss a Moment

Capture photos and video with your GoPro, your DSLR, laptop, or phone with this versatile microSD card, which is also water-resistant. SAMSUNG

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Why It Made The Cut: Not all microSD cards are GoPro compatible, but the EVO easily pairs with your camera and other devices. Its impressive sequential speeds make it well-suited for recording 4k video.  

Specs: 

  • Card Type: SDXC
  • Capacity: 64GB
  • Speed Class: U3 / Class 10
  • Read Speed: Up to 100MB/s
  • Write Speed: Up to 60 MB/s 
  • Bus Mode: UHS-1

Pros: 

  • Several capacity options to suit any need
  • Works with many different devices 
  • Includes SD adaptor  

 Cons: 

  • Write speed could be faster 
  • Not great at running apps 
  • The Evo Select is an Amazon exclusive, which means you are unlikely to run into any fake or older versions when purchasing. It’s available in a range of memory capacities, including 32, 64, 128, 256, and 512GB, but go with the 128GB model if you’re capturing 4k video because most GoPros won’t accept anything bigger. The Evo Select works with a host of DSLRs, GoPro cameras, smartphones, and laptops. It even comes with an SD adaptor, so you’ll be able to use larger SD slots from the get-go. This card also resists water, extreme temperature, X-rays, and magnetic rays.

Best for Videographers: Kingston 64GB Canvas React Plus

High-End Performance

Professional photographers and videographers can rely on this memory card’s high speeds and up to 8k resolution. Kingston

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Why It Made The Cut: Although the Kingston Canvas React Plus doesn’t provide as much storage as some competitors, it delivers excellent read and write speeds and makes storing video up to 8K a snap.

Specs: 

  • Card Type: SDXC
  • Capacity: 64GB
  • Speed Class: V9 / U3 / C10 
  • Read Speed: Up to 285MB/s 
  • Write Speed: Up to 165MB/s
  • Bus Mode: UHS-II

Pros: 

  • Super fast read and write speeds
  • Easily handles 8K video 
  • Adapters Included 

Cons:

  • Expensive 
  • Not compatible will all devices 

The UHS-II microSD card from Canvas is an excellent option for professional shoots that require super-fast read speeds, 4K or 8K resolution, and high-speed shots. This card is compatible with industry-standard cameras, drones, and more. It also comes with Kingston’s MobileLite Plus microSD reader, which supports quick transfer speeds for an easier post-production process.  If you don’t have a UHS-II compatible device, consider the Samsung 128GB Pro Endurance

Best Value: PNY Elite-X 64GB

Quick and Easy

This budget pick can work daily tasks, but has slower reading and write speeds and isn’t designed for higher-level photography and video. PNY

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Why It Made The Cut: The PNY Elite-X 64GB microSD card delivers acceptable performance for most applications for users on a budget.

Specs: 

  • Card Type: SDXC
  • Capacity: 64GB
  • Speed Class: V30 / U3 / C10
  • Read Speed: Up to 98 MB/s
  • Write Speed: Up to 32 MB/s
  • Bus Mode: UHS-I

Pros: 

  • Price 
  • Read speed 
  • Includes an SD adapter 

Cons: 

  • Slow write speed
  • Questionable reliability  

The Elite-X card from PNY is a great option if you’re on a budget or simply need a card for daily use or short-term data storage. It doesn’t deliver the fastest read and write speeds, but it’s acceptable for general use. It can engage HD photography and 4K Ultra HD video (and launch applications with A1 rated app performance), but if you’re serious about photography and videography, spring for a card designed for those tasks. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a MicroSD Card

Many microSD cards look alike, so it’s important to understand what you need in the way of specs and storage capacity.

Avoid Counterfeits

There is a huge market for memory cards, which makes counterfeits a legitimate concern. Fakes often  have significantly less storage than claimed, run slowly, and, worst of all, could corrupt your data. To avoid purchasing a fake card, buy from reputable dealers and read some customer reviews before buying. When you receive your card, check the package carefully for anything unusual and, and test the card.

Capacity and Card type

Card type and capacity go hand in hand, so consider how much storage you need before you make a purchase. An SD standard card can store up to 2 gigabytes of data, an SDHC card can store up to 32GB, and SDXC can store up to 2 terabytes, and an SDUC can store up to 128TB. MicroSDHC and SDXC are typically the most popular and can support expansive file systems. All the cards we’ve listed here are SDXC.

Understand Speed Ratings

When you look for a microSD card you’ll notice a lot of letters and numbers in their descriptions. Before you buy, make sure you understand what they mean and how they apply to your needs. Speed ratings often matter the most. There are three ways to rate speed: speed class, ultra high speed class, and video speed class. Each describes the minimum writing speed. 

  • Speed class ranges from Class 2 through Class 10, with write speeds increasing with the number. C10 writes at 10 megabytes per second. 
  • Ultra high speed cards can be rated U1 or U3 and  write at 10-30 megabytes per second. 
  • Both C10 and U1 cards meet the minimum standards for recording 1080p video. 
  • Video speed class cards range from V6 to V90 and write at 6 to 90 megabytes per second.
  • U3 and V30 cards can support 4K video, but V90 and V60 cards are the only cards that can process 8K video.

Know the Different Bus Modes

Speed bus interfaces describe the supported connection and data transfer rate between a high-speed device and the microSD card. Keep in mind the data transfer rate is not the same as the writing speed. SD cards have two bus modes: Default and High Speed. However there is much to be desired from these modes if you’re using a newer device. Faster buses include UHS-I, UHS-II, USH-III, and SD Express. UHS- II, III, and SD Express have two rows of data transfer pins for maximum efficiency, but to reap these benefits your devices must be UHS-II compatible. These are the only bus modes that can support V60 and V90 speed classes. That said, such transfer rates aren’t necessary for many photographers, gamers, and other users. A USH-II bus or higher is best for videographers backing large files. They cost significantly more than UHS-I models, so make sure you really need the additional speed before paying that premium.

FAQs

Q:

Which is the fastest microSD card?

Currently, the fastest microSD cards have a UHS, or Ultra High Speed, classification. They are split into UHS-I and UHS-II which have a maximum speed of 104 and 312 megabytes respectively. Some of the fastest cards include the Sony Tough Series UHS-II and the Power UHS-II microSD from Delkin, each with a maximum read speed of 300 megabytes per second and a V90 rating. Make sure you check device compatibility before purchasing. 

Q:

Are microSD cards reliable?

Yes, microSD cards are a reliable way to collect and store various types of data. Though storage cards are commonly used without issue, they are not 100-percent failproof.  We recommend going with a reputable brand name option to reduce the risk of failure and replacing your card every couple years or so to avoid any damage over time.

Q:

How long do microSD cards last?

It’s hard to say exactly how long your microSD will last over time. Generally speaking it’s a good idea to backup any important data as soon as possible. SD cards are not designed for long-term storage, and most won’t survive beyond five years, though some may claim to offer lifespans as long as  30 years. We recommend removing data before the one-year mark to ensure your data are safely preserved.

Final Thoughts

Though we may not see it, our electronic devices are constantly writing, reading, and transferring data. A reliable microSD card is the best way to safely record new information, store extra data, and transfer materials from your small electronics to your larger computers. Make sure you choose a microSD card that is compatible with your device, offers enough memory capacity to support your projects, and operates at the right speed to keep your workflow efficient.

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