Running out of storage on your smartphone, tablet or 4K video camera? Well, good news, SD cards have never been more affordable.
... And crucially, never offered such huge storage capacities either. Samsung recently announced the availability of a 256GB version of their popular EVO Plus MicroSD card series. Not unlike Samsung’s solid state drives, the EVO+ MicroSD card takes advantage of the company's advanced 48-cell layer V-NAND technology. This enables both, higher capacities and greater performance.
The EVO+ 256GB has been rated for read and write speeds of up to 90MB/s. With 256GB at your disposal, users can now record up to 12 hours of 4K UHD video or 33 hours of Full HD video or store up to 55,200 photos without needing to change or replace the memory card.
Worth noting is that while the previous 128GB EVO+ card was a U1 classified storage device, the new 256GB EVO+ is rated U3. So what does this mean?
Both U1 and U3 are the two Ultra High Speed classes for modern SD cards, and the rating is determined by minimum performance. U1 cards will provide write speeds of at least 10 MB/s while U3 cards are good for a minimum of 30 MB/s. Typically U1 cards have been designed for 1080p video recording, while U3 is required for 4K.
In more concrete terms, the EVO+ 128GB was rated for a read throughput of up to 80MB/s, while writes were limited to just 20MB/s. This makes the new 256GB card a substantial step forward, with reads that are good for 95MB/s and writes have taken a huge boost to 90MB/s.
The 256GB card is the only model in the EVO+ series to boast such impressive read and write speeds. It also makes Samsung the first company to deliver a MicroSD at the 256GB capacity, that is also U3 certified.
The EVO+ 256GB microSD card provides advanced protection coupled with long-term reliability: it's waterproof, temperature-proof, X-ray-proof, and magnetic-proof. Samsung are obviously confident in what they are offering here with a 10-year warranty to back it up. The little card's impressive warranty helps justify the tall asking price of $250.
For benchmarking we have used a USB 3.0 card reader capable of reading at over 100MB/s, should the SD card be capable of sustaining that kind of throughput. The benchmark program of choice is CrystalDiskMark as it gives us a good idea of the sequential and 4K read/write performance.
As advertised the Samsung EVO+ 256GB is capable of achieving a sequential read speed of 95MB/s, while the 88MB/s is very close to the suggested 90MB/s throughput. Unfortunately, we don’t have an EVO+ 128GB model to compare the 256GB card with. Still we can see that the performance is comparable with Samsung’s high-speed Pro+ 32GB MicroSD card and other smaller U3 rated cards.
The random 512K performance is very good, though the EVO+ 256GB was slightly slower than the SanDisk Extreme Plus 64GB in this test.
When it comes to small random 4K performance the Samsung EVO+ 256GB is the best performing MicroSD card we have seen yet. Very few MicroSD cards are capable of reaching a read throughput of 8MB/s, let alone exceeding it, so a great result for Samsung here.
The new Samsung EVO+ 256GB MicroSD isn’t just big on storage, it is also very fast. Typically, smartphone and tablet users will want a MicroSD card capable of delivering strong random 4K read/write performance. This then makes the EVO+ 256GB the perfect choice for such applications. On the flip side, content creators using high quality 4K cameras want big sequential write speeds and again this is what the EVO+ 256GB delivers.
In terms of competition, Samsung is the first to arrive to the mark on this tiny footprint which gives them an edge. There are a few other 256GB MicroSD cards around, but to my knowledge none are U3 certified.
With that said, make sure you need the performance, because you're paying a serious price premium for this tiny high-speed storage device at $250. Professionals and enthusiasts may be able to justify the price, however casual and light users that are simply after a large MicroSD card, there are more cost effective options.
Furthermore, if you don’t actually require a MicroSD card and can make do with a standard SD card then there are faster 256GB options that cost half as much, so keep that in mind.
For the ultimate MicroSD performance and capacity then the EVO+ is as good as it gets. Those who do invest in the EVO+ 256GB will be well looked after by Samsung’s 10-year warranty, which could see some go a very long time before their next upgrade.