microSD and SD Card Buying Guide

neeyik

Posts: 2,430   +2,998
Staff member
Should do an article on SD cards for the Nintendo Switch.
It wouldn’t be very long though: it can be a microSD, microSDHC, or a microSDXC. Ideally it needs to be UHS-I U3 or preferably V60 or higher. Just get the biggest and fastest you afford, and make sure your Switch is fully up to date.

A fairly useless article given that a lot of people, like myself I would guess, are looking at the middle ground ie the 'bang for bucks' market.
When it comes to SD cards, “bang for bucks” needs further clarification: does bang mean capacity? Does bang mean speed? Does bang mean capacity and speed together? And then what about where the bang is to be applied: in a console, a phone, a camera, a drone? All these different situations will have a different set of criteria with which to judge the best bang for the bucks.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
Well, if you are brand new to devices that use these it's a helpful article; otherwise I think it could have all been covered in a single table ....
 
This article was very confusing to me. I just need an SD card for my cameras...no idea about speed, performance...no idea what all that data would mean to my camera. I have several SD cards...when I started using SD cards, I did not know about the closed and open switch. Now I have stuff on SD cards that I can not use on my computer because the SD card is secured and will not let me put them on my computer. No idea how to make it do so. Have tried programs that SAY they will do it, but so far no luck. So I went and bought more SD cards..STILL not knowing there was a switch on it...I later found out, but too late. Now I LOOK for them. But still can not load pictures to my computer from the secured ones. Any suggestion?
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,430   +2,998
Staff member
I just need an SD card for my cameras...no idea about speed, performance...no idea what all that data would mean to my camera.
What camera is it (make/model)?

Now I have stuff on SD cards that I can not use on my computer because the SD card is secured and will not let me put them on my computer.
That's definitely a bit odd, because all the secure lock does is tell the SD card to let anything write new information or delete data already on it. It doesn't affect the ability to read information from it.

What SD card reader are you using to look at the cards?
 

dragosmp

Posts: 76   +77
Here's another category I recently stumbled upon: high endurance SD cards. They are marketed towards dash cams and surveilance gear which typically see higher ammounts of data written sequentially than other use cases. Speed is somewhat irrelevant as long as it's Class 6 or higher (for 1080p), but endurance is king. Reading amazon reviews on dash cams, turns out many folks bought good SD cards, like the Evo you recommend, only for it to fail within a few months, and people recommend high endurance cards (preferably high capacity too to reduce the amount of full disk writes in a given period of time). In the high endurance category, there is a HE Samsung Evo, a HE Sandisk Ultra, etc, and they cost more or less twice the tier you linked. I wonder what the HE cards have technically, to make them HE; I bet they're from the same production line; could they be MLC vs TLC/QLC for the regular or just massively overprovisioned? I'd love to see a deep dive.
Thanks for the explanation!
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,430   +2,998
Staff member
I wonder what the HE cards have technically, to make them HE; I bet they're from the same production line; could they be MLC vs TLC/QLC for the regular or just massively overprovisioned?
HE cards mostly use 3D TLC NAND flash, which provides the necessary endurance. Even large SD cards won't use many memory chips, so the amount of over-provisioning won't be anything extraordinary.
 

fps4ever

Posts: 1,111   +1,799
You need or want at least high endurance cards for the popular pi micro computers and the likes. I wonder how many times users have been burned by SD cards failing after a few months to a year of using those as home media servers, without realizing a lot were not built for the long term constant reads/writes a OS does.
 

trgz

Posts: 424   +201
It wouldn’t be very long though: it can be a microSD, microSDHC, or a microSDXC. Ideally it needs to be UHS-I U3 or preferably V60 or higher. Just get the biggest and fastest you afford, and make sure your Switch is fully up to date.


When it comes to SD cards, “bang for bucks” needs further clarification: does bang mean capacity? Does bang mean speed? Does bang mean capacity and speed together? And then what about where the bang is to be applied: in a console, a phone, a camera, a drone? All these different situations will have a different set of criteria with which to judge the best bang for the bucks.
It's always been that the biggest cards (and the fastest too) are generally the most expensive GB per pound, dollar etc (same goes for many other components) so I'd expect some sensible options here (perhaps around the 400GB) not this simplistic review - it's not a 'buying guide' at all.
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,430   +2,998
Staff member
It's always been that the biggest cards (and the fastest too) are generally the most expensive GB per pound, dollar etc (same goes for many other components) so I'd expect some sensible options here (perhaps around the 400GB) not this simplistic review - it's not a 'buying guide' at all.
So 512 GB for $78 isn't a sensible recommendation, when most 256 GB options on Amazon are over $40 (and thus are less cost effective)? Or 128 GB for less than $20? If you're aware of better recommendations, please do share them.
 

mountains

Posts: 80   +93
Here is a good comparative test video looking at the best Micro SD Card for the Raspberry Pi. It deals with endurance. Good for things like Pi-holes, etc.

Top SBC Micro SD Card (Group Benchmark):

 

trgz

Posts: 424   +201
So 512 GB for $78 isn't a sensible recommendation, when most 256 GB options on Amazon are over $40 (and thus are less cost effective)? Or 128 GB for less than $20? If you're aware of better recommendations, please do share them.
That 512GB link for me (in the UK) is well over £100 (4.67GB per £)* - I had made my quick judgement (my apologies) based on that compared to Sandisk's Ultra 400GB (5.48GB per £) though I now see that they can be had noticeably cheaper - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lexar-High...micro+sdhc&qid=1598392104&s=computers&sr=1-26 (ie 5.76GB per £) which is definitely better than the given link though I'll probably go for the Sandisk given that it's down to £48.99, or 8.16GB per £, in their sale (£15.99 for a Sandisk Ultra 128GB). I did see though that the Lexar might actually be as fast as the Sandisk Extreme
*thanks to taxes, I normally look at USD as equalling GBP - sad times.
 

neeyik

Posts: 2,430   +2,998
Staff member
Part of the difficulty of doing recommendations based on prices is trying to account for location variances. The US definitely gets a better deal on SD products compared to the UK.

Thanks for the links.
 

D3z4R1

Posts: 53   +12
I have been using the SanDisk 400GB in a Samsung Galaxy S9+ (now on a Note 10+) since the S9+'s release; with no issues whatsoever.

I have used a ADATA microSD cards in an ASUS Transformer Book T100TA that have failed after a year -- first a 128GB and then a 256GB card. I have then replaced those cards with said SanDisk 40GB card in the Transformer Book. Suffice it to say, I won't trust my data on ADATA!

I'll be replacing the card in my Note+ with the linked Lexmark 512GB card. At $100 CAD, it's not badly priced (compared to the $80 CAD I picked up my SanDisk 400's for).

Nevertheless, a great read. Thanks for the article.
 

BobDoleStillAliv

Posts: 42   +63
The SanDisk 1 TB Extreme model mentioned costing $414, it can regularly be found on sale in the $220 to $250 range. I think it was $233 when I snagged one about 3 months ago
 

Danny101

Posts: 2,033   +842
I was looking for one for my smartphone to extend the app storage and turns out my phone doesn't support the fastest and what it did support wasn't fast enough for smooth operation. Check your specs and it may be better to opt for a higher internal storage and keep the SD card for data only.
 
Thank you for the review. I will like to see a review of the reader itself instead of recommendation of "just buy the bigger and cheapest sdcard you can find".

All sdreaders aren't the same and there are little or not information at all
 

Antias

Posts: 6   +5
And my phone will only take the even more frustrating size of NanoSD... only a couple of expensive choices too...
 

rmcrys

Posts: 324   +265
So demanding and critical people commenting here...

1) low end device, camera, usually non 4K: Cheap (micro)SD

2) for running apps (attached to RPi, Surface or Android devices for example), good quality "A2" (micro)SD

3) 4K drones, cameras, etc, good quality "A2" "V30" (micro)SD

4) HDR/10 bit video recording, high-end cameras, good quality "A2" "V60" (micro)SD

I have multiple sandisk A2 V30 microSDs and they worked pretty much for everything and they are very frequently on discount; note that most very high-end devices have very high bitrates and usually don't support UHS-I as the main card; those use UHS-II cards or another type of cards.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,760   +2,607
Great timing for this article.

I just purchased and wait for it to ship.

Kingston Canvas Select Plus, 512GB microSDXC Memory Card, Class 10, UHS-I, U3, V30, A1, With Up to 100MB/s Read and 85MB/s Write

To add to a Lenovo P12 Pro Tablet I just bought.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,700   +3,079
Incredible, years later and we still don't see devices equipped with UHS-III.
It would legitimately help with devices like the SteamDeck but device manufacturers just do not implement it.
 

Pap1er

Posts: 17   +28
Great article, thank you for valuable info.
Am I the only one who feel like all this SD card stuff is pretty confusing for "average" consumer?
 

Tams80

Posts: 176   +132
Great article, thank you for valuable info.
Am I the only one who feel like all this SD card stuff is pretty confusing for "average" consumer?

Considering the varied uses for SD cards, no, I don't think it could be much clearer while still having meaningful labels.

If you care, then you'll research what to get. If you don't, well just buy any one and live with whatever performance it has. If that's not good enough, then the onus is on you to do some quick research and find out if you didn't get the right one.