The very best microSD playing cards in 2023

If you wish to add cupboard space to a Nintendo Swap, GoPro or Raspberry Pi, you want a microSD card. However whereas a number of playing cards will likely be quick sufficient for many use instances, some cheap choices will carry out higher than others. We just lately put a dozen fashions by a variety of benchmark exams that can assist you discover the most effective microSD playing cards in your wants.

What to search for in a microSD card


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

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

Word {that a} microSD card’s efficiency could 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.

Once we discuss microSD playing cards right now, we normally check with playing cards that use the microSDXC (eXtended Capacity) standard, which have a capability between 32GB and 2TB. Your machine must assist this for it to work with a microSDXC card. This can virtually by no means be a problem as of late, however some older gadgets (a Nintendo 3DS for example) are solely suitable 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 quicker learn speeds than write speeds. These metrics can then be damaged down into sequential and random efficiency. Sequential learn and write speeds matter once you’re making an attempt to entry or save lengthy, fixed streams of knowledge, similar to opening a big video or copying a giant batch of information from a PC. If you wish to use a microSD card for media storage, that is significantly vital.

Random efficiency, in the meantime, is about how shortly a card can learn and write small information 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 vital should you use a card with a gaming machine or a single-board laptop just like the Raspberry Pi, the place it typically has to quickly save and entry small bits of knowledge in random areas.

A chart from the SD Association explaining how its various speed class ratings work.

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 vital when recording video from a digicam. It ranges from V6 to V90. Many of the playing cards we examined had a V30 score, so that they have a sequential write pace of a minimum of 30 MB/s. This ought to be sufficient to assist as much as 4K video at decrease bitrates. Greater-rated V60 and V90 playing cards are normally higher for capturing 8K, however they arrive at a a lot increased value.

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 score overlaps with the opposite two techniques. 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 score is much less related these days, however you should still see a “C10” brand on some playing cards.

The Utility Efficiency spec, marked by an A logo, is an indicator of random learn/write speeds. That is measured in IOPS, or enter/output operations per second, reasonably 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 couple of,000 IOPS, respectively. Each scores additionally assure sequential write speeds of a minimum of 10 MB/s.

Most individuals ought to search for a card with V30, U3 and A2 scores. It’s completely potential to get a strong card with out these: A U1 card could be value it should you simply want an affordable choice with a excessive capability to carry information, for instance. V60 and V90 playing cards are value a glance should you’re critical about taking pictures high-resolution photographs and video as nicely. However usually talking, playing cards with the certifications above ought to present the most effective mix of value and efficiency right now.

It’s vital 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 observe. The speeds marketed by producers aren’t at all times 100% correct, both: Generally the cardboard will likely be slower in real-world use, different occasions it might really be a bit quicker.

UHS bus speeds

The opposite spec to notice is the cardboard’s bus interface. Most microSD playing cards obtainable right now 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 moderen UHS-III normal exists as nicely however hasn’t seen huge 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, and so they’re normally those with V60 or V90 scores. Should you shoot numerous 4K to 8K video or often use burst mode to seize extremely high-res photographs, the efficiency features of an excellent UHS-II card can prevent time.

However these are far 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 suitable 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 well worth the value premium for the overwhelming majority of individuals, so we largely caught to UHS-I choices.

Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED, face down

Kris Naudus / Engadget

A observe on card readers, the Nintendo Swap 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 by proprietary extensions. You want a suitable card reader and host machine to make the most of that further efficiency, although. Should you discover a UHS-I card promoting speeds increased than 104 MB/s, that is what’s happening. You may see these limits in motion with a Nintendo Swap or Steam Deck: Both of those gaming gadgets assist the UHS-I interface and don’t transcend its official pace, flattening any sequential features some playing cards could have elsewhere. The broader takeaway: Your microSD card will solely be as quick because the slowest hyperlink in your chain.


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

Avoiding counterfeits

The reminiscence card market has had a specific downside with scammers promoting pretend merchandise. To protect towards this, solely purchase from a identified model and a good retailer similar to Finest Purchase, B&H Picture or Adorama. Should you store at Amazon, solely purchase if the shipper and vendor is (Although a handful of customers have reported receiving counterfeits even from Amazon straight previously.) Keep in mind: If a value appears too good to be true, it in all probability is. Be cautious of any retailer providing considerably a lower cost than others.

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

How we examined

We put 12 microSD playing cards by a sequence of exams 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 a number of “real-world” exams. We copied and pasted a small folder of photographs 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 varieties 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 recreation and cargo save information.

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 potential, 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.

Finest for many: Samsung Professional Plus

Finest for many
Samsung Pro Plus (128GB)

Picture by Jeff Dunn / Engadget

Samsung Pro Plus (128GB)

Samsung’s Professional Plus was probably the most constant card we examined and is broadly obtainable from retailers. Simply be sure 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 supplied nearly the most effective 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 digicam, 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, nevertheless 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 a number of {dollars} extra. Both method, the cardboard comes with a 10-year restricted guarantee.

Should you choose to purchase the Professional Plus, ensure you get the latest-generation mannequin, which Samsung launched in April 2023. In the intervening time, the corporate continues to be promoting the prior iteration of the Professional Plus, which appears to be like similar however isn’t as fast, particularly relating 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 result of inventory points with the 128GB mannequin on the time of testing, however this shouldn’t have a serious influence 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 affords sturdy sequential learn and random learn/write efficiency, so it is a good different 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 robust different. This can be a U3-, V30- and A2-rated card backed by a lifetime restricted guarantee. It delivered the very 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 Swap-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 an excellent choice for apps and video games. It’s laborious to justify should you see it priced increased than the Professional Plus, nevertheless.

Finest worth: Samsung Evo Choose

Finest 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 relating to write speeds, nevertheless it’s ok should you simply want a piece of cupboard space and wish to save a couple of dollars.

The Samsung Evo Select is a step behind our prime picks, significantly relating to sequential write speeds (slightly below 70 MB/s on CrystalDiskMark), so it’s not splendid for a digicam. 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, previously. All of these are about on par with the SanDisk Ultra, a often really helpful cheapo card, regardless of the Evo Choose having increased V30, U3 and A2 scores. The Professional Plus has been obtainable for round these costs, too, however the Evo Choose tends to take a seat there extra repeatedly.

One other good choice: SanDisk microSDXC Card for Nintendo Swap

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 should you ever see it obtainable 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 nicely. 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. Word 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 if that one performs any otherwise.

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 quicker sequential write speeds than the Kingston and SanDisk fashions above, so it is a respectable different for recording video or burst-mode photographs should you see it on sale.

Equally, the Lexar Professional 1066x is a good different to the Professional Plus should you 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 quicker than the Canvas Go Plus and SanDisk Swap 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 seen 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 could be an excellent 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 should you’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 quicker sequential write speeds than our picks above. It’s one of many few UHS-II playing cards we may really discover in inventory, nevertheless it prices a ton, normally beginning at $55 for simply 32GB.

The SanDisk Extreme successfully matched the Professional Plus in a number of of our sequential write exams and delivered sequential reads about on par with the Canvas Go Plus, however that was partly as a result 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 nicely behind the Samsung and Kingston playing cards, too, and it is sometimes value 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), nevertheless 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, nevertheless it was nicely behind in our sequential exams.

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