The very best microSD playing cards in 2023

If you wish to add space for storing to a Nintendo Change, GoPro or Raspberry Pi, you want a microSD card. However whereas a number of playing cards might be quick sufficient for many use circumstances, some cheap choices will carry out higher than others. We lately put a dozen fashions by way of a variety of benchmark checks 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 often obtainable in sizes starting from 32GB to 512GB, whereas a handful supply 1TB fashions as nicely. 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 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 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 could possibly be as little as $40 (although most value nearer to $50 or $60). There’s a starker enhance whenever you go as much as 1TB playing cards, which usually value round $100.

Be aware {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 speak about microSD playing cards at present, we often discuss with playing cards that use the microSDXC (eXtended Capacity) standard, which have a capability between 32GB and 2TB. Your gadget must assist this for it to work with a microSDXC card. It will virtually by no means be a problem lately, however some older gadgets (a Nintendo 3DS as an 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 often 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 whenever you’re attempting to entry or save lengthy, fixed streams of knowledge, resembling opening a big video or copying a giant batch of recordsdata from a PC. If you wish to use a microSD card for media storage, that is notably vital.

Random efficiency, in the meantime, is about how rapidly a card can learn and write small recordsdata scattered all through the gadget. Since random learn/write speeds are a lot decrease than sequential ones, storage gadget makers have a tendency to not promote them as loudly. However they’re vital should you use a card with a gaming gadget or a single-board laptop just like the Raspberry Pi, the place it usually has to quickly save and entry small bits of knowledge in random places.

SD Affiliation

Velocity rankings

In the event you take a look at a microSD card, you’ll see a buffet of numbers, letters and symbols. Most of those discuss with the cardboard’s speed class and efficiency rankings, 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 digital camera. It ranges from V6 to V90. A lot 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. Increased-rated V60 and V90 playing cards are often 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 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 score is much less related these days, however you should still see a “C10” brand on some playing cards.

The Software 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, quite 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 rankings 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 rankings. It’s completely attainable to get a strong card with out these: A U1 card is perhaps value it should you simply want an affordable choice with a excessive capability to carry recordsdata, for instance. V60 and V90 playing cards are value a glance should you’re critical about taking pictures high-resolution pictures and video as nicely. However usually talking, playing cards with the certifications above ought to present the most effective mix of value and efficiency at present.

It’s vital to emphasise that these rankings are baselines. Many V30 playing cards supply considerably increased write speeds than 30 MB/s, as an example, and a few A1 playing cards can outperform some A2 fashions in observe. The speeds marketed by producers aren’t all the time one hundred pc correct, both: Generally the cardboard might 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 at present 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 might attain as much as 312 MB/s. (A more moderen UHS-III normal exists as nicely however hasn’t seen large 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 often those with V60 or V90 rankings. In the event you shoot a lot of 4K to 8K video or incessantly use burst mode to seize extremely high-res pictures, the efficiency positive aspects of UHS-II card can prevent time.

However these are way more costly than UHS-I playing cards: This 128GB model from ProGrade Digital, for instance, is a relative cut price at $55. You want a tool that’s suitable with the UHS-II interface to see any advantages, too, and as we had 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 largely caught to UHS-I choices.

Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED, face down

Kris Naudus / Engadget

A observe 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 by way of proprietary extensions. You want a suitable card reader and host gadget to benefit from that further efficiency, although. In the event you discover a UHS-I card promoting speeds increased than 104 MB/s, that is what’s occurring. You may see these limits in motion with a Nintendo Change or Steam Deck: Both of those gaming gadgets assist the UHS-I interface and don’t transcend its official pace, flattening any sequential positive aspects 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, a protracted guarantee is all the time 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 often lined for a a lot shorter time period.

Avoiding counterfeits

The reminiscence card market has had a specific drawback with scammers promoting faux merchandise. To protect towards this, solely purchase from a recognized model and a good retailer resembling Finest Purchase, B&H Picture or Adorama. In the event 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 most likely is. Be cautious of any retailer providing considerably a lower cost than others.

When you obtain a card, examine its packaging for any irregularities. You may run benchmark checks 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 can too use software program that’s designed to confirm the true capability and efficiency of your card, resembling H2testw and FakeFlashTest.

How we examined

We put 12 microSD playing cards by way of a sequence of checks 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” checks. We copied and pasted a small folder of pictures about 1.15GB in measurement 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 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 had 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 ensure 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 when it comes to 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 rankings: U3, V30 and A2. Its sequential learn efficiency isn’t fairly as fast as a few of our alternate picks under, nevertheless it’s not far behind. In our massive file switch take a look at, as an 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 latest 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 approach, the cardboard comes with a 10-year restricted guarantee.

In the event you choose to purchase the Professional Plus, be sure to get the latest-generation mannequin, which Samsung launched in April 2023. In the meanwhile, the corporate remains to be promoting the prior iteration of the Professional Plus, which seems an identical however isn’t as fast, particularly in terms of 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 significant impression 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 robust 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. It is 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 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 had been solely bested by Samsung’s card, too, so it’s nonetheless choice for apps and video games. It’s onerous 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 in terms of write speeds, nevertheless it’s ok should you simply want a bit of space for storing and wish to save a couple of bucks.

The Samsung Evo Select is a step behind our prime picks, notably in terms of sequential write speeds (just below 70 MB/s on CrystalDiskMark), so it’s not very best for a digital camera. Nonetheless, it’s completely usable for a lot of use circumstances, 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 incessantly really useful cheapo card, regardless of the Evo Choose having increased V30, U3 and A2 rankings. The Professional Plus has been obtainable for round these costs, too, however the Evo Choose tends to sit down there extra repeatedly.

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 should you ever see it obtainable for lower than the Professional Plus and Canvas Go Plus. Its sequential learn speeds had been about the identical because the Kingston card in our benchmarks, however its sequential writes had been barely slower (and farther behind the Professional Plus). Its random learn/writes had been a step behind in keeping with CrystalDiskMark, as nicely. The 128GB version of this card is often 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. Be aware 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 quicker sequential write speeds than the Kingston and SanDisk fashions above, so it is a respectable different for recording video or burst-mode pictures should you see it on sale.

Equally, the Lexar Professional 1066x is an honest 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 had been a bit quicker 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 perhaps cut price if you need 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 keen 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 will 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, often beginning at $55 for simply 32GB.

The SanDisk Extreme successfully matched the Professional Plus in a number of of our sequential write checks and delivered sequential reads about on par with the Canvas Go Plus, however that was partly as a result of us solely with 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. In the event 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 usually goes for reasonable, nevertheless it was nicely behind in our sequential checks.

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