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There’s a good chance you’re reading this on a device that takes an SD card, or that you at least have one nearby.
SD cards, especially microSD cards, may be small, but don’t underestimate the versatility, power and convenience. These have multiple uses across all your devices: cameras, phones, laptops, drones, dash cams, gaming consoles, and GoPros, just to name a few.
They may be small, but they can also get expensive fast as the storage and speed stats creep upwards. We recommend taking a look at these key features to help narrow down which brand, size, and class are right for you.
How to Pick the Best SD Cards
Speed and size are the best places to start when finding the right SD card for you. Here’s everything you should know:
Speed: This is how fast the card “reads and writes,” meaning its ability to pull up, copy, transfer, and save the files you want. It’s best to go for at least 100MB per second, and more if you’ll be dealing with RAW photo files or large 4K/HD video clips.
Size: These are measured in gigabytes, and it’s always better to have more than you think you’ll need, just in case. Typical sizes range from around 32GB on up to 1TB and beyond, but more storage space might mean sacrificing speed. As far as physical size, don’t worry if your device doesn’t look like it takes microSD cards, as most come with an adapter to safely go into bigger ports and run normally.
Class: When searching for SD cards, you’ll probably run into different stats and classes involving “UHS,” or Ultra High Speed, which is a way of measuring the read and write speeds. The best one for you really depends on what you do with your device. If you’re just shooting and storing regular photos, for instance, UHS-I should work, even though they provide slower speeds than a UHS-II, which might be better for someone recording video and can reach up to 312MB per second. You may not even need to worry about UHS, depending on which device you’re using and how it encodes the files automatically.
What Are the Best SD Cards?
Here are our picks for the best SD cards to buy right now.
1. PNY 256GB X-PRO 90 Card
PNY’s speedy Class 10 SD card has a roomy 256GB of storage capacity, with speeds of up to an impressive 300MB/sec (and 280MB/sec writing). This one work well in most situations, like snapping photos and recording video in HD with a DSLR, thanks to the V90 video speed class, and makes transferring files in post-production a whole lot faster. Plus, they’re extremely durable, temperature-proof, and waterproof as well.
2. SanDisk Extreme Plus microSDXC Card
We found this alternate option from SanDisk to be best for action cams and devices like drones, GoPros, and even high-quality smartphones. This speedy U3-certified card is up for adventure, processes 4K video fast, sometimes at 170MB per second. It’s also water-resistant and resistant to freezing temperatures, making it ideal for your next skiing or snowboarding trip.
3. Lexar Professional microSDXC
Lexar’s Class 10 card works on PC and Mac, bringing 128GB of storage space. This one was especially nice for dealing with high-quality video files, even in 4K and 3D, with UHS-III tech for speeds up to 150MB/second. If you need even more space, these range in sizes up to 512GB. And with image rescue tech, you can get back those photos you accidentally deleted.
4. SanDisk Ultra MicroSDXC Card
This card is an A1 Speed Class 10 category, meaning you can manage even large HD files fast. File transfers can reach speeds of up to 100MB/sec, moving up to 1000 photos in about a minute.
It comes with an adapter, SanDisk has an accompanying app that makes managing files easy, and capacity is available up to 512GB. This also works well with the Nintendo Switch.
5. SAMSUNG PRO Endurance 256GB MicroSDXC
Most people will choose an outdoor security camera that can withstand all seasons, guard against rain and snow, and hold up in intense heat. But what about the SD card inside? Samsung’s Endurance keeps this in mind, as it’s able to perform in extreme temperatures, wetness, physical damage, even under X-rays and magnets. All while still able to store 140,000 hours of recording re-writing over a 16 year period.