It wasn’t that long ago that you had a choice when it came down to external storage for your phones, cameras and portable game systems. You could buy Sony’s Memory Stick Duo which, let’s face it, was an overpriced endeavor no matter how you cut it, or you could indulge in one of the best SD cards for a lot cheaper, especially on Black Friday.
Given that most people didn’t care about the fact that Memory Stick Duo was faster and allowed for higher capacities than SD cards (because SD cards were a bargain and still are), the latter won like Blu-Ray beat out HD DVD, and as a result we were all rescued from the burden of proprietary memory cards.
Nowadays, we see the best SD cards on the market coming from a multitude of tech companies for use in everything from the DSLR cameras to the Nintendo Switch, we felt it necessary to come up with our own rankings leading you to what will inevitably be the tiniest storage device that you own.
The best SD and microSD memory cards 2017
The best SD card you can buy is technically a microSD card, albeit one that can be used full-size when married to the proper hardware. Despite not being the most resilient SD card on the market, the Samsung Evo Plus’ 100 megabyte per second (MB/s) read and 90MB/s write speeds are impressive nonetheless. Not only that, but there is a wide variety of sizes to choose from too, so whether you need 32GB of storage or 128GB, rest assured you’re in good hands.
If you do a lot of filming, especially in 4K, then you're going to want a reliable microSD card that can write large amounts of data fast, which is exactly what the Samsung Pro+ can do. It features a U3 rating and read/write speeds of 95MB/sec and 90MB/sec. The kind of speeds the Samsung Pro+ microSD card can handle will be largely wasted for day-to-day tasks, such as being installed in a smartphone, but for 4K video, this is a fantastic buy.
SanDisk claims this microSD card can read up to 95MB/s and write 90MB/s, and in tests it came pretty close to those speeds. This makes it a very fast card, and with smaller files it's even faster, which means this is a great card for action cams, drones or burst photography. Again, it's a bit on the pricey side, but if you don't mind spending a bit above the odds, you'll get a great microSD card for your needs.
The Lexar 1000x isn't the fastest microSD card here, but it has a lot going for it. For example, its read speeds are still some of the fastest around, and it's priced cheaper than many of its competitors. While it falls short with its write speeds, the difference won't be too noticeable for many people. It also comes with a microSD to USB 3.0 adapter, which makes it easy to transfer your files to a PC.
As you can probably tell from the number of entrants it has in our best microSD list, Samsung is excellent at producing fast, efficient and dependable microSD cards. The Samsung Evo Select is another great all-rounder that can happily sit in a digital camera, drone, phone or Nintendo Switch games console. While it doesn't necessarily excel in any one task, it is a strong performer that does the job well. Currently Samsung Evo Select microSD cards are only available from Amazon. While that makes hunting for a bargain a bit more tricky, it at least means you can buy with confidence from a reputable seller.
If you're looking for a microSD card that is going to take a lot of punishment, for example, in an action camera, on a drone or installed outside in a security camera, then the Kingston Industrial Class 10 U1 is an excellent choice. For starters, it can withstand temperatures of -40 to 85 degrees Celsius, it's shock-proof and can withstand X-rays. It's been tested for industrial applications and has a five year warranty, so you can use this microSD card in confidence.
If you're looking for a microSD card to put inside an action camera, like the Go Pro, then you want something that can record data quickly, while also being able to withstand drops, shocks and splashes. This is where the Kingston microSD Action Camera comes in – it's designed especially for action cameras. This means it has an incredibly robust design, as well as good read and write speeds. It's a bit overkill if you're just going to use it in a smartphone, so one of the other microSD cards in this list could be better suited to your needs.
How to choose your microSD memory card
- It’s not worth looking for memory cards with capacities smaller than 4GB simply because the price premium you pay for twice or four times the storage is tiny.
- Make sure you include the delivery price when doing the numbers as quite often you end up paying more for the postage than the drive itself, particularly for low-cost models.
- If you plan to opt for large capacity cards (32GB or more), make sure that your device is SDXC compatible.
- If you plan to move files to and from portable devices (tablets or smartphones), consider a microUSB card reader such as the Leef Access.
- Avoid buying your memory cards from vendors with few feedbacks on auction websites as these drives might turn out to be fake. All the vendors listed below are tried and trusted ones.
- For 128GB and above, SD cards are generally cheaper as users usually settle for 64GB as this matches the maximum supported capacity of most portable devices. In general, microSD cards with an adaptor cost less than the equivalent SD card.
- Note that all the capacities are likely to be much less than stated when they are formatted.
- SD cards are usually divided into classes which gives a rough idea of the minimum performance to be expected. A Class 4 card is guaranteed to deliver at least 4MBps while a Class 10 should surpass 10MBps.
- Similarly, many vendors report their speeds in terms of “x” rating which is a multiple of 150KBps (the read speed of a standard CDROM drive). A 100x card can be expected to deliver more than 14MBps.
- If you plan to buy microSD cards simply to store data, don’t. Memory sticks, being cheaper and more robust, are a better choice.