Tue. Mar 5th, 2024


Fast, durable, and efficient, SD cards are the perfect tool for expanding storage space. Whether you need additional storage for your camera, game console, smartphone, or another device, these cards have you covered.


UPDATE: 12/26/2023

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and these are still the best SD cards you can buy.

What to Look For in an SD Card in 2023

The most important factor to consider when buying an SD card is storage capacity. Of course, this depends on what you’ll be using the card for. For example, photographers, videographers, and avid gamers usually require larger-capacity cards.

Most memory card models come in several storage options, but some max out at 256GB or even smaller sizes. That said, the maximum capacity SD card your device is compatible with is very important to keep in mind. There’s no use spending on a higher capacity if your device can’t use it! Check your device’s manual before going ahead with your purchase.

But what’s the use of a 1TB memory card if everything reads and writes slowly? Speed should be your next criterion for choosing a memory card. For photographers, write speeds are very important as they determine how fast you can shoot, especially in burst mode.

For most other use cases, read speed is the number to look out for, so you know how long it’ll take for a game or program to load off the card. Manufacturers offer these read and write speeds on the packaging—that said, these labels are often best-case scenarios, and real-world results are slightly slower.

There are a few more technical features to understand about SD cards. They come in Ultra High-Speed (UHS) categories that indicate the minimum data transfer rates. For example, U1 writes up to 10MB/s while U3 writes up to 30MB/s. But it goes beyond that. U3 is crucial for 4K storage, thanks to the fast write speed, while U1 is compatible with lower resolutions.

There are also Video Speed Classes like V30, V60, and V90, where V30 denotes 4K support and V60 and V60 go up to 8K but at different speeds (60MB/s and 90MB/s, respectively). As you can already tell, the U and V ratings overlap, with U3 and V30 having similar video capabilities.

Our SD card selections are based on the requirements for each use case, such as speed, durability, and video classes. So, let’s get to it.

How Did We Research

Models Evaluated

Hours Researched

Reviews Analyzed

11

7

7

How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read More »

Transcend 700s memory card
Transcend

Pros

Cons

✓ Incredible transfer speeds

✗ Insufficient storage options

✓ 4k support

✓ Durable

✓ Comes with utility software

The Transcend 700S Memory Card is our favorite SD card because of the perfect blend of price and performance. Thanks to its UHS Speed Class 3 rating, it can reach quoted read speeds of 285MB/s and write speeds of 180MB/s. This speed means you can take rapid-fire still photography effortlessly.

It also supports Video Speed Class 90 (V90) for high-resolution 4K and 8K video while costing less than similar options on this list. The card is built to withstand harsh conditions like humidity, shocks, X-rays, temperature extremes, and static currents.

As a plus, Transcend offers free, exclusive recovery software, so you can search deep within the card for traces of erased files. The major downside is that it only comes in 32GB and 64GB models, which is barely enough for photographers and videographers.

transcend sd

Transcend 700S Memory Card

Best SD Card Overall

The ultimate SD card for speed, performance, reliability, and durability without costing a limb.

SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO on table
SanDisk

Pros

Cons

✓ Fast data speeds

✗ Claimed speeds cannot be achieved without proprietary tech

✓ Affordable

✓ Good for professionals

The SanDisk Extreme Pro Card is our go-to choice for a great SD card on a budget. Despite costing significantly less than other options on this list, it boasts a pretty fast quoted read speed of up to 170MB/s, minimizing the time it takes to transfer files from the card to a computer. Plus, it’s rated UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) and Video Speed Class 30 (V30), making it suitable for 4K UHD video recording.

The card is not only about read speeds, though. It features impressive quoted write speeds of 90MB/s, allowing you to shoot in burst mode with fewer processing time delays. While those quoted speeds are great, you’ll need proprietary technology, such as SanDisk’s SD UHS-I Card Reader, to achieve them. Otherwise, you’re stuck at around 90MB/s read and 80MB/s write speeds. While this is still great, it’s a shame you don’t get the advertised speed out of the box.

Still, if you’re on a tight budget, the 64GB version of the SanDisk Extreme Pro should provide you with enough value for money. And if you go for the 128GB or 256GB models, you save even more per gigabyte of storage space.

Finally, there are also 512GB and 1TB options for those who need a lot of storage, but these size cards are not in the budget range.

sandisk extreme pro 2

SanDisk Extreme Pro Card

Best Budget SD Card

$16 $25 Save $9

It has the perfect balance of read and write speeds, translating into real-world performance. The icing on the cake is that it’s cheap, too, even outperforming some more expensive options.

Lexar Professional SD on table
Lexar

Pros

Cons

✓ Exceptional read and write speeds

✗ Pricey

✓ Excellent for professionals

✗ Maxes out at 256GB

✓ Supports 4K video

For professional photographers, you can’t go wrong with the Lexar Professional 2000x Card. It’s capable of read speeds up to 300MB/s, thanks to its support for UHS-II technology. Of course, it’s backward compatible with UHS-I devices, but you won’t achieve similar speeds since UHS-II is physically more capable of faster data transfer.

This SD card’s write speeds can reach 260MB/s, which should handle sequential burst mode and RAW shooting effortlessly. If you like to capture some footage alongside photos, the card’s got you covered, too. It boasts a U3 rating, allowing you to shoot 4K video.

The Lexar Professional card is quite expensive compared to most options on this list. But if you’ve got a need for speed and desire the 4K support, this card is for you. For the average user, confirm that your camera and card reader are compatible with UHS-II before buying them.

The other downside is that it maxes out at 256GB, so you’ll have to back up your photos a little more than if you had a larger capacity.

lexar professions

Lexar Professional 2000x Card

Best SD Card for Photography

$115 $170 Save $55

The Lexar card is the ultimate professional’s delight with next-level technology, speed, and performance.

SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO on table
SanDisk

Pros

Cons

✓ Perfect for 4K or 8K video

✗ Limited capacity

✓ Fast, consistent read and write speed

✗ Expensive

✓ Built for extreme conditions

Every videographer knows how great the GoPro’s versatility is, especially for those who like to capture footage on the go. Pair that with the SanDisk Extreme Pro Memory Card, and you have a match made in heaven. For video recording, it’s rated in the V90 speed class and UHS speed class three (U3), capable of delivering 4K and even 8K video recording.

Like the Lexar card, the SanDisk has a quoted read speed of up to 300MB/s and write speeds of up to 260MB/s for continuous burst shooting with high-resolution stills in JPEG and RAW formats. Plus, the card is built to match the GoPro’s toughness. It’s waterproof, shockproof, temperature-proof, and X-ray-proof, so your mind is at rest in the heat of the action.

The SanDisk is great but costs just as much as the Lexar Professional card, and the storage maxes out at 256GB, which might not be enough storage for all your needs.

sandisk extreme pro-1

SanDisk Extreme Pro Memory Card

Best SD Card for GoPro

$60 $100 Save $40

The SanDisk Extreme Pro boasts unrivaled speed with 4K and 8K capture for all your video needs. And it’s as rugged as it’s fast.

SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO on table
SanDisk

Pros

Cons

✓ Fast game loading times

✗ A bit expensive

✓ Can withstand extreme situations

SanDisk is well known for its quality in the memory card space, so it’s no surprise that it makes a third appearance on this list. The SanDisk Extreme Pro Micro Memory Card is our pick for choice pairing for the Steam Deck. It supports U3 and V30 speed classes for UHS and video, respectively. It lives up to the “Extreme” badge with its ability to survive harsh conditions.

The micro SD got the nod over our other considerations thanks to its fast 170MB/s read speed which translates to real-world usage. The card has been shown to outpace the Steam Deck’s 512GB SSD by a few milliseconds when launching games by RPS. While that’s not a lot, it should squeeze out every possible fraction of game load times.

The only real downside of this card is that it’s quite expensive, but the price is justified considering the performance.

sandisk extreme pro

SanDisk Extreme Pro Micro Memory Card

Best SD Card for Steam Deck

$20 $25 Save $5

A blazingly fast microSD card for the Steam Deck, capable of going toe to toe with built-in storage.

Silicon Power Micro SD on table
Silicon Power

Pros

Cons

✓ Excellent Raspberry Pi 4 speeds

✗ Relatively slow boot time

✓ Affordable

✓ White surface for labeling

Even though most Raspberry Pi devices rely entirely on external memory for their storage needs, a 32GB card is more than sufficient. And our pick for the category goes to the Silicon Power 3D NAND MicroSD Card.

It’s rated at UHS Speed 1 and loads apps consistently faster than most similar options on Raspberry Pi 4. It has also been shown to perform considerably well on various tests.

While this is not a conventional feature, the Silicon Power microSD has a largely white surface that should come in handy for scribbling labels for identification when you have many of them.

As far as downsides go, the only real problem here is that its boot time is relatively slow. That’s not a bad problem when the other speed metrics come out on top.

silicon power microsd

Silicon Power 3D NAND MicroSD Card

Best SD Card for Raspberry Pi

The Silicon Power MicroSD Card is fast and provides plenty of storage for Raspberry Pi 4.

SanDisk

Pros

Cons

✓ A2 Rated for high read and write speeds

✗ Expensive when compared to standard MicroSD cards

✓ Between 128GB and 1TB capacities available

✓ Includes an SD card adapter

While it certainly isn’t the most budget-friendly MicroSD card, the SanDisk Extreme PLUS MicroSDXC is the storage upgrade your Nintendo Switch needs. Even when tested against the internal storage, this card feels impressively quick.

The Extreme PLUS has an A2 rating, which means it is designed to store applications with optimized read and write performance. On the Switch, high read speed is more beneficial as it impacts loading times. With a maximum of 200MB/s read and 140MB/s write speed, this card can shave a considerable amount off your wait to start gaming.

You can choose from a range of storage capacities between 128GB and 1TB. The largest size costs over a hundred dollars, but the outlay may be worth it for the potential performance improvement. Still, the 128GB and 256GB models are affordable and will be enough space for most Switch players.

You don’t get the pretty Zelda or Super Mario branding of some other widely-recommended SanDisk MicroSD cards, but does that really matter if the card is hidden 99% of the time?

sandisk extreme plus

SanDisk Extreme PLUS MicroSDXC

Best SD Card for Switch

Although not the cheapest MicroSDXC card around, the A2-rated Extreme PLUS is extremely fast at both reading and writing, and as reliable as you would expect from SanDisk storage.



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By John P.

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