Fastest SD Card Speed Test Results

I’ve been buying and testing SD cards and posting the results here for 8 years. These are the fastest SD cards I’ve found so far. I regularly test new cards and update the table and rankings below.

Fastest SD Cards. Photo by David Coleman - havecamerawilltravel.com
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Filed Under: Memory Cards
Topics: SD Cards

I MAY get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Current Fastest SD Cards Quick List

These are the current fastest SD cards I’ve tested so far.

These SD cards are ranked by tested sequential write speed results. That’s the measure that’s most relevant to cameras, especially recording 4K video, 8K video, and high-bitrate video as well as fast photo burst modes.

You can find more information about each individual SD card below in the full test results section, but here’s a quick list of the quickest:

  1. PNY EliteX-PRO90 V90 UHS-II
  2. Nextorage F2PRO V90 UHS-II
  3. RITZ Gear VideoPro V90 UHS-II
  4. SanDisk Extreme PRO V90 UHS-II
  5. Kingston Canvas React Plus V90 UHS-II
  6. Angelbird AV Pro SD MK2 V90 UHS-II
  7. Kodak ULTRA PRO V90 UHS-II
  8. ProGrade Digital V90 UHS-II
  9. Lexar Professional 2000x Gold V90 UHS-II
Top Pick
PNY EliteX-PRO90 V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 280
Nextorage F2PRO V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 299
RITZ Gear VideoPro V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 280
  • Rated write speed: 250
SanDisk Extreme PRO V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 260
Kingston Canvas React Plus V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 260

I started running these independent speed tests on SD cards back in 2016. Since then, I’ve regularly tested newer and faster cards and have been updating the results.

I buy all the cards myself and run them through a consistent test procedure (you can find more details on that below). My objective here is to compare cards against each other with the type of comparison that I find useful when deciding which SD cards to buy and use in my cameras.

Current Fastest SD Cards Tested: In Detail

Here’s some more detailed information on the top-ranking fastest SD cards I’ve tested. You can find the full list of tested cards in the table below.

You might notice some differences in this list with the table below. That’s because I’ve removed cards from here that are discontinued and no longer readily available.

In ranking these, I’ve relied on the results from my tests, and you can see those results in the table further down this page. In the descriptions of each card here, I’ve included the rated read and write speeds. Those provided by the manufacturers and should be read preceded by an implicit “up to” along with, sometimes, a grain of salt.

PNY EliteX-PRO90 V90 UHS-II SD Card

PNY Elite X-Pro90 V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 280

Check current price & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama

PNY has become quite an established player in the consumer flash memory space over the past several years. I’ve been impressed with their SD and microSD cards, and they also make SSD drives, PC components, and other hardware. They’re headquartered in New Jersey.

This card has impressive speed and comes from a company with real chops and deep experience in the engineering and manufacturing of flash memory (i.e., not just a brand). It’s also widely available at major camera retail outlets. 

This card immediately jumped to the top spot in this list, but it was overtaken about an hour later when I tested the RITZ Gear card. In the time since those initial tests, I have bought more of these cards and retested them. Each subsequent time, it has edged out the RITZ Gear card. So I’ve revised the order here. In a practical sense, the sliver of a speed difference is unlikely to have any meaningful performance difference in a device, and it’s normal to have slight fluctuations between tests and between equipment setups. It’s also worth mentioning that the labels on the new version differ from the original version I tested, which got me to wondering whether there was more to the product refresh than just a new label. [1]

From a buyer perspective, I have more personal experience with PNY memory cards than RITZ Gear memory cards and tend to choose PNY cards over RITZ Gear cards when selecting SD cards for my own use.

It comes in storage capacities of 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. I found that its write speed average to be just a smidgeon over its claimed 280MB/s, and I always appreciate when a card outperforms its marketing claims. 

It’s also worth mentioning that PNY also has an “Elite-X” card in their lineup. That is a much slower V30 card. Also confusingly, older versions of the EliteX-PRO90 have a label that reads just X-Pro 90. There is also a V60 version called EliteX-PRO60.

Nextorage F2PRO V90 UHS-II SD Card

Nextorage F2PRO V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 299

Check current prices & availability at: B&H Photo | Amazon

Nextorage is a Japanese brand that is much better known in the Japanese market than the US. It’s a relatively new company created by a group of engineers and staff who had previously been at Sony. They specialize in storage media, and for now seem to be prioritizing SSDs as well as CFexpress, and SD memory cards. One of their company goals, they say, is to “become the world’s No. 1 imaging memory manufacturer,” which is quite a goal.

I’ve not yet used many of their products, but things are off to a good start with this UHS-II V90 SDXC card. While it didn’t quite knock the PNY card off the top spot, it came very close. So I’m looking forward to trying more of their cards, including their CFexpress cards.

Worth noting is that they also have a UHS-II SE card, which is significantly slower (and rated for V60 in very faint printing on the label). The one I bought and tested here is the V90, which has the model number NX-F2PRO and has “PRO” prominently on the label. It’s manufactured in Taiwan and comes with a 5-year warranty.

RITZ Gear VideoPro V90 UHS-II SD Card

RITZ Gear VideoPro V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 280
  • Rated write speed: 250

Check current prices & availability atAmazon

This one came as a surprise. I started seeing RITZ memory cards showing up online a while ago but didn’t take much notice. There are a lot of memory card brands that pop up that aren’t the real deal, and of all the memory card brands that make it onto this list, RITZ Gear is the one I have the least personal experience with in my cameras. So it took me a while to get to testing this one. And I’ve learned that I was wrong to put it off. 

It turns out that this RITZ is the same company—or, at least, the same brand—as Ritz Camera. Ritz Camera was famous as a century-old brick-and-mortar camera store chain in the United States. Like most camera stores, they couldn’t compete with the big online players, and they closed up shop about a decade ago. It seems the brand was bought out and is now being reinvented under the RITZ Gear brand. And memory cards are among their new initiatives—they’re also putting out CFexpress B cards and microSD cards. It would come as a surprise to me if they’re manufacturing their own cards—it seems more likely to me that they’re licensing and rebranding—but I don’t really know. This is their fastest model of SD card. And it’s quick. 

That said, this is not a card I’ve used extensively in real-world shooting. So, while it was quick in my tests, I don’t have a sense of its reliability.

It’s available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage capacities. They don’t seem to be widely available. They’re on Amazon, but I haven’t been able to find them at B&H, Adorama, or even the RitzCamera.com website (yet). 

Interestingly, this card exceeds its claimed write and read speeds (you can see the detailed results in the performance table below). And the performance is very similar to the PNY card, which got me wondering whether maybe they came from the same factory (to be clear: that’s just idle speculation on my part). 

Note that RITZ has also put out an SD Express card with a new Golden Eagle line. You could be forgiven for thinking it might be faster. While that might be technically true, it’s not true in any practical sense in a camera with an SD slot. In that case, it will roll back to UHS-I speeds. SD Express is a new type of memory card, and it requires the host device to be explicitly compatible in order to run at full speed. So it’s really not a good investment for any current cameras. (I have more on the SD Express standard below.)

SanDisk Extreme Pro V90 UHS-II SD Card

SanDisk Extreme PRO V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 260

Check current price & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo

SanDisk might be the best-known memory card manufacturer on this page. They have a strong history of reliable and good-performing cards. And while they have a full product range that’s refreshed frequently, somewhat surprisingly, they don’t always have cards near the top of this list.

SanDisk also recycles its product names, and there have been many, many versions of the Extreme PRO card available over the years, and there are usually multiple different versions available from retailers at any given time. This specific card is model SDSDXDK. It’s a V90 card and UHS-II.

Kingston Canvas React Plus V90 UHS-II SD Card

Kingston Canvas React Plus V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 260

Check current price & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo

I’ve been using Kingston memory cards on and off for a long time and have always found them reliable and cost-effective. But this is the first card of theirs that I’ve used that is genuinely fast. And it’s very, very quick.

With the Canvas React Plus lineup, they’re aiming for shooters of 4K and 8K video. And with their deep experience in producing memory cards, they seem to have nailed it.

The Canvas React Plus is available in sizes from 32GB to 256GB and comes with a UHS-II USB card reader.

Something to watch for is that there’s also a Canvas Go! and a Canvas Select Plus, both of which are slower than this card. The fast one is the Canvas React Plus and is rated for up to 300MB/s read speed.

Angelbird AV Pro SD MK2 V90 UHS-II SD Card

Angelbird AV Pro SD MK2 V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 280

Check current price & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo

Angelbird is an Austrian company that focuses on flash memory storage for the pro end of the market, with an emphasis on cameras and devices with the highest bitrate recording. They deliberately aim for smaller production runs, but their SD cards have started becoming more widely available in recent years.

This card, model AV Pro SD MK2 V90, is currently their fastest SD card. They also have a slightly slower V60 version.

I was tipped off to this card by Panasonic GH5 and Fujifilm XT-4 shooters, cameras that both have very high bitrate recording modes of around 400 Mbps, combined with using SD card slots (rather than faster CFexpress or XQD slots). So those cameras demand fast SD cards. 

This card is rated for up to 280MB/s sequential write and 300MB/s sequential read (and sustained write speed of 260 MB/s and sustained read speed of 280 MB/s). It’s available in 256GB, 128GB, and 64GB sizes and comes with a 3-year limited warranty. And it has a UHS-II interface.

One small but nice touch is that the cards are sticker-free. So the label information is printed directly on the card rather than a sticker label. That eliminates the risk of a sticker’s adhesive softening when the card gets hot at high data transfer speeds and gumming up the camera’s card slot. And they (along with any other SD card) will get hot at high-bitrate recording. It’s a small touch, but a thoughtful one.

Kodak ULTRA PRO V90 UHS-II SD Card

Kodak ULTRA PRO V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 270

Check current price & availability at: Amazon

There might be no brand more closely associated with photography than Kodak. But despite some early pioneering work with digital cameras, they just never were able to make the leap to digital work. And, as far as I’m aware, they’re not really manufacturing any digital products themselves; instead, they’re licensing the brand name to others. I suspect–but don’t know for sure–that that’s what’s happening here with the limited range of Kodak SD cards. I have not seen them widely available in stores.

Nevertheless, I found this card to be quick. It’s a V90 UHS-II card that’s rated for a write speed of up to 270 MB/s.

ProGrade Digital V90 UHS-II SD Card

ProGrade Digital V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 250

Check current price & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama | ProGrade Digital

 Model: PGSD64GBCJNA / PGSD128GBCJNA / PGSD256GBCJNA

ProGrade Digital is a new player in memory cards, but it has been created by a team with very deep experience in the industry. They’re focusing on high-end cards with an emphasis on cards geared toward top-shelf cameras and professional use. In other words, fast and reliable.

ProGrade Digital doesn’t have the marketing budget of the big brands, the cards come in bare-bones packaging, and the brand isn’t all that well known yet, but I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far. This is now the card I’m using in my primary camera, and I’ve had a good experience with their other cards that I’ve tried (including the V60 version and their microSD card). They also happen to make excellent memory card readers too.

This card is the one with the V90 rating, and it’s available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions. And they’ve recently added a 512GB version, which is unusual in these fast V90 cards. There’s also a V60 version which isn’t quite as quick as this one but still has very high performance.

Lexar Professional 2000x Gold V90 UHS-II SD Card

Lexar Professional 2000x Gold V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300

Check current price & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo

Lexar has been one of the big, established players in memory cards for a long time now. In recent years, they’ve had some corporate upheaval and a change of ownership. That seemed to disrupt the production and supply of their cards for a while. But that seems to be mostly rectified by now, and their cards are now readily available at many retailers.

Lexar put their higher-end memory cards into three color-coded bands: Lexar blue (slowest), Lexar Professional silver (medium), and Lexar Professional gold (fastest). This card is in the gold band.

With a UHS-II bus and a speed class of V90, Lexar rates this one for a read speed of up to 300 MB/s (or 2000x) but, as usual, doesn’t publish a write speed other than “write speeds slower.” But this card boasts impressive sequential write speed as well. It’s in the Lexar Professional line and comes in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions.

This one also comes with its own USB thumb drive card reader, which also happens to be one of the fastest SD readers I’ve come across yet.

Sony TOUGH-G SFG-(T) V90 UHS-II SD Card

Sony TOUGH-G SFG-(T) V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 300
  • Rated write speed: 299

Model No. SF-G(T)

Sony SF-M and SF-G SD Cards Recalled
Sony has recalled SD cards in their SF-M, SF-M TOUGH, and SF-G TOUGH series due to potential data loss when recording video.
They’ve announced a replacement program for affected cards. You can find out how to see if your card is affected here.

Check current price & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo

Sony has had several fast SD cards in their Tough line. Like them, this version is very quick at the kinds of reading and writing that matter for recording video and shooting burst and high-resolution photos. It’s rated for a sequential write speed of 299MB/s and a sequential read speed of 300MB/s.

They’re marketing this card as both fast and tough. The “tough” part comes in with some extra design elements aiming to make it more rugged, such as using a one-piece molded structure, getting rid of the ribs on the connector and the write-protect switch, and claiming that it’s “18 times more resistant to bending than conventional SD cards.” This all sounds impressive, but the focus of these tests is speed, and the good news is that the rugged design doesn’t appear to have led to any compromise in speed. So it appears to be a win-win.

It’s a UHS-II card that carries a V90 rating. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes (for now, there aren’t 256GB or 512GB versions).

Toshiba Exceria Pro U3 UHS-II SD Card

Toshiba Exceria Pro U3 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 260
  • Rated write speed: 240

Model No. N101

Check current prices & availability at: Amazon

Toshiba isn’t often one of the first brands that come to mind with memory cards, but they’ve long been one of the best hard drive and SSD manufacturers around, so they come with very, very deep experience in flash memory. And while they’ve had some impressive cards in their Exceria Pro line for a while, they don’t seem to have really pushed hard on the memory card direction, and their cards aren’t always easy to find in stores.

Performance-wise, I found this card to be very close to the Lexar 2000x. But it falls short regarding value—it’s consistently significantly more expensive than some of the other lines, which presumably goes hand-in-hand with the relative scarcity in availability.

It comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions.

Transcend 700S V90 UHS-II SD Card

Transcend 700S V90 UHS-II SDXC
  • Type: SDXC
  • Video Speed Class: V90
  • UHS Bus Interface: UHS-II
  • Rated read speed: 285
  • Rated write speed: 180

Check current prices & availability at: Amazon | B&H Photo

Transcend doesn’t have the market presence of some other brands, but they’ve been making very good cards for a long time now. This card is quick, but one potential negative I’ve come across is that so far is that I’ve only seen it available in 64GB and 32GB sizes.

SD Speed Test Results

Here’s the full list of SD cards I’ve tested so far, along with the results. You can find more detailed information about each of the fastest cards in the next section.

These are sorted by default by descending sequential write speed, but you can click on the column headers to sort by other criteria or use the search bar to filter by brand, etc. You can also scroll the table right to get the other columns.

All are measured in MB/s and are sequential write and sequential read speeds.

BrandModelSpeed ClassUHSTested WriteTested ReadRated WriteRated Read
PNYElite X-PRO90V90II289.0306.4280300
NextorageUHS-II ProV90II286.3291.9299300
RITZ GearRGPROSDV90II284.8299.3250280
SanDiskExtreme PRO (SDSDXDK)V90II283.5291.7260300
KingstonCanvas React Plus (MLPR2)V90II274.0291.5260300
AngelbirdAV Pro SD MK2 V90V90II272.5295.5280300
KodakULTRA PROV90II268.6296.8270300
ProGrade DigitalPGSD128GBCJNAV90II254.4282.6250300
SonySF-G64U3II253.0180.0299300
LexarProfessional 2000x GoldU3II241.4278.0-300
SonyTOUGH-G (SF-G(T))V90II234.1269.1299300
ToshibaExceria Pro N101U3II231.7254.4-141.5
Transcend700SV90II227.4282.6-285
ManfrottoMANPROSD128V90II222.0270.1250280
SanDiskExtreme Pro SDSDXPU3II196.8257.7250280
SonySF-EV60II190.0282.0120270
TranscendTS64GSD2U3U3II187.2294.2180285
SamsungPRO Ultimate (MB-SY)V30I134.7181.2130200
ProGrade DigitalPGSD128GBKBHV60II125.6252.0130250
SamsungEVO Plus (MB-SC)V30I123.2133.1130
ProGrade DigitalPGSD128GBJNAV60II108.6162.7130250
SanDiskExtreme Pro (SDSDXPK)U3II105.6230.0260300
Delkin DevicesPower (DESD2000)V90II105.5229.0100300
SabrentRocket V60 (SD-TL60)V60II105.2283.6170270
SanDiskExtreme Pro (SDSDXXD)V30I102.4180.390200
SanDisk Extreme (SDSDXVA)V30I102.3179.490180
LexarLSD64GCBNA1667V60II99.6258.0-250
Hoodman Steel2000xV90II92.494.1260300
SanDiskSanDisk Extreme Pro (SDSDXXG)U3I90.598.89095
SanDiskExtreme Pro SDSDXPAU3I89.294.59095
SanDiskExtreme (SDSDXV5)U3I88.397.6150
SanDiskExtreme ProU1I85.494.3-95
LexarProfessional 1000x LSD32GCRBNA1000U3II82.2156.3-150
Delkin DevicesAdvantage (DDSDW633V30I75.799.080100
Delkin DevicesSelect (DDSDR266)V10I70.398.72040
KingstonCanvas Go! (SDG)V30I69.897.74590
PNYElite-XV30I67.097.1100
SanDiskExtreme PLUS (SDSDXSF)U3I64.688.76090
SanDiskExtreme (SDSDXNE)U3I62.589.54090
Delkin DevicesPrime (DDSDB1900)V60II60.3211.4100300
SonySF-M64/TU3II59.0215.1100260
SonySF32UZ/TQNU3I56.3919095
SonySF32UX2/TQU3I55.990.67094
SanDiskExtreme (SDSDXVE)V30I55.398.94090
KIngstonSDA10U1I54.292.54590
KingstonSDA3U3I53.191.78090
PNYElite Performance (P-SDX128U395-GE)U3I51.595.2-95
SanDiskExtreme (SDSQXNE)U3I48.789.24090
Lexar Professional633x (LSD64GCBNL633)U3I40.179.4-95
TranscendTS32GSDHC10U1EU1I34.695.3-90
Micro CenterExtreme SpeedU1I25.997.11060
* Sometimes there are discrepancies with the claimed speeds, where the packaging doesn't match the online specs or retailer specs. In those cases, I'm using the specs on the actual packaging when possible.

This obviously doesn’t include every SD card available. It’s a growing list that’s a work in progress, and I’m regularly adding new cards as I get the opportunity to test them.

I’m putting the priority on cards that are readily available and from major manufacturers and that seem likely to rate near the top of the pack in terms of speed. If you have one you’re interested in that’s not on the list, by all means, drop a note in the comments. I can’t promise I can get to every card, but I can try!

Does the Speed of SD Cards Matter? Is a High-Performance SD Card Really Necessary?

A faster SD card won’t help you take better photos or improve image quality. So does it really matter how fast an SD card is?

The heart of the issue is that you need a card that’s fast enough to enable you to use all of your camera’s features (or whatever other device you’re using). If the SD card isn’t fast enough, you might not be able to reliably use features like the top video modes or the rapid continuous burst photo modes. You might have recordings stopping unexpectedly, the camera shutting down, dropped frames, or missed photos. At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you should always get the fastest SD card that money can buy. It’s a balancing act—you want a card that’s fast enough without overpaying for a card that far exceeds your camera’s needs. This is why I also put together recommendations on which SD cards are good choices for specific camera models (more on that below). 

For several years now, I’ve been trying to buy and test as many SD and microSD cards as I can. I’ve been posting the results since 2016. This post is based on the results of the numerous SD card tests I’ve run since; you can find my tests for the fastest microSD cards here. This page covers SDXC and SDHC cards, including UHS-I and UHS-II interface cards. (The UHS-III and SD Express specs also exist, but they haven’t found their way into consumer devices yet.)

My focus here is on high-performance SD cards that are well-suited to use in cameras for recording high-bitrate, high-resolution video (4K, 5K, and 8K, for example), high-resolution photos, and burst sequences of photos. So I’m most concerned with sequential write speed rather than the types of write speed that some other applications need, such as gaming and computing devices. [2]

The top cameras on the market now have capabilities that can demand a lot from the memory card. It’s becoming routine for these high-end consumer cameras to be able to record video at very high bitrates around 400 Mb/s. Even many mid-range and compact cameras are able to record at bitrates of up to and over 100 Mb/s when shooting 4K and 8K video. That opens the possibility of some very high-quality video footage. But it’s one thing for the camera to be able to shoot at those bitrates; the other piece of the puzzle is that you’ll need a memory card that can keep up. With a card that’s too slow, you run the risk of the recording stopping unexpectedly, dropouts, or even the camera freezing up.

And, to be honest, buying an SD card that’s fast enough should be easier. The SD Association, the non-profit organization that controls the specifications that SD cards must abide by, has helpfully created a rating system to categorize cards according to video recording speed. It’s designed to make it easier for the consumer to see what’s what. Or rather, there are several rating systems now, as older versions have become outdated. And even within the bands of those ratings, there’s a lot of room for variation. Making it even more complicated, when memory card manufacturers advertise their cards’ speeds, the first and largest number they typically use refers to the sequential read speed. That refers to how quickly data can be downloaded from the card. But when recording video or burst mode photos, what you want to look at is the sequential write speed. That’s how fast you can get data on to the card. It’s often not as clear as it could be; more manufacturers are starting to include it on the packaging, but it’s by no means universal yet.

This is why I go to the effort of buying and testing the SD cards for myself and sharing the results. My hope is to provide more information that photographers and videographers can use in deciding which memory cards will be the best for a particular camera in real-world shooting conditions. In short: in ranking the cards here, I’m focusing on the sequential write speeds. I’m also basing them on my own tests rather than the claims of the manufacturers.1

But it’s not always true that the fastest card is necessarily the best card for what you need. Price and availability matter too.

And then there’s the important issue of whether your camera can take full advantage of the card’s speed. In most cases, you can safely put a very fast card in a slower camera, but it doesn’t always work that you’ll get many benefits from the fastest card in the camera. It depends on what you’re putting it in.

To take advantage of what UHS-II cards can do, for instance, you’ll need a camera or reader that’s compatible with UHS-II. If it’s not, the card will still work—they’re designed to be backward compatible in nearly all cases—but you won’t get the highest speeds the card is capable of. One place you might see some benefit, though, is when you go to download the photos from the card to your computer using a card reader. Most of the time, what you need isn’t necessarily the fastest SD card that you can find but rather one that’s fast enough for your camera and workflow. And that’s cost-effective. And that you can find at retailers.

Real-World SD Card Speed Tests

In conducting these tests, my objective is to test the performance that we can realistically expect using off-the-shelf hardware.

To be clear, there are two things I am not trying to do. I’m not trying to replicate the manufacturers’ lab tests. And I’m not trying to play gotcha and test whether the speed ratings the manufacturers claim are accurate. There are, after all, several things that can affect the speeds you can get out of cards in practice, and there are perfectly legitimate reasons that their lab tests might see results that differ from my results.

What I am trying to do is find out which cards perform best in real-world conditions and how they compare relative to each other. Because those are the things that matter to me when I’m trying to decide which card to buy for my cameras. In short, I’m looking for practical speeds, not theoretical speeds, and whether one card is faster than another.

So I’m using a real-world computer setup, not some high-end custom rig optimized to squeeze every last bit of bus transfer speed but not much good for actually processing photos and videos. There are dedicated hardware devices that exist only to test the speed of memory cards. Those are ridiculously expensive (yes, I looked into getting on at one point) and not useful for any other purpose. Instead, I’m using readily available standard hardware that photographers might have on hand.

For the reader, I’m using a ProGrade Digital USB 3.2 Gen. 2.0 Dual-Slot UHS-II reader. It’s connected with a ProGrade Digital USB 3.2 Gen 2 Super Speed+ certified cabled via the Mac’s USB-C port. After extensive testing of several UHS-II memory card readers, I’ve found that this reader gives me the most reliable and consistent results, especially with the newer, faster cards.

For the software, I’m using the benchmarking app AmorphousDiskMark. It’s not coincidence that it sounds and looks a lot like the venerable CrystalDiskMark. There’s currently no Mac version of CrystalDiskMark, but AmorphousDiskMark is a very close equivalent, and through many tests I’ve found it to be very reliable. [3] All cards were new or near-new and freshly formatted with the SD Association’s official app before running the tests. Because results often vary slightly between each test, I’m running each set of tests five times and averaging the results.

For the computer, I’m using a a Mac Studio M2 Max. [4] There are faster, more powerful computers that might squeeze out higher transfer rates, but this provides a useful real-world platform that is widely used by photographers and videographers and readily available.

Reliability & Ruggedness

These tests do not address the issues of reliability or ruggedness. While flash memory is generally quite stable, in part because there are no moving parts, memory cards can fail and will eventually reach an end of life after too many read/write cycles.

When choosing which cards to use myself, speed is one factor, but I also generally favor cards from well-established brands. And for normal use, those typically offer excellent performance.

But if you’re choosing a memory card for what amounts to near-constant writing—such as with a dashcam or security cam that is constantly being overwritten—you might be better off in the long run with one of the specialized high-endurance cards that some brands offer. They typically aren’t at the top of the speed charts, but they add extra peace of mind that the card should be able to tolerate very high numbers of write cycles.

I’m also not testing the physical ruggedness of the card. That is, I’m not trying my best to crunch them or drown them. Most SD cards now include claims of being waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof, and crushproof. Some, like Sony’s TOUGH line, take things the extra mile. But it’s just not something I have either the inclination or the means to test in a reliable and quantifiable way.

What Size SD Card to Get?

In general, most of the fastest SD cards start in sizes of at least 64GB. The standard sizes are: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB, 512GB, and 1TB.

So long as your camera or device is compatible with the larger sizes (check your camera’s specs or manual for that), which size to get mostly comes down to convenience. A larger storage capacity means you can fit more data on it before having to download it off the card and clear space for new data.

If you’re looking for a fast SD card to keep up with a camera that shoots high-bitrate video, I’ve put together a simple video bitrate vs. memory card size calculator.

Things Worth Knowing About SD Cards

Like everything else in electronics, memory cards come with a dense cloud of jargon. Here are some brief explanations of what the various bits and pieces mean.

Speed Ratings: Megabytes vs. Megabits

The speed of SD cards is conventionally measured in MB/s (megabytes per second, or MBps). But video bitrates are conventionally measured in Mb/s (megabits per second, or Mbps).

All speed ratings I’m using here are in MB/s (megabytes per second), which is not to be confused with Mb/s (megabits per second). Memory card manufacturers usually measure the speed of their cards in megabytes per second, or MB/s (or MBps, both with an uppercase “B”). But video recording bitrates are usually measured in megabits per second, or Mb/s (or Mbps, with a lowercase “b”). They’re not the same thing. There are 8 bits in a byte, so to get from megabits per second to megabytes per second, you multiply by 8. So 80MB/s is the same as 640Mb/s. Here’s a handy conversion calculator.

X Rating vs MB/s. Some manufacturers use a more cryptic x rating in place of MB/s. Lexar, in particular, has long used this system. It comes from the old way of measuring the speed of CD-ROM drives when the standard speed of a CD-ROM drive was 150KB/s. Each x, therefore, equals 150KB/s.

I have a more detailed explanation, along with a conversion calculator separately.

SDHC vs. SDXC vs. SDUC

One of the several codes you’ll see on SD cards is either SDHC or SDXC. This isn’t a performance rating, as such. It refers to the filesystem used on it, either FAT32 (SDHC) or exFAT (SDXC). The SD Association has specified that cards that have a storage capacity of 32GB or smaller will be formatted as FAT32, while cards that 64GB and larger will be formatted with exFAT. The result is that all the cards between 4GB and 32GB will be marked with SDHC, while cards 64GB to 512GB will have SDXC. [5] There’s also a newer SDUC specification, but it’s unlikely that you’ll come across those in stores just yet.

SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) is a design specification that refers to SD cards that are between 4GB and 32GB in capacity and formatted with the FAT32 filesystem. FAT32 supports individual files up to a maximum of 4GB (which is also why many cameras break up their video files into chunks that are 4GB or less).

SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) refers to SD cards with a capacity larger than 32GB. They’re formatted in the exFAT filesystem.

SDUC The SD Association has also created a newer specification known as SDUC, for SD Ultra Capacity. It has its own host technology, protocols, and drivers, but in terms of card storage capacity, it’s designed to cover cards ranging from 2TB up to 128TB. SDUC cards will only work with devices that have SDUC compatibility specifically included, so you can’t just put an SDUC card in a camera that doesn’t specifically support SDUC. But you won’t find any of those cards in the wild just yet, so, for now, at least, you don’t really need to be concerned about accidentally getting one of those.

A faster SD card won’t give you better video quality or help you take better pictures, but a card that’s fast enough will allow you to use all of the camera’s features without running into problems.

Technically, it’s possible to use a computer to format, say, a 32GB microSD card with exFAT or a 128GB card with FAT32. But doing so goes against the SD Association specifications, can cause problems in some cameras, and they’ll be overwritten to the appropriate standard next time you format the card in the camera. In general, I don’t recommend it. That said, if you really want to do it, I’ve put together a guide to using the official SD card formatter.

SD Card Speed Classes

SD cards are given a speed class rating that refers to their category for writing data, with each category describing a real-world video recording use. These apply the same to SDHC and SDXC cards. The most recent types of speed classes start with a U or V, as in U3 or V90. Some cards might carry both a U and V rating (and a Class 10 as well, for that matter), in which case you can focus on the higher, which would be the V rating.

Where things get a little complicated, though, is that these speed ratings don’t necessarily reflect the absolute speed of the card. Put another way, a card that has a V30 rating isn’t necessarily faster than one that has a U3 rating. That’s because to display the rating on the card, the manufacturers have to have their cards certified for that rating. It also involves revising packaging and marketing materials, which is an expensive process. So not every manufacturer will go to that trouble and expense right away. The upshot is that it’s not as simple as just looking at a card with a V30 or even V60 rating and knowing that it’s faster than one that only carries a U3 rating. It might be, but the rating system doesn’t work quite that way. You can see evidence of that in the speed test results on this page, with some cards with a lower speed rating being faster in testing than ones that display a higher speed rating on the packaging.

V90. The V-class (for video) is a new designation created for cards that are designed to work with the speeds required for 4K and 8K video. The SD Association added some lower numbers to make them backward compatible with the older class designations (e.g., Class 10 and Class 6), but the most important ones are V30 and above.

Memory cards in the V90 class are rated to support a minimum sequential write speed of 90MB/sec. Their primary market is for cameras that shoot 8K video, and for now, those are pretty rare, but the class provides room to grow, as it were.

V60 is applied to cards that support a minimum sequential write speed of 60MB/sec. They’re aimed primarily at cameras that record 4K and 8K video. Some of the newer cameras that record with ultra-high bitrates, like the Panasonic GH5, require V60 or above. With other 4K cameras that record at lower bitrates, you might get away with a V30 card.

V30 is applied to cards that support a minimum sequential write speed of 30MB/sec. These are designed to support at least full HD video and some 4K video cameras.

U3 is designed to support 4K video recording at a sustained video capture rate of 30MB/s. This class overlaps with the newer V30 class.

U1 is designed to support real-time broadcasts and HD video (720p and 1080p) with a minimum serial write speed of 10 MB/s. This overlaps with the newer V10 class.

Class 10 is designed to support 1080p recording at a minimum (but again, not at all framerates) with a minimum serial write speed of 10 MB/s.

Classes 2, 4, and 6. Class 2 supports SD video recording with a minimum serial write speed of 2MB/s. Classes 4 and 6 are designed to support for recording 720p and 1080p video (but not all framerates) with a minimum serial write speed of 4 MB/s and 6 MB/s, respectively. Most newer cameras need cards faster than these, so memory cards in these speed classes aren’t as commonly available now.

For practical purposes, the most common currently are Class 10, U1, U3, V30, V60, and V90, with V60 and V90 being the current fastest classes. It is technically still possible to find older, slower cards that are Class 2, 4, or 6, but most modern cameras are likely to work better with at least Class 10 cards, especially for recording video.

SD Express

The SD Association is regularly tweaking specifications to allow for faster and better performance from SD and microSD cards.

Their up-and-coming format is known as SD Express and microSD Express, and it’s designed to compete directly with the CompactFlash Association’s CFexpress format.

SDExpress cards are the same size and shape as existing SD cards, but they use different technology and have the potential to be much faster.

In practice, there are some SDExpress cards now on the market, but they’re rare and don’t offer improved performance over regular SD cards in current cameras. And they’re much more expensive. In short, there’s currently no good reason to get one. It might sound like you’re getting a faster, better card, but you’re almost certainly not (at least, not yet).

SD vs CFexpress A

There are new types of memory cards developed by the CompactFlash Association known as CFexpress. There are currently three types of CFexpress cards: CFexpress Type A, CFexpress Type B, and CFexpress Type C. Each type is a different physical size and has its own characteristics.

CFexpress A cards have similar physical dimensions and pin layout as SD cards. So a CFexpress A card will fit in an SD slot, and vice versa. CFexpress A cards are also much faster and more expensive than SD cards. And they’re aiming to be a full-fledged competitor to SD cards. By using PCIe and a faster controller interface, current CFexpress A cards can give performance at least three times greater than even the fastest UHS-II cards currently available.

There are some devices, such as the Sony a1 mirrorless camera and a handful of memory card readers, that have slots that read both CFexpress A and SD cards using the same slot.

But in most devices, just because the cards will physically fit doesn’t mean it’s compatible. The device has to be specifically compatible with CFexpress A for those cards to work.

What is the A Rating (e.g., A1 and A2)?

You might have seen A1 and A2 ratings on some of the new cards and wondered what that is.

The A1 and A2 ratings are part of a new type of speed specification that’s relevant for running apps from the memory card. The A rating is a separate specification, not one in the same sequence. So it’s possible for a card to have both A1 and V30 ratings, for example, or A2 and V90.

Up to this point, the primary market for memory cards has been for storing media like videos or photos. But increasingly, devices can run apps directly from a memory card. And that requires a different type of interaction with the space on the memory card—specifically, random read and write speeds and small chunks of data are placed wherever on the card there’s space for them.

So the new A specification (for App Performance) incorporates the random read/write speed.

If you’re buying a memory card for a camera, it’s not especially relevant because what’s required on those is sequential speed. So if you’re recording video (or shooting photos), the speed classes you want to look for are the ones starting with V (e.g., V30 or V60) or U (U1 or U3). But if you’re buying a memory card for a gaming device or smartphone or some other kind of device that runs apps and uses SD or microSD memory cards, the A rating is designed as a guide for what cards are best suited to that kind of use.

UHS-I vs. UHS-II

Newer SDHC and SDXC cards have a feature called ultra-high-speed bus, which refers to the interface. So far, there is UHS-I and UHS-II. UHS-I supports a maximum bus speed of 104Mb/s, while UHS-II supports up to 312MB/s. The spec for UHS-III, maxing out at 624MB/s, has been announced, but so far, I’ve not seen any implementations of it in the wild.

The product labeling for cards with this technology will have either UHS-I or UHS-II, or sometimes just I or II. Technically, it should be Roman numerals, but you’ll sometimes see it listed with a number 1, like UHS-1, even by some manufacturers.

You can also tell them apart by looking at the cards themselves. UHS-I cards have a single row of pins on the back. UHS-II has two rows. In this example, both of these are SanDisk Extreme Pro cards, just different generations.

Side-by-side shot of the contacts of SD Cards. On the left is a UHS-1 card. On the right is a UHS-II card.
The UHS-I card is at the left with a single row of contacts. The UHS-II card is on the right with a double row of contacts.

As with many aspects of memory cards, it’s not cut and dried. UHS-II (and UHS-III) allows for higher potential speeds, but in practice, there’s no guarantee that a UHS-II SD card will be faster than a UHS-I SD card, because there are other factors that come into play.

One is the design of the card. Another is that it matters what you’re putting the card in. It’s important to note that taking advantage of the potential speed increases of UHS-II requires that both the card and the host (e.g., card reader or camera) support it. Putting a UHS-II card in a camera or host that only supports UHS-I will result in it falling back to UHS-I speeds. Ditto on putting a UHS-I card in a UHS-II-enabled device. (All of the tests here are done with UHS-II readers and hardware.)

SD vs microSD vs CompactFlash vs CFAST 2.0 vs XQD 2.0

Some cameras come with multiple memory card slots, so you can choose which to use (or use both).

The speed of SD cards has come along in leaps and bounds in the past few years. At the moment, the fastest SD cards are faster than the fastest microSD cards, faster than the fastest CompactFlash cards [6], and slower than CFAST 2.0 and XQD 2.0 cards.

General Recommendations for Using SD Cards

Here are some general tips for buying and using SD cards.

  • There are counterfeit memory cards in the marketplace, especially when you’re buying online. Buying from a reputable retailer helps minimize the risk of getting a fake.
  • SD cards are remarkably strong and rugged and are advertised as waterproof, crushproof, freezeproof, and dustproof, but they’re not completely indestructible. And being so small, they’re pretty easy to misplace. And losing all your photos or videos is a high price to pay for seeing just how far you can push it. They’re also not designed for long-term archival storage of photos and videos. It’s good practice to download the data as soon as practical and get it backed up securely.
  • Memory cards are complicated electronic products. A small percentage of electronic products end up being faulty from the manufacturing process. So it’s good practice to test your card before using it in a mission-critical application. Better yet, have a spare (or, better yet, spares) on hand as a backup.
  • Always format the card in the camera rather than with your computer, and do it fairly regularly. This keeps the memory card’s filesystem set up the way the camera wants it and reduces the risk of formatting problems.
  • It’s always best practice to format memory cards in the camera you’re going to use them in, but if that’s not possible or not what you want to do, you can also format cards using a computer. But there are some things to know when formatting SD cards to minimize the risks of your camera having problems with them. So I’ve put together guides on how to format SD cards on Mac and how to use the free SD Card Formatter app for Windows or Mac.
  • I’ve put together a guide to the different types of SD cards separately.

Which SD Cards to Get for What Cameras?

Many cameras take SD cards, but not every camera needs–or can make use of–the fastest SD cards. To help avoid overspending on faster SD cards than your camera needs, I’ve put together some recommendations for specific camera models.

You can find detailed SD card recommendations at each link.

Nikon

Z Mirrorless: Z8 | Z7 IIZ7 | Z6 IIZ6 | Z5 | Z50 | Zfc | Zf

DSLR: D850 | D780 | D750 | D500 | D610 | D7500 | D7200 | D7100 | D5600 | D5500 | D5300 | D3500 | D3400 | D3300 | D3200 | D3100

Coolpix: P950 | P900 | B500 | B600 | L330 | W300 | W150

Canon

R Mirrorless: EOS R | EOS R5 | EOS R6 | EOS R7 | EOS R8 | EOS R10 | EOS R50 | EOS R100

DSLR: EOS 90D | EOS M50 | EOS 850D / EOS Rebel T8i | EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D | EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 1500D | EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D | EOS Rebel T5i / EOS 700D | EOS Rebel T5 / EOS 1200D | EOS Rebel T3i / EOS 600D | EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D / EOS 200D Mark II | SX420

Other: PowerShot SX420 | PowerShot ELPH 180 / IXUS 175

Sony

Mirrorless: A1 | a7R V | a7C II | a7 III | RX100 VII | a6700 | a6600 | a6500 | a6400 | a6100 | a6000 |

Compact: RX0 | HX99

Fujifilm

X-Series: X-T5 | X-T4 | X-T3 | X-T2 | X-T30 | X100V | X-E4 | X-S20 | X-S10

Finepix: XP140 | XP130 | XP120

Ricoh

GR III | G900

Panasonic Lumix

FZ80 | DMC-TS30 | DMC-G7

Olympus / OM System

OM-1 | OM-5 | TG-6 | TG-5

Changelog

  • 20240301 / Tested: Samsung PRO Ultimate V30 UHS-I (MB-SY)
  1. The original version of this card I tested has a label that just identifies it as X-PRO 90. The newer cards I’ve bought have a label that identifies it as EliteX-PRO90.[]
  2. If you happen to be using the SD cards in a device that runs apps, such as a gaming device, the random read/write speed is more important; see the section below about the A rating on SD cards.[]
  3. With older tests, I had been using the benchmarking suite in Digital Media Doctor by LC-Technology.[]
  4. Older tests were done on a iMac Retina 5K 2019 and, before that, an iMac 5K Retina late-2014.[]
  5. It is technically possible to use a computer to mix and match filesystems and memory card sizes. For instance, you can format a 16GB with exFAT or a 64GB card with FAT32. But that’s rarely a good idea because it can cause issues when you go to use them in a camera or other device. Some cameras check the filesystem against the storage capacity and throw an error if it doesn’t square with what it expects to see.[]
  6. This is true of the cards themselves, but some devices can read much more quickly from CompactFlash slots than SD slots.[]

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2024-03-01 at 11:17. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Profile photo of David Coleman | Have Camera Will Travel | Washington DC-based Professional Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.

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