Recommended SD Cards for the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

Not every memory card is fast enough to keep up with the high-bitrate recording of the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30. Here are some recommendations for cards that are fast enough.

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The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 doesn’t come with a memory card as standard, so unless you buy a bundle pack that includes one you’ll need to pick one up separately. But not every card will work well. Some are too slow to keep up with the data from the camera’s high-bitrate video modes.

The recordings might stop prematurely, or it might just lock up completely. If you find either of those things happening, a first step in troubleshooting is to check that it’s not your memory card.

In this post I’ve put together some recommendations for microSD memory cards for the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 action cam.

Recommended SD Cards for Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

Here are some quick recommendations for SD cards for the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30:

  1. SanDisk Extreme UHS-I U3 V30
  2. Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II U3
  3. Transcend Ultimate 633x UHS-I U1
  4. Samsung EVO Select UHS-I U3

Detailed Recommendations on the Best microSD Cards for the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 has a maximum bitrate of 60 Mbps in its highest video modes if you turn on the High Bitrate option in the Pro Settings. That’s similar to the top bitrate in the GoPro HERO6 Black.

While recording video at that bitrate, the card has to be fast enough to keep up with the stream of data. And it’s a particular type of write speed–in this case, sequential write speed. Some memory card manufacturers publish the card write speeds; some don’t. The cards here are fast enough to keep up with the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30. The list is based partly on Garmin’s official recommendations and partly on my independent speed tests of newer, faster cards that have come out since they issued those recommendations.

SanDisk Extreme UHS-I V30

SanDisk Extreme 64GB microSDXC UHS-I Card with Adapter - SDSQXVF-064G-GN6MA
  • Ideal for Android-based smartphones and tablets
  • Read speeds of up to 90MB/s; write speeds of up to 60MB/s
Model No. SDSQXVF

The SanDisk Extreme line is fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available. With a write speed of up to 60MB/s, it has plenty of headroom for the 4K30 video of the VIRB even in its High Bitrate mode at 4K30. The card comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes (the 265GB version is marketed under model number SDSQXAO-256G-AN6MA in North America).

As with most of its product names, SanDisk recycles them with newer, faster cards. So you can find “Extreme” cards that are actually several years old. It’s therefore worth checking the model number, although in practice most of the recent Extreme cards will work just fine in this case.

You can find them at Amazon and B&H Photo.

Lexar 633x UHS-I U1

Lexar High-Performance 633x 32GB microSDHC UHS-I Card w/ SD Adapter, Up To...
  • Premium memory solution for smartphones, tablets, or action cameras
  • Quickly captures, plays back, and transfers media files, including 1080p full-HD, 3D, and 4K video
While slower than the newer 1000x Lexar cards, these also work well and are a good cost-effective option. It’s a card that has now been available for quite some time and they’re typically very reasonably priced–sometimes in multi-packs. One of the other appeals of this range is that there’s an unusually wide choice of sizes: 256GB, 200GB, 128GB, 64GB, 32GB, and 16GB. In terms of convenience, the larger cards make more sense just so you’re not constantly running out of space–at 60Mbps, the cards can fill up quite quickly.

It comes with either a microSD to SD adapter cartridge or a USB 3.0 thumb reader, so make sure you’re getting the version you want. You can also find multi-packs.

You can find them at Amazon and B&H Photo.

Lexar 1000x UHS-II U3

Lexar Professional 1000x 32GB microSDHC UHS-II Card w/ Adapter, Up To...
  • High-speed performance—leverages UHS-II technology (U3) for a read transfer speed up to 150MB/s (1000x)
  • Premium memory solution for sports camcorders, tablets, and smartphones

Lexar tends to put more emphasis on marketing the read speeds of their cards–in this case, 1000x or up to 150MB/s–but several of their cards have write speeds fast enough for the VIRB Ultra 30. This is one of the newer ones and is rated for a write speed of up to 45MB/s. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions.

You can buy them at Amazon and B&H Photo.

SanDisk Extreme Plus UHS-I V30

SanDisk Extreme PLUS 128GB microSDXC UHS-I Card - SDSQXBG-128G-GN6MA
  • Performance: Up to 95MB/s read; up to 90MB/s write speed
  • Records 4K UHD and Full HD video
Model No. SDSQXBG

The Extreme PLUS line is a relatively new addition to SanDisk’s product lines and, as you’d expect from the name, it’s a faster card than the Extreme. But you won’t get any added benefit in the camera—both cards exceed the speed requirements of the camera’s data stream—but you might get slightly faster speed in downloading to your computer (although there’s not much in it (up to 95 MB/s vs 90 Mb/s)).

This is the latest version of this card–you can tell it apart by the V30 rating on the card. But in practice, previous models of the Extreme PLUS microSD cards will also work well.

You can find them at Amazon and B&H Photo.

SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I V30

SanDisk Extreme PRO microSDXC Memory Card Plus SD Adapter up to 100 MB/s,...
  • Shoot like a pro on your smartphone, tablet, or camera with the SanDisk Extreme PRO microSDHC UHS-I Card
  • water proof, shock proof, x-ray proof, temperature proof
Model No. SDSQXCG

These are SanDisk’s top-of-the-line model. I’m including these here because they’re widely available and they work well (and I get a lot of questions about them). By all means use one in the Garmin VIRB, but they’re probably overkill. You won’t see any benefit in the camera over one of the other cards here, but the extra download speed might come in handy when you’re transferring the footage from the memory card to your computer via a memory card reader.

One nice thing about this one is that it comes with a very fast USB thumb reader that can take advantage of the UHS-II host type.

You can find them at Amazon.

Samsung Pro

Samsung 64GB PRO Class 10 Micro SDXC Card with Adapter up to 90MB/s...
  • Up to 90MB/s Read and 80MB/s Write speed
  • Storage Capacity: 64 GB
Model No. MB-MG64A/AM (variations for different sizes)

This new version has been upgraded to U3 class.

This is another one that’s on GoPro’s list of cards known to work well with the HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session.

Buy at: Amazon

Samsung Pro Select UHS-I U3

Samsung 100MB/s (U3) MicroSD PRO Select Memory Card with Adapter 64 GB...
  • Up to 100MB/s & 90MB/s read & write speeds respectively; Class 10 UHS 3
  • Ideal speed and performance for 4K UHD video recording & playback, burst-mode photography and more, for...
Samsung makes several models of very good memory cards. This is one of the newer ones, and rated for write speeds of up to 90 MB/s, it’s plenty fast enough for the Garmin VIRB. It comes with a microSD-to-SD adapter cartridge.

You can find them at Amazon.

Samsung Pro Plus UHS-I U3

Another of Samsung’s fast microSD cards, this one is slightly older than the Pro Select but still easily fast enough for the Garmin VIRB.

You can find them at Amazon.

Kingston SDCA3 UHS-I U3

Kingston Digital 64GB microSDXC UHS-I Speed Class 3 U3 90R/80W Flash Memory...
  • Fast/Performance - UHS-I Speed Class 3 - up to 90MB/s read and 80MB/s write for continuous shooting,...
  • Resistant - waterproof, shock proof, X-ray proof and temperature proof to perform even in harsh...
Kingston isn’t as well known as some of the other memory card companies that have much larger marketing budgets, but they’ve been around a long time and make solid, reliable cards.

This one is sold in different configurations, some with microSD-to-SD cartridge adapters and some without.

You can find them at Amazon.

Transcend Ultimate 633x UHS-I U3

Transcend 64 GB MicroSDXC Class 10 UHS-I/U3 Memory Card with Adapter 95...
  • Supports Ultra High Speed Class 3 specification (U3); Class 10 compliant
  • Read up to 95 MB/s; Write up to 85 MB/s
While Transcend doesn’t have the same marketing budget in the US as SanDisk or Lexar, they’re actually one of the major players in memory cards globally, and in addition to the consumer market they also make specialist industrial and high-durability cards. This card has a rated write speed of up to 85MB/s and read speed of up to 95MB/s.

You can find them at Amazon.

Toshiba Exceria

Toshiba Exceria M301 32GB Micro SD Class 10 UHS-I 48MB/s Memory Card...
  • Ideal for mobile phones, tablets, and other micro SD-compatible devices
  • Delivers fast read speed up to 48 MB/s
This is an older, slower card than most of the others here, but it’s still fast enough for the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 and good value if you can find them for a good price.

About these Recommendations

This is not designed to be a comprehensive list of every card that works with the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30. What I’m trying to do is present some options so you can choose a card and be confident that it’s compatible. There are other cards that also work well. There are also other fast cards that simply aren’t easy to find locally or aren’t cost-effective when you do. I’m most interested in ones that are readily available and reasonably priced. There are also cards that I’ve had problems with, generating error messages like the one below, and I’m simply not including them.

What Size, Format, and Rating of SD Card Works Best in the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30?

The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 is fully compatible with both the microSDXC and microSDHC specifications (more on that below). This isn’t a performance rating. It refers to the formatting system used on the card.

You want either UHS-I or UHS-II host specifications. This is marked with either a small I or II on the card.

The VIRB Ultra 30 works with cards that have U1, U3, V30, or V60 speed ratings. Some cards have both a Class 10 and a U rating, but I’d recommend avoiding ones that only have a Class 10 rating–they’re usually not fast enough for the camera.

Speed Measures Explained

Video bitrates are conventionally measured in megabits per second, or Mb/s. The speed of memory cards is conventionally measured in megabytes per second, or MB/s. There are 8 megabits in 1 megabyte. So 60Mb/s (megabits per second) is equivalent to 7.5 MB/s (megabytes per second). Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. It would be nice if that meant that you could just make sure your card had a write speed faster than 7.5 MB/s, but other factors come into play in practice, including inflated manufacturer speed ratings, sustained speeds vs peak speeds, and the role of host devices and connections. All of which means that it’s best to stick to cards that are known to work.

X Rating vs MB/s. Some manufacturers use a more cryptic x rating in place of MB/s. Each x equals 150KB/s.

What’s the Difference Between microSDHC and microSDXC

The difference between microSDHC and microSDXC isn’t a performance rating. It refers to the kind of storage formatting they use (microSDHC cards use FAT32; microSDXC cards use exFAT). You’ll probably never see any practical difference except for one important aspect: microSDHC cards are 32GB or smaller while microSDXC cards are 64GB or larger.

microSD Speed Classes Explained

Just like SD cards, microSD cards are assigned a class rating that refers to their speed in writing data. Each category corresponds to a real-world video recording use. These apply the same to microSDHC and microSDXC cards. The most relevant ratings for the VIRB Ultra 30, in terms of SD cards that are readily available to buy now, are:

V60 is applied to cards that support a minimum sequential write speed of 60MB/sec. For now, they’re quite rare in the microSD format.

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 UHD 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/sec. This overlaps with the newer V10 class.

UHS-I vs UHS-II

Newer microSDHC and microSDXC cards have a feature called ultra high-speed bus, which refers to the interface. So far, there is UHS-I and UHS-II. Both types of cards will work in the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30, although you won’t get any benefit in using a UHS-II card over a UHS-I one.

Notes & Tips

  • It’s worth buying from a reputable retailer. There are a lot of fake memory cards out there, and buying from a reputable retailer minimizes the risk that you’ll be caught out with a fake card that doesn’t perform as you expect.
  • Before using it, format the memory card in the camera. It’s a safer option that formatting on your computer and can help prevent problems. And it’s a good idea to reformat in the camera fairly regularly as a way to prepare the card for use. I do it immediately after downloading all my footage/photos from the card to my computer so that it’s ready to go for next time. Make sure to download anything you want from the card before formatting it because it’s a pain to try to recover accidentally deleted photos from a memory card.
  • Test your memory card before using it on your once-in-a-lifetime footage. Memory cards are pretty reliable, but it is possible to get a faulty one.
  • Don’t use the memory card for long-term storage. Download it to a computer or similar as soon as practicable (and back that up!).

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2021-11-27 at 01:22. 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.

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