GoPro SD Card Recommendations for the GoPro HERO5 Black & HERO5 Session

Which microSD memory cards work best with the GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session? Here are some practical recommendations.

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GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session cameras don’t normally come with SD cards as standard. Some retailers offer bundles that include them, but unless you get one of those bundles, chances are you’ll have to pick up a microSD for the camera separately.

But you can’t just put in any memory card in the HERO5 models and hope for the best. Specifically, you’ll need one that’s fast enough to keep up with their high-bitrate video recording in 4K or high-framerate modes. If you use a card that’s too slow, you can end up with the recording stopping unexpectedly or the camera freezing up or shutting down. So the purpose of this page is to make it easy to find SD cards for the HERO5 with confidence that they’ll work well in these cameras.

GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session SD Cards – Quick Recommendations

If you just want to cut to the chase, here are some quick recommendations for some of the best SD cards to use in GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session cameras:

  1. SanDisk Extreme V30
  2. Samsung EVO Select U3
  3. Lexar 1000x U3
  4. Delkin 1900x V60

These microSD cards are fast and reliable, cost-effective, and readily available. Any of these make for a good choice. If you’d like more detailed recommendations or other brands and models, you can find them below. I also have a more general guide to the best SD card for GoPro cameras.

Best SD cards for the GoPro HERO5 Black & HERO5 Session – In Detail

Not every microSD memory card will work well in the GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session. If the card is too slow, you can end up with a number of show-stopping issues. The recording can stop unexpectedly, you can get an error message, you can lose footage because it can’t save properly, or the camera can lock up–and perhaps all of the above. So it’s a good idea to start with a card that is fast enough to keep up and prevent those kinds of problems bringing your shoot to a grinding halt.

You don’t necessarily need the fastest card with bleeding-edge technology–those cards can sometimes be ridiculously expensive. But you will need one that’s fast enough to keep up with the recording of the HERO5’s high-resolution 4K and fast framerate video, particularly if you plan to use the expert features included in the Protune settings.

This is not designed to be a comprehensive list of every card that works with the GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session. 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; I’ll update this list as I have a chance to test them or as new models come out. There are also other fast cards that simply aren’t easy to find 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.

To make it onto this list, the cards have to have demonstrated that they can handle the video and photo modes that generate the most data–particularly 4K30 with Protune. 1 So this list is a combination of GoPro’s official recommendations and my own real-world testing in the cameras, not on card manufacturers’ speed claims or the microSD benchmark testing I conduct separately (although it won’t come as a surprise that the ones that top my list of fastest microSD cards work well in these cameras).

GoPro hasn’t increased the maximum bitrate of the high-end video modes–they top out at 60 megabits per second, just as they do with the HERO4 Black.

SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I

SanDisk 512GB Extreme microSDXC UHS-I...
  • Up to 160MB/s read speeds to save time transferring high res images and 4K UHD videos (2); Requires...
  • Up to 90MB/s write speeds for fast Shooting; Requires compatible devices capable of reaching such speeds

The SanDisk Extreme cards are fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available. They're also safe bets for a wide range of action cameras, including GoPros. Extreme cards are the ones that GoPro themselves often bundle with their cameras and sell on GoPro.com, and it's one of the few they officially recommend in their "Works with GoPro" certification program.

From my own speed tests, it is plenty fast enough for GoPro Black edition cameras.

The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB, 512GB, and even new 1TB versions.

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 even a number of the older versions of the Extreme cards will support the kinds of speeds that GoPro's need with their high-bitrate video recording modes and rapid burst photo shooting.

SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXA1-256G-AN6MA. In this example, SDSQXA1 is the model number, the 064G refers to the amount of memory, and the last 5 characters are used by the marketing department for different parts of the world but the cards are otherwise the same. So the first part is the crucial part if you're looking to see which model the card is, and you don't have to take much notice of the last 5 characters.

The basic version includes an SD adapter. You can also find it bundled with a USB microSD card reader.

You can find them at: Amazon | B&H Photo | GoPro.com

Samsung EVO Select V30 UHS-I

SAMSUNG EVO Select Micro SD-Memory-Card...
  • ALL THE SPACE YOU NEED: Store lots of media on your phone with this micro SD memory card, load games on...
  • FAST AND SMOOTH: Superfast U3, class 10 rated transfer speeds of up to 130MB/s¹,²and UHS-I Interface.³

Samsung makes several models of microSD cards, and more than one model will work well in GoPro cameras. But they have a somewhat confusing naming system (they're not alone in that!) that doesn't always make clear what the difference between the models is. The EVO Select is one of their better cards but is also very cost-effective. Like SanDisk, Samsung recycles the series names.

This is the latest version of the EVO Select--it's a blue/teal color. It's a little faster than the previous model, but the older green/white/gold version still works well in any of the GoPro cameras released so far.

It's available in storage capacities from 64GB up through 512GB and includes an SD adapter.

Find them at: Amazon

Lexar 1066x V30 UHS-I

Lexar Professional 1066x 512GB microSDXC...
  • Premium memory solution for action cameras, drones, or high-end smartphones and tablets
  • Superior read speed up to 160MB/s and write speed up to 120MB/s

Lexar has been one fo the leading flash memory card makers for years. They went through some corporate upheaval a few years ago, and their cards became hard to find. But now that they're under new ownership, and supplies of their memory cards seem to have stabilized. They've also made some logical changes to their lineups of microSD and SD cards.

When marketing their cards, Lexar has always to put more emphasis on marketing the read speeds of their cards--in this case, 1066x or up to 160MB/s (that's the read speed; the rated write speed is up to 120MB/s)--but several of their cards have write speeds fast enough for GoPros shooting 4K and 5K video.

Find them at: Amazon | B&H Photo

Delkin Select V30 UHS-I

Delkin Devices 256GB Select microSDXC...
  • Supports Full HD 1080p Video Recording
  • Time-Lapse, Photo-Burst, Protune & HDR Ready

Delkin Devices have been making memory cards for a long time, and good ones at that. But it's only recently that they simplified and streamlined their product lines to make it clearer what the differences are between cards. The Select line isn't their fastest line--that is the Power V90 line--but the Select series are rated for V30 and are good combination of being fast enough for GoPro cameras as well as cost-effective.

This card is rated for V30 and has a UHS-I interface. It's available in sizes ranging from 16GB up through 512GB and it comes with an SD adapter.

Find them at: Amazon | B&H Photo

PNY Elite-X

PNY 256GB Elite-X Class 10 U3 V30...
  • Up to 100MB/s read speed
  • Class 10, U3, V30 performance for recording of 4k ultra HD videos at 4096x3072 pix as well as 60 and 120...

PNY is another memory card brand that isn't as well known as some of the others, but in my experience they make very good cards. They have a few different ranges, but the Elite-X strikes a good balance of being fast enough and good value.

They're UHS-I cards and carry a V30 rating. The 32GB card is a tad slower than the larger capacities, but most users will probably prefer sizes more on the 128GB-256Gb end of the range anyway.

Find them at: Amazon | B&H Photo

What SD Card Size and Format for the HERO5?

Both the GoPro HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session are fully compatible with both the microSDXC and microSDHC specifications. Some of current crop of microSDXC cards go up to 1TB.

The cameras themselves use the UHS-I host specification. That means that you won’t see any added benefits if you put a UHS-II card in them. But UHS-II cards will still work because of the way that the specification is designed to roll back gracefully to UHS-I.

For the speed rating, the safest bet is to stick with one that’s rated with V30 or U3, although there are also U1 cards that work just fine.

What If I’ve Hacked the HERO (2018) Firmware

If you’ve hacked the HERO (2018) firmware to it into a HERO5 Black, these same recommendations apply. For all intents and purposes, it’s now a HERO5 Black, with the same bitrate recording and demands of the SD card. If you’re using your HERO (2018) as a HERO (2018), it doesn’t have the same high-bitrate recording available.

HERO5 Battery Drain and Memory Cards

If you’re finding that the battery of your GoPro HERO5 Black is draining even with the camera off, one of the possible culprits might be related to the way in which the camera is handling the memory card. In early versions of the HERO5 Black’s firmware, there was a bug when using some SanDisk cards where the camera was scanning the card even when powered off. That, in turn, drained the battery even with the camera switched off. GoPro issued a firmware update that addressed the issue, so updating the firmware is the first thing to try. You can also try switching memory cards to a different brand. If those things don’t fix the problem, here’s a checklist of things to try if you GoPro’s battery is draining even when the camera is switched off.

GoPro HERO5 Black Video Bitrates

ResolutionFPSFOVBitrate (megabits/s)
- Protune / + Protune
4K30Wide60 / 60
25Wide60 / 60
24Wide60 / 60
SuperView60 / 60
2.7K60Wide60 / 60
Medium60 / 60
Linear60 / 60
50Wide60 / 60
Medium60 / 60
Linear60 / 60
48Wide60 / 60
Medium60 / 60
Linear60 / 60
30SuperView45 / 45
Wide45 / 45
Medium45 / 45
Linear45 / 45
25SuperView45 / 45
Wide45 / 45
Medium45 / 45
Linear45 / 45
24Wide45 / 45
Medium45 / 45
Linear45 / 45
2.7K 4:330Wide45 / 60
25Wide45 /
1440p80Wide60 / 60
60Wide45 / 60
50Wide30 / 45
48Wide30 / 45
30Wide30 / 30
25Wide30 / 30
24Wide30 / 30
1080p120Wide60 / 60
Narrow60 / 60
90Wide60 / 60
80SuperView60 / 60
60SuperView30 / 45
Wide30 / 45
Medium30 / 45
Linear30 / 45
Narrow30 / 45
50SuperView30 / 30
Wide30 / 30
Medium30 / 30
Linear30 / 30
Narrow30 / 30
48SuperView30 / 30
Wide30 / 30
Medium30 / 30
Linear30 / 30
Narrow30 / 30
30SuperView30 / 30
Wide30 / 30
Medium30 / 30
Linear30 / 30
Narrow30 / 30
25SuperView30 / 30
Wide30 / 30
Medium30 / 30
Linear30 / 30
Narrow30 / 30
24SuperView30 / 30
Wide30 / 30
Medium30 / 30
Linear30 / 30
Narrow30 / 30
960p120Wide30 / 45
60Wide30 / 30
50Wide30 / 30
720p240Narrow*60
120SuperView30 / 45
Wide30 / 45
Medium30 / 45
Narrow30 / 45
100SuperView30 / 30
60SuperView30 / 30
Wide30 / 30
Medium30 / 30
Narrow30 / 30
50SuperView30 / 30
Wide30 / 30
Medium30 / 30
Narrow30 / 30
30Wide20 / 45
Medium20 / 45
Narrow20 / 45
25Wide20 / 45
Medium20 / 45
Narrow20 / 45
480p240Wide30 / 30

Speed Ratings Explained

Video bitrates are conventionally measured in megabits per second, or Mb/s (or Mbps, with a lowercase “b”). The speed of memory cards is conventionally measured in megabytes per second, or MB/s (or MBps, with and uppercase “B”). There are 8 megabits in 1 megabyte. So 60 Mb/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 and overhead 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. 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.

microSDHC vs microSDXC

The GoPro HERO5s are compatible with both the microSDHC and microSDXC formats, so you can use either. In practical terms, microSDHC refers to a card that has a storage capacity of 32GB or smaller and microSDXC refers to one that is 64GB or larger.

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.

SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) refers to SD cards with a capacity larger than 32GB and with a maximum theoretical limit of 2TB. They’re formatted in the exFAT filesystem.

SD Speed Classes & Specs

SD cards are given a speed class rating that refers to its category for writing data, with each category describing a real-world video recording use. The most relevant ones here are Class 10, U1, and U3. Look for either a U3 or U1. If the card says C10 but doesn’t include a U1 or U3, its write speed is most likely too slow.

V30 is a new video speed class put out by the SD Association that applies to cards that are rated for a minimum sequential write speed of at least 30MB/s. The specifications allow for faster and slower ratings—all the way up to V90 for 8K video—but V30 is the most relevant for the current generation of cards and the GoPro HERO5 Black. Being a new rating, only a handful of manufacturers have started displaying the rating on their cards, but expect more to as new models come out.

U3 is designed to support 4K video recording at a sustained video capture rate of 30MB/s.

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

Class 10 is designed to support 1080p recording at minimum (but again, not at all framerates) with a minimum serial write speed of 10 MB/s. You’ll often see it marketed as “full HD”, but that’s pretty outdated now. What “full HD” means in this context is 1080HD video, which is no longer a cutting edge HD video mode.

A1 / A2. Finally, you might have noticed the speed ratings A1 starting to appear on some of the newer cards. That’s a different type of speed rating geared toward apps. Devices that run apps, like smartphones and gaming devices, don’t send a long stream of continuous data but rather lots of small chunks of data. So they need cards with fast random write speeds. And that’s where the A ratings come in–to help identify cards that are suitable for app devices. So it’s not really relevant for using SD cards in GoPros. I have a more detailed explanation of the A1 and A2 ratings separately.

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 GoPro HERO5 Black, although you won’t get any benefit in using a UHS-II card over a UHS-I one.

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 list with a number 1, like UHS-1, even by some manufacturers.

Will 128GB and 256GB microSD Cards work in the HERO5?

So long as the card has a fast enough write speed and conforms properly to the microSDXC specs, I’ve not run into any issues using 128GB or 256GB versions. Several of the cards listed above have versions in those sizes that work, and some of the newer ones are even going up to 400GB.

Things Worth Knowing

  • 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 SD 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. You can find the reformat function on the HERO5 Black under Settings > Delete All, or I’ve put together a more detailed guide to formatting an SD for GoPro cameras here.
  • 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. And here are some steps to try if you need to recover photos from a memory card.
  • 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!).
  • I have a separate roundup of the fastest microSD cards that I’m updating regularly.
  1. In case you’re wondering how I’m recording for 2 hours at a stretch when the battery doesn’t last that long, I’m running it with external power.[]

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2022-12-01 at 20:38. 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.

David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. I've been shooting with GoPros for years, starting with the HD HERO, and have owned and used every model since. More »