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

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

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.

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

Fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available, the SanDisk Extreme cards are safe bets for a wide range of uses, including the GoPro Black editions. Extreme cards are the ones that GoPro themselves often bundle with their cameras and sell on GoPro.com, and it's one of the ones they've officially recommend in their "Works with GoPro" certification program.

From my tests, it is plenty fast enough for GoPros' 4K60 and 1080p240 video, but it also has the virtue of being cost-effective.

The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB, 512GB, and 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 some of the older versions of the Extreme cards will also work well in GoPros.

SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXA1-064G-AN6MA. In this example, SDSQXA1 is the model number, 064G refers to the amount of memory, and the last 5 characters are used by the marketing departmenht 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.

Buy at: Amazon, B&H Photo, GoPro.com, or Google Shopping.

Samsung EVO Select U3 UHS-I

Samsung makes several excellent microSD cards. They also have a confusing naming system that doesn't always make clear what the difference between the models is. The Select is one of their better cards, but it's also very good value.

Like SanDisk, Samsung recycles the series names. The latest version of the EVO Select is available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB sizes. Ut has a rated write speed of up to 90MB/s and a read speed of up to 100MB/s. If you can't find the EVO Select line at your preferred retailer, the EVO Plus line also works well.

Buy at: Amazon.

ProGrade Digital V60 UHS-II

ProGrade Digital is a new brand, but they're not just another no-name rebrand that has sprung up from nowhere. They're an American company with a very experienced team. They're focusing on high-end memory cards, and they have no-frills packaging and minimal marketing so far. But I've been impressed with what I've seen so far--their SD cards are among the fastest I've tested and have become a fixture in my primary camera. This brand-new microSD version, the first microSD they've released, isn't the fastest card I've tested, but it's comfortably fast enough to keep up with the video datastream generated by the flagship GoPro models.

It's rated for V60 (or sustained minimum write speeds of 60MB/s) and is UHS-II.

Buy at: Amazon or B&H Photo.

Lexar 1000x U3 UHS-II

Lexar has long been one of the top makers of memory cards. During 2017, the company went through some ownership changes, with their initial owner saying they were retiring the brand and then another company coming in a buying the brand up and saving it. The upshot is that most of the Lexar cards are still on the market, including this one, although there seemed to be some impact on their supply chain and the cards aren't always as easy to find these days.

Lexar has always 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 GoPros shooting 4K video. This isn't the fastest microSD card they make--there's one rated at 1800x which is one of the fastest cards I've tested, but this 1000x card works well in GoPros and is rated for a write speed of up to 45MB/s. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions and includes a USB thumb drive card reader.

Buy at: Amazon, B&H Photo, or Google Shopping.

SanDisk Extreme PRO V30 UHS-I

The Extreme Pro line is SanDisk's top-of-the-range line. They're consistently among the fastest microSD cards in my tests. While it's faster and fancier than the camera technically needs, they do work very well. Extreme Pro cards are among my go-tos in all of the memory card formats because of their speed and reliability.

This latest version comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB versions. The latest version of the packaging includes both V30 and A2 on them. It gets a little confusing because SanDisk is mixing and matching model numbers even amongst the current cards, but you're looking for model numbers that start with SDSQXCY (for 64GB and 128GB) and SDSQXCZ (for 256GB and 400GB versions).

The standard version of this includes a microSD-to-SD cartridge adapter. You can also find versions that include a USB thumb reader.

Buy at: Amazon.

SanDisk Extreme PLUS V30 UHS-I

The Extreme PLUS line is a newer addition to SanDisk's product lines and, as you'd expect, this is a step up from the standard Extreme (but a step below the Extreme Pro). In my tests, the Extreme PLUS does have a faster sequential write speed than the Extreme, but you won't get any added benefit from that in the camera--both exceed the speed requirements of the GoPro's data stream. That's because the speed will be limited by the lowest performance in the chain, and in this case that bottleneck is in the camera's interface with the SD card's writing bus.

This is the latest version of this card--you can tell it apart by the V30 rating on the card. Older versions didn't have the V30 on the packaging, but in practice even those older versions of the Extreme PLUS cards will also work well; because it's a relatively new line and they've always been among the faster lines, there aren't any older versions that are too slow.

Buy at Amazon or B&H Photo.

Delkin V60 UHS-II

These cards by Delkin are one of the few currently available that come with the new V60 rating for recording 4K and 8K video. It's also a UHS-II card and comes with a UHS-II SD adapter cartridge (most other adapter cartridges are UHS-I).

Delkin as a brand isn't as well known as some of the other brands with bigger marketing budgets, but they've actually been around a long time and I've always had good experiences with them. I use this particular model often in my GoPros and have found them to be fast and reliable.

Buy at Amazon, B&H Photo, or Google Shopping.

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 2020-02-17 at 07:19. 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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This post was last modified on November 19, 2019 12:09 pm

View Comments

  • Hi! I recently came across a "SanDisk microSDXC for Nintendo Switch", 128GB. My research has indicated that these cards are more or less equivalent to the SanDisk Extreme. I was wondering if you have ever tried using these cards on the GoPro Hero 5 Session, and if so, did they work well together?

    Thanks!

    • I suspect you're right about them being the same card but with different marketing materials, but I haven't tried one. I'll order one to try it out.

  • Hi, David!

    Very educational article, so I believe you may be the best person to answer my query.

    I have a GoPro Hero 5 Session. The GoPro site lists recommended compatible cards for it, which includes the SanDisk Extreme/Extreme Plus/Extreme Pro model lines up to 128GB. This compatibility list was made, presumably, when the Hero 5 Session came out.

    I want to maximize the use of my Hero 5 Session, so I've been shopping for 128GB cards. However, the SanDisk Extreme variants currently available are the new ones with A2 ratings; it is getting harder to find ones with A1 or without A-ratings. From what I read, the A2 specification needs device-side drivers to work properly and using an A2 card on a non-A2-compliant device may result in performance worse than A1.

    So, my question is: Does the GoPro Hero 5 Session work well with A2-rated microSD cards?

    Thanks!

    • Yes. The A# ratings are measuring something that's not relevant to GoPros or most cameras--a random write speed. That's important for smartphones and gaming devices, but it's not relevant to the way that cameras save video data to memory cards. For that, the relevant rating is the U# or V## parts, which is specifically for video (sequential write speed). I have more detail on it here.

      • Perfect. Thanks! :)

        A follow-up question, if you don't mind:

        Again, the GoPro site's list of compatible SD cards for the GoPro Hero 5 Session was likely made based on the available SD cards at the time the camera came out. MicroSD cards back then rarely went beyond 128GB.

        In practice though, what's the largest capacity you know of that works on a GoPro Hero 5 Session?

        Thanks!

        • I've used 256GB cards in it without any issues before and have just now tested a 512GB card. It's formatting the card and recording video as normal. I don't have a 1TB card on hand right now to test.

  • Hi i know this Q&A is really old now but i am getting the GoPro hero5 black very soon and was wondering if my Sandisk Ultra UHS-1 sd card will work when recording in 4K? the spec of my card is: 32GB A1 U1, speed up to 98MB/s 653X, i have done a speed test myself and it shows read speed of=85MB/s and Write speed of=15MB/s
    Am i right in thinking the GoPro hero5's write speed is around 7.5MB/s so this card should be more than enough? please let me know as this is all confusing.

    Paul

    • If you go by the raw numbers alone, then yes, you're right that it should work fine, but in practice there are bottlenecks especially when sustaining the write speed over the course of a video stream. I've run into so many issues with Ultra-range cards in GoPros over the years that I can't recommend using them, especially with the high-bitrate modes. If you already have it on hand, there's no harm in testing it out. But if you're looking to buy one, I'd generally recommend one of SanDisk's Extreme cards or one of the Samsung cards--you can usually find them at prices very close to the Ultra-range cards these days.

    • I haven't run into any issues using a 256GB card in it. As usual, you have to make sure it's fast enough (so not the 400GB SanDisk Ultra, for example).

      • Thanks for the reply David. What kind of external power source do you use to get those 2h long videos on the gopro?

  • Although GoPro Community squashes any response that says a card larger than 128 GB can be used, I am successfully using a Samsung 256GB EVO Plus Class 10 UHS-I microSDXC U3 (MB-MC256GA) in a GoPro Hero 5 Black that was delivered to me in May 2018 from GoPro. I am shooting 1080P, and have not tried it in 4K, but expect that it would work.

  • Hi David,

    Just purchased my first GoPro - Hero 5 black and I have 2 128gig micro SD cards on hand, that I believe should work with it:
    SanDisk Ultra 128GB microSDXC UHS-I (SDSQUNC-128G-GN6MA) or
    Samsung 128GB EVO Select Micro SDXC Memory Card (MB-ME128DA/AM)
    Would you recommend one over the other and/or any issues with either working in the GoPro?

    Thanks,

  • Hey David, thanks for your informative article, but I think i still need a little help.
    I've found some SanDisk Extreme memory cards, but i'm not sure if both will go with my GoPro Hero 5

    The model numbers for the two are:
    SDSQXVF-064G-GN6MA ($54)
    SDSQXNE-064G-GN6MA ($50)

    Do they both work, and if so which one should i go for?

    • They're both in the Extreme line and both will work. The SDSQXNE version is an older card but is still fast enough for the HERO5 Black.

  • Hello
    I ve got a gopro hero 5 black and i ve seen that you recommended this SanDisk card: SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I

    I ve tried to find it here in my country but i ve found one that it does not have the same code as yours.
    Yours is SDSQXAF-064G-GN6MA and the one that i ve found it has SDSQXAF-064G-GN6AA.
    What s the difference between them? Can i buy it?
    Thank you !

    • Yes, same card. The last group of characters simply refers to the regional marketing code. The most important part is the first group of letters--that's the model.

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