GoPros don’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 in the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions. Here are the ones that will.
The GoPro HERO4 Black and GoPro HERO4 SILVER editions can create ultra-high definition video. The Black edition is capable of up to 4K at 30fps and 2.7K at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps (you can find more details here). Even the slightly less expensive Silver edition can capture 1080p footage at 60fps and 720p footage at 120fps. That’s going to make for some incredible video footage. But if you try to use a memory card that’s not fast enough, you’re going to run into trouble. 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.
GoPro SD Card Recommendations for the HERO4 Black and Silver
When the GoPro HERO4 launched, there were only two types of memory card on GoPro’s official list of recommendations. And one of those, the SanDisk Extreme, was being rebranded by the manufacturer and being replaced with a card with the same name and a slightly faster read speed and a slightly slower write speed.
Since then, memory card manufacturers have come out with new cards. And GoPro released new firmware that added even more high-end video modes that rely on a fast memory card.
Since then, GoPro has updated and expanded their list of cards that are known to work well in the HERO4 Black and Silver editions as more memory card manufacturers have submitted their microSD lines for the official Works with GoPro verification process.
So I’ve updated the list below of the best memory cards for the GoPro HERO4. There are, of course, other fast memory cards available, but I’d recommend sticking with one of these if you want to be sure it’s fully compatible with the GoPro HERO4.
Fast enough, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available, this is the card that GoPro itself bundles with some of the newer cameras like the HERO5 Black in some packages, and it's one of the ones they officially recommend in their Works with GoPro program.
With a write speed of up to 60MB/s, it has plenty of headroom for the high-bitrate video like 4K30. It comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB--any of those will work, although you'll fill up a 16GB card pretty quickly with the GoPro's high-resolution video, so the larger cards make more sense.
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. This is the latest version, rated with the V30 symbol on the card.
SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXVF-064G-ANCMA. In this example, SDSQXVF is the model general, 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.
One thing to note: some users reported battery drain issues and occasional lockups with this card in the HERO5 Black. Those issues should have been addressed with the latest GoPro camera firmware.
The SanDisk Extreme microSD cards are on GoPro's list of officially recommended cards for these models: HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO Session, HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver, HERO3+ Black, HERO3 Black, HERO+ LCD, HERO+, and HERO (NB: the HERO will only support cards up to 32GB).
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 high-end GoPro cameras. 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.
This card is officially recommended by GoPro for use in the GoPro HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO Session, HERO4 Black, and HERO4 Silver. It has the stamp of approval of the Works with GoPro program.
SanDisk Extreme PLUS
The Extreme PLUS line is a relatively new addition to SanDisk's product lines and, as you'd expect, this is 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 in theory 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.
The SanDisk Extreme PLUS cards are on GoPro's list of officially recommended cards for these models: HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO Session, HERO4 Black, HERO4 Silver, HERO+ LCD, HERO+, and HERO (NB: the HERO will only support cards up to 32GB).
SanDisk Extreme PRO
SanDisk has released a newer version of this card (model SDSQXPJ) in 64GB and 128GB sizes.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro cards are on GoPro's list of officially recommended cards, as part of its Works with GoPro program, for the HERO5 Black, Session, HERO Session, HERO4 Black, and HERO4 Silver. It will also work well with the HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black.
SanDisk Pixtor Advanced
The Pixtor cards are the same as SanDisk's Extreme range--it's simply a rebranded version that's designed as house brand for Best Buy. But their labeling is not as clear as it could be.The one you want is the SanDisk Pixtor Advanced, which is red and gold, but the card itself doesn't have the "Advanced" part printed on it. There's another version, which is just the SanDisk Pixtor, which is red and gray; that's the equivalent of the SanDisk Ultra and isn't fast enough for the GoPros.
While slower than the newer 1000x Lexar cards, these also work well and are a good cost-effective option. One of the appeals of this range is that there's an unusually wide choice of sizes: 256GB, 200GB, 128GB, 64GB, 32GB, and 16GB.
This card is another that is officially recommended by GoPro for use in the GoPro HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO Session, HERO4 Black, and HERO4 Silver.
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.
These are fast--the fastest in Lexar's current range--and they're officially recommended by GoPro for these cameras, but the extra speed isn't going to give you any benefit in the camera. You might see some benefit when downloading the footage or images from your memory card to your computer using a card reader.
A side benefit is that they come with one of the fastest microSD readers available. It's a USB thumbdrive-style reader--and one of the fastest readers available, at that.
They're available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB sizes.
GoPro recommends the Lexar 1800x cards for use in the GoPro HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO Session, HERO4 Black, and HERO4 Silver.
Samsung has two cards with very similar specs. This one, the Pro+ is rated for U3 with write speeds of up to 90 MB/s. It comes with a microSD to SD adapter cartridge.
This card is officially recommended by GoPro for the HERO5 Black, HERO5 Silver, HERO Session, HERO4 Black, HERO4 Silver. The smaller cards (64GB and 32GB) will also work in earlier models.
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 any of the recent ranges of cameras.
Buy at: Amazon
Transcend Ultimate 633x
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. I used it in a GoPro HERO5 Black at 4K30 with Protune without a problem. It comes with an SD adapter cartridge.
Buy at: Amazon
Memory Cards for the GoPro HERO4 Silver
The Silver edition doesn’t have the top-end video modes of the Black; its maximum data stream is 45Mb/s. So technically it can handle a memory card that’s a little slower than the requirements of the Black.
But in the world of memory cards, where newer, faster versions are coming out so rapidly and are often cheaper than older models, it may not make sense to search out older, slower cards. All of the microSD cards in the list above are known to work well in the Silver.
Do 128GB Cards Work in the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver?
Yes. Or, more precisely, some do. So long as it meets the other speed requirements outlined on this page, it should work just fine. There are some 128GB cards, like those in SanDisk’s Ultra range, that are too slow and don’t work as well with the high-end video modes.
But cards like the Lexar Professional 1000x 128GB SDXC card and I’ve not had any issues using ones in SanDisk’s Extreme, Extreme Plus, and Extreme Pro lines.
Is Your Memory Card Fast Enough?
If you find that your video is stopping prematurely or that the camera is freezing while you’re trying to record video, the first thing to check is that your memory card is fast enough. (If it’s just breaking up the video file into smaller segments but keeps recording, that’s normal. Here’s an explanation of why.) You won’t see any error message that tells you what the problem is–it tends to just stop recording and lock up.
The GoPros’ high-resolution video modes require a lot of data to get written very quickly to the memory card. And not all memory cards are equal. You can’t just put any Class 10 microSD card in the new GoPros and expect it to work flawlessly. If the card is too slow, you’ll find that the camera stops recording as the memory card just can’t keep up. The newer cards use a newer transfer technology known as UHS-I that allows for speeds that far exceed the older Class 10 technology.
Aside from reliability–which is a big issue in itself–memory cards vary widely in their speed. The key is the write speed–or, technically, sustained write speed–which is how fast the camera can write to the memory card. All of the cards that GoPro recommends with the new high-resolution video modes on the new GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions are rated for writes speeds of 40MB/s or faster.
Card manufacturers don’t make it easy in other ways. They often advertise “transfer speed” or “read speed.” Neither of those is the same thing as “write speed.” When memory card manufacturers put the speed on their advertising, it’s usually the read speed (ie. the maximum speed you can get data off the card). It’s often a higher number and sounds more impressive. But for our purposes, we need to know who quickly we can get data onto the card–ie. write speed.
The speed at which data can be written also depends also on the file sizes of the data you’re writing. The speed ratings provided by manufacturers are sequential write speed. They don’t typically divulge for a different kind of writing: large-block random data. That figure is typically significantly slower than the sequential write speed, and it explains why, when the GoPro HERO4 Black maxes out at 60Mb/s (7.5MB/s) and the Silver at 45Mb/s (5.625MB/s), you need a card with a speed rating that’s much higher than 7.5MB/s or 5.6MB/s (ie. they’re measuring two different kinds of data writing).
Data Rates for GoPro HERO4 Video Modes
Below are the write date speeds for all the video modes available on the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions. The Black’s top data rate is 60Mb/s, whereas the Silver’s is 45Mb/s. So any of the video modes that record at 60Mb/s are only available with the Black.1
In early February 2015, GoPro released new firmware that added two new video modes to the Black edition (but not the Silver). Both are high-end: 2.7K 60fps and 720p 240fps, and both record at 60Mb/s. You can find further details on what else is new with the firmware updates here.
Note that these data rates are in megabits per second (Mb/s), whereas memory card speed ratings are typically measured in megabytes per second (MB/s). There are 8 megabits to one megabyte. But it’s not as simple as doing the conversion and then comparing that to the card speed because the card speeds are maximum speeds for writing small files of sequential data. Writing large files of random data is usually much slower. But this chart will give you ideas on which video modes to try if your memory card is struggling to keep up.
|HERO4 Video Mode||Megabits per second||Notes|
|4K 30fps||60||Black only|
|4K 30fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 25fps||60||Black only|
|4K 25fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps Superview||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 15fps||45||Silver only|
|4K 15fps + Protune||45||Silver only|
|4K 12fps||45||Silver only|
|4K 12 fps + Protune||45||Silver only|
|2.7K 60fps||60||Black only|
|2.7K 60fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 50fps||60||Black only|
|2.7K 50fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 48fps||60||Black only|
|2.7K 48fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 30fps + Protune||45|
|2.7K 25fps + Protune||45|
|2.7K 24fps + Protune||45|
|2.7K 30fps Superview||45||Black only|
|2.7K 30fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 25fps Superview||45||Black only|
|2.7K 25fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 4:3 30fps||45|
|2.7K 4:3 30fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 4:3 25fps||45|
|2.7K 4:3 25fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 80fps||60||Black only|
|1440p 80fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 60fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 50fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 48fps + Protune||45|
|1440p 30fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 120fps||60||Black only|
|1080p 120fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1080p 90fps||60||Black only|
|1080p 90fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1080p 60fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 50fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 48fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 30fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 25fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 24fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 80fps Superview||60||Black only|
|1080p 80fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|1080p 60fps Superview||30|
|1080p 60fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 50fps Superview||30|
|1080p 50fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 48fps Superview||30|
|1080p 48fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 30fps Superview||30|
|1080p 30fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 25fps Superview||30|
|1080p 25fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 24fps Superview||30|
|1080p 24fps Superview + Protune||45|
|960p 120fps + Protune||45|
|960p 60fps + Protune||45|
|960p 50fps + Protune||45|
|720p 240fps Narrow FOV||60||Black only|
|720p 240fps + Protune Narrow FOV||60||Black only|
|720p 120fps + Protune||45|
|720p 60fps + Protune||45|
|720p 50fps + Protune||45|
|720p 30fps + Protune||45|
|720p 25fps + Protune||45|
|720p 120fps Superview||30|
|720p 120fps Superview + Protune||45|
|720p 60fps Superview||30|
|720p 60fps Superview + Protune||45|
|720p 50fps Superview||30|
|720p 50fps Superview + Protune||45|
|WVGA 240fps + Protune||30|
Is it Normal for the Card and Camera to Get Hot?
All of the cards I’ve tried get hot, along with the rest of the camera, when recording the top-end video modes that write at 60Mb/s on the Black (making anti-fog inserts a good idea in cold, wet, or humid shooting conditions).
Should I Get the SDHC or SDXC Versions?
SDHC and SDXC aren’t really direct versions. SDHC applies to cards that are between 4GB and 32GB. They use a filesystem known as FAT32. SDXC applies to cards 64GB and larger; they use a filesystem known as exFAT. You won’t find a 64GB card that’s SDHC or a 32GB card that’s SDXC. Both the HERO4 Black and Silver cameras work with both SDHC and SDXC cards.
The one current GoPro where this is an issue, though is the lower model, the one that’s simply called the GoPro HERO. That will not work with SDXC cards, so you can only use a card that’s 32GB or smaller in that particular model. I have more detailed information on that here.
My Videos are Getting Split Up
It’s normal. Here’s why.
Tips for Buying and Using microSD Cards
- 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. You can find the reformat function under Settings > Delete All.
- If you’re using a GoPro Hero 3+ Black or earlier model, you have some more options. Here’s a list of recommended cards for those cameras.
- Buy from a reputable retailer. There are a lot of counterfeit memory cards out there being peddled by less-reputable dealers.
- If you’re going with SanDisk, I don’t recommend their “Ultra” or “Ultra Plus” range of cards for GoPro HERO3 or GoPro HERO4 cameras. Despite being Class 10, many users have reported issues with the recording stopping prematurely (a problem I ran into myself).
- 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!).
- There are also other brands that make very good memory cards, and they might work well in the GoPros. But GoPro doesn’t include them on their recommended list. If you go with another brand, there are some things to look for. Pay careful attention to the write speed of the card, not the misleading read speeds that are often used in advertising. If you’ve never heard of the brand and can’t find good reviews of it online, it’s probably a good idea to go with another that you do know. Some brands that have good reputations include PNY, Transcend, Samsung, Delkin, Sony, and Kingston. Not all of those manufacturers make cards that work well with the new GoPros yet, but I have a separate roundup of the fastest microSD cards.
RELATED: You might also be interested in my post What Size Memory Card is Best for a GoPro HERO4?.
You can find GoPro’s official list of microSD card recommendations here.
Last update on 2017-11-22 at 17:00 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API