Best SD Card for GoPro HERO3 Black & HERO3+ Black

Not every memory card will work well in the GoPro HERO3 and HERO3+ Black editions. They need ones with fast write speeds. Here are some practical recommendations.

GoPro HERO3+
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The GoPro HERO3 Black and the HERO3+ Black are quite sensitive to the type of SD card you use. The primary issue relates to the high-bitrate recording in the high-resolution video modes. They generate large amounts of data that needs to be written to the memory card quickly. It can be particularly true if you have ProTune enabled, since that records even more data than the standard modes.

If the SD card isn’t fast enough and can’t keep up with the data stream coming from the GoPro camera, you can run into issues like the video recording stopping unexpectedly, the camera freezing up, or it just shutting down. So if you’re having trouble with video on the GoPro HERO3 or HERO3+, one of the first things to check is the memory card. It’s possible it’s faulty and needs to be replaced, or it might simply be too slow.

The first time I ran into this problem, I was being caught out with the SanDisk Ultra card. On paper, it looks good, and the price was certainly attractive. But I found that the video was cutting out. The culprit was the memory card–it’s simply not fast enough to handle the data rate of the newer GoPros (but the SanDisk Extreme’s listed below are fast enough). Once I got one of the faster cards, there was no more cutting out, even with Protune turned on.

Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO3 & HERO3+ Black | Top Picks

If you just want to cut to the chase, here are some quick recommendations for good SD cards to use in GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black:

SanDisk 256GB Extreme microSDXC UHS-I Memory Card with Adapter - Up to...
  • Up to 160MB/s read speeds to save time transferring high res images and 4K UHD videos; Requires...
  • Up to 90MB/s write speeds for fast shooting; Requires compatible devices capable of reaching such speeds
SAMSUNG EVO Select Micro SD-Memory-Card + Adapter, 256GB microSDXC 130MB/s...
  • ALL THE SPACE YOU NEED: Store tons of media on your phone, load games or download more apps on your...
  • FAST AND SMOOTH: With superfast U3, class 10 rated transfer speeds of up to 130MB/s¹,²and UHS-I...
Lexar Professional 1066x 256GB MicroSDXC UHS-I Card with SD Adapter SILVER...
  • Professional-level performance for action cameras, drones, or Android smartphones
  • Leverages UHS-I technology to deliver read speeds up to 160MB/s (1066x)

I also have a more general guide to the best SD card for GoPro cameras.

Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black: Detailed Version

Thankfully, since these cameras were first released, finding fast memory cards at affordable prices has become much easier.

Both the GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black cameras require a microSD card with fast write speeds. Specifically, they need one that’s rated for video recording speed Class 10 or higher. But it’s not enough just to have a Class 10 card because not all Class 10 cards are created equal. It would be nice if Class 10 was a consistent standard, but the reality is that it’s not. Two different Class 10 cards from two different manufacturers can have very different write speeds, and that’s the crucial spec here. And to complicate things further, there are different kinds of write speeds and they vary by the hardware and software combination that’s doing the writing.

So I’ve put together this list of recommended SD cards for the GoPro HERO3 Black and HERO3+ in the hope that helps anyone wondering which SD card to get for these models. I make a point of doing speed tests on microSD cards, so I’ve had a good opportunity to try out the best SD cards on the market.

I originally posted a list of recommended memory cards for the HERO3 and HERO3+ models back when those cameras first came out. Since then, memory card manufacturers have released a bunch of newer, faster models and retired older cards that were originally on the list, making them hard to find. So this is an updated list with an emphasis on SD cards that are a combination of fast enough, readily available at major retailers, from manufacturers known for making high quality cards, and are cost effective. In several cases, these are faster than you technically need, but because of the way the memory card business works, these newer, faster cards can be cheaper than older, discontinued cards.

SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I

SanDisk 256GB Extreme microSDXC UHS-I...
  • Up to 160MB/s read speeds to save time transferring high res images and 4K UHD videos; 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 tons of media on your phone, load games or download more apps on your...
  • FAST AND SMOOTH: With superfast U3, class 10 rated transfer speeds of up to 130MB/s¹,²and UHS-I...

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 256GB MicroSDXC...
  • Professional-level performance for action cameras, drones, or Android smartphones
  • Leverages UHS-I technology to deliver read speeds up to 160MB/s (1066x)

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

SD Card Requirements of Other Models

While most of the newer GoPros also require fast memory cards, the other HERO3 models and older GoPros aren’t quite as demanding, but there are still some gotchas to watch out for. So here’s a rundown of the SD card requirements for those other models.

HERO3 White and Silver | SD Card Requirements

You can use any class 10 microSD cards (both SDHC and SDXC) with a GoPro HERO3 Silver and HERO3 White. In some circumstances, you can get away with a card with a lower video speed rating. You can find more on that below.

HERO3 Silver and HERO3+ Silver | SD Card Requirements

A Class 4 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required.
A Class 10 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required for 0.5 sec Time-lapse, 10/1 Photo Burst, and Protune.

HERO3: White Edition | SD Card Requirements

A Class 4 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required.
A Class 10 MicroSD card up to 64 GB is required for 0.5 sec Time-lapse.

HD HERO2 | SD Card Requirements

A Class 4 SD card up to 32 GB is required.
A Class 10 SD card up to 32 GB is required to use 0.5 sec Time-lapse, 10/1 Photo Burst, and Protune (ie. if you want to use any of those features, make sure your card is an SDHC card, NOT an SDXC card).

HD HERO Original & HD HERO960 | SD Card Requirements

A Class 4 SD card up to 32 GB is required. SDXC cards (ie. larger than 32GB) will NOT work in these models.

MicroSD Video Recording Speed Class

The SD Association has come up with rating systems to help make it easier for consumers to know whether a microSD card is suitable for use in video-recording cameras. It’s known as the speed class, and it’s designed to guarantee minimum sustained write speeds. These refer to the sequentual write speed that’s crucial for recording the data from a digital video stream.

There have actually been a few different speed class rating systems over the years. The current one–and the most relevant when buying a microSD card for your HERO3–starts with a V. That is, it will have a V30, V60, or perhaps even V90 on it. If the card packaging hasn’t yet been updated, it still might sport the older rating system, which will be a U1 or U3. In practice, any of these–from U1 through V90–is fast enough for the HERO3. It makes most sense to stick to the lower end of the scale, as they’re better suited to the HERO3’s requirements while also being cost effective. A card with U3 or V30 would make a good choice. A card with V90 will work, but it’s overkill for the HERO3, and you’ll pay a premium price for that extra write speed that the camera can’t use anyway.

There are other types of write speed and read transfer speed ratings that you often see on the packagin materials. But what’s most important when choosing a microSD card to use in your HERO3 is that the card be fast enough for the camera’s write speed demands.

Tips for Buying and Using microSD Cards

SDXC vs SDHC. SDHC and SDXC aren’t really direct versions, and it has nothing to do with speed. SDHC applies to cards that are between 4GB and 32GB. They use a filesystem known as FAT32. Cards 64GB and larger will have SDXC on them because those 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 HERO3 Black and HERO3+ Black work with SDHC and SDXC cards.

UHS-I vs UHS-II. On any microSD card (or SD card) that you’re likely to come across for sale these days, it will most likely have either a UHS-I or UHS-II on it (it’s sometimes written as just a I or II). This refers to the type of interface that the card has to connect with the camera. UHS-II holds the potential for enhanced read-write speeds, and you’ll find that the very fastest microSD cards on the market today are UHS-II cards (there is a UHS-III spec, but it hasn’t appeared in any consumer devices or cards yet). But it’s not quite that simple.

The catch is that to get the benefit of UHS-II, it requires compatible devices capable of taking advantage of UHS-II. In other words,  both the card and the device need to be UHS-II. If only one part is UHS-II, the overall performance will roll back to UHS-I.

No GoPro modesl (yet) have a UHS-II interface, so you won’t get the extra potential benefit of that UHS-II technology. But the system is designed in such a way that it’s backwardly compatible. In other words, you can use a UHS-II card in a GoPro HERO3–it will work just fine–but it will be treated as a UHS-II card, and you won’t get any extra performance benefit from it.

Formatting the SD Card to Use in the HERO3 and HERO3+. 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.

Where to Buy. Buy from a reputable retailer. There are a lot of counterfeit memory cards out there being peddled by less-reputable dealers. I buy a lot of memory cards, and I usually get them from Amazon or B&H Photo–I haven’t run into any issues with cards from those places, although be a little extra careful if buying from a third-party seller.

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2022-09-20 at 09:58. 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 »