Best SD Card for GoPro HERO9 Black | Top Picks
Here are some quick recommendations for the best SD cards to use in the GoPro HERO9 Black action camera. These cards have a proven track recording of reliability and performance, are readily available at major retailers, and are cost-effective. Now that the HERO9 Black is out, I’ve had a chance to try out these cards in this camera and have found them to work well.
- SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I
- Samsung EVO Select U3 UHS-I
- Lexar 1000x V60 UHS-II
- Delkin Select V30 UHS-I
- PNY Elite-X V30 UHS-I
Any of these makes for a good choice. There are other brands and cards that will also work well, and if you’re interested in those, you can find more details further down the page.
I also have a more general guide to the best SD card for GoPro cameras if you’re using other GoPro models.
Get the GoPro HERO8 Black for $299.98
With the new HERO9 Black just released, GoPro is running a great deal on the previous model, the HERO8 Black. You can get it for $299.98, and that includes a 1-year subscription to GoPro as well as a 32GB SD card.
The subscription to GoPro gives you unlimited cloud storage, discounted no-questions-asked camera replacement, and up to 50% off GoPro accessories.
You can find the deal at GoPro.com.
My aim with these GoPro HERO9 Black SD card recommendations is to make that easier and to have confidence that you’re getting a card that works well in this specific camera.
What Do the Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO9 Black Need to Do?
An SD card is an essential accessory for your GoPro, but the GoPro HERO9 Black doesn’t come with an SD card as standard. Some retailers, like GoPro.com, include one as part of an accessory bundle. But unless you buy a bundle like that, you’ll need to pick up the SD card separately. And you might want to upgrade your SD card to a larger-capacity one; you’ll find a 32GB card will fill up pretty quickly with the HERO9 Black’s high-bitrate recording.
But which one? Not all SD cards work well in the GoPro HERO9 Black. You don’t necessarily need the fastest microSD card for the HERO9, but you will need one that’s fast enough. Assuming you want to use all of the camera’s features and reduce the chance of problems and interruptions in your shooting. The main issue is that the card needs to be fast enough to keep up with the camera. While it’s not hard to find cards that will work well, it’s also quite possible to get the wrong card.
This main issue comes down to the HERO9 Black’s high-bitrate video recording. With certain Protune options enabled, you can get video bitrates of up to 100 Mbps, as well as some 90- and 60-image burst photo modes. The high-bitrate recording is great for better quality video, but it also increases the demands on the SD card. When using these modes, the camera needs to be able to write a lot of data to the card very quickly. If the card can’t keep up, it can unexpectedly stop the recording, drop frames, or even lock the camera up.
Detailed Recommendations on SD Cards for the GoPro HERO9 Black
I make a point of buying and testing as many SD and microSD cards for cameras as I can—you can see those test results separately. So I’m lucky enough to have on hand many of the major current memory cards available.
With the HERO9 Black, GoPro has kept the maximum available video bitrate at 100 Mbps. That brings it up inline with the previous model, the HERO8 Black, and the closest competitor, the DJI Osmo Action. That highest bitrate is available in some of the resolution/framerate options, including 5K30, 4K60, and 1080p240. I have a more detailed breakdown of what bitrates are used with what video settings further down this page.
So here are some more detailed recommendations on which SD cards support the HERO9 Black. As a practical matter, there’s a lot of overlap here with the HERO8 Black SD card recommendations, and if you’re upgrading from the HERO8 Black to the HERO9 Black, you should be fine sticking with the same SD card you already have.
SanDisk Extreme V30 UHS-I
The SanDisk Extreme cards are fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available. They're also safe bets for a wide range of cameras, including the GoPro HERO9 Black. 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 the high-bitrate setting on the HERO9 Black at 5K30, 4K60, and 1080p240.
The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 400GB, 512GB, and even new 1TB versions. The most practical sizes for the HERO9 Black are probably the 128GB and larger sizes.
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 the HERO8 needs.
SanDisk uses a three-part model numbering system in the format SDSQXA1-256G-GN6MA. In this example, SDSQXA1 is the model number, the 256G refers to the amount of memory, and the last five characters are used by SanDisk's 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 five characters.
The basic version includes a microSD-to-SD adapter. You can also find it bundled with a USB microSD card reader.
Samsung EVO Select U3 UHS-I
Samsung makes several models of microSD cards, and more than one model will work well in the HERO9 Black. But they have a somewhat 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 is also very cost-effective. Like SanDisk, Samsung recycles the series names. The latest version of the EVO Select is available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes. Alternatively, the EVO Plus models also works well.
It includes an SD adapter.
Find them at: Amazon
Lexar 1000x U3 UHS-II
A few years ago, Lexar changed hands, and there was some disruption to the supplies of their cards at retailers. But things seem to have stabilized now, and this solid, general workhorse card is again widely available.
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 the HERO9 Black.
The 1000x card is rated for a write speed of up to 90MB/s. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB versions. Like the even faster 1800x model, it's a UHS-II card, a feature that the HERO9 Black can't take full advantage of. But it still works well because of the way that the UHS-I/UHS-II standard is designed to roll back gracefully to maintain compatibility.
Delkin Select V30 UHS-I
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 the HERO9 Black 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--again, the 128GB to 512GB sizes are probably the sweet spot for the HERO9 Black. It comes with an SD adapter.
SanDisk Extreme PRO V30 UHS-I
The Extreme Pro line is SanDisk's top-of-the-range line. It's faster and fancier than even the HERO9 Black needs--the regular Extreme cards work just as well in the camera--but if you're going for the top of the line and want to be confident of being able to use the same card even if you upgrade your camera in the medium-term future, this is a good option.
There are 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB versions. It comes with a microSD-to-SD adapter cartridge.
Find them at: Amazon
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 to 256GB end of the range for the HERO9 Black.
If you order your GoPro HERO9 Black directly from GoPro.com, they throw in a 32GB SanDisk Extreme SD card. It works well, but you’ll probably find you’re filling it up very quickly. I find 256GB, 128GB, or even 512MB cards to be more practical sizes.
Why Do You Need a Fast SD Card for the HERO9 Black, Anyway?
A faster SD card won’t give you better video quality or help you take better pictures, but a card that’s fast enough will allow you to use all of the camera’s features without running into problems.
For the past several generations of GoPros, I’ve been putting together recommendations on which SD cards work best in these cameras. I started doing them when I first got burned with a card that was too slow for the HERO3 Black. Since then, the capabilities (and, importantly, the video bitrates) of GoPro models have only increased. In turn, that has required better and faster SD cards to keep up. Thankfully, memory card manufacturers have come through, and it’s easy to find cards that work well in the HERO9 Black without paying an arm and a leg. But that’s not to say that you can just choose any old SD card and expect it to work well—there are some minimum requirements.
So not every SD card will work well in the HERO9 Black. You won’t break your camera if you use an SD card that’s too slow, but you can end up with some pretty unfortunate side effects. You might have already found this out the hard way if your recordings have stopped unexpectedly, or you’ve been getting SD card errors. Those are the most common issues you can run into with a slower SD card, but you can also get the camera overheating or shutting down. You might see an error message, you might lose footage or frames, or the camera might lock up. Or maybe you’ll get all of the above. Some memory cards can also provoke write error messages and cause excessive battery drain, although those issues tend to be less common. But the upshot is that if your GoPro is behaving strangely, one of the first things to check is the microSD card.
The most significant requirement that an SD card needs meet to work well in the HERO9 Black is that it’s fast enough. But it has to be a specific type of fast, and often the speed ratings you see on SD card packaging and marketing materials are referring to characteristics that aren’t directly relevant to the camera’s requirements.
Usually, the speed rating you see in memory card marketings materials refers to a “transfer speed.” That’s only a very vague term that really isn’t very helpful in trying to work out the card’s capabilities. It typically means sequential read speed. That’s the speed at which data can be downloaded from the card. But when choosing an SD card for the HERO9 Black, what we want to look for is the speed at which data can be transferred or written to the card. And even then, it’s a specific type of writing: sequential write speed. Some cards are designed to be fast at a different type of writing: random write speed. Those are well-suited to use in a device used for gaming or mobile computing, but that particular measure is not directly relevant to shooting video with a GoPro.
How to Format SD Cards in the HERO9 Black
It’s always good practice to format the memory card in the camera rather than with a computer. And to do it regularly (once you’ve safely downloaded and backed up your photos and video, of course). That makes sure that the card is prepped in such a way that the camera needs it, and it reduces the risk of something getting messed up.
Formatting the SD card in the GoPro HERO9 models isn’t complicated, but the menu item isn’t necessarily in the most intuitive place.
You can now find the option under Preferences > Reset > Format SD Card. The Reset bit is the part that made me pause the first time because when I see that, I think of a factory reset of the camera. But in this case, it’s a subcategory title option, not actually resetting the camera (those other reset options are under the same subcategory screen).
If you’re using the GoPro mobile app, it’s still in the same place as with previous models, although, confusingly, the wording is different than it is on the camera. You find it under Settings > Delete > Delete All Files from SD Card.
I’ve also put together a more detailed guide on how to format an SD card for GoPro cameras here.
GoPro SD Card FAQs
Here are some answers to some common questions.
Can You Use UHS-II Cards in the GoPro HERO9 Black?
Yes, you can safely use UHS-II cards in the GoPro HERO9 Black, but you won’t get any benefit compared with using a UHS-I card. The camera’s own bus interface is UHS-I, so if you use a UHS-II card, it will still roll back to UHS-I.
Can You Use a 512GB or 1TB Cards in the HERO9 Black?
Yes, so long as those cards properly conform to the microSDXC spec and they’re otherwise fast enough, you shouldn’t have any issue. I’ve used 512GB cards in the HERO9 Black without any problems.
SD Card Slots
There’s a single microSD card slot. It’s right next to the battery. On this model, the card sits in very flush with the battery. To remove it, just push down lightly on the card edge, and it should spring out.
About these GoPro SD Card Recommendations
I’m not aiming to create a comprehensive list of every card that works with the GoPro HERO9 Black. There are some 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. What I am trying to do is present some options so you can choose a card and be confident that it’s compatible.
GoPro does have their own official list, and I’ve consulted that in compiling these recommendations, but it doesn’t always stay up to date with the latest versions of the memory cards. I’ll do my best to keep the recommendations above up to date with the latest versions of the memory cards.
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. I do my own independent microSD speed tests. 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 high-bitrate modes like 5K30, 4K60, and 1080p240.
Formats, Speed Ratings, and Types of microSD Cards Explained
There are a few different types of cards that fall under the general “SD card” umbrella. For the HERO9 Black, you’ll want a microSD card. Those are physically smaller than SD cards that you might be used to with larger cameras. Smartphones also use microSD cards, which is a common place you might have come across them.
In terms of storage capacity, measured in gigabytes, you can safely use any of the currently available sizes. So if you want to use a 16GB card, you can (although you’ll run out of space pretty quickly). Or if you want to use a 1TB card, knock yourself out. The current sweet spot in terms of convenience, availability, and price tends to be around the 256GB, 400GB, and 512GB sizes.
You can use either microSDXC or microSDHC cards in the HERO9 Black. As a practical matter, you’ll almost certainly be using a microSDXC card. This isn’t a performance rating. It refers to the formatting system used on the card. The cards you buy will be microSDHC if they’re in the 16GB to 32GB range, and they’ll be microSDXC if they’re 64GB or larger. Those are specs assigned by the SD Association, and it applies to all SD and microSD cards you’ll find for sale. You can find a more detailed explanation below.
You’ll see the current generation of cards marked with either UHS-I or UHS-II (or sometimes UHS-1, which is technically incorrect). This is labeled with either a small I or II on the card. The HERO9 Black uses the UHS-I host specification, so you won’t get added benefits if you put a UHS-II card in it. But it will still work because of the way that the specification is designed to roll back gracefully to UHS-I.
SD and microSD cards also have a speed rating system that refers specifically to recording video. Confusingly, there are three different generations of ratings. Older cards used a rating such as Class 10 or Class 4. They’re generally too slow to work well in the HERO9 Black. A newer speed rating system uses either a U1 or U3. U3 is faster than U1 and is generally a safer bet, especially if you’re using it the Black or Silver (although there are also several U1 cards that are plenty fast enough). Finally, there’s an even newer scale, which you’ll see written as something like V30 or V30. Those refer to even faster ratings. So the short version is that if the card has at least a “V30” rating, it’s fast enough. If it has a U3 rating, it’s fast enough. If it has a U1 rating, it might be fast enough, but there’s some risk that probably isn’t worth it because V30-rated cards are so easy to find now. And if it only has a “Class 10” rating, it’s almost certainly too slow.
Adding to the confusion, cards can have all of these three rating systems on the label. So a card might have Class 10, U3, and V60. In those cases, you only need to take notice of the highest rating system, which in this example would be V60.
And, finally, you’ll also come across cards that have an A1 or A2 rating on them. You can ignore that for these purposes. That’s a separate kind of speed rating that refers to random write speed and is relevant to devices that run apps, such as smartphones or gaming devices.
Speed Measures Explained
A common source of confusion with the speed of memory cards is the difference between Mb/s and MB/s (or Mbps and MBps). Whether or not that “b” is capitalized is a little thing, but it matters.
Video bitrates are conventionally measured in megabits per second, which is sometimes written as Mbps or Mb/s. The speed of memory cards is conventionally measured in data transfer in terms of megabytes per second, which is written as MBps or MB/s. There are eight 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 and easy if that meant that you could just make sure your card had a write speed faster than 7.5 MB/s, but there are other factors that come into play, 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 rather than try to cut it too fine with measurements.
Another common source of confusion is that not all memory card manufacturers use the same speed measure. 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. But that’s obviously not particularly useful today, and thankfully more and more manufacturers are adopting the more conventional of using raw MB/s numbers.
What’s the Difference Between microSDHC and microSDXC Cards?
As I said above, microSDHC and microSDXC don’t refer to a performance rating. They refer to the kind of storage formatting they use (microSDHC cards use FAT32; microSDXC cards use exFAT). These are specifications adopted by the SD Association.
microSDHC (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.
microSDXC (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.
In practice, you’ll see minimal, if any, difference in terms of performance. But there is one aspect where you will see a big difference: microSDHC cards are 32GB or smaller while microSDXC cards are 64GB or larger.
The HERO9 Black is compatible with both the microSDHC and microSDXC formats, so you can use either. But it’s more likely that you’ll be using a microSDXC card simply because that covers the larger-capacity cards that are so readily available today and so convenient to use in cameras like the HERO9 Black.
The SD Association has also created a newer specification known as SDUC. It has its own host technology, but in terms of storage capacity, it’s designed to cover cards ranging from 2TB up through 128TB. SDUC cards will only work with devices that have SDUC compatibility specifically included. The good news, for now, though, is that it’s very unlikely you’ll accidentally get one of these cards—they’re not yet readily available at consumer retailers.
Technically, it’s possible to use a computer to format, say, a 32GB microSD card with exFAT or a 128GB card with FAT32. But doing so goes against the SD Association specifications, can cause problems in some cameras, and they’ll be overwritten to the appropriate standard next time you format the card in the camera. In general, I don’t recommend it. That said, if you really want to do it, I’ve put together a guide to using the official SD card formatter.
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. Where things get a little complicated, though, is that these speed ratings don’t necessarily reflect the absolute speed of the card. Put another way, a card that has a V30 rating isn’t necessarily faster than one that has a U3 rating. That’s because to display the rating on the card, the manufacturers have to have their cards certified for that rating. It also involves revising packaging and marketing materials, which is an expensive process. So not every manufacturer will go to that trouble and expense right away. The upshot is that it’s not as simple as just looking at a card with a V30 or even V60 rating and knowing that it’s faster than one that only carries a U3 rating. It might be, but the rating system doesn’t work quite that way.
V90. The V-class is a new designation created to designate cards that are designed to work with the speeds required for 4K video and faster. The SD Association added some lower numbers to make them backward compatible with the older class designations (e.g., Class 10 and Class 6), but the most important ones are V30 and above.
Memory cards in the V90 class are rated to support a minimum sequential write speed of 90MB/sec. Their primary market is for cameras that shoot 8K video. There aren’t many V90 microSD cards available yet, and there aren’t many cameras that can use them (most of the cameras that can use those speeds use the larger SD format cards).
V60 is applied to cards that support a minimum sequential write speed of 60MB/sec.
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 4K video cameras like GoPros.
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.
Class 10 is designed to support 1080p recording at a minimum (but again, not at all framerates) with a minimum serial write speed of 10 MB/sec.
Classes 2, 4, and 6. Class 2 supports standard definition video recording with a minimum serial write speed of 2 MB/sec. Classes 4 and 6 are designed to support from 720p and 1080p video (but not all framerates) with a minimum serial write speed of 4 MB/s and 6 MB/s, respectively. Most newer cameras need cards faster than these, so memory cards in these speed classes aren’t as commonly available now.
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.
GoPro HERO9 Black Video Modes & Bitrates
Here’s a master list of the resolution/framerate combinations and bitrates of the HERO9 Black.
|Resolution||Framerate (NTSC / PAL)||High Bitrate||Standard Bitrate||Pixels|
Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2020-10-27 at 14:48. 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.
What to Do if Your GoPro Photos or Videos Go Missing From Your SD Card
There can be several reasons why photos and videos go missing from memory cards. But you can often recover at least some of them. I have a more detailed post on how to recover deleted GoPro videos and photos from SD cards, but here's the quick version:
- Stop using the SD card. This is important, because overwriting the data will make it harder to recover deleted files from it.
- Scan the memory card with the free trial versions of either Stellar Photo Recovery or Disk Drill. Both have Windows and Mac versions. The scan will show you whether any files can be found and recovered.
- Recover the files. If the apps can find the files, you can then decide whether to buy a full license to run the actual recovery process or to try one of the other options covered here.