You’re probably going to have to buy an SD card for your HERO6 Black. While some retailers put together bundles that might include accessories such as a memory card, GoPros don’t come with an SD card as standard. So chances are you’ll need to pick one up separately. So here are some practical recommendations for cards that work well even at the HERO6’s highest video modes.
If you’d just like to cut to the chase with some quick recommendations, here you go:
These SD cards are fast and reliable, cost-effective, and readily available at major retailers. Any of these make for a good choice in the HERO6 Black. 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.
Why Do You Need a Fast SD Card for the HERO6 Black, Anyway?
The headline features of the GoPro HERO6 Black are top-end video modes of 4K60 and 1080p240 video. There are also some other upgrades from the HERO5 Black, but it’s mainly the new high-end video modes that require a fast SD card. You might have already found this out the hard way if your recordings have been stopping unexpectedly or you’ve been getting SD card errors.
That’s because the video bitrates for the HERO6 Black have been bumped up significantly from the ones used on the HERO5 Black. If you want to get technical, the highest bitrate used on the HERO6 Black is now around 78 megabits per second (or Mb/s), quite a bit higher than previous models, and up from 60Mb/s on the HERO5 Black. (I have a table below that details what bitrate is used in which video mode.) And that means that more data has to be written to the memory cards more quickly. The upshot is that not every microSD card will work well in the HERO6 Black.
Best SD Cards for the GoPro HERO6 Black | In Detail
The biggest requirement the HERO6 Black makes of the SD card is that it be fast enough. But it has to be a specific type of fast. That is, memory card manufacturers often put a speed rating on the card that sounds impressive but is referring to the read speed, or the speed at which data can be downloaded from the card. That’s not the most relevant measure for using in a GoPro.
What you need is a card with a fast write speed, and more specifically, a fast sequential write speed. You don’t necessarily need the fastest card with bleeding-edge technology—they can sometimes also be ridiculously expensive. But you will need one that’s fast enough to keep up with the recording of the HERO6 Black’s high-resolution video like the new 4K60 and 1080p240 modes.
If the card is too slow, the recording can stop, you can get an error message, you can lose footage, or the camera can lock up (and perhaps 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.
In general, most of the SD cards that work in the HERO5 Black and HERO5 will also work in the HERO6 Black. Ditto on the SD cards that work in the newer HERO7 Black. But I have run into a couple of cases where even fast cards are having some kind of compatibility issue with the HERO6 Black. In those cases, I’ve simply left them off the list of recommended cards below.
SanDisk Extreme V30 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.
Samsung EVO Select V30 UHS-I
- 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
- 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.
Delkin Select V30 UHS-I
- 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.
- 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.
About these Recommendations
I’m lucky enough to have a lot of the fastest current microSD cards on hand, and I’ve been testing them in HERO6 Blacks at the highest video modes (with Protune on).
This is not designed to be a comprehensive list of every card that works with the GoPro HERO6 Black. What I’m trying to do is present some practical 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).
What Size, Format, and Rating of SD Card Works Best in the HERO6 Black?
The GoPro HERO6 is fully compatible with both the microSDXC and microSDHC specifications (more on that below). This isn’t a performance rating. It refers to the formatting system used on the card.
You want either UHS-I or UHS-II host specifications. This is marked with either a small I or II on the card. The cameras seem to use the UHS-I host specification, so you won’t get added benefits if you put a UHS-II card in them (it will still work but will roll back to UHS-I).
For the speed rating, the safest bet is to stick with one that’s rated with the new V30 category or U3, although there are also U1 cards that work just fine.
Speed Measures Explained
Video bitrates are conventionally measured in megabits per second, or Mb/s (or Mbps, with a lower-case “b”). The speed of memory cards is conventionally measured in megabytes per second, or MB/s. There are 8 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 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 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.
What’s the Difference Between microSDHC and microSDXC
The difference between microSDHC and microSDXC isn’t a performance rating. It refers to the kind of storage formatting they use (microSDHC cards use FAT32; microSDXC cards use exFAT). You’ll probably never see any practical difference except for one important aspect: microSDHC cards are 32GB or smaller while microSDXC cards are 64GB or larger.
The GoPro HERO6 Black is compatible with both the microSDHC and microSDXC formats, so you can use either.
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.
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 to 128TB. SDUC cards will only work with devices that have SDUC compatibility specifically included, but you won’t find any of those cards in the wild just yet, so you don’t really need to be concerned about accidentally getting one of those for now.
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.
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, and for now, those are pretty rare, but the class provides room to grow, as it were.
V60 is applied to cards that support a minimum sequential write speed of 60MB/sec. For now, they’re quite rare in the microSD format.
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 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.
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 HERO6 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 listed with a number 1, like UHS-1, even by some manufacturers.
What Size SD Card is Best for the GoPro HERO6 Black?
Here are some estimates for the number of photos/footage you can fit on various sizes of memory cards. Please note that these are the estimates provided by the camera’s own calculations. While useful as guides, they’re definitely not hard and fast numbers.
That’s especially true of the photo estimates because of the high variability in the file sizes that come out of JPG compression, depending on the detail and tones in the photo. (The video estimates tend to be more reliable because while it’s done with variable encoding, there’s a target average bitrate). You might get more, or you might get less. As an example of the variation, I’ve had times when I’ve only managed to get about 20,000 JPGs on a 64GB card. So treat the estimates as guides—there’s no guarantee you’ll get exactly these numbers in real-world shooting.
For the video section of this table, you can cross-reference the bitrate (Mbps) rows with the video modes below. As an example, the highest video modes like 4K60 with Protune or 1080ps with Protune record with a target bitrate of around 78 M/ps. If you’re recording at 1080p120, it records with a target bitrate of 66 Mb/ps regardless of whether Protune is on or off. You can find the detailed bitrates for specific video modes in the table a little further down this page.
|JPG / GPR||12,157||24,337||48,960||75,060|
|Video Bitrate / hrs:mins|
Will 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB microSD Cards work in the HERO6 Black?
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 offering versions up to 512GB.
I have a more detailed post on this issue.
GoPro HERO6 Black Video Modes, Sizes, and Bitrates
Some video modes are more demanding of the speed of the memory card than others. That’s specifically because some use a higher bitrate for their recording. The bitrate is a function of the amount of compression used. The less the compression, the higher the bitrate and the higher the potential quality. As you can see from this table, the highest bitrates on the HERO6 Black come into play at the largest/fastest combinations of resolution and framerate and with Protune turned on.
- PROTUNE / + PROTUNE
|Stabilization?||Codec||Aspect Ratio||Dimensions||FOV Wide||FOV SuperView||FOV Linear|
|4K||60||66 / 78||✘||H.265||16:9||3840x2160||✓|
|50||66 / 78||✘||H.265||16:9||3840x2160||✓|
|30||66 / 66||✓||AVC||16:9||3840x2160||✓||✓|
|25||66 / 66||✓||AVC||16:9||3840x2160||✓||✓|
|24||66 / 66||✓||AVC||16:9||3840x2160||✓||✓|
|4K 4:3||30||66 / 78||✘||H.265||4:3||4000x3000||✓|
|25||66 / 78||✘||H.265||4:3||4000x3000||✓|
|24||66 / 78||✘||H.265||4:3||4000x3000||✓|
|2.7K||120||66 / 78||✘||H.265||16:9||2704x1520||✓|
|100||66 / 78||✘||H.265||16:9||2704x1520||✓|
|60||66 / 66||✓||AVC||16:9||2704x1520||✓||✓||✓|
|50||66 / 66||✓||AVC||16:9||2704x1520||✓||✓||✓|
|30||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||2704x1520||✓||✓||✓|
|25||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||2704x1520||✓||✓||✓|
|24||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||2704x1520||✓||✓||✓|
|2.7K 4:3||60||66 / 78||✘||H.265||4:3||2704x2028||✓|
|50||66 / 78||✘||H.265||4:3||2704x2028||✓||✓|
|30||66 / 66||✓||AVC||4:3||2704x2028||✓||✓|
|25||66 / 66||✓||AVC||4:3||2704x2028||✓||✓|
|24||66 / 66||✓||AVC||4:3||2704x2028||✓||✓|
|1440||60||66 / 66||✓||AVC||4:3||1920x1440||✓||✓|
|50||66 / 66||✓||AVC||4:3||1920x1440||✓||✓|
|30||33 / 47||✓||AVC||4:3||1920x1440||✓||✓|
|25||33 / 47||✓||AVC||4:3||1920x1440||✓||✓|
|24||33 / 47||✓||AVC||4:3||1920x1440||✓||✓|
|1080||240||66 / 78||✘||H.265||16:9||1920x1080||✓|
|200||66 / 78||✘||H.265||16:9||1920x1080||✓|
|120||66 / 66||✓||AVC||16:9||1920x1080||✓||✓||✓|
|100||66 / 66||✓||AVC||16:9||1920x1080||✓||✓||✓|
|60||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||1920x1080||✓||✓||✓|
|50||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||1920x1080||✓||✓||✓|
|30||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||1920x1080||✓||✓||✓|
|25||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||1920x1080||✓||✓||✓|
|24||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||1920x1080||✓||✓||✓|
|720||60||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||1280x720||✓||✓|
|50||33 / 47||✓||AVC||16:9||1280x720||✓||✓|
I have a more detailed post specifically on the GoPro HERO6 Black video modes here.
Notes & Tips on Working with microSD Cards
- 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. Related to that, it’s worth sticking to brands with a good reputation. There are some excellent cards from lesser-known manufacturers, but there are also some frankly shoddy cards from no-name manufacturers (or rebranders). I’ve tried to include a mix of reputable brands in the recommendations above. Another example of a new/less-known brand that makes top-notch microSD cards is someone like ProGrade Digital; their cards will be on the list once they become readily available.
- Before using it, format the memory card in the camera. It’s a safer option than formatting on your computer and can help prevent problems. And it’s a good idea to reformat the microSD card in the camera 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. Obviously, make sure you’ve backed up or downloaded all the photos and video first. While it’s probably still possible to recover photos and video if you’ve accidentally formatted the card, it’s a pain to do so.
- 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.
- Don’t use the memory card for long-term storage. Download it to a computer, portable hard drive, or to the cloud as soon as practicable (and back that up!).
- I have a separate roundup of the fastest microSD cards.
How to Recover Data from a GoPro HERO6’s microSD Card
If you’ve accidentally deleted videos or photos from your GoPro’s microSD card, there’s still a good chance that you can recover it.
The first thing to do is stop using the card. The more data is overwritten, the harder it will be to recover what you’re after.
The next thing to do is to use data recovery software to scan the card to find recoverable data. There are a number of options for doing this, including free data recovery software and more comprehensive data recovery software that requires a license.
- 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.
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