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. 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.
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
Fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available, the SanDisk Extreme cards are safe bets for a wide range of uses, including the GoPro HERO6 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 ones they officially recommend in their "Works with GoPro" certification program.
From my tests, it is plenty fast enough for the 4K60 and 1080p240 video of the HERO6 Black, but it also has the virtue of being cost-effective.
The latest version of the SanDisk Extreme comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 400GB 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 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.
Samsung EVO Select U3 UHS-I
Find them at: Amazon
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, and 256GB sizes. If you can't find the EVO Select line at your preferred retailer, the EVO Plus line also works well.
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.
SanDisk Extreme PRO V30 UHS-I
Find them at: Amazon
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.
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.
SanDisk Pixtor Advanced U3 UHS-I
SanDisk's Pixtor range is the same as SanDisk's Extreme range--it's a rebranded version that's designed as a house brand for Best Buy. But the labeling on Pixtor cards isn't 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.
Because they're tied to a specific retailer, the Pixtor cards don't tend to be as readily available as some of the others here. And there's really no reason to hunt for them--there's no performance benefit--especially when the Extreme range cards are much easier to find.
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.
ProGrade Digital V60 UHS-II
Find them at: B&H Photo
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.
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.
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 (eg. 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 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.
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 where 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 and 256GB 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 400GB.
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 that formatting on your computer and can help prevent problems. And it’s a good idea to reformat 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. 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, 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.
- 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 Product Advertising API were last updated on 2019-06-26 at 10:38.