The GoPro HERO6 Black is now out. Its headline features are new 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 80 megabits per second, quite a bit higher than previous models. (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 GoPro HERO6 Black
Here are some quick recommendations:
- SanDisk Extreme UHS-I U3 V30
- Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II U3
- Samsung EVO Select UHS-I U3
- SanDisk Extreme Plus UHS-I U3 V30
These are fast and reliable, cost-effective, and readily available. Any of these make for a good choice. If you’d like more detailed recommendations or other brands and models, you can find them below.
Detailed Recommendations on the SD Cards for the GoPro HERO6 Black
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. 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.
Fast, cost-effective, reliable, and widely available, this is the card that GoPro itself is bundling with the HERO6 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 4K60 video of the HERO6 Black. It comes in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes (the 265GB version is marketed under model number SDSQXAO-256G-AN6MA in North America).
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.
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.
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.
SanDisk Extreme PRO
The Extreme Pro line is SanDisk’s top-of-the-range line. It’s faster and fancier than the HERO6 Black needs–the regular Extreme and Extreme Plus cards work just as well in the camera, but the Extreme Pro also works well.
One nice thing about this one is that it comes with a very fast USB thumb reader that can take advantage of the UHS-II host type.
SanDisk Pixtor Advanced
These 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.
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 GoPro HERO6 Black. 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.
While slower than the newer 1000x Lexar cards, these also work well and are a good cost-effective option. I was actually surprised to find that these still work well in the HERO6 Black. It’s a card that has now been available for quite some time and they’re typically very reasonably priced–sometimes in multi-packs. One of the other appeals of this range is that there’s an unusually wide choice of sizes: 256GB, 200GB, 128GB, 64GB, 32GB, and 16GB.
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.
Samsung EVO Select
Model Nos. MB-ME128GA/AM / MB-ME64GA/AM / MB-ME32GA/AM
Samsung makes several excellent microSD cards. This is among their less expensive models, but it’s plenty fast enough for the HERO6 Black and I’ve found it to work well. It’s available in 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes.
Samsung Pro Select
Like SanDisk, Samsung has quite a few different microSD models. It’s not always clear what the difference is, especially when they have model names like Pro, Pro+, and Pro Select. This is one of their newest cards, and I’ve found it to work well and be fast.
Buy at: Amazon
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). I use these a lot in my GoPros and have found them to be fast and reliable.
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.
Buy at: Amazon
About these Recommendations
GoPro hasn’t yet updated their recommendations for the HERO6 Black, so as I’ve done with previous models, I’ve been doing my own real-world testing with these cards in the new model. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of the best 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 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 formating system used on teh card. and I’ve been using 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 200GB cards in them. There are also some 256GB cards available now, but I haven’t yet tested any of those.
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. 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 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.
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 list 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 amount 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 80 Mbps. If you’re recording at 1080p120, it records with a target bitrate of 66 Mbps 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 microSD Cards work in the HERO6 Black?
Yes. So long as the card has a fast enough write speed, there’s no problem using the 128GB version. Several of the cards listed above have 128GB versions that will work well.
GoPro HERO6 Black Video Modes, Sizes, and Bitrates
- PROTUNE / + PROTUNE
|Stabilization?||Codec||Aspect Ratio||Dimensions||FOV Wide||FOV SuperView||FOV Linear|
|4K||60||66 / 80||✘||H.265||16:9||3840x2160||✓|
|50||66 / 80||✘||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 / 80||✘||H.265||4:3||4000x3000||✓|
|25||66 / 80||✘||H.265||4:3||4000x3000||✓|
|24||66 / 80||✘||H.265||4:3||4000x3000||✓|
|2.7K||120||66 / 80||✘||H.265||16:9||2704x1520||✓|
|100||66 / 80||✘||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 / 80||✘||H.265||4:3||2704x2028||✓|
|50||66 / 80||✘||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 / 80||✘||H.265||16:9||1920x1080||✓|
|200||66 / 80||✘||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
- Again, these are not official GoPro recommendations–they haven’t issued any yet. Naturally, since I don’t make the cards or the cameras I’m not in a position to make guarantees that what works for me will work for you, but hopefully it’ll provide a useful starting point.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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. ↩
Last update on 2017-10-18 at 17:50 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API