GoPros don’t come with a memory card as standard, so unless you buy a bundle pack that includes one you’ll need to pick one up separately. But not every card will work well in the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions. Here are the ones that will.
The GoPro HERO4 Black and GoPro HERO4 SILVER editions can create ultra-high definition video. The Black edition is capable of up to 4K at 30fps and 2.7K at 60fps and 1080p at 120fps (you can find more details here). Even the slightly less expensive Silver edition can capture 1080p footage at 60fps and 720p footage at 120fps. That’s going to make for some incredible video footage. But if you try to use a memory card that’s not fast enough, you’re going to run into trouble. The recordings might stop prematurely, or it might just lock up completely. If you find either of those things happening, a first step in troubleshooting is to check that it’s not your memory card.
The Memory Cards that GoPro Officially Recommends for the HERO4 Black and Silver
When the GoPro HERO4 launched, there were only two types of memory card on GoPro’s official list of recommendations. And one of those, the SanDisk Extreme, was being rebranded by the manufacturer and being replaced with a card with the same name and a slightly faster read speed and a slightly slower write speed.
Since then, memory card manufacturers have come out with new cards. And GoPro released new firmware that added even more high-end video modes that rely on a fast memory card.
Since then, GoPro has updated and expanded their list of cards that are known to work well in the HERO4 Black and Silver editions as more memory card manufacturers have submitted their microSD lines for the official Works with GoPro verification process.
So I’ve updated the list below of the best memory cards for the GoPro HERO4. There are, of course, other fast memory cards available, but I’d recommend sticking with one of these if you want to be sure it’s fully compatible with the GoPro HERO4.
SanDisk Extreme PLUS 64GB
The one on GoPro’s list is now outdated and getting harder to find (model No. SDSDQX-064G-AFFP-A). The new version (model SDSQXSG-064G-ANCMA) is significantly faster, with write speeds rated up to 90 MB/s and is much more readily available. It comes with a microSD to SD adapter.
SanDisk uses slight variants to its model numbers are marketing tools overseas, and there’s often some cross bleeding with retailers stocking the different numbers. But the only difference is in the packaging, and the cards themselves have exactly the same specs. SDSQXSG-064G-CN6MA (Canada) and SDSQXSG-064G-GN6MA (most of the rest of the world) are exactly the same card.
SanDisk Extreme PLUS 32GB
It includes a microSD to SD cartridge adapter.
SanDisk uses slight variants to its model numbers are marketing tools overseas, and there’s often some cross bleeding with retailers stocking the different numbers. But the only difference is in the packaging, and the cards themselves have exactly the same specs. SDSQXSG-032G-CN6MA (Canada) and SDSQXSG-032G-GN6MA (most of the rest of the world) are exactly the same card.
SanDisk Extreme 64GB
Another in SanDisk’s refreshed line since GoPro published their list. The model on GoPro’s list (SDSDQXL-064G-G46A) has been been replaced with the newer model SDSQXNE-064G-AN6MA. It comes with a microSD to SD cartridge adapter.
SanDisk uses slight variants to its model numbers are marketing tools overseas, and there’s often some cross-bleeding with retailers stocking the different numbers. But the only difference is in the packaging, and the cards themselves have exactly the same specs.
SanDisk Extreme 32GB
The new model is SDSQXNE-032G-ANCAT. There have actually been two SanDisk updates to the Extreme since GoPro published its list. This is the newest, fastest, and most readily available. It comes with a micro to SD adapter cartridge.
The model number specific to North America is SDSQXNE-032G-ANCAT, but some retailers list it under SDSQXNE-032G-GN6AA, which is the model number for marketing in other parts of the world. They’re the same specs, and either model number works well.
Lexar 633X 64GB
Lexar uses their own speed rating on these cards and makes it hard to find the write speed, conveniently leaving it off their data spec sheets [PDF]. The 633x corresponds to about 95MB/s, but that’s read speed, not write speed. The tiny print says “write speeds lower” but doesn’t specify what they are.
Lexar 633X 32GB
Model No. LSDMI32GBBNL633R. Includes a USB 3.0 reader. Spec sheet
This is the 32GB version of the card above.
Samsung PRO 32GB
Available at: Amazon
The 16GB version (model no. MB-MG16DA/AM) is also on GoPro’s official list and has the same specs as the card above.
There’s also a new, slightly faster version of this card (model no. MB-MD32DA and branded as a Samsung PRO+) rated for a write speed up to 90MB/s and a read speed of 95MB/s (Class 10 U3). I’ve tested in both a GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver and it works well but hasn’t yet found its way into many retailers.
Kingston rates this card’s speeds as 90MB/s read and 45MB/s write.
Available at: Amazon.
SanDisk Extreme 64GB
Model No. SDSDQXL-064G. Manufacturer speed rating: up to 45MB/s write / 45MB/s read. Includes a microSD to SD adapter. Spec sheet.
Available at: Amazon
This is the SanDisk card (model SDSDQXL-064G-G46A) that was on GoPro’s original official list of recommended memory cards for the GoPro Hero 4 Black and Silver editions. It’s rated for a write speed of up to 45MB/s and a read speed of up to 45MB/s. But there’s a catch–it’s discontinued and getting harder to find at a reasonable price.
SanDisk Extreme 32GB
Model No. SDSDQXL-032G. Manufacturer speed rating: up to 45MB/s write / 45MB/s read. Includes a USB adapter. Spec sheet.
Available at: Amazon
This is the 32GB version of the same card above. Again, this is the older model and getting harder to find.
Since GoPro posted its list, new cards have been released. The specs of some of these cards fit comfortably within the requirements of these cameras. These are the ones I’ve personally tested with the high-end video modes of the Black and they’ve worked well for me without any problems.
SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I/U3
The Extreme PRO cards are SanDisk’s top-of-line offering. Over the years I’ve used microSD, SD, and CompactFlash cards from this series more than from any other, and in my experience they are reliably a solid choice. One of the things I like about them is that their write speeds are generally similar to the read speeds, as opposed to some other cards where the write speed is much slower than the read speed that’s used in the marketing, so you’re not left guessing whether it will be fast enough. You do often pay a small premium for them, but they’re usually still priced very competitively.
Lexar 1000x microSD
The Lexar 1000x range boasts read speeds up to 150MB/s. In my testing, the write speed is significantly lower than that but still exceeds the requirements of the HERO4s. I’ve tested on the Silver and Black up to 4K/30 Protune and 1080p/120 Protune and it has worked well. There’s also a 64GB version (Model No. LSDMI64GCBNL1000R) and both come with USB adapter dongles (I’ve found that using the dongles to download to the computer gives the fastest read speeds).
Delkin Devices 660x UHS-I U3
It’s rated for a write speed of up to 80 MB/s and read speed of up to 99 MB/s. I ran into no problems running it at 4K30 with Protune.
Transcend Ultimate 633x
Available at: Amazon
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. I used it in a GoPro HERO4 Black at 4K30 with Protune without a problem. It comes with an SD adapter cartridge.
Silicon Power UHS-I (U3)
Available at: Amazon
I’ve used the 32GB version of this card in a GoPro HERO4 Black without any issues. It’s rated for a write speed of up to 80MB/s and a read speed of up to 90 MB/s. There’s also a 64GB version.
PNY U3 Turbo Performance
I’ve used the 32GB version of this card in a GoPro HERO4 Black without any issues. It’s rated for a read speed of up to 90MB/s, but PNY doesn’t publish a write speed. Both in my real-world testing in a GoPro HERO4 Black and in my benchmarks, I found it to be fast enough for the high-end video of these cameras. It also comes in a 64GB version.
Samsung Pro+ UHS-I U3
The Pro+ (Pro Plus) range is a step up from Samsung’s regular Pro range. This card is rated for a read speed up to 95MB/s and write of 90MB/s.
Memory Cards for the GoPro HERO4 Silver
The Silver edition doesn’t have the top-end video modes of the Black; its maximum data stream is 45Mb/s. So technically it can handle a memory card that’s a little slower than the requirements of the Black.
But in the world of memory cards, where newer, faster versions are coming out so rapidly and are often cheaper than older models, it may not make sense to search out older, slower cards. All of the microSD cards in the list above are known to work well in the Silver.
Is Your Memory Card Fast Enough?
If you find that your video is stopping prematurely or that the camera is freezing while you’re trying to record video, the first thing to check is that your memory card is fast enough. (If it’s just breaking up the video file into smaller segments but keeps recording, that’s normal. Here’s an explanation of why.) You won’t see any error message that tells you what the problem is–it tends to just stop recording and lock up.
The GoPros’ high-resolution video modes require a lot of data to get written very quickly to the memory card. And not all memory cards are equal. You can’t just put any Class 10 microSD card in the new GoPros and expect it to work flawlessly. If the card is too slow, you’ll find that the camera stops recording as the memory card just can’t keep up. The newer cards use a newer transfer technology known as UHS-I that allows for speeds that far exceed the older Class 10 technology.
Aside from reliability–which is a big issue in itself–memory cards vary widely in their speed. The key is the write speed–or, technically, sustained write speed–which is how fast the camera can write to the memory card. All of the cards that GoPro recommends with the new high-resolution video modes on the new GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions are rated for writes speeds of 40MB/s or faster.
Card manufacturers don’t make it easy in other ways. They often advertise “transfer speed” or “read speed.” Neither of those is the same thing as “write speed.” When memory card manufacturers put the speed on their advertising, it’s usually the read speed (ie. the maximum speed you can get data off the card). It’s often a higher number and sounds more impressive. But for our purposes, we need to know who quickly we can get data onto the card–ie. write speed.
The speed at which data can be written also depends also on the file sizes of the data you’re writing. The speed ratings provided by manufacturers are sequential write speed. They don’t typically divulge for a different kind of writing: large-block random data. That figure is typically significantly slower than the sequential write speed, and it explains why, when the GoPro HERO4 Black maxes out at 60Mb/s (7.5MB/s) and the Silver at 45Mb/s (5.625MB/s), you need a card with a speed rating that’s much higher than 7.5MB/s or 5.6MB/s (ie. they’re measuring two different kinds of data writing).
Data Rates for GoPro HERO4 Video Modes
Below are the write date speeds for all the video modes available on the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver editions. The Black’s top data rate is 60Mb/s, whereas the Silver’s is 45Mb/s. So any of the video modes that record at 60Mb/s are only available with the Black.1
In early February 2015, GoPro released new firmware that added two new video modes to the Black edition (but not the Silver). Both are high-end: 2.7K 60fps and 720p 240fps, and both record at 60Mb/s. You can find further details on what else is new with the firmware updates here.
Note that these data rates are in megabits per second (Mb/s), whereas memory card speed ratings are typically measured in megabytes per second (MB/s). There are 8 megabits to one megabyte. But it’s not as simple as doing the conversion and then comparing that to the card speed because the card speeds are maximum speeds for writing small files of sequential data. Writing large files of random data is usually much slower. But this chart will give you ideas on which video modes to try if your memory card is struggling to keep up.
|HERO4 Video Mode||Megabits per second||Notes|
|4K 30fps||60||Black only|
|4K 30fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 25fps||60||Black only|
|4K 25fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps Superview||60||Black only|
|4K 24fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|4K 15fps||45||Silver only|
|4K 15fps + Protune||45||Silver only|
|4K 12fps||45||Silver only|
|4K 12 fps + Protune||45||Silver only|
|2.7K 60fps||60||Black only|
|2.7K 60fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 50fps||60||Black only|
|2.7K 50fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 48fps||60||Black only|
|2.7K 48fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 30fps + Protune||45|
|2.7K 25fps + Protune||45|
|2.7K 24fps + Protune||45|
|2.7K 30fps Superview||45||Black only|
|2.7K 30fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 25fps Superview||45||Black only|
|2.7K 25fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 4:3 30fps||45|
|2.7K 4:3 30fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|2.7K 4:3 25fps||45|
|2.7K 4:3 25fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 80fps||60||Black only|
|1440p 80fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 60fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 50fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1440p 48fps + Protune||45|
|1440p 30fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 120fps||60||Black only|
|1080p 120fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1080p 90fps||60||Black only|
|1080p 90fps + Protune||60||Black only|
|1080p 60fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 50fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 48fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 30fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 25fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 24fps + Protune||45|
|1080p 80fps Superview||60||Black only|
|1080p 80fps Superview + Protune||60||Black only|
|1080p 60fps Superview||30|
|1080p 60fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 50fps Superview||30|
|1080p 50fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 48fps Superview||30|
|1080p 48fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 30fps Superview||30|
|1080p 30fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 25fps Superview||30|
|1080p 25fps Superview + Protune||45|
|1080p 24fps Superview||30|
|1080p 24fps Superview + Protune||45|
|960p 120fps + Protune||45|
|960p 60fps + Protune||45|
|960p 50fps + Protune||45|
|720p 240fps Narrow FOV||60||Black only|
|720p 240fps + Protune Narrow FOV||60||Black only|
|720p 120fps + Protune||45|
|720p 60fps + Protune||45|
|720p 50fps + Protune||45|
|720p 30fps + Protune||45|
|720p 25fps + Protune||45|
|720p 120fps Superview||30|
|720p 120fps Superview + Protune||45|
|720p 60fps Superview||30|
|720p 60fps Superview + Protune||45|
|720p 50fps Superview||30|
|720p 50fps Superview + Protune||45|
|WVGA 240fps + Protune||30|
Is it Normal for the Card and Camera to Get Hot?
All of the cards I’ve tried get hot, along with the rest of the camera, when recording the top-end video modes that write at 60Mb/s on the Black (making anti-fog inserts a good idea in cold, wet, or humid shooting conditions).
Should I Get the SDHC or SDXC Versions?
SDHC and SDXC aren’t really direct versions. SDHC applies to cards that are between 4GB and 32GB. They use a filesystem known as FAT32. SDXC applies to cards 64GB and larger; they 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 HERO4 Black and Silver cameras work with both SDHC and SDXC cards.
The one current GoPro where this is an issue, though is the lower model, the one that’s simply called the GoPro HERO. That will not work with SDXC cards, so you can only use a card that’s 32GB or smaller in that particular model. I have more detailed information on that here.
Do 128GB Cards Work in the GoPro HERO4 Black and Silver?
Yes. Or, more precisely, I know that some do. I’ve used the Lexar Professional 1000x 128GB SDXC card in both the Black and Silver and haven’t run into any problems. I haven’t tested other models.
It’s important to note, though, that GoPro does not include any 128GB cards on their list of recommendations, so if in doubt, you might want to stick to 64GB or 32GB cards.
Not every model comes in a 128GB version, and some 128GB cards are models that are too slow for the Black and Silver GoPros.
My Videos are Getting Split Up
It’s normal. Here’s why.
Tips for Buying and Using microSD Cards
- 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.
- If you’re using a GoPro Hero 3+ Black or earlier model, you have some more options. Here’s a list of recommended cards for those cameras.
- Buy from a reputable retailer. There are a lot of counterfeit memory cards out there being peddled by less-reputable dealers.
- If you’re going with SanDisk, I don’t recommend their “Ultra” or “Ultra Plus” range of cards for GoPro HERO3 or GoPro HERO4 cameras. Despite being Class 10, many users have reported issues with the recording stopping prematurely (a problem I ran into myself).
- 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!).
- There are also other brands that make very good memory cards, and they might work well in the GoPros. But GoPro doesn’t include them on their recommended list. If you go with another brand, there are some things to look for. Pay careful attention to the write speed of the card, not the misleading read speeds that are often used in advertising. If you’ve never heard of the brand and can’t find good reviews of it online, it’s probably a good idea to go with another that you do know. Some brands that have good reputations include PNY, Transcend, Samsung, Delkin, Sony, and Kingston. Not all of those manufacturers make cards that work well with the new GoPros yet, but I have a separate roundup of the fastest microSD cards.
RELATED: You might also be interested in my post What Size Memory Card is Best for a GoPro HERO4?.
You can find GoPro’s official list of microSD card recommendations here.