When is a memory card not just a memory card? When you need it to do more than sit in a camera. For high-performance hardware, you want to pick one of these MicroSD cards.
There are dozens of different card series and models from each MicroSD card manufacturer, but different cards are rated for different tasks. In addition to basic advancements in speed and capacity, some cards are rated for extended data overwriting (ideal for dash cams that loop over the same video multiple times), high-speed write times (for 4K video and other associated data), or enhanced durability for more challenging physical scenarios.
We’ve selected the best cards available for those who are using them specifically to capture drone footage, in GoPro-style action cameras, and in extended-use, long-term service in dashboard cameras for cars. Check them out below.
The Best MicroSD Card For Drones: SanDisk Extreme UHS-3 ($29 for 64GB)
The cards used in drones don’t need to be exceptionally resilient, since a tiny flying drone isn’t going to survive too much punishment anyway. But what they do need is super-fast storage for recording HD video (and even 4K, in some of the latest models). That being the case, we recommend picking up one of SanDisk’s fastest premium cards to handle recording duties in your flying camera.
The SanDisk Extreme UHS-3 can handle sustained write speeds at up to 60MB per second, which should be enough to get every frame of a 1080p 60FPS video (or 4K 30FPS) without missing a beat. Transfer speeds are even faster, assuming you have a card reader that can handle them. At under thirty bucks for a 64GB card, your drone’s battery will die out long before your storage (or your budget) does. The 128GB version is currently pretty reasonable as well at around a $50 street price.
The Best MicroSD Card For Dash Cams: Silicon Power High Endurance ($54 for 64GB)
Dash cams installed in cars don’t need cards with the kind of insane speed that drones or sports cameras do. What they require is reliability, and reliability over time, since you’re only going to pop the card out of the camera when you get in an accident (or you see someone pulling some YouTube-worthy awful driving on the interstate).
Most dash cams include a video looping feature that writes over the oldest footage on the card as new footage is recorded, so it’s constantly reading and writing. This Silicon Power card is specifically designed to accommodate that, with a storage controller that’s rated for data writing for 12,000 hours of HD video. (That’s about three years of driving three hours every day.) It also includes built-in error correction to keep the integrity of the recorded video. The card is rated to withstand temperatures of -13 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 to 85 Celsius), so your camera’s going to melt off of your dashboard before you lose the footage stored on the card itself. A two-year warranty is a nice bonus.
The Best MicroSD Card For Action (Sports) Cameras: Transcend 300s ($21 for 64GB)
Action cameras need a mix of high-speed for reliable recording and durability for those times you hit a pothole with your street luge. Transcend’s 300s series of cards provides both, at a price point that’s surprisingly good to boot. The 300s series includes compatibility with Class 10, UHS Speed Class 1, which basically means it’s fast enough to capture high-definition video without ever stuttering.
Your camera can probably take a beating (especially if you use a ruggedized case), but so can these cards, with IPX7 water resistance and ratings for high and low temperatures, static electricity, and shock. They also come with an impressive five-year warranty. If you need an even faster card, for 4K recording or high-framerate, super-slow-motion video, upgrade to the Transcend 500s series. The boosted hardware can handle sustained writing at up to 60 megabytes a second thanks to its UHS Class 3 and UHS Video Class 30 specification.