Best SD and microSD memory cards 2017: the best cards for cameras, drones and more

There was a time, not so long ago, when memory cards existed in a bewildering array of flavours and formats: CompactFlash, Memory Stick (by Sony), xD-Picture, MultiMedia Card and SmartMedia vied for the control of the market, but one format survived and thrived thanks to smartphones and tablets.

MicroSD and its bigger brother, SD (Secure Digital) are the undisputable winners of the memory card wars that helped accessory manufacturers make a tidy profit selling card readers and converters to thousands.

And because microSD cards use the same fundamental component as memory sticks and internal memory of smartphones, prices have fallen tremendously over the last few years thanks to economies of scale.

The best SD and microSD memory cards 2017

1. Samsung Evo Plus

The best all-round microSD card

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, 256GB | Interface: microSD

Fast
Reliable
Pricey
Not the fastest

The Samsung Evo Plus is an excellent all-round microSD card that features  up too 100MB/sec read and 90MB/s write speeds. It's not quite the fastest microSD on the market, but it's still very nippy, making it a great choice for digital cameras and action cameras. It comes in a variety of capacities, so you'll be able to find the right size for your needs. Recently prices have risen for the Samsung Evo Plus, so you may find you're paying a bit of a price premium.

2. Samsung Pro+

The best microSD card for video

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB | Interface: microSD

Robust
Great speeds
Pricey

If you do a lot of filming, especially in 4K, then you're going to want a reliable microSD card that can write large amounts of data fast, which is exactly what the Samsung Pro+ can do. It features a U3 rating and read/write speeds of 95MB/sec and 90MB/sec. The kind of speeds the Samsung Pro+ microSD card can handle will be largely wasted for day-to-day tasks, such as being installed in a smartphone, but for 4K video, this is a fantastic buy.

3. SanDisk Extreme Plus

A flagship microSD card

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB | Interface: microSD

Very fast speeds
Good at writing small files
Pricey

SanDisk claims this microSD card can read up to 95MB/s and write 90MB/s, and in tests it came pretty close to those speeds. This makes it a very fast card, and with smaller files it's even faster, which means this is a great card for action cams, drones or burst photography. Again, it's a bit on the pricey side, but if you don't mind spending a bit above the odds, you'll get a great microSD card for your needs.

4. Lexar 1000x

Great value for money

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB | Interface: microSD

Good price
Included USB 3.0 adaptor
Not the fastest
Inconsistent performance

The Lexar 1000x isn't the fastest microSD card here, but it has a lot going for it. For example, its read speeds are still some of the fastest around, and it's priced cheaper than many of its competitors. While it falls short with its write speeds, the difference won't be too noticeable for many people. It also comes with a microSD to USB 3.0 adaptor, which makes it easy to transfer your files to a PC.

5. Samsung Evo Select

Another great all-round microSD card

Capacity: 32GB, 64GB, 128GB | Interface: microSD

Great speeds
Decent price
Amazon exclusive

As you can probably tell from the number of entrants it has in our best microSD list, Samsung is excellent at producing fast, efficient and dependable microSD cards. The Samsung Evo Select is another great all-rounder that can happily sit in a digital camera, drone, phone or Nintendo Switch games console. While it doesn't necessarily excel in any one task, it is a strong performer that does the job well. Currently Samsung Evo Select microSD cards are only available from Amazon. While that makes hunting for a bargain a bit more tricky, it at least means you can buy with confidence from a reputable seller.

6. Kingston Industrial Class 10 U1

A robust microSD card

Capacity: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB | Interface: microSD

Robust
Can withstand high and low temperatures
Not amazing performance

If you're looking for a microSD card that it going to take a lot of punishment, for example in an action camera, on a drone or installed outside in a security camera, than the Kingston Industrial Class 10 U1 is an excellent choice, as it can withstand temperatures of -40 to 85 degrees Celsius, it's shock proof and can withstand x-rays. It's been tested for industrial applications and has a five year warranty, so you can use this microSD card in confidence. 

7. Kingston microSD Action Camera

Ideal for Go Pros

Capacity: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB | Interface: microSD

Very robust
Good speeds
Not amazing if you're not using it in an action camera

If you're looking for a microSD card to put inside an action camera, like the Go Pro, then you want something that can record data quickly, while also being able to withstand drops, shocks and splashes. This is where the Kingston microSD Action Camera comes in - it's designed especially for action cameras. This means it has an incredibly robust design, as well as good read and write speeds. It's a bit overkill if you're just going to use it in a smartphone, so one of the other microSD cards in this list could be better suited to your needs.

How to choose your microSD memory card

  • It's not worth looking for memory cards with capacities smaller than 4GB simply because the price premium you pay for twice or four times the storage is tiny.
  • Make sure you include the delivery price when doing the numbers as quite often you end up paying more for the postage than the drive itself, particularly for low-cost models.
  • If you plan to opt for large capacity cards (32GB or more), make sure that your device is SDXC compatible.
  • If you plan to move files to and from portable devices (tablets or smartphones), consider a microUSB card reader such as the Leef Access.
  • Avoid buying your memory cards from vendors with few feedbacks on auction websites as these drives might turn out to be fake. All the vendors listed below are tried and trusted ones.
  • For 128GB and above, SD cards are generally cheaper as users usually settle for 64GB as this matches the maximum supported capacity of most portable devices. In general, microSD cards with an adaptor cost less than the equivalent SD card.
  • Note that all the capacities are likely to be much less than stated when they are formatted.
  • SD cards are usually divided into classes which gives a rough idea of the minimum performance to be expected. A Class 4 card is guaranteed to deliver at least 4MBps while a Class 10 should surpass 10MBps.
  • Similarly, many vendors report their speeds in terms of "x" rating which is a multiple of 150KBps (the read speed of a standard CDROM drive). A 100x card can be expected to deliver more than 14MBps.
  • If you plan to buy microSD cards simply to store data, don't. Memory sticks, being cheaper and more robust, are a better choice.