Class 4, Class 6, Class 10, UHS:I, U:1, What does it actually mean for the performance of a memory card? Find out here in our tests...
Here's what 196GBs of storage looks like spread over 10 memory cards, some of them have aged better than others, and some look surprisingly aged despite being relatively new. Here is a list of all the cards we have tested, sorted with the quickest write speeds at the top. Updated testing performed using a USB3 card reader, and when switching from a USB2 reader to a USB3 reader, you can see the write and read speeds increase from 25-30MB/s up to 78-83MB/s - around 3 times quicker, making a USB3 card reader a worthwhile investment.
SD Memory Cards:
||Transcend Ultimate 64GB SDXC UHS:I U:3 R95/W85
||Samsung PRO SDHC UHS:I U:1 - Review
||Sandisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s UHS:I U:1 SDHC
||PNY Elite Performance 100MB/s UHS:I U:1 SDHC
||Sony 94MB/s UHS:I U:1 SDHC
||Panasonic R90/W45 UHS:I U:3 SDHC
||Prospec Imaging PRO SDHC UHS:I U:1 606x
||Lexar 16GB SDHC, Class 10
||Verbatim 4GB SDHC Premium, Class 10
||Kingston 8GB SDHC, Class 4
||Sony Memory Stick Pro-HG Duo HX MagicGate 8GB*
||Fujifilm 1GB M+ XD Memory Card*
||Samsung EVO MicroSDHC, Class 10 - Review
||Sony MicroSDHC UHS:I U:1 40MB/s
||Samsung Class 6 MicroSDHC
||Sandisk Ultra MicroSDHC UHS:I
In photography write speeds are the most important, as this is the speed at which a device such as a digital camera can write photos to the memory card, if this is slow, then it may slow down your shot to shot time or the amount of photos you can continuously write to the card. The read speed is important for when you want to view the photos or copy them onto a computer or other device.
Another important factor to consider is warranty and reliability, ideally you would want the most reliable card possible so that your photos are never lost, however, if the card does fail then a long warranty will mean that the manufacturer should replace or repair your card. Although recovery of images is unlikely when a card physically fails, recovery software can help recover accidentally deleted files.
Reliability can't be determined on new cards, as it could take a long time for the card to fail, if it ever does... one thing to consider is how durable the card is, and if you look at Samsung cards, then they are waterproof, shockproof, magnetic proof and come with a 10 year warranty so should survive much more mis-treatment than others, as we found out in our test of one of their microSD cards.
Find out more about memory cards, in our complete guide to memory cards.
* We've included XD and Sony Memory Stick memory just as a reference point, tested on a USB2 card reader, and you can see why it was a good idea for manufacturers to move away from using XD.
Updated: July 2014.