Best SD memory cards

AP has brought together the highest-performing SD memory cards from some of the biggest brands in memory storage and tested their performance

Kingston Technology Ultimate XX memory card

SanDisk Extreme Pro

Street price: around £16 (8GB), £29 (16GB), £52 (32GB), £100 (64GB)
Website: www.sandisk.co.uk

Pound for performance, the SanDisk Extreme Pro is the champion in this group. Just like the PNY and Lexar cards, the read/write speeds are class leading, and at a cost even less than some slower cards. That said, build quality could be improved. It may well offer similar ‘proofing' to the Samsung card, but stored as it is in a bag, its corners are prone to chipping.

SanDisk also has a Class 4 Eye-Fi card with Wi-Fi functionality. To date, the ‘fastest' version of the card is far slower than all the cards here, and pound for gigabyte (£36 for 8GB and £25 for 4GB) it is the most expensive, too.

Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Facts & Figures:
Format: SDHC/SDHX
Available capacities: 8, 16, 32GB (SDHC), 64GB (SDHX)
Operating temperature: -25 to 85°C
Street price (for 16GB version): Around £29
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Read/write speeds (MB/sec)*: Up to 95 (60.1)/90 (59)
Images raw/JPEG**: 16/100
Class: 10 (UHS-I)
1GB of data transfer USB 2.0/USB 3.0 (secs): 54/13

Find the best deals for the Sandisk Extreme Pro

Lexar Professional 600x

Street price: around £23 (16GB), £50 (32GB), £83 (64GB), £211 (128GB), £743.99 rrp (256GB)
Website: www.lexar.com

At the time of writing, Lexar had just announced a staggering and world-first 256GB-capacity SDXC card, which means there are more versions of this card than any other in the group - from 16GB SDHC through to 256GB SDXC.

The Lexar Professional 600x matches the SanDisk Extreme Pro card as the top performer, and both brands are similarly priced. However, the general build quality of the card is better here, with it being resistant to scratches and chips. Overall, this is the premium
of SD memory cards.

Score: 5 out of 5 stars - Best in group

Facts & Figures:
Format: SDHC/SDHX
Available capacities: 16, 32GB (SDHC), 64, 128, 256GB (SDHX)
Operating temperature: -25 to 85°C
Street price (for 16GB version): Around £23
Warranty:
Limited lifetime
Read/write speeds (MB/sec)*: Up to 95 (57.5)/90 (49.4)
Images raw/JPEG**: 16/100
Class: 10 (UHS-I)
1GB of data transfer USB 2.0/USB 3.0 (secs): 54/13.5

Find the best deals for the Lexar memory cards


Verbatim Premium UHS-I

Street price: around £15 (16GB), £25 (32GB)
Website: www.verbatim-europe.co.uk

Verbatim's Premium UHS-I SDHC card is a good budget option, but has a modest performance when compared with the manufacturer's quoted speeds, which are 90MB/sec read and 25MB/sec write.

In all the tests this card is the slowest, providing a 36-frame JPEG burst in the continuous high drive mode of the Nikon D800, whereas the top cards enable a 100-frame burst. USB 3.0 data transfer is slower, too, but if using USB 2.0 the transfer speeds of every card are the same. Like the SanDisk card, the build quality leaves a little to be desired, too.

Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Facts & Figures:
Format: SDHC
Available capacities: 16, 32GB
Operating temperature: -25 to 85°C
Street price (for 16GB version): Around £15
Warranty:
2 years
Read/write speeds (MB/sec)*: Up to 90 (28.7)/25 (14.9)
Images raw/JPEG**: 16/36
Class: 10 (UHS-I)
1GB of data transfer USB 2.0/USB 3.0 (secs): 54/32

PNY Pro-Elite Plus

Street price: around £35 (16GB), £50 (32GB)
Website: www.pny-europe.com 

One paper, PNY's Pro-Elite Plus card matches the best cards in this group for read/write speeds, but its performance is not quite up to the standard set by Lexar and SanDisk. Also, this is the most expensive card of the group.

However, just like Samsung, PNY has tested its cards under a range of environments, and guarantees that they are magnet-proof, temperature-proof, shockproof and waterproof. All in all, then, this is a high-performing and durable card.

Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Facts & Figures:
Format: SDHC
Available capacities: 16, 32GB
Operating temperature: -25 to 85°C
Street price (for 16GB version): Around £35
Warranty:
5 years
Read/write speeds (MB/sec)*: Up to 95 (45.8)/90 (37.1)
Images raw/JPEG**: 16/100
Class: 10 (UHS-I)
1GB of data transfer USB 2.0/USB 3.0 (secs): 54/13.5 

Find the best deals for PNY memory cards

Kingston Technology Ultimate XX

Street price: around £13 (8GB) £17 (16GB) £30 (32GB)
Website: www.kingston.com

Like the Samsung and Verbatim cards, the Kingston Technology Ultimate XX is a good budget-level option, with a respectable but by no means class-leading manufacturer's quoted read speed of 60MB/sec and write speed of 35MB/sec. Under testing, however, the card comes close to the best models.

When used in the Nikon D800 shooting in its continuous high drive mode, it provides up to a 94-frame JPEG burst, which is only six frames off the best cards in the group. As we would expect at this price range, the build quality is not as good as other models, so it is important to store the card correctly to avoid damage.

Score: 4 out of 5 stars - Best budget card

Facts & Figures:
Format: SDHC
Available capacities: 8, 16, 32GB
Operating temperature: -25 to 85°C
Street price (for 16GB version): Around £17
Warranty:
Lifetime
Read/write speeds (MB/sec)*: Up to 60 (59)/35 (38)
Images raw/JPEG**: 16/94
Class: 10 (UHS-I)
1GB of data transfer USB 2.0/USB 3.0 (secs): 54/14.5 

Samsung SDHC Pro

Street price: around £16 (16GB), £28 (32GB), £56 (64GB)
Website: www.samsung.com/uk

Samsung is clear about just how rugged it considers its SDHC Pro card - it being waterproof, magnet-proof, shockproof, X-ray-proof and temperature-proof. The last ‘-proof' means the card, like all the others, will operate in temperatures from -25°C to 85°C.

The card's durability is undeniable - it is very well made and can be thrashed around much more than some of the other cards here without being damaged. Furthermore, the card is great value. However, in terms of performance, the SDHC Pro is distinctly middling compared with the elite group of cards reviewed here.

Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Facts & Figures:
Format: SDHC/SDHX
Available capacities: 16, 32GB (SDHC), 64GB (SDHX)
Operating temperature: -25 to 85°C
Street price (for 16GB version): Around £16
Warranty:
10 years
Read/write speeds (MB/sec)*: Up to 80 (45.9)/40 (18)
Images raw/JPEG**: 16/61
Class: 10 (UHS-I)
1GB of data transfer USB 2.0/USB 3.0 (secs): 54/16 

Find the best deals for the Samsung SDHC Pro

 

*Manufacturer's quoted speeds. Measured times in brackets, as recorded using H2 test software  **The number of images possible in a single burst, taken with the Nikon D800 in its continuous high drive mode at ISO 100