SD Cards We Recommend for Dash Cameras

Samsung Pro Endurance Sandisk High Endurance Samsung Evo Plus Sandisk Ultra
Updated February 15, 2019
Article completely refreshed. Now accounts for the latest 3D memory technology and the price drop in Samsung’s Pro Endurance model. We also improved article organization. Enjoy!
The best microSD cards help your dash camera run reliably as the video overwriting process damages the memory card. Some cards are more durable than others and after 30+ hours of research, our top choice is the 64GB Samsung Pro Endurance. It’s optimized to last longer in dash cams and carries a 3-year warranty.

For a budget high-capacity option, the Samsung EVO Plus, EVO Select and Sandisk Ultra A1 cards are good choices. You lose the warranty, the card may fail faster but you will some money over the Samsung Pro Endurance. As well they are the only options for SD cards 256GB and larger.

Our Top Pick

64GB Pro Endurance

64GB Samsung Pro Endurance

The Best MicroSD Card for Dash Cams

Affordable and incredibly durable. It’s designed for dash cameras and backed by a 3-year warranty. It’s a great value.

When dash cams overwrite older video files, that process permanently damages the memory card. The Samsung Pro Endurance lasts two times as long over our former picks the Transcend and Sandisk High Endurance cards. We like the 64-GB card over the 32GB option for its longer warranty (3 vs 2 years) and hours of 1080P videos recorded (26280 vs 12000 hours). If you need to save money get the 32GB card over a non-endurance card like the Sandisk Ultra A1. Read why endurance cards are better.

Runner Up

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

Alternative Endurance Pick

Get the Sandisk HE if Samsung’s Pro Endurance hasn’t dropped in price or is unavailable for purchase. While the Sandisk HE still works well for dash cams in 2019, its performance lags significantly.

Sandisk’s High Endurance was released in 2015 and is on average a little bit cheaper than Samsung’s Pro Endurance for the same capacity. However, the Sandisk Card has a much slower read speed (20MB/S vs 90MB/S) and less than half the endurance rating against the Pro Endurance. But, Samsung’s price drop isn’t global and until then Sandisk could be your only good option.

Budget Options

128GB Samsung EVO Plus 128GB Samsung Evo Select 128GB Sandisk A1

Samsung EVO Plus
Samsung EVO Select
Sandisk Ultra A1

Budget High Capacity Picks

Good options for professional drivers, parking mode users who need the added space for less or to make videos about their journey. No warranty or optimizations for dash cam use but cheaper.

At the budget end we’ve seen a significant decrease in the failure rates of SD Cards. Likely all three cards have moved to the cheaper and higher endurance 3D TLC NAND. The EVO Plus and EVO Select are the same card. The Select is exclusively skinned for Amazon. Don’t get the EVO+ (plus symbol) as that’s an older card made in 2015.

Price Guide For Our Recommended Cards

Your location and price discounts can influence whether a card is worth buying. As well our recommendations aren’t equal, a Samsung Pro Endurance card is worth paying more money over a SanDisk HE card. Here’s how we would make a decision:

Step 1: Eliminate Overpriced Cards

Find the prices of Samsung, Transcend and Sandisk endurance cards. Remove any over the following amounts:

128GB: $45 USD – 64GB: $20 USD – 32GB: $13 USD

Step 2: Find the Best Value Card

Buy Samsung if it’s the cheapest card. If not, we think Transcend and Sandisk are only worth buying if it’s at least 30% cheaper than Samsung’s price.

How We Picked Our Recommendations

All MicroSD Cards Have a Limited Lifespan

We started with a simple and important fact: Writing data (your video files) to an SD card physically and permanently damages your memory card. When video files are overwritten, the memory cells are hit with electrical energy which degrades the semiconductor layer and increases data corruption. When too many cells are affected, the memory controller will lock the microSD card from writing new files. While this protects existing video footage, the SD card and therefore your dash camera will stop working.

Selecting The Right Memory Type

One of the most important but least known characteristics of SD cards is the NAND type. The NAND type describes how the physical cells that store information were constructed.

3D TLC Reigns Supreme

Consumers used to see only two types of flash memory: TLC (Triple Layer Cell) and MLC (Multi Level Cell). Both are planar (flat) which means all memory cells are on one layer.

In 2019 the newest 3D TLC (layered) construction stacks memory cells on top of each other, now up to 96 layers. The memory cells are larger which increases reliability (reduced cell to cell interference) and decreased prices (higher density on silicon wafers during manufacturing) over the older MLC planar NAND.

Faster SD Speeds Won’t Improve Performance

Almost all cards produced in 2019 are quick enough for even the most demanding dual channel dash cameras like the 4K Blackvue DR900S. There are some new standards like application and video class in addition to the older Speed Class and UHS Speed Class Ratings. They don’t matter too much except for the max read speed.

Speed Class

Speed Classes 2, 4, 6, 10

The oldest of ratings and measures the minimum write speed in megabytes per second. Class 10 is the fastest speed class rating.

UHS Speed Class

Stands for “Ultra High Speed” and refers to the minimum writing performance for recording video. Comes in U1 and U3 ratings which measures the minimum write speed at 10 and 30 megabytes/second.

UHS Bus Speed

The UHS Bus Speed represents the interface and uses the roman I or II symbols. A UHS-I rated card will boost the max read speed from 20MB/s as seen with the older SanDisk High Endurance to 90MB/s in the newer Samsung Pro Endurance. UHS-II cards while faster aren’t supported by any dash camera and expensive.

Application Class

Comes in A1 or A2 rated SD cards. Targets smartphones and other computing devices which have different read/write operations from video devices. Seen in the SanDisk Ultra A1 and makes no difference in dash cam performance (but does change the Ultra series from bad to good)

64GB is Worth It

The price of moving to 64GB is negligible, $7 more in the Pro Endurance for better peace of mind. You get much better durability, warranty and extends recording time to at least 4 hours.

Professional drivers may want to use the larger 128GB+ cards to answer any complaints about their driving. These cards are more expensive per gigabyte and aren’t worth it for the average driver.

Why Endurance Cards Are Our Top Choice

If your microSD card fails your camera stops working. Cards like the Samsung Pro Endurance focus on better durability and improved fidelity when writing video files to a card at 100% capacity. This helps ensure you capture and save video footage for when you need it most. An endurance card will likely last longer than general purpose cards like the Samsung EVO Plus. See our section on “Mean Time Between Failure” on why.

Optimized Hardware & Firmware for Constantly Overwriting Files

Error-correction, wear-leveling and other write-heavy optimizations prevent the corruption of your videos files and improves lifespan. Most consumer cards focus on speed as they are used in smartphones and other devices which aren’t continually writing data. We see more issues with corrupted videos on budget cards, significantly fewer reports on Endurance models. Read this white paper (PDF) by Sandisk to learn more.

Rated for Years of Recording Time

Only endurance cards have a lifespan rating such as “17520 Hours of Recording at 26mbps” or “170 Terabytes Written”. That’s over 5 years of recording time at 8 hours per day. This lifespan rating by the manufacturer makes us more confident in recommending these cards for dash cam use.

There’s a Warranty for Dash Cam Use

In the fine print for budget cards, many manufacturers void the warranty when used in surveillance devices like dash cams. Surveillance-focused cards have warranties that support their use in write-intensive applications. Two years was standard but with Samsung’s confidence in 3D TLC, they give 3 & 5 years for their 64 & 128GB cards respectively.

Faster SD Speeds Won’t Improve Performance

While we looked at speed, the highest demanding dash cameras as of January 2019 will only use up 1/3rd of of the max transfer rate of UHS-1 and Class 10 cards. There is currently no need to pick a card which uses the faster U3, V30 or A2 speed limits as it doesn’t make the videos look better. We expect it’ll be a few years before we get 4K resolution on the front and back sensors and require a faster card.

Our Budget Picks Are Selected Using Community Reports

While it would be great if all our readers selected an endurance microSD card, they cost 50-80% more money. We had to find a budget option with good reliability. Here’s how we made our recommendations:

Doing Endurance Testing on MicroSD Cards Is Difficult

Hearing a few reports on failed SD card isn’t enough. For anyone involved in statistics you need a larger test group to make the results relevant. One fun read is the hard drive failure reports from BackBlaze who use over 100,000 different drives in their system. Ideally, we could buy hundreds of cards and overwrite them until they failed but we don’t have the resources (yet) to make that happen.

Getting Large Sources of Data

Instead the only way to get larger sources of data is to read posts from retailers and manufacturers who sell and bundle large quantities of SD Cards. They’ll have data on the rate of failure from customer feedback. Street Guardian sells A1 cards and Street Guardian bundles Samsung EVO Plus cards with their cameras. Along with reports on forums like DashCamTalk they form a good enough picture for us to recommend their cards.

No Data No Recommendation

We often get asked whether certain non-endurance cards are good for dash cams. We honestly can’t say even though they are made from 3D TLC or MLC NAND. While they’ll likely work, without any data it’s impossible to say how well each card will do.

Our Top Choice: 64GB Samsung Pro Endurance

128GB Samsung Pro Endurance

Our Top Pick

64GB Pro Endurance

64GB Samsung Pro Endurance

The Best MicroSD Card for Dash Cams

Affordable and incredibly durable. It’s designed for dash cameras and backed by a 3-year warranty. It’s a great value.

Samsung’s Pro Endurance has gone from an alternative to our top pick due to a price drop in January 2019 in the United States, eventually globally. It’s priced similar to the Sandisk High Endurance but has 2-3X the rated durability. The 64GB and 128GB models also have class leading warranties at 3 and 5 years respectively versus the 2 years on other cards.

Compatibility has also been fantastic working with our premium picks (Thinkware F800 Pro, Blackvue DR900S-2CH, Street Guardian) as well as our budget models (A119 and A129 DUO). While we recommend the 64GB model you can save some money with the 32GB option.

Samsung uses 64-layer 3D NAND to achieve these cost savings and provide enhanced durability. It also has a much higher maximum read speed at 100MB/S vs 20MB/S of the Sandisk High Endurance which helps when you need to transfer video files.

Cheapest 128GB Endurance Card

The Pro Endurance is more than two times cheaper than other 128GB endurance cards like the Transcend High Endurance ($45 vs $100). You also get a 5-year warranty versus 2 years on Transcend.

Runner Up: Sandisk or Transcend High Endurance

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

Runner Up

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

Alternative Endurance Pick

Get the Sandisk HE if Samsung’s Pro Endurance hasn’t dropped in price or is unavailable for purchase. While the Sandisk HE still works well for dash cams in 2019, its performance lags significantly.

Transcend’s and Sandisk’s High Endurance were our top picks in 2018 for their proven reliability and widespread availability. In December 2018 the prices on the Samsung Pro Endurance were prohibitively expensive. Unfortunately Transcend’s price has gotten more expensive on average which leads us to only recommend the Sandisk card unless there is a sale.

Transcend does have a 20% higher durability rating but is often hard to find in stock. It’s also faster as Transcend upgraded the card in 2018 with a faster read and max write speed and colored the card gold. To make it easier to figure out which card has good value we created a price guide above.

Budget Options

128GB Samsung EVO Plus 128GB Samsung Evo Select 128GB Sandisk A1

Samsung EVO Plus
Samsung EVO Select
Sandisk Ultra A1

Budget High Capacity Picks

Good options for professional drivers, parking mode users who need the added space for less or to make videos about their journey. No warranty or optimizations for dash cam use but cheaper.

While there are many fantastic non-dash cam cards on the market these three cards have been selected as they have been extensively used and verified as reliable by the dash cam community. Manufacturers like Street Guardian include the EVO Plus and large retailers like BlackBoxMyCar have been using the Sandisk A1 with reported great success.

Samsung EVO Plus & EVO Select Are the Same Cards

The Select is an Amazon exclusive card that comes with a different design from the EVO+. Internally, it’s the same.

Samsung EVO+ is Obsolete

The EVO+ with the plus symbol was released in 2015 and rated at the U1 speed class. The newer Samsung EVO Plus (symbol typed out) was released 2017 and updated with U3 speeds. The older version is still being sold today – watch what you purchase.

Fewer Reported Card Failures

Compared to our previous budget recommendations (Transcend 400X, Lexar 633X) it’s a significant improvement in reported failures. We wouldn’t be surprised if these are made from 3D NAND (128GB Evo Plus is 3D NAND) but have not been able to confirm.

Larger 128GB+ Cards

We tested the 128GB EVO Plus and found it to work well in all our recommended dash cameras from budget to premium models that supports 128GB cards. The larger 256, 400 and 512GB cards have not been tested by us although the manufacturer Street Guardian has tested the 400GB Sandisk card and found it to work with their cameras.

Sandisk Ultra A1 Cards Now Work with Dash Cams

Back in 2016 we told our readers to avoid Sandisk Ultra cards due to their high failure rate. It was suspected the memory controller was especially aggressive with write locking the card when it detected errors. The new A1-Rated Ultra Cards have a new controller and a good track record so far. Notable retailers like BlackBoxMyCar have had success using them. Still, the Ultra A1

Why Bad Cards Can Still Last a Long Time

We often get messages from users with bad cards like the older Sandisk Ultra series (from 2016) who say their cards have been working for a long time and question the need for an endurance card. Almost to say “it doesn’t matter what card you buy”. Those people would be wrong.

Mean Time Between Failure

When a card is given a lifespan (ex 26000 hours) that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to last at least that amount. The right concept is “Mean Time Between Failures” or MTBF. For us this represents the average time a certain card will last before failing. With averages this means some cards fail early and some last a long time before failing. This can be visualized with a bathtub curve.

You can have a Samsung Pro Endurance card that fails within a month or the older Sandisk Ultra cards that last years without having a problem. Still at the end of the day, over thousands of cards, the Ultra cards will fail way earlier than the Pro Endurance models.

Get a Backup Card

We recommend you purchase a smaller 8-16GB card in case you get into an accident. You’ll be able to swap your cards out and keep recording without worrying that you’ll overwrite important footage. As well you’ll be protected in case your current card has any problems.

The Competition

Cards From Dash Cam Manufacturers

Companies like Blackvue and Thinkware have their own MLC branded cards. They often say its best for compatability but in 2019 we don’t see a problem with using Samsung or Sandisk picks. We tested all our picks with our premium cameras and found no issues. As well manufacter cards are 2-3X more expensive which is ridiculously bad value.

Lexar Everything

We once recommended the 633X series but after ownership changes we cannot recommend their products at this time. In June 2017 the owner Micron exited the business and the brand was purchased by the Chinese company Longsys in Aug 2017. While they have started up production in Aug 2018 we don’t have enough data to determine quality at this time.

Prices Should Fall in 2019 & 2020

2016-2017 Supply Issues Caused Increased Prices

Most people expect prices to drop overtime but following our review in June 2016 memory card costs doubled in a few months. The main reason is a memory shortage due to manufacturers building new 3D NAND facilities and not building any new facilities to address surging demand for existing cards. Classic low supply, high demand caused prices to greatly increase.

2019 is Different – Too Much Supply

In 2018 numerous 3D NAND factories came online which may cause a glut in supply dropping prices. As well a new major Chinese manufacturer – Yangtze Memory – may lead to a 3-year oversupply period rather than the usual 2-year glut. We expect prices to slowly drop as vendors will make extra profit on product until customer pressure forces them to reduce prices.

Counterfeit SD Cards & How to Avoid Them

Counterfeit SD cards are common if you don’t buy from reputable retailers. HappyBison.com released an extensive guide which shows the counterfeiters’ sophistication and ability to trick you in purchasing a fake SD card.

Our Guide to Buying SD Cards on Amazon

Our guide to buying genuine cards on Amazon

For your own protection avoid all Chinese based storefronts like Aliexpress. I would also avoid eBay. If you buy from Amazon check to make sure it’s sold by Amazon and not by a third party or “fulfilled by Amazon”. A cheaper company can become the default seller and sell you counterfeit items.

Ethical Disclaimer

All cards used in this review were purchased by us at full retail price. We used affiliate links above which at no cost to you give us a percentage of your purchase.

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