MicroSD Cards We Recommend for Dash Cameras

Samsung Pro Endurance Sandisk High Endurance Samsung Evo Plus Sandisk Ultra
Updated February 15, 2019
Article completely refreshed and its organization improved. Now accounts for the latest 3D NAND memory technology and the price drop in Samsung’s Pro Endurance model. Enjoy!

The best microSD cards help keep your dash cam running. As your video files are overwritten, your memory card is damaged. Some models are more durable and prevent your data from being corrupted.

After 30+ hours of research and testing, our top choice is the 64GB Samsung Pro Endurance. It has the best durability and value of endurance focused cards and carries a 3-year warranty.

For 128GB+ cards on a budget, the Samsung EVO Plus, EVO Select and Sandisk Ultra A1 cards are good choices. While cheaper than our endurance pick, they lack a warranty and will likely fail earlier.

Our Top Pick

64GB Pro Endurance

64GB Samsung Pro Endurance

The Best MicroSD Card for Dash Cams

Incredibly durable for better recording reliability. It’s designed for use in dash cams, improving video file retention. Backed by a 3-year warranty.

When dash cams overwrite older video files, that process permanently damages the memory card. The Pro Endurance is rated to last two times longer over our former top picks the Sandisk and Transcend High Endurance cards. We like the 64GB 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. We talk below on why endurance cards are better.

Runner Up

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

Alternative Endurance Pick

Good pick if Samsung’s Pro Endurance hasn’t dropped in price where you live or is out of stock. While the Sandisk card is still a good choice in 2019, it has less than half the endurance rating and a significantly slower read speed vs Samsung.

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 the Sandisk card may be the better value for now. We made a price guide to help you out.

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 and parking mode users who need more space for cheap. No warranty or optimizations for dash cam use.

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 construction. Still you should only get these cards if a few dollars matter as you lose peace of mind over an endurance card.

The EVO Plus and EVO Select have the same internal construction. The Select is exclusively skinned for Amazon. Don’t get the EVO+ (plus symbol) as that’s an older card made in 2015.

The new Sandisk Ultra A1 cards have been completely redesigned and are good for dash cam use, older “Sandisk Ultra” versions must be avoided. We explain more further down.

Price Guide For Our Recommended Cards

Price changes will affect 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. Transcend is the better card over Sandisk as it has a faster read speed but is rarely on sale.

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 a microSD card permanently damages its memory cells. 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 microSD cards is the NAND type. The NAND type describes how the physical cells that store information were constructed.

3D NAND 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 NAND (layered) construction stacks memory cells on top of each other, now up to 96 layers. These layers can still be made from MLC, TLC or coming soon QLC (Quad-Level Cells). There are two major benefits over our older picks which used planar MLC NAND: increased reliability (cells are larger which reduces interference) and cheaper prices (higher density on silicon wafers during manufacturing). Read more technical details on 3D 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-2CH. 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

U1 and UH3 Symbols

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

UHS Bus Speed

UHS-I and UHS-II SD Card Pins

Extra pins on the UHS-II cards which increase transfer speed in supported devices (not dash cams).

Represents the transfer interface and uses the roman I or II symbols. A UHS-I rated card will generally have a higher max read speed over a “Speed Class” only card. EX: 20MB/s on SanDisk’s High Endurance versus 90MB/s in the Samsung Pro Endurance. UHS-II cards while faster isn’t supported by any dash camera and are very 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.

The 64GB Size is Worth Paying More

It’s only $7 more for the 64GB Pro Endurance. That’s a negligible amount for better peace of mind. In return, you get better durability, a longer warranty (Samsung Pro Endurance only) and extends recording time to at least 4 hours (helps to prevent accidental overwriting).

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 reduced data corruption when writing video files to a card at 100% capacity. This helps ensure you capture and retain video footage for when you need it most. An endurance card will most likely last longer than general purpose cards like the Samsung EVO Plus but not always. See our section on “Mean Time Between Failure” on why.

Optimized Hardware & Firmware to Constantly Overwrite 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 TBW (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.

Samsung EVO Plus Warranty Fine Print

Warranty for the Samsung EVO Plus specifically excludes dash cam use.

There’s a Warranty for Dash Cam Use

In the fine print for general use cards like the Samsung EVO Plus, 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 MLC NAND, they give 3 & 5 years for their 64 & 128GB cards respectively.

Faster MicroSD Speeds Won’t Improve Performance

While we researched card speed, the highest demanding dash cameras as of January 2019 will only use 1/3rd 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, larger 128GB+ endurance cards are significantly more expensive. 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. You need a larger test group to make the results relevant. One or two reports can be biased. A great example is the hard drive failure reports from BackBlaze to guage the reliability of the 100,000+ hard drives in their servers. 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, we read posts from retailers and manufacturers who sell and bundle large quantities of microSD Cards. They’ll have data on the failure rate from customer feedback. BlackBoxMyCar sells Sandisk Ultra A1 cards and Street Guardian bundles Samsung EVO Plus & Select cards with their cameras. When you add reports on forums like DashCamTalk, it forms a good picture for us to recommend their cards.

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

Incredibly durable for better recording reliability. It’s designed for use in dash cams, improving video file retention. Backed by a 3-year warranty.

From Runner-Up to Top Pick
The 64GB Pro Endurance shot up in value after a 50% price drop in January 2019 for the United States (should be global soon). The Pro Endurance is priced close to Sandisk’s 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.

Comparing Endurance Cards
Price
Endurance Rating
Warranty (Years)
Max Read Speed
(MB/S)
64GB Samsung Pro Endurance
$20
26280 Hours
3
100
64GB Sandisk High Endurance
$18
10000 Hours
2
20
64GB Transcend High Endurance
$43
12000 Hours
2
90
Excellent Compatability with Dash Cams

We read reports and tested the Pro Endurance with our premium picks (Thinkware F800 Pro, Blackvue DR900S-2CH, Street Guardian SG96663DC) as well as our budget models (Viofo A119 and Viofo A129 DUO). We’ve seen no problems so far.

Made from 64-Layer 3D MLC NAND
Unlike cheaper cards Samsung has identified the Pro Endurance’s construction. It’s made from their 256 gigabit, 64-layer MLC V-NAND (vertical NAND) which is how they acheived these cost savings and improved durability. It also has a much higher maximum read speed at 100MB/S vs 20MB/S for the Sandisk High Endurance which helps you transfer video files.

Cheapest 128GB Endurance Card

The Pro Endurance is more than two times cheaper versus other 128GB endurance cards like the Transcend High Endurance ($45 vs $100) or Western Digital’s Purple Series. You also get a 5-year warranty compared to 2-years with every other company.

Runner Up: 64GB Sandisk High Endurance

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

Runner Up

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

64GB Sandisk High Endurance

Alternative Endurance Pick

Good pick if Samsung’s Pro Endurance hasn’t dropped in price where you live or is out of stock. While the Sandisk card is still a good choice in 2019, it has less than half the endurance rating and a significantly slower read speed vs Samsung.

Bad Choice in the United States
Compared to Samsung, Sandisk High Endurance is just slightly cheaper but has a worse endurance rating and warranty. Outside the USA, you may need to get the Sandisk High Endurance as prices are still quite a bit higher as of Feb 2019. We’re waiting for a global price drop. See our price guide above to figure out what’s a good deal.

Budget High-Capacity Recommendations

128GB Samsung EVO Plus & Sandisk Ultra A1

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 and parking mode users who need more space for cheap. No warranty or optimizations for dash cam use.

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 external design from the EVO+. Internally, the hardware is the same.

There’s An Older Samsung EVO+ Card

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 Are OK

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.

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 (MTBF)

When a card is given an endurance rating (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, some cards fail early and some last a long time before failing. Backblaze wrote an excellent article on MTBF talking about how long hard drives last.

What Does MTBF Mean for MicroSD Cards

You can have a Samsung Pro Endurance card that fails within a month or an older Sandisk Ultra cards that last years without having a problem. Still, over thousands of cards the Ultra cards will fail way earlier than the Pro Endurance models. We make our recommendations based on hundreds of reports, not a couple people saying it works or has problems.

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

Transcend High Endurance

Transcend’s card used to be our favourite pick but their price has gone up and it’s hard to find in stock. While Transcend has a 20% higher durability rating and faster read speed, there’s no reason to recommend this card over Sandisk unless there’s a sale.

Transcend 400X

This is another card that used to be our budget pick. The Transcend 400X can still be found today at a cheap price but no longer recommended as our current Samsung and Sandisk selections have been more reliable than older tech cards.

Cards From Dash Cam Manufacturers

Companies like Blackvue, Thinkware and Viofo have their own branded cards. They’ll often say its best for compatability but in 2019 we haven’t found a problem with using our picks. We looked at user reports and tested all our chosen cards with our premium camera picks (see our YouTube review) and found no issues. These cards are outdated and cost 2-3X more than a comparable Samsung card.

Western Digital WD Purple

Released in April 2018 the WD Purple series is Western Digital’s attempt to enter the surveillance storage market. Unfortunately, their cards are more expensive and have much less endurance compared to Sandisk’s High Endurance card. Ex: 64GB WD Purple is $32 with 5470 Hours of 26MBPS recording while the 64GB Sandisk High Endurance is $17 with 10000 hours.

Lexar Everything

64GB Lexar 633X microSD Card The 633X series was a good budget pick but after ownership changes, we cannot recommend their products at this time. In June 2017 the parent company Micron exited the consumer business and looked to sell Lexar. 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.

This ___ Card is On Sale

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 NAND or MLC NAND. While they’ll likely work, without any statistics on failure rates in dash cams it’s impossible to say how well each card will do.

Prices Should Fall in 2019

Supply Issues in 2016 and 2017 Increased Prices

Flash memory pricing is different than other electronic components. We expected prices to drop following our review in June 2016 but memory card costs doubled in a few months. What happened was a supply shortage as manufacturers switched to building new 3D NAND facilities and the current manufacturing facilities couldn’t keep up with growing demand. We discovered there’s a cycle of a 2-year oversupply period followed by a 2-year shortage where prices sharply increase.

Too Much Supply in 2019

In 2018 numerous 3D NAND factories became operational which has caused a glut in supply and dropping prices. As well a new major Chinese manufacturer – Yangtze Memory – may lead to a 3-year oversupply period. For dash cam owners, this is a great time to update an older memory card.

Counterfeit SD Cards & How to Avoid Them

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

Our Guide to Buying SD Cards on Amazon

Our guide to buying genuine cards on Amazon

For your protection avoid all Chinese based storefronts like Aliexpress. You should also avoid eBay. If you buy from Amazon, check that it’s sold directly by Amazon. If it’s “fulfilled by Amazon” that is sold by a third party, some are legitimate and others will sell you fake cards.

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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Bill
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Bill

Hi Andrew, I really appreciate your reviews. In reference to the sd cards. I noticed in some stores they’re stocking the 64 Samsung Pro Plus instead of the endurance. It’s more expensive than the endurance but not a deal breaker. I like the 90 mb write speed but realize that may not matter on the Thinkware. However, I can’t find the hours of write time and wondered if you are familiar with this card. I noticed you state the pro endurance is over 26,000. As a result. Can you tell me how the pro plus stacks up.
Thank you,
Bill

Kevin
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Kevin

Hi Andrew,

I saw one of your youtube videos before saying 32gb was the best bang for buck. Would you still recommend this or is 64gb the way to go now? Also I noticed you always quoted prices in USD but I see you’re only driving in Toronto. Haha

bill
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bill

Really good article on memory cards. Excellent review. Thanks.