SD Cards We Recommend for Dash Cameras

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By Andrew Lam on July 11th, 2016
Choosing the right SD card for your dash camera can greatly improve reliability. We recommend the Transcend High Endurance cards because of their longevity and superior MLC construction. The Lexar High Endurance series is a great alternative if Transcend is too expensive or is unavailable where you live.

For a lower price with a good value we recommend the Lexar 633X card. They’ve had a history of success with dash cameras and Lexar and is also certified for use for GoPro Hero 5 Black cameras.

There are many good alternatives but our only warning is to avoid using Sandisk Ultra cards. Users and dash cam manufacturers have both reported problems with the Ultra’s reliability and speed.

Updated

Jan 17, 2017 : Lexar Endurance is now our alternative to the Transcend High Endurance.

Video Guide to SD Cards

What Type – SD or microSD?

microSD_SD_Card_Size_Comparison

There are two physical sizes, SD and microSD. We recommend the microSD size even if your camera takes the larger full size SD card. Nearly all microSD cards include a full SD adapter so it’ll work with your current camera. When you change cameras you won’t have to buy a new card as the vast majority of dash cameras use microSD cards.

How Much Space?

Next the amount of space. 32GB is the sweet spot for value. That’s 3-4 hours of 1080P recording which is more than enough for most drivers. Any less and you pay more money per gigabyte and save only a few dollars.

Prices for Transcend’s Premium SD Card
SpacePrice (USD)Price/GB
8 GB$5.300.66
16 GB$6.000.38
32 GB$9.900.31
64 GB$17.000.27
128 GB$44.000.34

If you can afford it, 64GB size improves durability. For example, Transcend states their 32GB Endurance card lasts 6,000 hours of 1080P video recording before expiring. The 64GB card doubles this figure to 12,000 hours.

Professional drivers may want to use the larger 128 GB to 256 GB cards to answer any complaints about their driving. These cards are significantly more expensive per gigabyte and aren’t worth it for the average driver.

What Speed Rating?

Look for: “Class 10” OR “UHS-I U1” rated microSD card.

Slower cards can cause recording problems. See the symbols below for what to look for. Some cards have both ratings and that’s OK.

Speed_UHS_Bus_Class_microSD_Large

Speed Class

The speed class symbol represents the minimum writing speed to the SD card in megabytes per second. Class 10 is the highest speed at 10 megabytes/second.

UHS Bus & Class

Faster speed classes.

Faster rated card symbols. U

UHS improves on Class 10 cards by providing a faster interface for compatible devices. Most dash cameras don’t use the UHS interface but UHS cards will still work properly. There are two separate ratings, the Bus & Class. The UHS Bus is the transfer speed and has two tiers: UHS-I (50MB/S) and UHS-II (156 or 312 MB/S). The UHS Speed Class also has two speeds minimum writing speeds: U1 (10 MB/S) and U3 (30 MB/S)

Faster SD Speeds Won’t Improve Performance

Currently 1440P is the largest resolution and only requires 1/3rd of the max transfer rate of Class 10 cards. Only 4K recording at very high bitrates will need an upgrade to U3 or UHS-II and that’s years away.

Picking the Right Memory Type

Get MLC memory cards for long term reliability.

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.

microSD Card Decapsulated

Inside a microSD card revealing the two NAND chips. No way to tell if it’s MLC or TLC if it’s not labelled by the manufacturer.

Photo by Andrew Huang on Bunnie:Studios under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

TLC & MLC NAND Overview

Consumers typically see two types – TLC and MLC.

TLC is cheaper and less reliable. Manufacturers increased storage density by stuffing more information (3 bits/cell) into a memory cell but sacrifices durability. MLC costs more money and is far more durable because it stores less information per cell (2 bits/cell) so wear and tear is greatly reduced. If you want the science behind NAND cells read it here.

Flash Memory – It Eventually Fails

Writing data to a SD card physically and permanently damages the NAND chip. Overtime this causes the SD card to fail which can write lock the card preventing your dash camera from recording. TLC cards can overwrite itself 500 times before experiencing failures, a MLC card between 1500 to 3000 times.

MLC cards have a 3-6X increase in durability.

Why this Matters

Your dash camera constantly writes to the memory card and adds a lot of wear and tear not found in other uses such as a secondary storage for your cell phone. MLC cards often have better error correction, wear leveling and controller chips which increase performance and lifespan.

Our SD Card Recommendations

We focus on MLC cards as it’s only a few dollars extra for significantly increased reliability and peace of mind.

Transcend64GB

Transcend High Endurance

Our Pick

Our top recommendation is Transcend’s High Endurance line. For 32GB cards they quote 6,000 hours of 1080P recording or 2,197 write cycles before experiencing problems. It’s an excellent balance between price and durability. Transcend also uses these cards for their own DrivePro dash cameras.

Transcend’s cards are also used by Novatek’s engineers when testing their image processors. Novatek processors are found in many popular cameras such as the G1W, A118C, Viofo A119 and the Street Guardian SG9665GC. I feel this adds greater assurances around compatibility and performance if you use a Transcend card over other brands.

See the Price on Amazon
Lexar_633X_microSD

Lexar 633x

Value Pick – 128GB+ Cards Available

Lexar has a lifetime warranty (vs 2-years on Sandisk/Transcend) on their 633x cards even when used in dash cameras. They have a great reputation in the dash cam community. While some publications have said it’s a MLC based card, due to its low price and no comment from Lexar we are unable to confirm its construction.

See the Price on Amazon
lexar_high_endurance_64gb

Lexar High Endurance

Alternative to Transcend

Lexar’s newly released high endurance cards are now our alternative to the Transcend Endurance. While they are not confirmed MLC their 12,000 Hour @ 26mbps lifespan rating means they have the lifespan of a MLC card. Lexar has better distribution than Transcend and is often much cheaper depending on which country you are in.

See It On Amazon
Sandisk_Endurance_64GB Sandisk High Endurance

Sandisk has their own dash cam specific memory cards. The difference is that it has 20% less stated durability compared to transcend. As well they don’t mention any error correction code (helps to fix transfer errors) which is found on the Transcend Endurance.

See the Price on Amazon

Works Well with 1440P Cameras

Even with the highest bitrate dash camera, the 25mbps 1440P OPIA 2 all our recommended cameras have more than enough bandwidth. 25mbps (megaBITS) is 3.125 MB/s (megaBYTES) which is well under the 10MB/s the cards are rated for.

Don’t Buy Sandisk Ultra Cards

Sandisk_Ultra32GB_DoNotBuy

The Ultra series is a popular purchase because of their price and availability. They are not a good choice because of their high failure rates when used in dash cameras. As well SanDisk will not warranty any cards used in a dash camera unless you use their High Endurance lineup.

Suspected Problem

TLC cards like the Ultra can have worse controllers, error correction and wear leveling which reduces reliability in heavy use. It’s suspected that the Ultra’s controller chip has an especially hard time handling the constant rewriting of dash cameras.

The Ultra may also be overly aggressive in permanently write-locking the card when it detects bad sectors. This is a protective mechanisms found in many cards to ensure your data is saved when there are errors. The Ultra may be over-zealous and lock the card early.

Manufacturers Agree – Avoid the Ultra

Vicovation has a post advising users to avoid the Ultra series in their newest camera. After extensive testing they noted it’s significantly slower than other similarly rated brands.

The owner of Street Guardian has said that Sandisk cards are not compatible with dash cameras except for the recent Endurance line.

Papago does not recommend Sandisk or Samsung cards because they cause disruption in their dash cameras

Cards We Don’t Recommend

Transcend Ultimate U1 & U3

While the Transcend Ultimate is both affordable and uses MLC-NAND you no longer get a warranty when used with dash cameras. See their limited lifetime warrarnty which explicitly denies coverage when used with “in-car recording devices”.

Possible Problems with ADATA Premiere adata_avoid

From a trusted source who wishes to remain anonymous, ADATA’s budget premier series has significantly dropped in quality. One reason may be from moving their Taiwan factory to China. Their premier pro series is still a good choice if it’s available where you live

Companies Which Void SD Card Warranties for Dash Cam Use

Samsung – All Cards

Read the conversation with Samsung

Read the conversation with Samsung

Their cards are great but their policies prohibit use in a dash camera. For their MLC Samsung Pro/Pro+ it has this note beside their 10-year warranty. “Warranty is limited for any type of surveillance system.”

Reaching out to Samsung Service I received this response:

“Samsung SD Cards and Micro SD Cards are not intended to be used for continuous recording purposes for example, in surveillance systems such as a car-black box. The reason for this is because the card may fail with constant and obsessive reading and writing. They are not designed to be constantly and continuously written to.”

Second email to clarify if there is a warranty:

“It would be a case by case basis. If the card would fail within its warranty period we would have to review the case.”

Sandisk – Ultra & Ultra Plus

Read the full email conversation with Sandisk

Read the full email conversation with Sandisk

In their warranty it states:

This warranty does not cover use of the Product in connection with the following uses or devices (as determined by SanDisk): (ii) video monitoring, security, and surveillance devices

The response from technical support was different:

Thank you for your continues (sic) response. The warranty will be valid, if you use high endurance memory card in your dash camera or card recording devices. However, if you use SanDisk Ultra or Ultra Plus memory cards, then the warranty of the memory cad (sic) will be voided.

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.

How to Avoid Counterfeit SD Cards

Counterfeit SD cards are incredibly 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.

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.

Our Guide to Buying SD Cards on Amazon

Our guide to buying genuine cards on Amazon

Ethical Disclaimer

We used affiliate links above which at no cost to you give us a percentage of your purchase. This helps keep the lights on and allows us to purchase new cameras and making unbiased reviews. If we recommend crappy items and you return them, we get nothing.

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64 Comments on "SD Cards We Recommend for Dash Cameras"

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Ian Reddick
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Ian Reddick

Hi Andrew,

On your recommendation I have purchased a Lexar 633X High endurance micro SD card for my Vioflo A119S, but when it has arrived I have noticed that it is a SDXC type, can you please advise me if this can be used in this camera, as on reviewing your SD card recommendation video, I have noticed that you also use the same type 633X SDXC High Endurance card.
Viofo recommend that the card should be formatted to FAT32 which is not possible on this type of card. I have put this to Viofo but have not yet had an answer.

Regards
Ian

Roelof Mooiweer
Guest
Roelof Mooiweer

Hi Andrew,
I have used a Sandisk Ultra 32 GB micro sd on my Philips dashcamera and last week, when I wanted to check something out, it appeared that the card could not be opened anymore.
Today I surfed the internet in order to know more about this problem and I landed on your website,
Now things are clear to me and I have learned a lot.
Based on your article I now bought a Lexar Endurance 64 GB from Amazon (I could not find a Transcend High Endurance from China, where I live)
Thanks a lot for your clear article!

Brian
Guest

Why not recommend regular Lexar 300x cards? Lexar High-Performance microSDXC 300x 64GB UHS-I/U1

They have the same lifetime warranty as other Lexar cards. There’s no indication the Lexar 633x cards are MLC based. The price and read/write speed of the 633x is consistent with a TLC product.

If a consumer is choosing Lexar, might as well go cheap with the 300x card. If they want the expensive option, choose the Lexar High-Endurance.

daniel
Guest

great video,
what about the Transcend Ultimate U3 633x compared to theTranscend High Endurance?
assuming i don’t mind paying….

Octavian
Guest

Good article.
It seems that in the UK Sandisk Endurance 32GB / Lexar 633X 32GB are about 40% cheaper than Transcend Endurance 32GB, and actually the 64 GB Lexar 633X is almost as much as a Transcend Endurance 32GB.
Does this make them better value?

John
Guest

Hi Andrew
After some research as well as seeing your review of the Opia 2, I just ordered one. I wanted to use a 128GB card with it but from what I see the high endurance is only offered up to 64GB. What card do you recommend with 128GB that will give me a fast write/ read rate as well as be reliable enough for many rewrites?

Ramon
Guest

Hi, great article…is there a way for me to verify (via software) the NAND type used in my card?

Rick
Guest

Hi, Great review. The Dash Cam manual I have says ” Ensure that the SD cards do not have “SC” as an extension. “SD” and “MMC” are fine, not “SDXC”. Now I was looking into the Transcend High Endurance 32GB SD card, but the Amazon info on it says “High endurance microSDXC/SDHC memory card”. So I’m at a loss, it has the “XC” in the info. Also the camera says 32GB Max size. Any thoughts? Rick

Alan the Kiwi.
Guest
Alan the Kiwi.

Hi, I got an A119 per your review, and am very happy with it. I used a PNY 32 (possibly fake) card. I just checked some video and it played very slowly in both the dashcam and my computer, with sound dropping out too. Is this the kind of behavior you are alluding to in your article? I’ve ordered a Transcend via your link.
Thank you for such an informative article.

GEO
Guest

HI Andrew , you do great videos/reviews. your stuff ….is awesome …I have a blackvue dr 430 . i had a lexar 300 64k in it but it kept freezing fluttering and going to a green screen.
I just picked up a Lexar 633x 128 gb… what are your thoughts on the 663x 128

Gaff
Guest

It looks like for the new Lexar High Endurance cards, MLC isn’t confirmed:

https://www.amazon.com/forum/-/Tx2ML10A4JLID5U/ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B012PMDSYU

dreki
Guest

I just bought an Adata Premier Pro (MLC Card) and it says on the package Made in Taiwan. I wonder when they moved and if this is old stock. Maybe I’m lucky.

Beau
Guest

I have a Navman Mivue 698 Dual dash cam. It records in 2304×1296 on the front cam and 1080p on the back. Would the Transcend high endurance be fast enough for this?

Alessandro
Guest

Hello! Is the Lexar Professional 1000x a good micro SD, too?

Came
Guest

How about SanDisk Extreme PRO cards?
Are they good?

Harry
Guest

Hello. Thank you for your tests and recommendations.
While I’ve not had problems with the Transcend high endurance cards, one of my Lexar 633x cards had be returned due to a dreaded, “Write-protected” error making it unusable. Apparently on Amazon many people have had the same experiences with failing cards. I’m wondering what your experience has been and whether this might influence your recommendation of the card.
Thanks for all your work. Harry

Alfredo
Guest

I have a SanDisk Extreme microSDXC UHS-1 (U3) would I have the same problems as with the SanDisk Ultra? I bought it 3 days ago and I still have not opened it, it is intact and with your purchase ticket. What do you recommend me? I return it and I better buy the Lexar 633x?

After I saw your video of DashCams, I decided to buy the Viofo A199 with GPS, I received it two days ago. Is the same product the A119 of VIOFO than the A119 of Spytec? I’m rather confused about it.

Thanks Andrew, greetings.

culchan
Guest

FWIW, in the Q&A on Amazon product page for the Lexar card, Micron customer service (manufacturer of Lexar cards) says that it’s TLC, not MLC.

Abdulaziz
Guest

I’m hesitant whether to get 32 gb or 64 gb, the current one I’m using is 16 gb which came with the dash cam.

Do you have the tables that shows the number of hours can record?

Andrei
Guest
Tony
Guest

Why does the Lexar 633x card in the top picture have a UHS ‘U1’. Then under the ‘Recommendation’ at the bottom the Lexar 633x has a UHS ‘U3’ ?

The ‘See price on Amazon’ links to a UHS ‘U1’ also.

Jack
Guest

In Transsend cards, is high capacity same as high endurance?

Andrew
Guest

Hi Andrew and greetings from the GTA.

Great site. I’ve seen your comments on Reddit in r/dashcam and you’ve sold me on the A119 (eagerly awaiting your video review!)

Just a question about the Transcend MicroSD cards. Is there an noticeable difference in quality or reliability between the Transcend High Endurance vs the Premium 300x/400x series? The High Endurance cards are almost double the price when I search on Amazon.

Keep up the great work!

PaulandJane Bourke
Guest
PaulandJane Bourke

Ps Andrew & team.
Now that you’ve opened the door of scrutiny re sd cards I have one further question which I’m hoping you’ll endeavour to answer.
Temperature affects the performance of a dashcam and it’s components eg focus or battery but what effect do temperature extremes have on sd cards performance & reliability?

PaulandJane Bourke
Guest
PaulandJane Bourke

Hi again Andrew and team from outback Australia. Just a brief note applauding you and teams review of sd cards/micro sd cards (I’m not sure but I think some countries call them TF cards) plus your explanation of why & what about them. You folks have truly outdone yourselves with this one, my one word summary would be “outstanding”. To help give credit where credit is due perhaps in the next YouTube production you could briefly introduce us to your team and explain their roles.
Yours sincerely
Paul Bourke

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