Which SD card is fastest?

SD cards have become an essential part of our digital lives. We use them to store photos, videos, music and more on our phones, tablets, cameras and other devices. With higher resolution photos and videos, and larger file sizes, having a fast SD card is more important than ever.

But what exactly makes one SD card faster than another? And which SD cards are the fastest on the market today? There are a few key factors that determine SD card speed.

SD Card Speed Factors

Class Rating

One of the first things to look at is the class rating on the SD card. This speed classification system was created by the SD Association to represent the minimum guaranteed speed of the card. The classes range from 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 up to UHS Class 3 (U3) and UHS Speed Class 1 (U1). The higher the class number, the faster the card. Here’s a breakdown of what each one means:

Class Minimum Write Speed
Class 2 2 MB/s
Class 4 4 MB/s
Class 6 6 MB/s
Class 10 10 MB/s
U1 10 MB/s
U3 30 MB/s

Most basic and mid-range SD cards today are Class 10, U1 or U3. However, the class rating alone doesn’t tell you the full speed potential of a card. Two cards with the same rating can have very different real-world write and read speeds.

Read and Write Speeds

In addition to the class rating, SD card manufacturers also provide the maximum read and write speeds for each card, usually listed in megabytes per second (MB/s). The write speed tells you the maximum speed the card can write data to memory. The read speed is the maximum speed it can read data off the memory. Faster cards will have higher read and write speeds.

For example, a U3 card might have a maximum write speed of 90 MB/s and read speed of 95 MB/s, while a faster U3 card could offer 100 MB/s write and 160 MB/s read speeds. The faster read and write speeds allow the card to move data much quicker.

Speed Class Ratings

Newer SD cards may also display speed classifications like UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) or Video Speed Class 30 (V30), rather than just a number class rating. The UHS speed classes were designed for 4K video recording and distinguish between cards better suited for high resolution videos. Here’s what each of the modern speed classes represent:

  • UHS Speed Class 1 (U1) – Minimum 10 MB/s write speed
  • UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) – Minimum 30 MB/s write speed
  • Video Speed Class 30 (V30) – Minimum 30 MB/s sustained write speed
  • Video Speed Class 60 (V60) – Minimum 60 MB/s sustained write speed
  • Video Speed Class 90 (V90) – Minimum 90 MB/s sustained write speed

Cards with U3, V30, V60 or V90 ratings are optimized for 4K video recording, burst mode photography, and other demanding applications. The higher Video Speed ratings represent cards capable of handling 8K and high frame rate 4K video.

Memory Cards Designed for Speed

In addition to higher speed classes, some SD card brands also create specific product lines designed for maximum performance. For example:

  • SanDisk Extreme Pro – Designed for professionals and enthusiasts needing top speed and performance.
  • Lexar Professional – Optimized for cinema-quality video recording and fast transfer speeds.
  • Sony Tough – Rugged durability with fast burst image shooting and continuous 4K video recording.

Cards from these professional/high-end product lines utilize the latest technologies and internal designs to push SD card speeds even further than standard consumer cards. They enable transfer speeds well beyond the minimum class ratings.

Fastest SD Card Brands

Now that we’ve looked at the different factors that determine SD card speeds, let’s highlight some of the major brands that offer the fastest SD card options on the market today:


SanDisk is one of the pioneers in memory card technology and continues to be a leader in the SD card market. Their SanDisk Extreme Pro SD cards currently top out at 300 MB/s read and 260 MB/s write speeds.


Lexar makes professional-grade SD cards designed for intense applications like 4K and 8K video capture. Their new Lexar Professional 1800x SDXC UHS-II cards offer read speeds up to 300 MB/s.


Well known for their camera technology, Sony also produces some of the fastest SD cards available today. Their recently released SF-G Series TOUGH SD cards provide up to 299 MB/s read and up to 299 MB/s write speeds.


While more known for higher capacity enterprise-level SSDs and servers, Kingston still manufactures quality consumer SD cards with competitive speeds. Their Canvas Select Plus SD cards reach up to 170 MB/s reads and 90 MB/s writes.


Transcend is lesser known than brands like SanDisk and Lexar but they make very reliable and cost-effective memory cards. Their new UHS-II SD cards deliver up to 285 MB/s read and 180 MB/s write speeds.

Other brands like Samsung, Integral, PNY and Silicon Power also offer high-performance SD card options.

Fastest SD Card Types

In addition to brand, the type of SD card itself plays a big role in determining speed. There are two main standards to be aware of:


SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) and SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) are the two types of SD cards on the market today. The main difference is their storage capacity limits. SDHC cards can store up to 32GB while SDXC can handle 64GB to 2TB of data. In terms of speed, SDXC cards tend to be faster based on newer technology. But there are fast SDHC options as well.


This refers to the SD interface supported by the card. UHS-I cards have a single row of pins and clock speeds up to 104 MHz. UHS-II cards have an extra row of pins and faster clock rates over 200 MHz. The extra pins and bandwidth allow UHS-II cards to achieve significantly faster transfer speeds over UHS-I. However, both types can still reach high speed classes like U3 and V90.

Currently, the fastest combination is typically SDXC cards compliant with the UHS-II interface. But there are very quick UHS-I cards available as well.

Fastest SD Cards Comparison

Here is a comparison table of some of the fastest SD card models on the market in 2023 from the top brands:

SD Card Card Type Interface Class / Speed Rating Read Speed Write Speed
SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I V90 300MB/s 260MB/s
Lexar 1800x SDXC UHS-II V90 300MB/s 260MB/s
Sony SF-G Tough SDXC UHS-II V90 299MB/s 299MB/s
Kingston Canvas React Plus SDHC UHS-I U3, V30 170MB/s 90MB/s
Transcend UHS-II SDXC UHS-II V90 285MB/s 180MB/s

As you can see from the table, the latest UHS-II compliant SDXC cards from SanDisk, Lexar, Sony and Transcend are top contenders for the fastest speeds. They support maximum performance levels like V90/V60 video recording and provide incredibly fast 300MB/s+ read/write speeds.

However, there are also more affordable UHS-I SDHC options like the Kingston Canvas React Plus that still deliver respectable speeds for the average user. The UHS-II cards have about a 2-3x speed advantage over UHS-I.

Ideal Uses for Fastest SD Cards

The blazing fast read and write speeds offered by today’s high-end SD cards make them ideal for these types of media:

  • 4K and 8K ultra high resolution video
  • High frame rate video (1080p at 240fps, for example)
  • RAW and burst mode photography
  • Virtual reality 360 degree footage
  • Rapidly transferring large files

High-speed cards are also useful for devices that generate a lot of sequential data very quickly, like:

  • Drones and aerial photography
  • Body cameras and dash cams
  • Home security cameras and camcorders
  • Video game cameras and VR headsets

If you don’t shoot advanced video or burst mode images, an average U1 or U3 card is probably sufficient. But for media professionals, power users and content creators, the latest high-end SD cards can make a big difference in workflow and productivity when working with large HD, 4K or 8K files.

Differences in Real-World Speed Tests

In addition to the manufacturer ratings, independent real-world speed tests can give you an idea of how the cards actually perform. Reviews and benchmarks from sites like Tom’s Hardware, Cameramemoryspeed.com, and the SD Association can reveal more about sustained speeds, random I/O performance, durability and reliability.

For example,benchmark tests indicate that while the SanDisk Extreme Pro offers slightly faster peak read speeds than the Lexar 1800x, the Lexar has faster sustained write speeds in continuous shooting. And the Sony Tough Series competed very closely with both in benchmarks.

So consider both the card specs and hands-on testing. Factors like file sizes, camera settings, card readers and testing methodology all impact results. But the benchmarks provide helpful guidance when choosing among the top contenders.

Price Considerations

While the SD cards with the absolute fastest speeds command premium prices, you can still get solid performance without spending a fortune. Price-conscious buyers should look for cards offering:

  • At least U3 / V30 speed class rating
  • Minimum 90-95MB/s read speeds
  • Minimum 45-90MB/s write speeds

These speeds allow support for 4K video recording and decent burst shooting rates in the $25-$100 range. Bargain hunters can also look for discounted or used UHS-I U3 SD cards from top brands like SanDisk, Sony, Lexar and Kingston.

Moving up to the max read/write speeds over 250MB/s does come at a higher cost. For example, at the time of writing:

  • 256GB Lexar 1800x – $229
  • 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro – $97
  • 128GB Sony Tough – $148

But for professionals and serious content creators working extensively in 4K/8K video or VR, the time savings and productivity gains provided by the extra speed can justify the higher prices.

Avoid Counterfeit Cards

One important tip when shopping for high performance SD cards is to watch out for fakes. With their popularity, top brands like SanDisk and Sony are common targets for counterfeiting. Some things to look for:

  • Avoid deals that seem too good to be true (some fakes are sold in place of true capacity)
  • Purchase from a reputable, authorized retailer
  • Check packaging and labeling for any irregularities
  • Compare labels, logos, and holograms to images from manufacturer
  • Run software that checks for real capacity like h2testw
  • Test card speeds independently

Buying directly from well known retailers can help avoid ending up with a counterfeit card that underperforms or fails prematurely. The few extra dollars for genuine cards from trustworthy sellers is worth it for the reliability and warranty coverage.


Today’s fastest SD card options unlock impressive speeds well over 200MB per second. Leading contenders include:

  • SanDisk Extreme Pro
  • Lexar 1800x
  • Sony Tough Series

For most casual users, affordable mid-range SD cards are plenty. But professionals working extensively with 4K/8K video and RAW images can benefit from the incredible transfer rates of high-end UHS-II cards. While the bleeding edge speeds demand premium prices, competitive models from trusted brands deliver excellent performance that won’t break the bank.

Just be sure to buy from authorized sellers to avoid counterfeits. The rapid evolution of SD card technology will continue to bring faster options to market. But for now, the cards highlighted here represent the fastest available to help you capture, transfer, and work with high resolution media and images as quickly as possible.