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How to choose a MicroSD card for the Nintendo Switch

With their Switch, Nintendo has decided to take a classic route with cartridge-based games and Micro SD card readers that don’t require you to install anything on a server. If you want to play something, all you need to do is grab the game, put it in, and turn on your Switch. 

When you need to pick out a Micro SD card for your Nintendo Switch, you’ll want to consider what games you’ll play as well as how much onboard storage you’ll need.

MicroSDXC vs. MicroSDHC

The Switch supports MicroSDHC cards, as well as MicroSDXC cards. What’s the difference? Storage limits.

SDHC stands for Secure Digital High Capacity, but these cards top out at 32GB. SDXC stands for Secure Digital Extended Capacity, and these cards store anywhere between 64GB and 1TB.

Depending on your gaming habits, 32GB of additional storage via MicroSDHC may be enough for you, but for those who plan to use the eShop, MicroSDHC probably won’t cut it for very long.

How much storage space do you need?

So you’ve decided to pick up a MicroSDXC card with your Switch, but you’re unsure which size to purchase? It’s hard to predict, but here are some general guidelines:

If you tend to buy AAA releases physically, and only purchase eShop titles occasionally, a 64GB card should do the trick.

For those who download eShop games regularly and the occasional AAA game digitally, it’s probably best to jump up to a 128GB card.

Dragon Quest Heroes

If you expect to download a good portion of AAA games, you may want to consider at least 200GB. For instance, Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2 will eat up 32GB on its own.

As of now, the largest MicroSDXC cards available at retail are 1TB, but keep in mind the Switch supports up to 2TB MicroSDXC cards. The prices will continue to drop as they are available for longer.

Speed class

Besides storage, another incredibly important factor in choosing the right MicroSD card is speed. Speed classes are assigned a grade — 2, 4, 6, or 10 — to note a card’s minimum baseline speed. A grade of 2 means a baseline speed of 2MB/s, a 4 means 4MB/s, and so on. For the Switch, however, you will want to only buy cards graded with a class 10 speed. Since the console will read games stored on the card, a class 10 speed card will likely mitigate lag and slowdowns.

Now, just because a card is graded class 10, it doesn’t mean it’s only capable of reading and writing data at 10MB/s. Each MicroSD card also has a rated speed, which notes the maximum transfer rate, which is usually significantly higher than 10MB/s. Since we cannot predict how MicroSD cards will perform in the Switch — and they may vary game to game — your concern should mainly be the class 10 speed.

Also, if you find a MicroSDXC card with a UHS class grade, you’re in the clear. The grades range from UHS-1 (10MB/s) to UHS-3, sometimes with a 1, 2, or 3 printed on the front of the card instead of a 10. Nintendo recommends cards that are UHS-1-compatible and that have a transfer speed between 60 and 95 MB/sec.

Brand name matters

Another vital consideration when purchasing a MicroSD card should be the manufacturer. As with all tech, you can sometimes save money by going with lesser-known brands, but you sacrifice quality in the process. With external storage, whether that be hard drives, flash drives, or SD cards, vigorous testing and warranty considerations are important. The same logic extends to MicroSD cards, as you don’t want a card to fail on you, especially one with a short warranty period or none at all.

Samsung and SanDisk are the most well-known MicroSD cardmakers for a reason. Each card from Samsung and SanDisk goes through rigorous testing, and the cards are often temperature-proof, waterproof, shockproof, and X-ray-proof. The temperature-proof design may be the biggest positive for Switch owners, as you never know where you will end up bringing your new console-handheld hybrid.

Besides SanDisk and Samsung, another major brand is Lexar, which produces MicroSD cards that receive mostly favorable reviews. Its cards go through similarly thorough testing.

Most importantly, however, all three companies offer lengthy warranties for MicroSD cards, which signals that they are built to last. Samsung offers 5- to 10-year warranties depending on the card, which cover manufacturer defects and failures. SanDisk also has five- to 10-year warranties on its cards, but some even come with a lifetime warranty. Lexar offers limited lifetime warranties on nearly all of its MicroSD cards.

You may save a few bucks by opting for a different brand, but we suggest sticking with SanDisk, Samsung, and Lexar.

Extended recommendations

As long as you pick up a class 10 card from a quality manufacturer with a capacity that reflects your purchasing habits, it’s hard to go wrong, but here are our recommendations for each capacity.

It used to be hard to find a reasonably priced card above 200GB. However, in recent months, cheap 256GB card options have been popping up all the time. Because of that, you may want to think toward the future by purchasing a larger card.

Capacity SanDisk Samsung Lexar
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