When you purchase a drone there is no doubt that choosing the right microSD card is an important accessory. I made the mistake of choosing a SD card which didn’t support the recording of 4K footage. I immediately limited what I was able to do with my drone for the sake of saving a few dollars. I wish that I had spent a little bit more to not only increase the capacity of my memory card but also to improve the right speed opening up 4K footage.
The best microSD cards for a drone needs to have a write speed of 12.5 MB/s to record a 4K video. You should look for a “U3” or “V30” symbol indicating that the minimum sustained write speed is 30MB/s which is more than enough for many drones.
The issue with choosing a memory card for a drone is that there are a load of different terms and classes that you can purchase.
Not all microSD cards are the same and, in this article, we will go over everything you need to know that choosing the best microSD cards for a drone whether or not you have a DJI drone, a parrot drone, an Autel drone, or any other brand.
Which microSD card is best for drone?
As a quick start guide to understanding microSD cards you simply need to look for two symbols which are printed on the front of the card. The first symbol looks like a U with a 3 in it, and the other one is a V30 symbol.
Here is a quick summary of all of the different classes of microSD cards and the quality of footage that they are suitable for. You can see that there is a direct correlation between the minimum write speed and the quality of footage that you are able to capture with a microSD card.
Both of the minimum requirements show you that the minimum right speed of the card is 30 Mb per second. This is suitable for 4K and ultra HD video recording. Above this right speed are the V60 and V90. These denote a 60 and 90 Mb per second write speed respectively. This extra speed is important if you are doing video recording above 4K, which is possible in some higher end drones such as the Autel Evo 2.
It’s always incredible to me that they are able to squeeze such a large amount of information on to a relatively small bit of plastic and metal and I never mind paying a little bit more after I bought the wrong card for my DJI Mavic air.
I think that one of the best memory cards for a drone is the SanDisk extreme pro series of memory cards. They enable you to record 4K footage and are very affordable. For example, the 64 GB version costs as little as US$17.
Sandisk Extreme MicroSD card
The fact that on Amazon these have a five star rating from 36,000 reviews shows you how to great these little microSD cards are!
As the memory cards get larger and cheaper you may be tempted to buy a memory card which exceeds 256 GB. However, all drones have a maximum sized memory card that you can use. For many drones this is 256 GB but for others it is less. Before you purchase your memory card check the specifications of the drone in order to check the maximum card size that you can use.
Is 128GB enough for drone?
128 GB is enough for a drone and provide you with 168 minutes of video recording at 4K and 30 frames per second. You just have to make sure that the write speed is fast enough by looking for a U3 symbol or a V30 symbol on the front of the card.
If you want to know more about how much a 120 GB microSD card can hold different at resolutions of video check out the table, below, for exactly how much space a 120 GB microSD card can store.
|Memory card size||Minutes at 4K/30fps||Minutes at 1080/60fps||Minutes at 1080/30fps|
You can see that at 30 frames per second and in high definition a 128 GB card can hold up to 483 minutes of footage that is a little over eight hours. That should be enough for up to 8 flight missions if each was recording for approximately one hour.
That is enough for even the most serious hobbyist and professional.
Here are the recommended microSD cards, as reported by the manufacturers, of a range of different drones.
DJI drones have become the most common drone on the market for serious hobbyists and professionals. They have a range of different drones and here are the most popular and up-to-date which are the DJI Mavic mini, the DJI Mavic air 2, the DJI FPV and the Phantom 4 V2.0.
|DJI Mini 2 (Up to 256GB)||16 GB: SanDisk Extreme 32 GB: Samsung Pro Endurance, Samsung Evo Plus, SanDisk Industrial, SanDisk Extreme V30 A1, SanDisk Extreme V30 A2, SanDisk Extreme Pro V30 A1, SanDisk Extreme Pro V30 A2, Lexar 633x, Lexar 667x 64 GB: Samsung Pro Endurance, Samsung Evo Plus, SanDisk Extreme V30 A2, Lexar 633x, Lexar 667x, Lexar 1000x, Lexar High Endurance, Toshiba EXCERIA M303 V30 A1, Netac Pro V30 A1 128 GB: Samsung Evo Plus, SanDisk Extreme V30 A2, SanDisk Extreme Plus V30 A1, SanDisk Extreme Plus V30 A2, Lexar 633x, Lexar 667x, Lexar 1000x, Lexar High Endurance, Toshiba EXCERIA M303 V30 A1, Netac Pro V30 A1 256 GB: SanDisk Extreme V30 A2|
|DJI Mavic Air 2 (Up to 256GB)||SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB V30 A2 microSDXC SanDisk High Endurance 64GB V30 microSDXC SanDisk Extreme 64GB V30 A2 microSDXC SanDisk Extreme 128GB V30 A2 microSDXC SanDisk Extreme 256GB V30 A2 microSDXC Lexar Lexar 667x 64GB V30 A2 microSDXC Lexar High-Endurance 64GB V30 microSDXC Samsung EVO 64GB microSDXC Samsung EVO Plus 64GB microSDXC Samsung EVO Plus 256GB microSDXC Kingston 128GB V30 microSDXC Netac 256GB A1 microSDXC|
|DJI FPV (up to 256 GB)||SanDisk High Endurance U3 V30 64GB microSDXC SanDisk Extreme PRO U3 V30 A2 64GB microSDXC SanDisk Extreme U3 V30 A2 64GB microSDXC SanDisk Extreme U3 V30 A2 128GB microSDXC SanDisk Extreme U3 V30 A2 256GB microSDXC Lexar 667x V30 128GB microSDXC Lexar High Endurance 128GB U3 V30 microSDXC Samsung EVO U3 (Yellow) 64GB microSDXC Samsung EVO Plus U3 (Red) 64GB microSDXC Samsung EVO Plus U3 256GB microSDXC Netac 256GB U3 A1 microSDXC|
|Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 (128 GB)||Write speed ≥15MB/s, Class 10 or UHS-1 rating required|
The EVO 2 series comes in three options with varying camera options. The Evo 2 has an 8K footage option with 33 million pixels. That is nearly 4 times as many pixels compared to a 4K camera. The high resolution enables the ability to zoom or crop and image or video without a loss of quality.
This means that they are very specific requirements for the quality of microSD card that you should use.
Here is what the manufacturer recommended for the Evo 2.
|EVO 2||UHS-3 rating required|
|EVO 2 RTK||Class4 / Class10 / U3 Capacity：4G / 8G / 16G / 32G / 128G|
Even though they recommend a class 10 drone which is a minimum write speed of 10 Mb per second I would still recommend getting a faster memory card which has a class of UHS3 or 30 Mb per second. Once again, you cannot go wrong looking for U with a 3 in it or a SD card which has V30.
This will certainly allow you to record at resolutions.
Some of the drones in the Evo series also have an 8K resolution. So I highly recommend looking at some of the faster cards on the market. If you are recording an 8K resolution you should consider buying a faster card at a lower size if money is an issue.
Parrot is a French wireless product manufacturer based in Paris, France. It was founded in 1999 and in its early days produced a load of Bluetooth and voice recognition hardware and software.
They supply the parrot Anafi with a 16 GB microSD card:
ANAFI is equipped with a 16 GB microSD card which can record a full flight (25 minutes) in 4K.
If you want to upgrade the memory card you should use this same class of card that they supply with the drone just at a larger storage capacity.
If you want to make the right choice for any drone that you have check out my microSD card buyers guide, below, right talk about the most important things about purchasing the best microSD cards for a drone.
MicroSD card Buyers guide
As technology increases we are seeing faster write speeds and data transfer combined with a much larger capacity. The card speed, or class, the card size and the durability of the card make a huge difference in how well the card will perform in your drone.
The first important aspect is the card speed.
Card speed (class)
No matter what you do, do not skimp out on the speed of your memory card for a drone.
If you are planning on recording in 4K remember that 4K video requires a 12.5MB/s write speed. And there only a few cards on the market which allow you to record 4K video smoothly.
The only thing you need to look for is a “U3” or “V30” symbol indicating that the minimum sustained write speed is 30MB/s which is more than enough for many applications.
The right speed of your microSD card can be classified from class 2 all the way up to class 10. Here are the right speeds further the four most common classes:
- C2 (Class 2): minimum write speed of 2MB/s
- C4 (Class 4): minimum write speed of 4MB/s
- C6 (Class 6): minimum write speed of 6MB/s
- C10 (Class 10): minimum write speed of 10MB/s
C2 is the slowest speed class and for modern electronic devices C10 is typically the minimum speed requirements.
Ultrahigh speed (UHS) class
The next step up of speed class is the ultrahigh speed and it is denoted with a U symbol. There are two ratings in the ultrahigh speed speed class of microSD cards:
- U1 (UHS Speed Class 1): minimum write speed of 10MB/s
- U3 (UHS Speed Class 3): minimum write speed of 30MB/s
This is important for drones that can record at a 4K resolution. You should aim to buy a U3 classification microSD card which contains a minimum write speed of 30 Mb per second.
Lastly, we have the video speed class:
Video speed class
the video speed class was created to allow higher resolutions and different formats such as multiple video streams, 360° capture, virtual reality content, and 8K resolution videos. They are usually denoted with the V symbol:
- V6 (Video Speed Class 6): minimum write speed of 6MB/s
- V10 (Video Speed Class 10): minimum write speed of 10MB/s
- V30 (Video Speed Class 30): minimum write speed of 30MB/s
- V60 (Video Speed Class 60): minimum write speed of 60MB/s
- V90 (Video Speed Class 90): minimum write speed of 90MB/s
These speeds are perfect for ultrahigh resolution videos and will work amazingly well in your drone as long as you are using a V30 class and upwards.
The video card size tells you how much information you are able to store on the memory card. If you want to know more about drone video file sizes and how much you can fit on each drone I didn’t experiment and reported it in another article – click here to find out the results of the experiment.
As a rule of thumb you are able to say that 4K footage taken at 30 frames per second uses up to 1 GB per minute of footage.
Here is a list of how many gigabytes per minute it takes at a variety of high definition resolutions combined with common frame rates used by drone pilots.
- 0.761 GB/minute at 4K/30fps MP4
- 0.523 GB/minute at 1080/60fps MP4
- 0.265 GB/minute at 1080p/30fps MP4
Essentially, you should purchase the biggest card size you can afford as long as it is now bigger than the maximum card size allowed in the drone and it has a good right speed of greater than 12.5 Mb per second.
Lastly, durability is a very important factor. This is because you are likely going to use your microSD card in multiple drones and he checked the microSD card from your drone every time you want to get some information off.
I would highly recommend that you stick with known name brands such as Samsung, SanDisk, and Lexar. Sticking with recognizable brand names means that you can be assured the memory card is produced and manufactured with the highest level of quality in mind. Some of the cheaper, Chinese-made, and memory cards may be a better deal but you will end up paying in the long run with frustration.
In this article, we have gone over all of the best microSD cards for a drone. You now understand what all of the symbols on the front of the SD card means and you are in a position to be able to choose the best one for your drone.
Remember that you should choose a card with a minimum write speed of at least 12.5 Mb per second that does not exceed the maximum memory size that your drone can take.