Which Micro SD Card Should I Buy for my Dash Cam?
Buying the correct micro SD card for use in a dash cam is important because some memory cards are known to fail very quickly. There are two different types of storage technologies that are commonly used, MLC and TLC. TLC is the most common and affordable type, but it offers less longevity than MLC. The following list is the best micro SD cards for dash cams based on their type of storage and user reviews.
To learn more about why MLC cards are important in dash cams, please watch the following video or read the video transcript:
If you are purchasing a micro SD card for use in a 1440p action cam, skip straight to the “acceptable” category because MLC is not a requirement for action cam use. Please note that real 4K action cams will require faster cards than some of the cards listed below.
- Transcend High Endurance
The Transcend High Endurance micro SD cards are the most commonly recommended cards for dash cam use because of their consistent performance and reliability. This card is based on MLC storage technology, which generally has double or triple the lifespan of standard TLC cards. These cards are readily available and reasonably priced, and the 2-year warranty covers dash cam use.
- Kingston Industrial
The Kingston industrial line of micro SD cards are also based on MLC technology, however they are not recommended as often as the Transcend cards due to their higher cost. The Kingston cards also have a 5-year warranty.
- Adata Premier Pro & XPG
The Adata Premier Pro and XPG cards are based on MLC technology and are inexpensive compared to the Transcend. These cards offer excellent performance for the money, however there are not many retailers that currently carry these cards in North America. Also, keep in mind that the Adata Premier card is different from the Premier Pro. The standard Premier card is not MLC based. The Adata cards have a lifetime warranty but according to some reviews warranty service is difficult to acquire.
- Thinkware MLC
The Thinkware MLC cards are made by a dash cam manufacturer specifically for their dash cams but they will work with others. Not much further information about reliability, temperature rating or warranty is available. These cards are also notably more expensive than the Transcend or Adata MLC cards.
- Lexar 633x
These cards are affordable and offer decent performance. Users report good reliability in dash cams. However, since this card is not necessarily MLC based, it is recommended to buy it in a 128GB capacity. Their warranty is not voided by dashcam use.
- Transcend Ultimate
Some of Transcend’s higher end cards offer excellent value and performance, and are even used by some dash cam manufacturers for testing and debugging. Using these Transcend cards in a dash cam voids their warranty.
- Lexar High Endurance
These cards are supposedly designed for dash cam use, however there is no information available as to whether or not they are based on MLC or TLC. They do not advertise features such as error correction. The warranty is far shorter compared to the Lexar 633x and performance is similar.
- Sandisk High Endurance
Not to be confused with Sandisk Ultra cards, these are high endurance cards designed for dash cam use. Sandisk does not state these cards are based on MLC so it is likely they are based on TLC. Also, Sandisk’s current warranty terms state that the warranty on these cards are void when used in dash cams, so perhaps this is one to avoid until more information is available regarding long term reliability. Also there are still some compatibility issues with certain dash cams.
- Samsung Pro
Rumours have it that Samsung is on the cusp of releasing line of memory cards based on their new V-nand technology, which will be even more reliable than current MLC cards. However, the only card to currently offer this technology is their 256 GB Pro+, and it is nearly twice as expensive as competing 256GB cards. Samsung’s current cards are reviewed favorably in dash cams despite being based on TLC technology.
- PNY Turbo Performance
These cards were previously based on MLC technology but are no longer advertised as such. They are likely now made with TLC chips.
- Sandisk Ultra
Avoid using Sandisk Ultra cards in your dash cam. These cards are known to fail without warning. Occasionally even new cards cause dash cams to misbehave. A common failure is that the card will fill up with data and not delete old clips, so the camera will stop recording. These cards should be avoided except in an emergency or for short term use.
- Generic branded cards
There are several cards listed on Amazon and international retailers that allegedly offer 128GB for an inexplicably low cost. The reason is that these cards can’t actually hold 128GB of data. When plugged into the computer they appear to have the amount of space they were advertised with, but any data over 8 or 16GB gets corrupted when written to the card. Avoid these at all cost. Do not even buy them for short term use.
Memory Card Fundamentals
There are a few important facts about memory cards when it comes to dash cams:
- MLC and high endurance cards will last longer than standard cards
- If a card is not labeled as MLC, chances are it is the cheaper TLC technology
- Cards with higher capacity will last longer than cards with lower capacity
For dash cams it is best to buy a high capacity card based on MLC technology in order to take advantage of the added durability. For action cams such as Go Pros and SJcams, it is not important to buy an MLC card, unless additional performance is required. Save money and buy from the “acceptable” category instead.
In conclusion, the best option readily available for dash cams are the Transcend High Endurance line of cards. If you’re a deal hunter the Adata Premier Pro lineup is also MLC and offers excellent performance for the cost.
Information Source: Dashcamtalk, Reddit and Manufacturer Websites