What better way to quarantine and chill then by dusting off your Nintendo Switch and downloading some of the best new games? But wait- do you have enough room to download them?
The Official Switch Micro SD Card
Because the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite are both limited to 32GB of internal memory, buying a MicroSD card is essential. The most popular cards are the Official Nintendo Switch MicroSD cards produced by SanDisk.
Let’s be honest: these are awesome and the Amazon ratings concur (4.8/5 – 9,000+ ratings). They’re a few bucks more expensive but for those who say you’re ONLY paying extra for the kick ass design, colors, and logos- that’s not entirely true. These official versions also come with a lifetime warranty.
But reality check: once you insert the card into your Switch you won’t likely see it again. If you’d rather spend those extra dollars on games and still get better performance, you’ll want to compare products and prices and possibly find a better alternative.
The Better Alternatives
It’s safe to assume that Nintendo made their official MicroSD card good enough to support all the Switch’s best features. You don’t want to overpay for extra speed that you won’t use, so we’re looking for a card that has the same exact specs without the extra cost. And here it is…
The SanDisk Extreme Micro SDXC Cards are the best Micro SD Cards for the Nintendo Switch:
- 64GB SanDisk Extreme
- 128GB SanDisk Extreme (recommended)
- 256GB SanDisk Extreme
- 400GB SanDisk Extreme
- 512GB SanDisk Extreme
- 1TB SanDisk Extreme (most storage)
These are Micro SDXC cards from SanDisk with UHS-1 U3 Speed Class, just like the official cards from Nintendo.
How do I know what size to buy?
To calculate what size Micro SD Card you should buy, we can multiply the average game size by the number of games you’ll probably download. It’s easier said than done since games can range anywhere from 1GB (simpler games, indie games) to 5GB (more typical) to 30GB or more for intense blockbuster games (list of Switch game sizes).
If you play it safe and consider 8GB the average (ex: Monopoly is 1.3GB, Mario Kart is 7GB, Zelda is 14GB, Resident Evil is 24GB) then you get the following:
- 64GB Micro SD can hold 8 Nintendo Switch games
- 128GB Micro SD can hold 16 Nintendo Switch games
- 256GB Micro SD can hold 32 Nintendo Switch games
- 400GB Micro SD can hold 50 Nintendo Switch games
- 512GB Micro SD can hold 64 Nintendo Switch games
- 1TB Micro SD can hold 125 Nintendo Switch games
For most people the 128GB version is perfect- you can hold plenty of games and the price is terrific. That’s why the 128GB version is our recommended card shown above.
What about U1 vs. U3?
These shouldn’t be confused with UHS-1 and UHS-3. All MicroSD cards purchased for the Nintendo Switch should be UHS-1 (often displayed as the roman numeral “I” on the card). Buying UHS-II or UHS-III cards is unnecessary and you’ll be drastically overpaying.
UHS-1 cards can have either U1 Speed Class or U3 Speed class. Most cards list whether they are U1 or U3 directly on the card but the the Official Zelda, Mushroom, and Star cards do not. However, Nintendo sells an unstylized version of these cards that explicitly states the cards are Micro SDXC UHS-I U3 cards (also produced by SanDisk).
The silly thing is that “U1” and “U3” designations are based on MINIMUM write speeds whereas Nintendo’s cards list MAXIMUM write speeds:
That’s because Nintendo’s stats are based on the maximum speed they can achieve whereas the U1 and U3 standards show the minimum sustained requirements. You can find it in the fine print. In reality, most U1 and U3 cards perform much higher in perfect conditions.
So why don’t the Zelda, Mushroom, and Star cards show U1 or U3? Probably because the cards are designed to look beautiful. Possibly because it would help Nintendo sell more of them. Either way it seems both strategies worked.
SanDisk Ultra vs. SanDisk Extreme
The specs get even more muddled when you consider SanDisk’s own branding, adding names like Ultra, Extreme, Extreme Pro, High Endurance, and the list goes on.
For the Nintendo Switch we recommend the SanDisk Extreme card because its U3 Speed Class matches that of the Official Nintendo Switch Micro SD cards. The SanDisk Ultra cards are only U1 But if you compare the specs directly you’ll notice something interesting…
The Extreme card and Nintendo Card are both U3 and offer Lifetime Warranties. But the Ultra Card (U1) has Sequential Read/Write speeds of 98MB/s which is comparable to the listed speed of the Nintendo-Licensed Card. The point being- SanDisk Ultra cards are even MORE affordable and will still do the trick.
Save More Money
We’ve confirmed that U1 cards will work in the Nintendo Switch so buying SanDisk Ultra rather than Extreme is indeed an option. The main difference will be that games download and load a little bit more slowly; for many this won’t be noticeable.
If you want to save a few bucks and aren’t worried about future proofing and tippedy top performance you can get away with buying the SanDisk Ultra cards just fine:
- 64GB SanDisk Ultra Micro SDXC
- 128GB SanDisk Ultra Micro SDXC
- 256GB SanDisk Ultra Micro SDXC
- 400GB SanDisk Ultra Micro SDXC
- 512GB SanDisk Ultra Micro SDXC
However, we still recommend the SanDisk Extreme card because it’s comparable to the official Nintendo card, price is still great, downloading/loading of games will be faster, and it leaves some room for growth.
SanDisk vs Other Brands
We chose SanDisk for two main reasons:
- They make the official Nintendo Switch Micro SD card
- They’ve been our preferred and reliable brand for 10+ years
You don’t have to buy a SanDisk card, though- there are plenty of alternatives that will work just fine in the Nintendo Switch. This is simply our favorite brand (and Nintendo’s). Other popular brands include Lexar, PNY, ADATA, Netac, Amplim, and Samsung.
Another great card to consider for value hunters is the Samsung EVO Select (U3) which is typically cheaper than SanDisk and it gets amazing ratings and reviews.
The Best Nintendo Switch Micro SD Card is the 128GB SanDisk Micro SDXC UHS-I U3 A2 V30.
- It’s got the same UHS-1 U30 rating as Nintendo’s Official Card
- It’s made by the same brand as Nintendo’s Official Card (SanDisk)
- It’s faster than Nintendo’s Official Card (160MB/s vs. 100/MB/s)
- It’s future proof and flexible- the V30 is a video class rating with write and suitable for 4K video recording on your smartphone, drone, and other devices
- The 128GB card is beautifully affordable and it should be enough space to start. You can always upgrade to a larger card in the future if needed!