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For someone considering upgrading the storage of their Nintendo Switch — taking into account that a newer version of the Switch may be released in the future that supports microSD cards with faster read/write speeds — what should I look for when deciding which microSD card to upgrade to?

Excerpt from "The best Micro SD cards for Nintendo Switch 2022":

The console only supports UHS-1 cards, which have a maximum possible speed of 104MB/s, compared to the 312MB/s speed limit of the more modern UHS-2 standard.

Excerpt from "7 Fastest MicroSD Cards (256GB, 512GB, 1TB) – Speed Test 2022":

The fastest MicroSD Cards will have a minimum speed class labeled V30, UHS-ii, and Class 10 on the SD Card’s details from the manufacturer.

Excerpt from Nintendo's "microSD Card FAQ":

The following types of microSD cards are supported on Nintendo Switch:

  • microSD (up to 2 GB)
  • microSDHC (4 GB - 32 GB)
  • microSDXC (64 GB and above)

In order to improve your gameplay experience, using a microSD card with a higher transfer speed is recommended.

High-speed microSD card recommendations:

  • UHS-I (Ultra High Speed Phase I) compatible
  • Transfer speed 60 - 95 MB/sec (the higher the transfer speed, the better gameplay experience on Nintendo Switch)

So we have an article recommending UHS-II, but Nintendo is recommending UHS-I. Should I take that to mean higher spec ones are not supported?

Above we have an "Ultra" card marked as Class 10 but it's A1. The higher-end "Extreme" and "Extreme PRO" are A2.

In order to get a microSD that will be as fast as possible, but also hopefully work with future Switch models, what specs should one look for?

There's not much point investing in storage if it's just going to end up being sub-par speed in the near future. If spending a little more now means not having to purchase a new card once faster ones are supported by the Switch, that makes sense to me. And although any talk about future hardware is speculative, perhaps those with a sense for where standards are heading (and how quickly) can offer some advice?

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  • I don't expect the bottleneck of ultimate performance to be the sd card on a nintendo switch. And with a newer switch, you can as well buy a new sd card then for half the price now. Or a quarter. Or less. You get a Sandisk 128gb USB stick for 12€ nowadays.... Sep 20 at 9:02
  • C10 is equivalent to U1, and the other two cards you show are U3, so it's not surprising that the class 10 card is slower. That said, I don't think the SD card is going to be where the bottleneck is.
    – Hearth
    Sep 20 at 12:55
  • Voting to reopen. I don't think this is an off-topic shopping recommendation question. This question is unlike the bad, off-topic examples mentioned in the Stack Overflow blog post, Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping! It is more like the on-topic, good example mentioned in that blog post. Sep 21 at 5:38
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    @galacticninja I did almost post this in HardwareRecs, but it's specific enough to gaming that you need to know about microSD cards within the context of how they're used in a Switch. Last time I posted something specialized in HardwareRecs it went unanswered. By posting here I got a helpful answer and helpful comments. Got some upvotes as well, so it seems it wasn't a terrible choice. But this is Stack Exchange and somebody has got to uphold the law! Close the question before we have dogs and cats living together and mass hysteria!! :-)
    – Mentalist
    Sep 21 at 8:26

1 Answer 1

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In order to get a microSD that will be as fast as possible, but also hopefully work with future Switch models, what specs would I want?

Based on the following assumptions:

  • You want the fastest SD card possible.
  • Nintendo might release a Switch with the fastest SD card reader available.

You'll want to buy the fastest SDXC card (up to 2 TB) possible.

According to this site:

UHS-II cards are backwards compatible and can be used in any card that supports SD cards, but the cards operate at lower speed.

So the Nintendo Switch should be able to read UHS-II cards as well.

Also, according to Wikipedia, a new bus speed specification was released in 2018 named "SD Express", supporting speeds beyond UHS-III.

For legacy application use, SD Express cards must also support High Speed bus and UHS-I bus.

So the Nintendo Switch should still be able to read those cards.

Do note that UHS-II and newer achieve their higher speed by introducing a second row of pins [Source]: Comparison between UHS-I and earlier, and UHS-II and newer

SD Express in particular reserves space for additional pins:

The Express bus re-uses the pin layout of UHS-II cards and reserves the space for additional two pins that may be introduced in the future.

These additional pins may increase the cost of an SD card. Considering the Nintendo Switch doesn't support them, it makes sense for Nintendo to recommend UHS-I over UHS-II for economic reasons.

As to whether Nintendo will support UHS-II or higher in the near future, if at all, that's another story entirely.

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  • Thank you. It's good to know that new microSD cards are backward-compatible with older slots. Surprisingly, I am finding that there are relatively few XC II cards - and those that exist are of smaller capacity (256GB was the largest I found). Since I had 1TB in mind, it looks like I was getting ahead of what the market presently offers. Swapping cards is much less of an issue with a camera than a game console, so there may not be a strong demand for 1TB yet. The info on this page was very helpful for understanding the speeds.
    – Mentalist
    Sep 20 at 2:03
  • What's more - even if the card can be used in a hypothetical future Switch model, it would most likely mean parting with one's savegame data that was generated on (and resides on) the previous Switch. Finally, considering that wear from regular use may impact the card's lifespan, while the idea of investing for the long-term in a microSD with both optimal speed and capacity initially seemed appealing... I am beginning to see there are some obstacles here.
    – Mentalist
    Sep 20 at 2:24
  • @Mentalist save data can be transferred as long as you have both Switches, and the article you link leaves me with quite the opposite impression - that card lifespan is not really a concern. Sep 20 at 7:11
  • @JacobRaihle Sorry if the link caused confusion. I meant it as just one more thing to consider, since until that point I hadn't even thought about it. Yes, there are varying opinions in the article - a "theoretical 30-year" lifespan is mentioned, and there is also a photographer saying he replaces them "every two to three years" as a precautionary measure even if they appear to be fine. Personally, I'm not worried about it. Was only trying to cover all bases for points of consideration.
    – Mentalist
    Sep 20 at 19:26
  • @JacobRaihle Actually, now that you mention it, I bet there are more write operations to the Switch itself (savegame data). When thinking about it like that, the lifespan of the Switch becomes the bigger concern than the microSD. But I suppose there's no point in getting OCD about something that can't be helped. :-)
    – Mentalist
    Sep 20 at 19:38

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