The Nintendo Switch offers an unparalleled portable gaming experience, but the console does have its own set of limitations. One of these is the 32GB of internal memory, which can be quickly filled up when many games clock in at 10GB or more. Some, like LA Noire, won't even fit on the Switch's internal memory at all, as they require more than the 25.9GB of user accessible space! That means that making use of the Switch's Micro SD card slot is practically essential - but with long load times and plenty of cards to choose from, it can be difficult to know which Switch memory card will best suit your needs.

To that end, we'll recommend the best Switch Micro SD cards on the market, from the biggest cards you can find, to the value heroes that provide the most bang for your buck. Whether you're thinking about a 128GB, 256GB or even 400GB option, we'll suggest a good Switch compatible Micro SD card that gets the job done.

We'll also share the results of our research into Switch loading times so you can know where to install your most-played games and explain the best way to move install data from your Switch's internal memory to the Micro SD card and vice versa. As the data reveals, our Micro SD card choices actually offer marginally faster loading times than actual physical cartridges - something worth remembering if you're considering a cart or digital download. So, let's get started!

upgrade
Whether you intend to stick to physical cartridges or digital purchases, Switch's need for mandatory downloads in some scenarios means that a Micro SD card of some description is an essential purchase.

Best Switch Micro SD cards UK

For UK buyers, we have a quartet of recommendations which should suit those looking for to maximise the amount of space available, find the best overall value or to choose something in the middle.

Buy from Amazon UK Price Value
Best Overall Value Switch Micro SD Card 128GB Sandisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-1 £29.99 23p/GB
Best Value Bulk Storage Switch Micro SD Card 256GB Toshiba M203 MicroSDXC UHS-1 £74.99 29p/GB
Best Value 200GB Switch Micro SD Card 200GB Sandisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-1 £63.99 32p/GB
Biggest Switch Micro SD Card at the Best Price 400GB Sandisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-1 £157.19 39p/GB

Best Switch Micro SD cards USA

If you're shopping in the United States of America, our recommendations are slightly different as more brands are available at different price-points. The categories here are also subtly different, as the bulk storage sweet spot moves from 200GB to 256GB. We've included a good, branded 200GB card regardless - it's cheaper, but the cost per gig isn't quite as compelling.

Buy from Amazon US Price Value
Best Overall Value Switch Micro SD Card 128GB Patriot LX MicroSDXC UHS-1 $31.99 25¢/GB
Best Value Bulk Storage Switch Micro SD Card 256GB Silicon Power MicroSDXC UHS-1 $69.99 27¢/GB
Best Value 200GB Switch Micro SD Card 200GB Sandisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-1 $61.86 31¢/GB
Biggest Switch Micro SD Card at the Best Price 400GB Sandisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-1 $189.85 47¢/GB

The Switch supported Micro SD cards up to 32GB at launch, but a software update pushed this limit all the way to 2TB. Right now we haven't got anything close to a 2TB card, but massive 400GB cards are starting to become affordable, and even 512GB models are beginning to come online - we can't recommend these right now because the cost per gig is off the charts. But the bottom line is that the more space you have, the more games you can install to the card and the less time you have to spend deleting or re-downloading games. Therefore, our recommendation is that you get the largest Micro SD card you can afford, though our recommendations also include best value offerings based on GDP or USD per gigabyte calculations.

Here's Tom Morgan's look at Micro SD loading times stacked up against the Switch's internal memory and an actual physical cartridge.

Of course, capacity is only half of the equation - what about speed? Well, here the Switch isn't quite so future-proof. 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. However, our testing revealed only a tiny differential between the slowest and fastest UHS-1 Micro SD cards on the Switch, so our recommendations are tailored towards capacity and value rather than speed.

As well as testing different Micro SD cards, we also examined two other options for playing Switch games: using internal storage and reading directly from the game cartridge. To get an accurate idea of which storage method is the fastest in different situations, we took frame-perfect load time measurements from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We tested both starting up the game and fast-travelling between areas, and the results were surprising - you'd think that Nintendo's own cartridges offer the best loading times, but that's not the case...

zelda
We compared Breath of the Wild loading times from two SD cards with different read time specs against internal storage and a physical cart.
Zelda/Switch Load Times Cartridge Internal Storage Sandisk 16GB Ultra SDHC Sandisk 64GB Extreme SDXC
Temple of Time (Initial Load) 35.7 30.7 34.1 34.4
Kakariko Village (Initial Load) 27.0 24.1 26.3 26.6
Owa Daim Shrine (Initial Load) 9.5 8.7 9.3 9.3
Great Plateau Tower (Travel) 32.6 27.7 30.9 31.2
Dueling Peaks Tower (Travel) 20.5 18.8 19.8 20.1
Shrine of Resurrection (Travel) 24.2 21.8 23.0 23.8

In every test, we got the same hierarchy. Reading from the game cartridge was the slowest method, while the internal storage was the fastest. The two Micro SD cards we tested offered near-identical times, a little faster than the cartridge but slower than internal storage, sometimes by an appreciable margin. For example, in our Temple of Time load test, the internal storage was five seconds faster than the cartridge, and four seconds faster than either Micro SD card. That means if you want to absolutely minimise game load times, then installing your most-played games to the Switch's internal memory is a good idea.

So, once you have your selected card safely installed, how do you move Switch games to Micro SD? Unfortunately, it's not currently possible to move game install data directly from the Switch's internal memory to a Micro SD card. Instead, you must follow a set of arcane instructions to archive the software, then download it again.

Start by visiting System Settings, selecting Data Management and then Manage Software. Then select the game you want to transfer, and select Archive Software, then Archive. Now, insert your Micro SD card, go back to the home screen and select the archived game. Select Download, and the game will be downloaded onto your Micro SD card. Your save data won't be affected (this is stored on the Switch's internal memory), but you will need to wait for the download to complete, which may be a pain for those with slower internet connections. If you want to move games to your internal storage, follow the same steps but remove the Micro SD card before downloading your game to ensure it is installed onto the Switch's flash memory.

To sum up, the fastest storage option is the 32GB of space that makes up the Switch's internal flash memory, so use this for your most-played games using the method outlined above if the absolute fastest loading speeds are your priority. Micro SD cards come next, offering comparable speeds and much larger capacities. When it comes to choosing the best Micro SD card, our advice would be firstly to choose a reputable brand (no-name cards are to be avoided, especially when good makes like Samsung and Sandisk are reasonably priced). Secondly, as long as you're set with a UHS-1 card, you can afford to largely ignore read and write speeds and instead focus on choosing the largest capacity you can afford, as our testing didn't reveal a significant real-world advantage for higher-spec cards.

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About the author

Will Judd

Will Judd

Senior Staff Writer, Digital Foundry

A bizarre British-American hybrid, Will turns caffeine into technology articles through a little-known process called 'writing'. His favourite games are Counter-Strike, StarCraft and Fallout 2.

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