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The best Micro SD cards for Nintendo Switch 2023

The biggest storage upgrades at the best prices.

The Nintendo Switch may well be getting on a bit now in terms of being a generation-old console, but the fact is that it's been a smash hit for Nintendo. Despite all its successes though, its internal storage simply isn't big enough in 2023 - the 25.9GB of accessible space isn't enough to keep multiple games, and to make matters worse, sometimes you can't fit games onto it at all - we're looking at you, NBA 2K19.

With this fiddly issue in mind though, it's helpful that the Switch contains a Micro SD card slot, which means you can simply chuck any one of a myriad of cards out there to give yourself a shedload more storage than the measly ~26GB that the Switch offers as standard. Figuring out the best Micro SD card for your Nintendo Switch though may be a little bit more difficult than you might anticipate, with questions concerning things like capacity, and the general performance of installed games on an SD card as opposed to from a cartidge and the internal storage.

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It's at this point where we've decided to step in and help, recommending our picks of the bunch when it comes to a multitude of different Micro SD cards you can choose. These can range from cheaper cards that provide the best price to performance ratio to some absolute behemoths that offer upwards of a terabyte of storage. Regardless of how much storage capacity you need though, we've got a good selection of cards that should be sure to suit what you need. It's worth noting that higher capacity cards, such as those that are 512GB, are becoming increasingly affordable, which means you'll be able to get more storage for a lot less.

As well as simply recommending cards for you to try, we'll also share the results of our load time tests for different games, and also the best ways to move your data over from the internal storage to the SD card, and from the card to the internal storage, too. In crunching the numbers, it reveals that the Micro SD cards we've chosen over slightly speedier load times compared to the internal storage, which is worth remembering if you're intending on either buying a game digitally or getting it as a physical cartridge. Anyways, enough chat - here's our top picks for the best Micro SD cards for Nintendo Switch!

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, there's been something of a shift as 512GB cards now offer the best value per gigabyte by some margin, with 128GB and 256GB options behind. 1TB cards are also getting much cheaper than before, meaning you don't pay much more per gigabyte to get a massive amount of game storage on your Switch.

Buy from Amazon UK Price Value
Best Overall Value Switch Micro SD Card 512GB Integral Ultima Pro MicroSDXC UHS-1 £43.48 8p/GB
Best Value 128GB Switch Micro SD Card 128GB Integral Ultima Pro MicroSDXC UHS-1 £11.99 9p/GB
Best Value 256GB Switch Micro SD Card 256GB Samung Evo Plus MicroSDXC UHS-1 £25.99 10p/GB
Best Value 1TB Switch Micro SD Card 1TB SanDisk Ultra MicroSDXC UHS-1 £117.97 12p/GB

Best Switch Micro SD cards USA

Our US recommendations are slightly different, as there are more brands represented on Amazon.com than on its sister sites. We've selected four cards from a few different companies, all of which excellent value for money and come with favourable customer reviews. Interestingly, 256GB cards are now significantly better than 128GB cards in terms of capacity-per-dollar, while 512GB cards are nearly as good. 1TB cards are also much better value than they were last year, making them a great choice for the title of 'ultimate Switch memory card'.

Buy from Amazon US Price Value
Best Overall Value Switch Micro SD Card 256GB Silicon Power MicroSDXC UHS-1 $15.99 6¢/GB
Best Value Bulk Storage Switch Micro SD Card 512GB Silicon Power MicroSDXC UHS-1 $34.99 7¢/GB
Best 128GB Switch Micro SD Card 128GB Silicon Power microSDXC UHS-1 $10.99 9¢/GB
Best Value 1TB Switch Micro SD Card 1TB Lexar Play MicroSDXC UHS-1 $109.00 11¢/GB

The Switch supported Micro SD cards up to 32GB at launch, but a software update soon thereafter pushed this limit all the way to 2TB. Right now we haven't got anything close to a 2TB card outside of a secret lab, but massive 512GB cards are becoming relatively affordable and even 1TB cards are starting to make sense. The most important point here 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 recordings 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 would offer the best loading times, but that's not the case...

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 of results: 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 wise move.

Note: These tests were performed before Nintendo added a so-called 'boost mode' to Breath of the Wild, which pushes the Switch's processor to its limits to speed up the loading process when you first enter a game or move to a new area. However, the hierarchy of different storage methods remains the same.

Now that you have your selected Micro SD card 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, SanDisk and Kingston 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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Will Judd avatar

Will Judd

Deputy Editor, 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. Will also tweets the latest tech deals at @DigitalFoundry.

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