Inspired by Jeff Geerling’s microSD benchmarks, I pulled out all of the microSD cards that I had to do some testing of my own! In addition to the Raspberry Pi boards, I’ll also be testing Orange Pi, Nano Pi, and Beaglebone models. Hopefully, the data will prove useful to someone trying to judge which SD card they should purchase for their own SBC. If you want to see a more general benchmark, check out my last post comparing the Raspberry Pi Zero W 2 and Raspberry Pi Zero W.
Note: I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate program and clicking on the SD card model names will take you to your local Amazon storefront. I hope you don’t mind! It helps me to purchase the little bits I use for testing in my guides/benchmarks.
Testing Process / Software Used
All read/write throughput tests were performed over 5 runs with
iozone3 and disk access latency was tested with
-c 50 for 50 checks, on each run). All tests were performed with the devices running at stock clock speeds (both CPU and microSD card slots) and a 120mm fan pointed at them to rule out any thermal throttling issues. The Kingston card refused to run above 25MHz on most boards, so it operated at half the speed of all others tested, though on the Orange Pi R1+ LTS, it ran faster and the results showed that!
Given the data I’ve produced, my recommendation is the Amazon Basics when it comes to pure performance! When I compare the price I paid for those to all of the others, it’s incredible value for what you get. I do notice now though that the price has jumped by over 50% (since December 2021) but as it’s a 2 pack, the individual price still works out better than the SanDisk Extreme PRO for example (which I picked up on sale!)
Overall, the Amazon Basics card is the fastest for sequential reads and writes, fastest for random reads and is very close to the KIOXIA EXCERIA when it comes to random writes. Sure, the latency is a little higher but you’d be hard pushed to notice in day to day operations.
The KIOXIA EXCERIA would be my 2nd option as in the vast majority of cases it was very close behind and was (is!) one of the cheapest options on the list. If you’re not familiar with the KIOXIA name, it’s the rebrand of Toshiba, who have been around for donkey’s years and is a big player in the game.
Sadly, the testing didn’t come without casualties. The PNY Performance Plus drive died with 2 boards to go, completely locking up and refusing to be recognised by any device I put it in. Even more woeful was an Intenso drive that I didn’t even include in the results as it died and also refuses to be recognised after just 2 boards and about 5GB worth of writes.
I’m going to work on some endurance testing next, putting the Amazon Basics drive up against some dedicated, endurance rated drives to see if it will also hold up under prolonged use. The tests in this post are great to judge performance but that’s no good if it fails within a couple of months! Stay tuned to see the results of that! Finally, though, I leave you with one last table. This is the total number of tests each card came out on top of in each test category and it speaks for itself!
|SD Card Model||Sequential Read||Sequential Write||Random Read||Random Write||IOPing||Price Paid|
|SanDisk Ultra (8GB)||N/A|
|SanDisk Ultra (16GB)||1||£4.79|
|SanDisk Ultra (32GB)||£11.99|
|SanDisk Extreme (64GB)||1||4||£7.92|
|SanDisk Extreme PRO (128GB)||1||1||£12.72|
|Kingston Canvas Select Plus (32GB)||3||£3.78|
|KIOXIA EXCERIA (32GB)||1||10||4||£4.41|
|Samsung EVO Plus (32GB)||£7.49|
|Amazon Basics (64GB)||9||11||12||2||£12.48 (for 2)|
|PNY Performance Plus (16GB)||£4.91|
|Verbatim Premium (16GB)||£3.95|
|SanDisk MAX ENDURANCE (32GB)|
|Integral ultima PRO (64GB)|
|Patriot EP Series (64GB)|
|Samsung EVO Select (32GB)|
|Samsung PRO Plus (128GB)|
|SanDisk HIGH ENDURANCE (64GB)|
|Samsung PRO Endurance (32GB)|