Amazon is now selling Micro SD cards under its own Amazon Basics brand. From its specs, it is fast and cheap. Is it better than Sandisk? I tested it for speed (with a laptop card reader and the Insta360 Quick Reader Micro SD card reader), as well as overheating and slow motion videos. Here are the results of my tests.
Price and availability
- Amazon Basics two 64GB cards – check price here
- Amazon Basics 128GB card – check price here
- Amazon Basics 256GB card – check price here
- Amazon Basics 512GB card – check price here
DO I NEED A FAST MICRO SD CARD?
A fast Micro SD card is important for high resolution cameras, including 360 cameras, several of which record two 4K video streams simultaneously (which are then stitched into a 5.7k 360 video). If a Micro SD card isn’t fast enough, the camera can overheat, or the camera may suddenly stop recording.
DON’T TRUST THE SPECS
Among the Micro SD cards I’ve used, I’ve tried only three Micro SD cards that perform consistently, with no issues: Sandisk Extreme Pro, Sandisk Extreme, and Insta360. Samsung EVO Select, for example, has similar specs on paper, but when I use them on 5.7k 360 cameras or even just my DJI FPV goggles, I get a warning that the card is too slow.
I recently had to buy some Micro SD cards and saw that Amazon was now selling their own under the Amazon Basics brand. I was a bit surprised that the specs seemed to be as good as Sandisk Extreme and Extreme Pro:
- V30 rated
- UHS class 3
- A2 class
Amazon also claims that it is “Shockproof, IPX6 waterproof, temperature-proof (-10° to 80°), X-Ray-proof and magnetic-proof.”
Most astonishing of all was the price. As of the time of this writing, they’re almost half the price of Extreme Pro and 25% to 32% off the cost of equivalent Sandisk Extreme Micro SD cards.
But how fast are they in the real world? I tested the Amazon cards against the Sandisk Extreme and Extreme Pro using CrystalDiskMark, which can measure performance from sequential read and write as well as random read and write using my laptop’s built-in card reader (my laptop is an MSI GT73VR 7RE Titan SLI). Here are the results:
The top two rows show the sequential reading and writing performance, while the bottom two rows are for random read and write. From these tests, it appears that the Amazon Basics Micro SD card is at least as good as, if not very slightly better than the Sandisk Extreme Pro or Sandisk Extreme, when used with a laptop card reader.
INSTA360 QUICK READER TEST
I tested the speed of the three Micro SD cards using the Insta360 Quick Reader. The Quick Reader is an accessory for Insta360 One R, One X2 and X3 that functions as a card reader that works directly with your Insta360 camera and with the Insta360 app. Given that Insta360 recommends the Quick Reader, I am assuming that the Quick Reader can read and write at an Insta360 camera’s normal read and write speed during operations.
I connected the Quick Reader to my laptop’s USB Type C port (USB 3.1 Gen2 / DP / Thunderbolt 3). Here are the results:
As with my laptop card reader, the Amazon card seems to perform a bit better than Sandisk with respect to random read and write. However, please note that I was using a 128GB Micro SD card for Sandisk Extreme and Extreme Pro, and a 256GB card for the Amazon.
I also wanted to know how the Amazon card performs for long duration recording. I inserted it into the most popular 360 camera at the time of this writing, an Insta360 X3 (reviewed here), and recorded at 5.7k 30fps to determine if it would overheat. For purposes of this recording, I formatted the card using the X3’s built-in formatting function, which adds a file that enables the SD card to record more efficiently on Insta360 cameras.
I shot indoors on a tripod with no air conditioning. The temperature was 75F. The Amazon Basics 256GB card recorded at 5.7k 30fps for 1 hr 32 mins 35 secs. At that point, I got a warning on the screen that the battery was too low. In other words, the limit was the battery capacity, not overheating.
SLOW MOTION VIDEO TEST
Finally, I wanted to determine the card’s performance for slow motion videos. Slow motion videos use high frame rates (e.g., 120fps or 60fps), which appear as slow motion when played back at normal frame rates (e.g., 30fps or 24fps). Slow motion videos can be more demanding than conventional videos and I’ve sometimes seen a “card too slow” warning when recording in slow motion when the same card would perform adequately in normal (non-slow motion) videos in the same camera.
For this test, I again used the Insta360 X3 and recorded at 3k 100fps. Amazon Basics 256GB was able to record at 3k 100fps for 1 hr 15 mins 59 secs (battery ran out). Once more, the limit was the battery capacity, not overheating.
Based on my tests with the Amazon Basics card and Insta360 X3, the Amazon Basics card performs just as well for 360 cameras as a Sandisk Extreme or Extreme Pro, at a much lower price. At the current prices, the Amazon cards seem to be a no-brainer. I will update this test in a few months to let you know if I have experienced any failures.