Here are the cards we're going to discuss in detail in this article. It is highly recommended to read the article in its entirety to understand why these cards are regarded as the best for the GoPro Hero 9.
In a previous article, I compared the GoPro hero 8 to the hero 7. I was a little bit disappointed in the lack of significant updates between the two models, to say the least
On the other hand, there are significant upgrades between the GoPro Hero 8 and GoPro Hero 9. These improvements include:
These are the aspects of the GoPro Hero 9 that didn't change from the Hero 8.
GoPro felt they needed to put a front-facing camera on their action cam because DJI released their Osmo, which included a front-facing camera. So GoPro followed suit and offered the same thing.
Regardless, these are significant upgrades compared to the last generation, and I'm happy to see that they could implement more into this generation than the previous.
GoPro made it very simple: MicroSD cards are the only cards compatible with the action cam.
It's all the ratings and speeds of the cards that may be confusing you.
Don't worry; I’ll go ahead and include the ratings you should be looking for and that GoPro recommends.
Per GoPro themselves, the GoPro Hero 9 supports a single 512 GB micro SD card. We do not recommend a card this large (we will get to that here in a little bit) - but the option is there if you need it.
I thought I would share with you the maximum recording times of the GoPro Hero 9 based on the size of the card that you have in the camera.
Refer to the chart above. All of the times included are at maximum resolution and frame rate.
It is also worth noting that the time will increase as you lower your resolution and/or frame rate.
Bitrate may be a confusing part for some. Don’t worry, when you think of it in its basic form, it’s straightforward to understand
Bitrate is the rate at which your camera writes data to your card.
A more complex explanation would be that bitrate is the rate at which your camera captures a series of images, processes it through the chip (which compresses it), and then writes to your card at that bitrate.
It doesn't have to get any more complicated than that. Just remember that it's the rate at which your camera rights to your card.
There are two reasons why bitrate is so essential.
First, generally speaking, the higher the bitrate, the better the quality. This isn't always the case, but you can assume that the higher the bitrate, the better the image quality.
On the other hand, bitrate directly influences your decision to purchase a microSD card.
You want the speed of your card to either match or exceed the bitrate of your device. To relieve strain on the micro SD card, we recommend exceeding the rate of the device. This will extend the life of your card and lower the potential of the card corrupting.
So as we talked about previously in the article, you can now shoot in 5K. So this is a pretty big deal.
At 5K recording, the GoPros bit rate is 100 megabits per second or 100Mb/s.
You can refer to the chart above to see the bit rates of other resolutions and frame rates.
Knowing the difference between these three acronyms is very important when it comes to purchasing your microSD card.
As you may have seen at some point in the past, manufacturers will use these different acronyms to indicate the bitrate of their device.
You may have realized by now, all three acronyms are very different from each other in terms of size.
Their meanings are:
When it comes to the size of each of these - we will start with the smallest and work our way up.
A millibit is the smallest form of data. It takes 1,000,000,000 millibits to equal one Mb (Megabit), and it takes 8 Megabits (Mb) to equal one Megabyte (MB)
So, a different way to look at it is a Megabit is 8 times smaller than a Megabyte, and a millibit is 1,000,000,000 times smaller than a Megabit.
Can you see how different they are now and how an upper or lowercase letter can make all of the difference?
I’ve seen a common mistake over the years: everyone assumes that all three acronyms mean the same thing.
The most common assumption is that they all mean Megabyte. This is only solidified by the fact that everything nowadays (data-wise), is in megabytes.
When they see something like 78 Mb/s - they assume it’s 78 MB/s and look for a card or device that will write at that speed.
But, as we know now, it’s not. If you do the math and convert Mb/s (megabits) to MB/s (megabytes) - that would come out to about 9.75 MB/s (78/8 megabits divided by the number of megabits in a megabyte).
9.75 MB/s is very different from 78 MB/s
Be very conscious and aware of the acronyms used and what they mean from today going forward.
Well - if we scroll up to the chart that displays the bitrates of different resolutions and frame rates - you’ll notice that the GoPro Hero 9’s peak bitrate is 100 Mb/s.
Now, let’s convert that to MB/s - seeing as all micro SD card companies display their speed in MB/s.
It’s basic math. Take the Mb/s (100) and divide it by the number of megabits in a Megabyte (8).
Your answer is 12.5 MB/s.
That’s your target. That’s what the minimum write speed of your card should be.
Don’t worry - the cards recommended today far exceed that speed - but going forward - you now know how to convert Mb/s to MB/s.
We talked a little earlier about the GoPro Hero 9 supporting up to 512 GB - and as you know, we don’t recommend it.
The reason for this is pretty simple - you don’t want that much footage on a single card.
What happens if the card corrupts, gets lost, or gets damaged. But, again, we’re talking 13 hours or more of footage.
You can never truly prevent a card from corrupting - you can only mitigate the damage by data across multiple cards.
That’s why we recommend a 128GB card. It’s the sweet spot between good storage size and affordability.
As we talked about in the opening paragraph - there are so many brands on the market that some don’t know which one to choose.
Not to mention - there are off brands that entice you to purchase because they’re so inexpensive.
Well - you don’t have to worry about this anymore. We have tested out many brands over the years, and we recommend only four brands. But, unfortunately, out of those four brands - only 3 of them offer micro SD cards.
The brands include:
We have a card from each of these manufacturers to choose from in this article. Included with be somewhat of pros and cons with benefits that one has over the other.
But, to be fair, there isn’t much difference between the three cards regarding reliability and performance.
Your choice will come down to brand trust and price (for the most part).
There’s no denying the fact that SanDisk is one of the most reputable SD card companies on the planet. From personal experience, about 1 in 3 people I’ve met in the photography/videography space trust SanDisk the most and use their cards exclusively.
Aside from my drones - I use SanDisk in every camera that takes micro SD or regular SD (I use Prograde for CF Express).
In the last seven years, I haven’t had a single SanDisk card cause a single issue. Even though cold conditions and direct contact with sand (beach shoots are always great…) - no issues at all.
It’s worth noting that I have had cards corrupt on me before. PNY and Transcend cards have failed me in a couple of cameras and a drone. This was because the cards were cheap and most likely too slow (I wasn’t as educated in this space during that time).
If you check the GoPro article mentioned before, you’ll notice that this specific card is tested and supported by GoPro - further supporting the fact it’s one of the best choices.
The SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB Micro SD covers all the requirements, including:
Also, it’s worth noting that all SanDisk cards are:
The cost of a 128GB SanDisk Micro SD card? Less than $25.
You can’t go wrong with SanDisk as a brand and this card as a tool to record video to.
As stated in the previous section that SanDisk was tested and supported by GoPro - well, Lexar is.
I currently use them in my drone - without issue. This includes shooting in every season out of the year - with cold temps and high(er) altitudes (200ft+) not being an issue at all.
This card passes the video requirements that we mentioned before:
Lexar also boasts their speeds at 160 MB/s reads and 60 MB/s write - this far exceeds the 12.5 MB/s bitrate of the GoPro Hero 9.
You have the same benefits on the Lexar as you do on the Samsung:
It’s also worth noting that all Lexar cards (for the most part) - are about 15% less expensive than their SanDisk equivalent.
Again, you get very similar performance and reliability - for 15% less. If you aren’t a fan or have had a bad experience with them (it happens, remember - luck is involved in electronics) - the Lexar 128 GB Micro SD is the best SD card for you and the GoPro Hero 9.
Oh, Samsung… how you have your hands in everything electronic. From televisions and cell phones to refrigerators and data storage… is there anything you don’t make?
Well, not really.
Back in the day (early 2000’s) - I was a huge Sony fanboy. Everything I had was Sony. We’re talking walkman (cassette and CD), television, PlayStation, even my first camcorder… Now the only thing I use of theirs is my A7iii and lenses. Everything else that I own is Samsung (hard drives, cell phone (don’t hate lol), television, one of my computer monitors…).
I wouldn’t say I’m a Samsung fanboy - but when it comes to storage - I’ve been with them exclusively when I purchased my first SSD in 2012 - the tried and true 128 GB 840 EVO. So now, most of my storage is Samsung (aside from my NAS - which uses Seagate mechanical NAS drives).
I included the Samsung 128GB EVO Select Micro SD card as a third option for you. Not that it performs or is more reliable than the other two mentioned previously - it’s purely for options.
The EVO micro sd card has the same ratings as the last two cards:
I have two of these cards as a backup for my drones. I choose to use the Lexars over the Samsungs only because they stay in my drones. I take them out to offload - but they go right back. So I know that if anything were to happen to the Lexar cards - the Samsungs could pick up exactly where the Lexars left off - without a hitch.
It’s worth noting that these cards are about 30% more than the other two cards mentioned on this list.
The only reason for this, in my opinion, is brand hype. Are you getting better performance or reliability if you purchase this card? Not really. Are you getting an SD card backed by a reputable name brand? Well, yeah.
This card is for those who would rather have a Samsung card over anything else - and for those who’re willing to pay 30% more for it.
In every single article where I recommend micro SD cards, I stress that you need a micro SD card reader and stop using micro SD card adapters.
There are a couple of reasons you should take this topic seriously.
First - you may be the type that relies on your adapter to transfer files (or to use it in a standard card slot). What happens when you forget your adapter? What happens if you lose it or break it? Transfer files from your GoPro or device manually? That’s incredibly ineffective and completely avoidable.
Second (most important) - This is something that many people don’t realize until it’s too late. Adapters are made of cheap plastic that is sandwiched together. That ‘sandwich’ is very weak. In my earlier days, I have seen them come apart and rendering the adapter useless.
There’s also the likelihood of the adapter breaking. It was cheap. It can easily break in your bag - the next time you go to transfer files - surprise! It’s broken.
Then there is the worst possibility - this has never happened to me. I have only heard horror stories of it over the years. But, adapters work well if they remain flat - basically in their original form. But, after being in your bag for a while, there’s a possibility that the card has become twisted or somewhat separated.
If you don’t pay attention to this - or you don’t think this is a big deal - you could slide it into your device and not be able to remove it.
Yes - anytime the plastic is twisted to contorted - it can snag a side of your SD card slot. Once it snags - getting it out is typically nearly impossible. You run the risk of damaging your card slot and/or having to send it off the be removed professionally.
All of this could have been avoided if you had purchased a decent dedicated micro SD card reader. They’re less than $20 and will save you time (transfer speeds are usually faster when pulled straight from the micro SD card) - and you don’t have to worry about anything of the nightmares we have mentioned.
There you have it!
Not only do you know what micro SD card is best for the GoPro Hero 9 - you also see why it’s the best. You also understand what bitrates are and how it affects your purchasing decision.
Going forward - you can use these same measurement principles (and bitrate calculations) to make this decision on your own - regardless of the device. If the device writes to storage - you can make that storage decision yourself!
If there is anything I missed or you have any further questions, concerns, or requests - feel free to reach out, and I will get back to you as soon as possible!
Be sure to check out these video-related articles. You may learn a thing or two here to improve your video-taking skills.
Until next time, stay safe out there and keep learning and creating!