We've got a battle on our hands - Sandisk Ultra Vs Extreme.
There are many SD cards on the market today, but one brand stands out from the rest. Sandisk has two different lines of SD cards: SanDisk ultra and SanDisk extreme.
Which one is better? We will compare each card, give pros and cons for each, and conclude with which one we recommend would be the best for you!
*This article is geared towards standard SD cards - not to be confused with micro-SD cards. The concepts spoken in this article apply to micro SD cards too - it's the speeds that will vary*
Before we talk about the difference between Sandisk Ultra and Extreme... we must first talk about the different bus interfaces.
You see, there are two versions of a Sandisk Extreme.
You have a UHS-I and UHS-II. UHS stands for 'ultra-high speed'.
As you'd expect, UHS-II is significantly faster than UHS-I.
The speed increase is obviously a positive - while cost and compatibility are the negatives. Not every camera/electronic is compatible with UHS-II cards - so check your make and model to see if it's an option for you.
Sandisk Ultra only comes in UHS-I
Keep this in mind if you're going to make the decision to purchase.
We just got done talking about the bus differences between the cards.
With that in mind, there are two versions of an Extreme card. There's the 'regular' Sandisk Extreme and there's the Sandisk Extreme Pro.
The main difference between the two is speed (like mentioned before).
Sandisk Extreme Pro memory cards offer UHS-II speeds (up to 300MB/s) and are physically different (will get to that part here in a minute). The UHS-I version of the pro card is 170MB/s (and significantly less expensive).
Hopefully that alleviates any confusion about the difference between the regular and pro versions.
Now, lets dive in the differences between the Ultra and Extreme cards!
The Sandisk Ultra SD card is a more affordable choice for people who do not require high performance. The Sandisk Extreme SD card, on the other hand, is more expensive and offers outstanding performance for people who are into photography or videography and for those who need high-speed storage space.
Let's dive a bit deeper...
When you look at an Ultra and Extreme memory card from a bit of a distance... you may not notice a difference at all (other than the labels).
Well, you'll find the difference on the back - the contact pins are very different.
Seeing as an Ultra card only supports UHS-I; it only has a single row of pins along the edge of the card (9 pins in total).
The Sandisk Extreme Pros (UHS-II versions), on the other hand, have the same row of pins along the edge( 9 in total)... along with a second row of pins (8 additional pins). The total number of 'pins' or contact points for the UHS-II version of an Extreme Pro is 17.
It's these additional contact/pins that allows for the increase in speed. It's also the reason some devices are compatible with them too.
There's a difference in the maximum capacity of each type of card as well!
As you can see, it's not the speed of the card that determines its capacity. In fact, according to this information, the faster the card, the less the capacity (at least the maximum).
We're going to dive a little deeper into the specifics. Get the exact data when it comes to the speed differences.
Checkout my Best SD card for the Sony A7iii if you want more info in the idea that every card has a read and a write speed.
What you see on the front of the memory card is usually the read speed only (SanDisk loves to do this). What you'll want to do is dive a little deeper into each card to figure out what the write speed are and go from there.
As I had stated in the Sony article, there are write speed requirements of the camera. The camera needs to write at a certain speed for video footage (like 4k). If your card does not meet that - you'll have a bunch of fails or corrupt cards.
Check the device you're thinking of throwing these cards into. Make sure that what you're picking up meets (or exceeds) the requirements of the device.
The battle - SanDisk ultra vs extreme has arrived at one of the most important aspects of the stand-off... write speeds compared.
Starting with the Ultra:
Let's move onto some other info worth knowing!
Implemented in 2016 - video speed class (the V on your card) became a requirement.
What the means is the card has to meet certain continuous write speeds to have the label on their card.
Well, for HD video to remain smooth and watchable - you need a device that will be able to write at the rate. Most cards write far faster than their video speed class - but this rate is the minimum. It should never drop below that. This ensures smooth recording even if the card is strained, it won't drop below that mark.
V60 and V90 video speed class is made for 4K+ recording... while V10 and V30 is great for HD/1080p recording.
If you've noticed - most high-end UHS-II cards are either V60 or V90. The most expensive will, without a doubt, be V90.
Lower end cards rarely go above V30.
We all know you can have a micro sd card in anything that accepts a standard sd card.
All you need is an adapter and BOOM, you're golden, right? Wrong.
Yes, a micro sd card will store data, don't get me wrong. What micro sd cards lack, is speed.
Now, don't get me wrong - there are micro sd cards out there that have speed equivalent to standard size cards (Delkin for example). But, generally speaking, a micro card's class and read and write speeds will be lower than a standard card of the same price.
There's even a micro version of the SanDisk extreme card with the same read speed/write speed (and 1TB of storage).
They have been known to break/open while inside of a camera. Once that happens - good luck on ever getting that out. You're looking at a minimum of a $300 repair bill... all for an adapter.
Trust me, if your device takes standard SD card, stick with that and leave the microcards at home.
I thought it was only fitting to include benefits of SanDisk cards in an article devoted to Sandisk!
So, each and every card they offer is:
The answer to this statement all depend on you and your needs.
What kind of device ar you using (DSLR, mirrorless, action cameras, drone, etc).
Figure out what rate your device records at and go from there.
If you're shooting 4k - don't purchase a card with a video class lower than V30.
High speed photography (10+ stills per second) - needs good read and write speeds too (or you'll be waiting a while for the buffer to clear). I recommend not to dip below 30 on that as well.
The Pros and Cons of each is pretty obvious: you give speed for cost (in anyway you look at it). You can also say that a less expensive card will be less reliable (but this is something I have never worried about when it comes to Sandisk. They're very reliable).
So who won the battle of Sandisk Ultra Vs Extreme? It's simple - the winner is what works best for your needs!
Luckily, you understand the difference between sd ultra and sd extreme (and pro) - and can make a much better decision on which card will be your next purchase.
Let us know if there is anything you don't understand. We're more than willing to help!
If you'd like to know more about us and why we love photography so much - be sure to check us out here!
Until next time, continue to learn and create! Peace!
Jeff & Reyna