SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme: Which One Is Better?

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*

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

Before we begin... Bus Speed/Interface

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

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.

Sandisk Extreme has two versions

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

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).

  • Designed for professionals
  • High read and write speeds
  • Cinema-quality 4K video capture
  • Designed to withstand extreme environments
  • Fast speeds
  • Cinema-quality video capture
  • Designed to withstand extreme environments
  • Tap into pro performance designed for professional and advanced photographers and videographers.
  • Super-fast write speeds of up to 260MB/s* help rapidly clear buffer time to support continuous burst mode shooting and cinema-quality video recording(2). Requires compatible devices capable of reaching such speeds.
  • Sustained V90 video speeds and UHS Speed Class 3 (U3) deliver cinema-quality 8K, 4K and Full HD video recording.(1)(2)
  • Extreme transfer speeds up to 300MB/s* help achieve maximum postproduction workflow efficiency. Requires compatible devices capable of reaching such speeds such as the SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II USB-C Reader (sold separately).
  • Travel from studio to location worry-free with shockproof, temperature-proof, waterproof, and X-ray-proof design.(5)
  • Designed for professionals
  • High speeds
  • Designed to withstand extreme environments
  • SD card reader with a USB Type C (USB C) connector
  • Designed for high speed SD UHS II card transfers
  • Compatible with UHS II, backwards compatible with UHS I and non UHS SD cards
  • Plug and Play; plug it in, and it works
  • 2 year limited warranty

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!

SanDisk Ultra vs SanDisk Extreme - what's the difference?

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...

Physical differences between the UItra and Extreme

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme
SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

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.

Capacity Differences

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

There's a difference in the maximum capacity of each type of card as well!

  • Sandisk Ultra has a maximum capacity of 256GB (according to amazon)
  • Sandisk Extreme's maximum is 256GB
  • Sandisk Extreme Pro's (UHS-I) maximum is 512GB
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro's (UHS-II) maximum is 128GB

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).

Data Rate differences

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.

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

Write speeds are important when shooting - read speed for transferring

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:

  • SanDisk specifies on their top tier Ultra card (120MB/s) - that it read speed/transfers at 120MB/s - but only lists the class as the write speed. With it being class 10 - that only means it has a guaranteed continuous writing speed on 10MB/s. Nothing more.

The sandisk extreme cards are a bit different...

  • The basic Extreme version tops out at 150MB/s read speed/transfer speed. The average write speed is 70MB/s (according to Sandisk themselves).
  • The Extreme Pro (UHS-I) tops out at 170MB/s read speed/transfer speed and has write speeds of 95MB/s. A significant jump over the basic extreme sd card,
  • Finally, the Extreme Pro (UHS-II) tops out at 300MB/s read speed/transfer speeds - and 299 MB/s write. The best of the best (yet, low storage capacity).

Let's move onto some other info worth knowing!

  • Great choice for compact to mid-range point-and-shoot cameras
  • Quick transfer speeds up to 120MB/s(1) to backup those moments | (1)(For 32GB-256GB): Up to 120MB/s read speed, engineered with proprietary technology to reach speeds beyond UHS-I 104MB/s, require compatible devices capable of reaching such speed. Write speed lower. Based on internal testing; performance may be lower depending on host device, interface, usage conditions and other factors. 1MB=1,000,000 bytes.
  • Up to 32GB* to store tons of pictures and even more Full HD video(2) | *1GB=1,000,000,000 bytes. Actual user storage less. | (2)Full HD (1920x1080) video support may vary based upon host device, file attributes, and other factors. Visit the SanDisk Video Knowledge Base for more information.
  • Exceptional video recording performance with UHS Speed Class 1 (U1)(5) and Class 10 rating for Full HD video (1080p)(2) | (5)UHS Speed Class 1 (U1) designates a performance option designed to support real time video recording with UHS enabled host devices.
  • 10-year manufacturer warranty (See official SanDisk website for more details regarding warranty in your region.)
  • Compatible devices: SanDisk SD UHS-I card reader
  • Ideal for Android Smartphones and Tablets. Certified to work with Chromebooks. (This product has been certified to meet Google’s compatibility standards. Chromebook and the “Works with Chromebook” badge are trademarks of Google LLC.). Compatibility: Compatible with microSDHC and microSDXC supporting host devices
  • Capacities up to 512GB (1GB=1,000,000,000 bytes. Actual user storage less) to store even more hours of Full HD video (Approximations; results and Full HD (1920x1080) video support may vary based on host device, file attributes and other factors.)
  • Up to 100MB/s transfer read speed (Based on internal testing; Performance may be lower depending on host device, interface, usage conditions and other factors.) lets you move up to 1000 photos in a minute (Based on 4.1GB transfer of photos (Average file 3.5MB) with USB 3.0 reader. Results may vary based on host device, file attributes and other factors.)
  • Load apps faster with A1-rated performance (A1 performance is 1500 read IOPS, 500 write IOPS. Based on internal testing. Results may vary based on host device, app type and other factors.)
  • Class 10 for Full HD video recording and playback (Full HD (1920x1080) video support may vary based upon host device, file attributes, and other factors.)
  • SanDisk Memory Zone app for easy file management (Download and Installation Required)
  • Order with your Alexa enabled device. Just ask "Alexa, order SanDisk microSD."
  • Fast for better pictures and Full HD video(2) | (2)Full HD (1920x1080) video support may vary based upon host device, file attributes, and other factors
  • Great choice for compact to mid-range point-and-shoot cameras
  • From 32GB to 256GB(1) to store tons of pictures and even more Full HD video(2) | (1)1GB=1,000,000,000 bytes Actual user storage less
  • Exceptional video recording performance with UHS Speed Class 1 (U1)(5) and Class 10 rating for Full HD video (1080p)(2) | (5)UHS Speed Class 1 (U1) designates a performance option to support real time video recording with UHS enabled host devices
  • Quick transfer speeds up to 100MB/s* | *Up to 100MB/s[64GB-256GB; 90MB/s for 32GB] read speed; write speed lower Based on internal testing; performance may be lower depending on host device, usage conditions, and other factors 1MB=1,000,000 bytes
  • Great for compact to midrange point and shoot digital cameras and camcorders
  • Twice as fast as ordinary SDHC cards, allowing you to take pictures and transfer files quickly
  • Exceptional video recording performance with Class 10 rating for Full HD video (1080p)
  • Quick transfer speeds up to 80MB/s and WaterProof, temperature Proof, X ray Proof, magnet Proof, shockproof
  • 10 year limited warranty
  • SanDisk Ultra SDXC and SDHC UHS I Memory Cards are compatible with SDHC/SDXC enabled and SDHC I/SDXC I UHS I enabled devices
  • Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories

The 'V' on your SanDisk sd card is very important

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

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.

Here's a few video speed class that you'll see when looking for (and what they mean).

  • V6 - guaranteed 6MB/s continuous writing
  • V10 - guaranteed 10MB/s continuous writing
  • V30 - guaranteed 30MB/s continuous writing
  • V60 - guaranteed 60MB/s continuous writing
  • V90 - guaranteed 90MB/s continuous writing

So, why is this such a big deal?

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.

Why I do not recommend using a Micro sd card in DSLR/Mirrorless cameras

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).

An even bigger issue are the adapters.

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.

All SanDisk cards come with these benefits

Sandisk ultra extreme

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:

  • Waterproof
  • temperature proof (nothing is temp proof - but this is stated by SanDisk themselves)
  • Shock proof
  • X ray proof
  • magnet proof
  • recovery software available

The best card for you!

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.

A few tips:

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).

That about does it!

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!

You can reach us by our contact page, or Facebook and Instagram!

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

SanDisk Ultra Vs Extreme

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro?

The major difference is the bus interface and speed. The regular Sandisk Extreme sd cards are UHS-I (ultra high-speed version 1) with theoretical peak speeds of 104 MB/s. Top-tier Sandisk Extreme Pro cards are UHS-II speeds. These cards have theoretical write speeds of 312 MB/s. Keep in mind, there are UHS-I versions of SanDisk Extreme Pros - you can tell the difference by the read speeds on the front of the card. UHS-I will be labeled 170 MB/s and UHS-II cards will be labeled 300 MB/s (or close to it). There is, of course, the UHS label itself too.

Is SanDisk Ultra good for 4K?

The short answer is, no. The reason is the write speeds. The sequential write speed of the Sandisk Ultra is roughly 50 MB/s. Its video speed class is also too low (V10). V30 is the recommended minimum speed class. While this may be fine for some 4k action cams - this wouldn't be a good option for 4k video with a high bit rate.

For instance - a Sony A7iii shoots 4k at 100MB/s. This card would only meet half the required speed - and as time goes on bit-rates and quality are only going to increase... leaving the SanDisk UItra's obsolete (in terms of high-end video). For ~30% more, we suggest Sandisk Extreme Pro's (UHS-I) as the minimum card for 4k recording.

Which SanDisk is the best?

** For SD Cards**

The best UHS-I Sandisk card is the SanDisk Extreme Pro (170 MB/s - V30)

The best UHS-II SanDisk card is the SanDisk Extreme Pro (300MB/s - V90)

Which is better SanDisk Ultra or Evo?

As far as speed goes - they're equal at 100 MB/s Read and 90 MB/s write.

As far as price goes, the SanDisk is ~20% more expensive.

For reliability - general consensus states that SanDisk is more reliable (as an average, not individually)

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