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When you buy a dashboard camera, it will likely have some sort of memory card installed. These cards are typically very cheap, but there are some things that you need to look for when buying one. A high-end dash cam will record in high-definition, so it's important to get a fast, durable card. There are many options available. Below, we offer the top 6 things to consider based on your preference, and how you need your SD card to function. Read on for some tips to make sure your dashcam will work properly.
Though choosing a popular brand doesn’t mean that the SD card can last forever, we do recommend using the cards manufactured by reputable companies. The most popular MicroSD cards for dash cams are SanDisk, Kingston, Transcend, and Lexar, they are known for producing excellent external storage. Its outstanding performance and reliability make it an excellent choice for any dash cam. It is also compatible with most dash cam types and can record as many as four thousand hours of video. So, if you want to get the best video quality from your dash cam, you should option for a high-end Micro SD card.
SD cards come in three form factors and four capacity types. The form factors include the standard SD card size, MiniSD, and MicroSD. The capacity types are listed below:
SD: Up to 2GB of memory, using the FAT12 and FAT16 file systems
SDHC: 2GB –32GB of memory, using the FAT32 file system
SDXC: 32GB – 2TB of memory, using the exFAT file system
SDUC: 2TB – 128TB of memory, using the exFAT file system
The new SanDisk Extreme PRO card comes in four sizes: 32GB (SDHC), 64GB (SDXC), 128GB (SDXC), and 256GB (SDXC). The capacity types are designed to have backward compatibility; however, you should confirm which sizes are supported by your camera/recording device. For example, the maximum card size for a Zoom H5 audio recorder is 32GB, so it can only use SD or SDHC cards.
The memory capacity of dash cams differs significantly from that of other car recording devices. SDHC cards are typically 32 GB in size and SDXC cards are 64 GB. The former has a longer lifespan and higher storage capacity, while the latter is usually only good for about eight hours of 1080p video.
Two common types of memory cards, SD and MicroSD. SD cards can be very fragile and can cause permanent damage. To avoid such problems, you should always use high-end MicroSD cards in your dashboard camera. A good MicroSD card can last for a year or more. However, you can use lower-capacity cards for a few months, but if you plan on using them for more than two months, you should buy a higher-end card.
The MicroSD cards are usually smaller than they appear in the manufacturer's specifications, but their storage capacity can be crucial for a dashboard camera. Moreover, using a dash camera is voiding the manufacturer's warranty for the card. Hence, checking the MicroSD card every two weeks is crucial.
The memory capacities of SD cards vary from 4GB to 400GB, and you may find there is a small marks “SDHC” and “SDXC” on the card. These are different types. SDHC contains 4GB to 32GB and SDXC contains 64GB to 400GB. Normally, the real size of the SD card will be a little smaller than the listed size. For example, a 8GB card only has around 7.4 GB size. Let’s calculate how long a dashcam can record with memory cards. Usually, one-minute 1080P footage is around 100MB, so you can easily calculate how many hours you can store. Generally speaking, 32GB and 64GB Micro SD cards probably provide the best value for dash camera use. A 32GB card is inexpensive and will store about 4 hours of 1080p video. The higher resolution video of 4k cameras takes up more space on a Micro SD, so we recommend 4k dash cam owners consider 64GB or above.
If you’re using a parking mode dash cam, a 64GB size and higher improves durability and gives you extended parking recording.
Rideshare drivers may want to use the larger 128GB card so as to keep the most amount of video storage in case of any issues with previous customers. These cards are significantly more expensive per gigabyte but most find them to be of value.
Basically, there is no risk in purchasing “too big” of a Micro SD card. While some dash cam models may have a limit on the capacity of the card used. (If your dash cam manufacturer recommends not to exceed a certain card size, you better obey the suggestions).
The main disadvantage of purchasing a larger Micro SD card is the added expense, combined with the fact that it is unnecessary to exceed 128GB for most uses. Choosing a 512GB card from an unreliable manufacturer makes no sense. It would be smarter to find a 64GB card from a legitimate manufacturer.
The multi-camera systems require more storage. So, if you have a dual-channel camera or above, a larger card is worthwhile.
In addition, we suggest all customers consider purchasing a smaller 16GB or 32GB card to be kept in your vehicle for backup. The reason is that the backup card can be used in case your SD card in the unit fails or you’re away on a trip and won’t be able to save or review the footage in time before it gets overwritten. You’ll be able to swap your cards out instantly and keep recording without worrying that important footage will be deleted.
Resolution and bit rate of video files are getting bigger and bigger nowadays. That’s why we need a faster SD card to store video files. SD cards come in a variety of different speeds. There are four different speed classes: 10 (10MB/sec read/write speed), 6 (6MB/sec), 4 (4MB/sec), and 2 (2MB/sec). Class 10 is the fastest, suitable for “full HD video recording” and “HD still consecutive recording.” Class 2 is the slowest, and suitable for standard definition video recording. Classes 4 and 6 are both deemed suitable for high-definition video recording.
The SD Association came up with the speed classification systems to help differentiate what cards are best suited to what purposes. See the table below:
|Min. Seq. Writes (MB/s)
|UHS Speed Class
|Video Speed Class
Class 2 (C2)
|Standard definition recording and playback
Class 4 (C4)
Class 6 (C6)
|Video Class 6 (V6)
|720p/1080p, some 4K video
|UHS Class 1 (U1)
|Video Class 10 (V10)
|UHS Class 3 (U3)
|Video Class 30 (V30)
|1080p/4K video @ 60/120 fps
|Video Class 60 (V60)
|8K video @ 60/120 fps
|Video Class 90 (V90)
|8K video @ 60/120 fps
UHS Speed Class
The UHS speed class rating is indicated on the card label by a number enclosed within a U-shaped symbol. There are two ratings:
U1: a minimum write speed of 10MB/s
U3: a minimum write speed of 30MB/s
Having a reliable, fast, and durable SD card can help ensure that you’re always protected. The best MicroSD cards to use for your dash cam should be at least a class 10 rank for speed and durability. That being said, “faster SD cards” won’t necessarily improve video quality nor durability. Remember that dash cams don’t require the highest speed rating - rather, they require durability.
If you're looking for a durable MicroSD card for your dash cams, it is essential to check the lifespan of the cards. SD cards are typically designed to last for twenty to forty hours, but they can often go longer. That's because of the way they are used, which can shorten the lifespan of the card. However, you should consider that a low-quality card can also cause your camera to freeze or even fail to record footage.
When choosing a memory card for dashboard cameras, it is best to go for one with a high-end rating. A high-end memory card should be able to withstand temperatures ranging from -25℃ to 85℃. In addition to being durable, it should also be waterproof, magnetic, and temperature proof. It should also come with a warranty. However, make sure that you buy a card that offers long-term use.
This is an obvious point, but worth stating nonetheless. For less than $20, you should be able to find a 64GB endurance Micro SD card from a reputable brand like Samsung or Sandisk. For less than $30, you should be able to find a quality 128GB endurance card. At these prices, it doesn’t make sense to purchase a budget memory card to try to save a few dollars. When you factor in the lesser warranty, it might be more expensive to try to “save money” in this way.
It is not easy to distinguish between genuine and fake cards when purchasing online. If the price of the micro SD card is too good to be true or if the text on the card and packaging is misaligned or poorly printed, most likely it is a fake. The best way to get a decent SD card is by purchasing from the manufacturer’s website or reliable sellers. You may find a lot of sellers offer cheap or fake SD cards on the internet. Please don’t buy these cards just to save a small amount of money. These cards may break much sooner and cause damage to your important video files.
As dash cams become popular, it is important to choose dash cam accessories that improve the function of your device. Finding the best microSD card for a dash cam isn’t challenging, and it doesn’t need to be expensive.
Remember to prioritize a high capacity, endurance microSD. And don’t overpay for unnecessary features like ultra-fast speed or a proprietary card brand that is bundled into the purchase of a dash cam.
Mercylion is proud to say that all the MicroSD cards we offer have been rigorously tested to ensure compatibility and to offer the longest lifespan as well. Mercylion's recorders come with a memory card. The storage and writing speed of our cards are all class 10. No matter what card you buy from us, all of these are covered under an in-house warranty so you can be rest assured that we’ll resolve any issues that you may come across.