So if you’re not like me and you’re waiting to pick up a Nintendo Switch at a later date(Or just like me and getting it on launch day.), you probably at least know that the system only has 32GB of internal storage, some of which is used up by the OS and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if bought digitally, takes up almost half of that 32GB(If you’re going physical, then don’t worry about it because the Switch thus far has no games that need installs.). So odds are that at some point you’re going to need to pick up a MicroSD card in order to expand your storage space. Normal SD cards and MiniSD cards will not work as they’re too big so don’t even go looking for one of those. But something I learned while shopping for a MicroSD card is that not all MicroSD cards are created equal aka it isn’t all about the storage space. So lets dig into the nitty gritty details so I can help you understand what you’re looking for.
The first you’re going to need to know is that there are three types of MicroSD cards:
- MicroSD: Holds up to 2GB of data.
- MicroSDHC: Holds up to 32GB of data.
- MicroSDXC: Holds up to 2TB of data.
The Nintendo Switch supports all three types of SD cards(Or at least SDHC and SDXC which are the two you probably want anyway.) so you simply need to know how much memory you need or want. Odds are you’re going to end up with an SDXC card because it contains the larger storage spaces. As of right now, the biggest card you can get is a 512GB card which will run you more than $200. The smaller sizes vary in price, but they mostly fall under the $100 mark. Sometime this year will likely see the release of 1TB cards, but don’t expect them to be cheap, and that’s to say nothing of the theoretical 2TB cards.
MicroSD cards have two different types of speed classes that you need to be aware of. The first is the UHS Speed Class which there are only two of: Class 1 and Class 3, and then those two can be found on the two different SD Bus Modes: UHS-I and UHS-II. In all honesty this is all self-explanatory. Class 1 is slower than Class 3, and UHS-I is slower than UHS-II. In other words, you’re probably going to want a UHS-II Class 3 card, but make the sure the Class 3 part is represented by the symbol shown above. Why? Because....
Then you have the regular speed class. UHS stands for Ultra High Speed which is in addition to the normal speed class of the card. The normal speed class is split between Class 2, Class 4, Class 6, and Class 10 with Class 10 being the only high speed class.
So, when looking at cards, if you want the optimal choice, the card should be a Class 3 UHS-II Class 10 card. This will get you the fastest MicroSD card possible. However, as of right now, the largest UHS-II MicroSD card you can get is 128GB which may not be enough for some people. However, in all honesty, UHS-II is overkill because it is primarily for 4K/2K video recording(Obviously this is for cameras, but with video recording and image capture coming to Nintendo Switch, it also makes sense here.), and UHS-I is still an ultra high speed standard and works for Full HD image and video. So a card with UHS-I will work just fine. Combine UHS-I with Class 10 speed and you should be go.
After you’ve decided how much memory you need or want, that will almost automatically determine what speeds you can get because as I mentioned UHS-II thus far only goes up to 128GB, but regular Class 10 with UHS-I goes up to 512GB, so you trade a bit of speed for more storage space. Sounds like a fair trade. The best part is that since the OS is on the Switch’s internal memory, that full 128GB, 254GB, 512GB, and eventually 1TB and 2TB is yours to use however you choose, unlike the Xbox One and PS4 which have the OS installed onto the primary hard drive which ranges in size depending on which SKU you bought, taking up a large chunk of space.
And there you have it, the things you need to know when purchasing more storage for your Nintendo Switch. Be sure to read reviews as well because there are MicroSD cards out there that aren’t so hot and not just because they’re poorly made and it would be very bad if you bought an expensive card for your Switch and then the card didn’t work right.
Also keep in mind that there are other, manufacturer specific, differences between cards. Some might be inherently faster than others when it comes to read speeds like one card might say 1000x and another labeled Pro or Extreme might say 1800x. Obviously the higher the number the better, but remember to read reviews.