Samsung Memory Card PRO Ultimate cards

      In summary

      Samsung’s new PRO Ultimate series of rugged UHS-I SDXC and microSDXC cards offer faster read/write speeds and high capacities for cameras and portable devices.


      Full review

      Samsung announced its PRO Ultimate series of SD cards in late August 2023, promising ‘best-in-class read/write speeds’ for UHS-1 cards. Offered in regular SD and microSD form factors, the new cards come in storage capacities up to 512GB. PRO Ultimate microSD cards are available in capacities of 128GB, 256GB and 512GB, while PRO Ultimate SD cards are offered 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities. Each microSD comes with a SD adapter and all cards are also available with a card reader included.

      Samsung’s Memory Card PRO Ultimate cards. (Source: Samsung.)

      Samsung hasn’t been a major player in the memory card market, although it has a long history in flash memory technology and became the first company to commercialise solid state drives (SSDs) in the mid-2000s. Even now, the company’s range is limited compared with other card manufacturers, but the cards are consistently rated as reliable and well made.

      This review looks at the latest offerings and compares them with similar products from other manufacturers who have longer market presences.

      Who Are They For?
      Although Samsung PRO Ultimate cards sit at the top of the brand’s lineup and have high enough capacities for most applications, they won’t be suitable for all potential users because they are all UHS-1 / V30 rated. According to the SD Association, there are wide discrepancies in memory access speed, depending on the SD memory card manufacturer and brand.

      Varying speeds make it difficult to estimate which card can reliably record streaming video because it requires a constant minimum write speed to avoid ‘frame drop’ during recording to ensure a smooth playback. The Association has established a range of speed classes to help purchasers determine the kinds of cards they need for different applications. We’ve reproduced the relevant section of the published table for SD cards below.

      Min. sequential write speed Speed Class Video Usage

      (Speeds will vary with recording & playback device.)

      Speed Class UHS Speed Class Video Speed Class Express Speed Class
      2MB/s  Class 2 VGA video
      4MB/s  Class 4
      6MB/s Class 6


      Class 10

      30MB/s U3 HD/Full HD video
      60MB/s 4K video
      90MB/s 8K video

      Samsung PRO Ultimate cards claim ‘industry-leading’ read speeds of up to 200MB/s, the maximum speed achievable through the UHS-I interface, along with write speeds of 130MB/s. These are significantly faster than the Association specifies for the UHS-I/V30 interface.

      This comes about because each card uses Samsung’s proprietary V-NAND flash memory, along with next-generation DDR225 (Double Data Rate) technology. This allows faster data transfer speeds than the original UHS-I (SDR104) specifications. In addition, a new 28-nanometer (nm) controller provides a 37% improvement in power efficiency over Samsung’s previous memory cards.

      The cards also include ‘7-proof protection’, which means they are waterproof and able to withstand up to 72 hours in seawater and tolerate temperatures of  -25°C to 85°C while in use or down to -40°C when idle. They can also withstand magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss, and being dropped from up to five metres and are rated for 10,000 read/write cycles. The full-sized SD cards can also resist shocks of up to 1.5 kg. Each card comes with a 10-year limited warranty.

      The company states the full-sized cards are compatible with DSLR and mirrorless cameras, camcorders, PCs and laptops, while the microSD cards are compatible with Android smartphones, tablets, handheld game consoles, action cameras, drones and many laptop computers. Only one of the cameras we’ve reviewed in the past few years uses microSD cards: the Nikon Z f, which has one full-sized SD slot that is UHS-II compatible plus a second microSD slot that is UHS-I compatible.

      This illustration shows the differences between UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC cards, although both cards have the same capacity.

      As shown in the above illustration, the UHS-II interface has eight more contact points for passing information between the device and the card. So while SD cards are backwards compatible if you use a UHS-I card in a device with a UHS-II compatible media slot it won’t achieve the maximum read/write speeds the device can handle.

      Samsung claims the new cards can support 4K UHD video recording at up to 30MB/s with suitably-enabled UHS host devices. However, despite their relatively high speed ratings they’re not fast enough for higher resolutions like 6K and 8K, which are offered in most of the latest ‘flagship’ mirrorless cameras.

      Product Comparison
      We’ve surveyed the market to find competing products from other manufacturers who produce UHS-I cards and produced the following table to help readers balance out prices against maximum card speeds.  Note this table ONLY covers cards with the UHS-I interface and only the brands we were able to find with products in this category available to Australian shoppers.

      Our table shows the Samsung cards offer the highest write speeds in the category. Their read speeds are equal to their nearest competitor.

      Brand Read & write speeds Form factor Capacity
      64GB 128GB 256GB 512GB
      Samsung 200MB/s &  130MB/s Standard $29 $49 $69 $249
      Micro n.a. $39 $89 $179
      SanDisk Extreme PRO 200MB/s &  90MB/s Standard $25 $36.50 $84 $166
      Micro $15-$20 $29 $88 $90-$100
      Lexar Professional 160MB/s & 120MB/s Standard $50-$65 $84 $66 $150
      Micro n.a. $28-$47 $42 $179
      Kingston 170MB/s & 90MB/s Standard $19 $24 $38-$46 $84-$93
      Micro $11-$17 $46-$53 $80 $99
      Angelbird 100MB/s & 92MB/s Standard $28 $50 $80 $138

      Where there are some differences in pricing we’re included the highest and lowest prices we found in our online search, even though in some cases the differences aren’t great enough to justify paying higher shipping costs or going out of your way to get the cheaper product.  Shopping around is clearly justified in some cases, especially if you’re buying several cards at a time.

      Look for bundles combining cards with a reader, which many brands provide. Although most recently-released cameras support data transfer via USB-C cable, having a reader can be convenient in many situations as it lets you load a new card while data is being transferred.

      Buying Advice
      Choose your cards according to your own particular requirements. Photographers who mainly record still images and don’t shoot extended high-speed bursts of frames can usually manage with the cheaper UHS-I cards, even when their cameras are configured for UHS-II media.

      However, those who record 4K video could find these cards are a bit too slow, especially when they record for a minute or more with each clip. While the Samsung cards support maximum speeds that are close to the lower limit of recommended card speeds for 4K recording, users may experience the occasional drop-out with clips over a minute or two in length. (We didn’t have any issues with the recordings we made, although most clips were shorter.)

      Don’t expect the Samsung cards to perform well for higher-resolution video – or for clips that are several minutes long. For such tasks you need UHS-II cards, and even they may not be fast enough. For these situations you’ll need the fastest UHS-II card available – or even a different card type, since many cameras that support 8K video require CFexpress cards (which are much more costly).

      The table below provides approximate recording capacities for photos and video recordings for each of the four capacities covered by the full-sized SDXC cards. The microSDXC cards should have similar capacities.

      Capacity JPEG photo at 5470 x 3660 pixels (20MP) JPEG photo at 3840 x 2160 pixels (8MP) Minutes of 4K UHD video @ 25 fps Minutes of FHD video @ 25 fps
      64GB 5,440 22,400 130 80
      128GB 10,880 44,800 260 160
      256GB 21,760 104,000 520 320
      512GB 43,520 207,000 1,000 640

      When choosing cards for drones and action cameras, the Samsung SDXC cards will provide a speed advantage over most rivals since most of these devices are designed for UHS-I microSD cards. If the device records 4K video, the small amount of additional speed will make them worth selecting.

      For regular cameras, fast cards will only be worth investing in if you’re shooting a lot of 4K 50p  (or higher-resolution) video or if you’re a sports or wildlife (including birds) photographer who records long bursts of high-resolution JPEG or raw files. For more leisurely modes of capture, UHS-I cards will do the job – and can save you money up front.


      Card type: SDXC and microSDXC
      Interface: UHS-1 / V30
      Capacity: Up to 512GB (microSD cards to 1TB)
      Read Speed: Up to 200MB/s
      Write Speed: Up to 130MB/s
      Durability: 7-proof protection (waterproof, temperature proof, magnetic proof, shock proof, drop proof, wear out proof)
      Warranty: 10-year limited warranty
      Suitable for: Both photography and video (including 4K UHD and burst photography)

      Distributor: Samsung Australia