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Will an Expensive SD Card Improve Nintendo Switch Performance?

Will an Expensive SD Card Improve Nintendo Switch Performance?

Whether you have a docked Nintendo Switch, a portable Switch Lite, or the improved OLED Switch, you will almost certainly require a memory card. Even if you primarily play physical releases, the limited internal memory will quickly deplete.

The real question is whether the added performance benefits of a high-end memory card outweigh the cost, or whether you’re better off focusing on capacity instead.

The Switch Supports UHS-I Memory Cards

All models of Nintendo Switch support microSD cards classified as UHS-I (Ultra High Speed Phase I). Although the UHS-I standard’s theoretical maximum read speed is 104MB/sec, proprietary technologies from SanDisk and Lexar have enabled read speeds of 160-170MB/sec.

Nintendo specifies a minimum read speed of between 60 and 95MB/sec for UHS-I microSD cards. This implies that even cards with a faster read speed are constrained by these constraints. As long as your chosen card is capable of reaching Nintendo’s quoted 60 to 95MB/sec, a “faster” alternative should not improve loading times or game performance.

Cards at the low end of this range may have slightly longer loading times or performance issues, but as long as they fall within this range, they comply with Nintendo’s specification.

Nintendo expressly states that “the faster the transfer speed, the better the gameplay experience on Nintendo Switch,” but this is true only up to the point where the read speed of the microSD card matches the console’s maximum read speed.

Which Memory Cards Does the Switch Support?

MicroSD cards (up to 2GB), MicroSDHC cards (between 4GB and 32GB), and microSDXC cards are all compatible with the Switch, according to Nintendo (64GB and greater).

There is no benefit to purchasing a UHS-II or UHS-III microSD card, as these cards feature additional rows of contacts for faster read and write speeds. The Switch is deficient in the contacts required to achieve these speeds.

Fortunately, the price of high-capacity UHS-I cards has decreased significantly over the last few years, and you can now purchase 256GB or 512GB cards for as little as $35 on the low end and $75 on the high end. Because memory prices are prone to fluctuation, these prices may vary slightly depending on when you purchase.

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