Getting the right storage solution for your SBC mostly comes down to what you can use with each particular SBCs, how much storage you need, how long you want it to last, and how fast you need it to be.

Micro SD Cards

The most common storage method for SBCs. Most SBCs have a micro SD card reader built-in.

Micro SD Card Buying Advice

Before buying any micro SD card you should keep the following in mind.

1. Unstable electricity (surges, brownouts, blackouts) are the leading cause of micro SD card failure.

Although it isn't strictly necessary, you may want to research getting a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) with the feature of AVR (Auto Voltage Regulation) for your entertainment center if you don't have one already. Of course, if you don't want to buy a UPS for your entire entertainment system, you could also just buy it for the SBC, and you could even forgo getting one with AVR yet ones without AVR will not live as long.

If forgoing a UPS, then don't put too much money into micro SD cards. Certainly don't buy high performance or high endurance micro SD cards.

Really, most any storage option you go with can be damaged by unstable electricity, but micro SD cards are especially susceptible to it.

2. At minimum, get a micro SD card rated Class 10, though it is advised to get a UHS-1 simply because those will be newer and perform better, while a UHS-3 is somewhat of a waste if not certain to max out an SBC's non-emulation related tasks (frontend, updates, etc) yet in some cases are recommended for certain types of emulation on high-end SBCs.

3. High Endurance micro SD cards will survive a lot of writes and due to that may be desired for reliability, though if you don't have UPS protecting against unstable electricity then there is no point in using such a card as the unstable electricity will kill it long before the writes do.

4. Figure out how much space you need. How much space you will need for your gaming SBC can be a tough question, but we hope to make things easier with this quick guide.

  • <2GB - Can't use cards this small.
  • 4GB - Barely useable for a gaming SBC, and if it will work will depend on the image.
  • 8GB - Somewhat useable for a gaming SBC, though not advised unless planning on using an external storage option.
  • 16GB - Useable for a gaming SBC, though not advised unless planning on using an external storage option.
  • 32GB - The bare minimum size that is advised for a gaming SBC.
  • 64GB - An ideal size for some users, though you wouldn't be able to fit many CD-based games nor many video previews if you want them for the frontend.
  • 128GB - A comfortable size for most. Plenty of room for numerous CD-based games, or, if not interested in CD-based games, an ideal size for video previews.
  • 200GB - Strikes a good balance between being able to have numerous CD-based games and video previews.
  • 256GB - Get this if you just need more CD-based games.
  • 400GB - What you'll want if you just have to have tons of CD-based games.
  • 512GB - The cutoff point for when it comes to the price-to-storage ratio being good now that Samsung's cards have come down.
  • 1TB - Seriously overpriced.

5. SanDisk, Samsung, and Lexar have the highest quality micro SD cards as they make the chips themselves and sell the best ones themselves, while the others generally buy from those three companies.

SanDisk and Samsung are the two brands we generally recommend.

Lexar is mostly a brand for photographers and filmmakers that are looking for high performance cards, but their features aren't important on a typical gaming SBC. There are also reliability concerns with Lexar as their typical users report failures using them more often than the other common brand for photographers and filmmakers of SanDisk.

To be fair, Toshiba also produces their own chips as they co-own the same factory SanDisk uses in Japan so the chip part of their cards should be identical, though lack of a major retailer presence in the USA is our reason for not recommending them.

Other brands were chosen because they are well established brands found both at retail and online. Kingston uses SanDisk and Toshiba for their micro SD card parts. Transcend uses Samsung and Silicon Motion for their micro SD card parts. It is unknown who PNY uses currently, though if you own a PNY we would love to hear what Chip Genius says about it.

6. Buy from major retailers or retailers you trust.

This is mostly advised to save you the headache of dealing with a fake card.

Be careful on some sites such as Amazon as there are third-party sellers who will try to scam you, though as long as you use common sense by looking into if the seller is a major retailer (check their own site for a possibly better deal) or even just a well respected seller based on their rating then you should be fine.

7. Check any micro SD card you buy with FakeFlashTest first, then follow it up with H2testw.

Sadly, the micro SD card market is full of fakes and you can even get them from major retailers if their supply chain is compromised.

FakeFlashTest Download Page

H2testw Download Page


The most commonly bought cards for SBCs. Sizes up to 400GB are quite affordable, though anything bigger is generally not worth the price.

High Endurance

These cards can handle a large number of writes making them ideal for use on a SBC when reliability is the primary concern of the gaming SBC build, though they are limited to 128GB currently. Keep in mind that unstable electricity is still as damaging to these as any other micro SD card.

High Performance

Care should be taken when buying a high performance card as such a card can be a waste of money, but they will reliably max out any SBCs sequential read and write speeds for optimal front-end navigation. In most cases, these will not improve emulation on low-end to mid-range SBCs, though some high-end SBCs may have emulation that would benefit from cards like these.

High Endurance & High Performance

Surprisingly, SanDisk has unveiled these new cards that are overall a good deal if their prices don't skyrocket because of their demand.

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