Silicon Power 1TB Superior microSD card – Faster than SanDisk at less than half the price

Mar 3, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Silicon Power 1TB Superior microSD card – Faster than SanDisk at less than half the price

Mar 3, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Many of you know I’m a fan of big memory cards. Sometimes you just need a lot of tiny portable storage. Some of you might have seen my thoughts on the SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB microSD card (review here), and it’s still going strong as both a portable backup card and for shooting footage in my Insta360 cameras.

So, when Silicon Power reached out to me to try their 1TB Silicon Power Superior microSD card, suggesting that it was just as quick but less expensive than the SanDisk, I had to see for myself. After all, that’s a pretty bold claim.

On paper, the only real differences between the Silicon Power Superior microSD card and the SanDisk Extreme Pro microSD card is that the SP card has an App Performance class rating of A1, instead of the A2 of the SanDisk. For our needs, though, that’s largely irrelevant (it only matters if you’re using it for app storage in your phone or running operating systems from it as you might with a Raspberry Pi).

The Silicon Power card obviously doesn’t support SanDisk’s proprietary 170MB/sec mode, although this is also kind of irrelevant as you need a specific SanDisk reader (which isn’t available in Type-C flavour) to actually get anywhere near those kinds of speeds anyway. So, for all intents and purposes, the SanDisk is a standard “99MB/sec” card, the same as the Silicon Power one.

The Speed Tests

There are numerous metrics by which one can measure memory card speed, but for the sake of this review, I’m going to be looking at the continuous read and write speeds. Most of us reading sites like this are using such cards in cameras where we’re dealing with some fairly large chunks of data being written or read. Things like big sequences of raw image files or video sequences that often sit in the multiple-gigabytes-at-a-time region. Or, we’re using it to back up those large files, which places the same demands on the card.

And how well does it do on that score? Well, as it turns out, surprisingly well. To keep things consistent I once again used AJA System Test, which shows the continuous raw transfer speeds for both reading and writing. Each of the tests was run five times for each card & card reader combo. And the results were quite shocking. At least, they were to me.

Tests were performed with both the Silicon Power Superior 1TB microSD and the SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB microSD cards using four different… well, “interfaces”, I suppose is the best word to use. Three different card readers, but one of them (the SP one) supports both Type-A and Type-C USB through separate plugs on the device.

It’s likely not going to make much of a difference, but it’s possibly worth mentioning that when using the microSD cards in the SanDisk SD card reader, I used the microSD to SD card adapters that came supplied with each card respectively for that test. So, for the Silicon Power card, I used the Silicon Power adapter and for the SanDisk card, I used the SanDisk adapter,

The Test Results

ASUS ZenBook Pro Internal microSD Card Slot

The results here from the Silicon Power card (top row of screenshots for each of these tests) were, as I mentioned above, slightly surprising. While the read speed was pretty much the same, the write speed was consistently 3-4MB/sec faster than the SanDisk Extreme Pro (bottom row of screenshots) using the ZenBook Pro’s internal microSD card reader. And not only was it consistently faster, it was a hair more consistent than the SanDisk card, producing the exact same read and write speeds on each of the five run-throughs of the test.

1TB Silicon Power (W)1TB Silicon Power (R)1TB SanDisk (W)1TB SanDisk (R)
Test 182MB/sec88MB/sec79MB/sec87MB/sec
Test 282MB/sec88MB/sec79MB/sec88MB/sec
Test 382MB/sec88MB/sec79MB/sec88MB/sec
Test 482MB/sec88MB/sec79MB/sec88MB/sec
Test 582MB/sec88MB/sec78MB/sec88MB/sec

Silicon Power microSD Card Reader (Type-A)

Here we see some great consistency from both cards, with both cards seeing 89MB/sec read speeds in all five tests each. The SP card does take a 1MB/sec dip in one test and the SanDisk card sees a 1MB/sec rise in another, but overall they’re both largely the same. Interestingly, both minor deviations from the two cards were in the write speed. Again, though, the SiliconPower card is a good 2-4MB/sec faster than the SanDisk in write speed in every test and matches it on read speeds. The Type-A USB socket used was a USB 3.1 Gen 1 socket on my ZenBook Pro.

1TB Silicon Power (W)1TB Silicon Power (R)1TB SanDisk (W)1TB SanDisk (R)
Test 185MB/sec89MB/sec81MB/sec89MB/sec
Test 285MB/sec89MB/sec81MB/sec89MB/sec
Test 384MB/sec89MB/sec82MB/sec89MB/sec
Test 485MB/sec89MB/sec81MB/sec89MB/sec
Test 585MB/sec89MB/sec81MB/sec89MB/sec

Silicon Power microSD Card Reader (Type-C)

The reason I did two separate tests for the same reader is that the Silicon Power microSD card reader features both a Type-A USB plug as well as a Type-C USB plug and I wanted to see if I was getting consistent speeds through both of them. This is also a test of Silicon Power’s card reader for me as much as it is their memory card. The Type-C USB socket tested here was a USB 3.1 Gen 2 socket with Thunderbolt on my ZenBook Pro.

Again, though, we see that consistency, with the Silicon Power card offering the same read and write speeds for every single test, with the SanDisk card fluctuating just slightly on both read and write speeds. The read speeds from the SanDisk hit the 90MB/sec of the Silicon Power card, but with some 1MB/sec dips ins some tests. The write speeds, though, were consistently 2-3MB/sec lower.

1TB Silicon Power (W)1TB Silicon Power (R)1TB SanDisk (W)1TB SanDisk (R)
Test 185MB/sec90MB/sec82MB/sec89MB/sec
Test 285MB/sec90MB/sec83MB/sec90MB/sec
Test 385MB/sec90MB/sec83MB/sec90MB/sec
Test 485MB/sec90MB/sec82MB/sec89MB/sec
Test 585MB/sec90MB/sec83MB/sec89MB/sec

SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II Type-C SD card reader

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SD card reader is for full-sized SDs, but it’s the only decent SanDisk card reader I own, so that’s what I used. For this test, though, as I mentioned above, I used each card with its respective microSD to SD card adapter that came supplied with it. Both cards were pretty consistent in this reader, with the only anomaly being a 1MB/sec dip in read speed on one of the SanDisk card tests. While the SanDisk reader did provide the fastest read and write speeds for both cards, the edge once again goes to the Silicon Power card.

1TB Silicon Power (W)1TB Silicon Power (R)1TB SanDisk (W)1TB SanDisk (R)
Test 186MB/sec93MB/sec83MB/sec92MB/sec
Test 286MB/sec93MB/sec83MB/sec93MB/sec
Test 386MB/sec93MB/sec83MB/sec93MB/sec
Test 486MB/sec93MB/sec83MB/sec93MB/sec
Test 586MB/sec93MB/sec83MB/sec93MB/sec

The speeds from the 1TB SanDisk Extreme Pro were also consistent with those same tests in my review of that card. So it hasn’t lost speed over time and the numbers here match up with the numbers there.

The one test I didn’t do here (at least not in any kind of objective quantifiable way) was transferring data between the card and a smartphone or tablet via its Type-C socket. This is mostly due to the fact that I’ve yet to find a decent benchmark software for Android or iOS that shows card speeds on large file reads and writes. But the other issue is that with smartphones and tablets, the Type-C socket becomes the bottleneck, not the card or the reader you choose to use, as they never seem to live up to the USB speeds we’re used to.

That being said, I have tested that it works, and it does. Neither card felt any slower in general operation when placed inside my phone than the other, using it to shoot photos and videos to and to watch them back. Neither card stalled or couldn’t keep up with the write or read speed requirements. Accessing files from the phone with a Type-C reader felt about the same with both cards. But this is more of an anecdotal experience than a measured fact and I wasn’t running apps from it. I was simply saving and retrieving large chunks of data (photos and video).

Other devices

It’s been a while since I last reviewed a 1TB microSD card (because there is barely a handful of them on the market). At that time, the only devices out there that really supported cards of that capacity were smartphones and single board computers like the Raspberry Pi. For my needs (backing up the day’s shoot), the smartphone was my device of choice. These days, though, a few more devices have appeared that support massive cards. Two that immediately spring to mind are the Insta360 ONE R and the Insta360 ONE X2.

Officially, according to Insta360, both devices support the 1TB SanDisk Extreme Pro without issue. It’s fast enough to handle the write speeds for shooting 5.7K 360 video in h.264 or h.265 codecs and it’s a capacity that both devices can read. The Silicon Power card isn’t on Insta360’s list, but in my tests with both cameras, it performed great. My testing with these devices wasn’t extensive – because Scotland’s still on lockdown and I can’t get out to film anything interesting with them – but neither camera had any speed issues, with both continuing to record for as long as I left it.

I will do some more testing with both of these cameras once the world (or at least this part of it) opens back up again and I can go exploring!

Conclusion

For the money, it’s a decent card. Not only did it easily keep up with the SanDisk but it actually beat it in all my tests on raw transfer speed. Inside the Insta360 ONE R and Insta360 ONE X2 it presented me with no issues at all, and I expect it’ll keep up with devices that might come for at least the next couple of years that support cards of this capacity. And for the social media crowd, it’s just as comfortable inside a smartphone, too. If you shoot way too many photos or a lot of video clips for your Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok or wherever, this will hold a lot of media.

It’s a lot of fast storage for not a lot of cash. With a price tag of $169, you can get two of the 1TB Silicon Power cards and still get some change for the $399 SanDisk demands. And while long-term reliability still remains to be seen, it’s given me no issues so far. So, I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you need some large microSD storage.

Would I recommend it over the SanDisk? Well, the long term reliability still remains to be seen but assuming it holds up and given that it’s less than half the price… For shooting with cameras and for backing up large files like photos and video? Yeah, I think I would, actually.

Update 30th January, 2023: Pricing and availability have been updated.

The 1TB Silicon Power Superior A1 microSD card is available to buy now for $89.99. It’s worth pointing out again that the A1 rating is irrelevant for things like cameras, drones, etc. It denotes the amount of read and write operations the card can handle per second. For large files like photos and videos, it makes no difference. If you do want to go with the A2 rated card, though – maybe you might want to eventually put it in a Raspberry Pi or your phone – it’s only going to cost you an extra $5. The 1TB Silicon Power Superior A2 microSD card is available to buy now for $94.99.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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8 responses to “Silicon Power 1TB Superior microSD card – Faster than SanDisk at less than half the price”

  1. Dustin Horne Avatar
    Dustin Horne

    Hmm I’d be interested in the performance of the smaller capacity variants as well. One place the A2 rating has been important is some drones. I have a Mavik Air 2 that needs that speed to record 4k 60fps, otherwise it downgrades to 30fps (or stops recording when the buffer fills). I currently use the SanDisk Extreme Pro but wondering if the SP would be a viable alternative.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      The App Performance Class rating shouldn’t have any effect on drones. It’s a measurement of IOPS. It’s like seek times on a mechanical hard drive, in a way. And the A1 and A2 class rating standards only require a minimum 10MB/sec sustained write speed. It’s for reading and writing lots of tiny files in rapid succession (like an operating system on a Raspberry Pi, or the apps on a smartphone) not for large sequential reads and writes.

      V30 (or V60 and V90 for UHS-II) cards is what’s important for sustained write speeds for video (including drones).

      1. Dustin Horne Avatar
        Dustin Horne

        Ahh good callout. Not sure why mind went straight to the A* rating.

  2. Tim Avatar
    Tim

    $169 is too much for unproven reliability, by the time reliability is proven for the SP a year will have passed and it will be less than $100. If at that time is has passed the endurance test then it will truly be a bargain, at this time it’s a thrifty risk.

    At least that’s how I see it.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      It’s already been over a year since SanDisk released their 1TB card, and it’s still $400. So, I think you’ll be waiting a while for those $100 1TB cards. Silicon Power’s CFast 2.0 cards are on Blackmagic’s approved media list for the Pocket 4K and Pocket 6K, too. So it’s not like they’re a completely unproven and unknown brand.

      Sure, the longevity still needs to be proven out, but given their other cards, I’m really not that worried about it. We’ll see, though. :)

  3. lejaune Avatar
    lejaune

    The question is how reliable they are. I have learned lessons on cheap Ebay cards to never use them again.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      See my reply to Tim.

  4. Andrew Hunt Avatar
    Andrew Hunt

    Dang. I don’t take many high quality photos, and my 128gb card seems to be good enough for a 90 minute flight with my Mavic Air 2, but something like this would be excellent for the Nintendo Switch. I figured, after owning a 3DS with 64gb, that 256gb would be enough for it, nope! Quickly filling up and I don’t want to have to buy multiple memory cards. Glad to see competition in the 1TB space. So far, Sandisk and PNY are the best 2 I’ve seen yet, but this silicon power one looks to be a strong contender for my mobile gaming needs.