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

Tips & Techniques

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 1 82MB/sec 88MB/sec 79MB/sec 87MB/sec
Test 2 82MB/sec 88MB/sec 79MB/sec 88MB/sec
Test 3 82MB/sec 88MB/sec 79MB/sec 88MB/sec
Test 4 82MB/sec 88MB/sec 79MB/sec 88MB/sec
Test 5 82MB/sec 88MB/sec 78MB/sec 88MB/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 1 85MB/sec 89MB/sec 81MB/sec 89MB/sec
Test 2 85MB/sec 89MB/sec 81MB/sec 89MB/sec
Test 3 84MB/sec 89MB/sec 82MB/sec 89MB/sec
Test 4 85MB/sec 89MB/sec 81MB/sec 89MB/sec
Test 5 85MB/sec 89MB/sec 81MB/sec 89MB/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 1 85MB/sec 90MB/sec 82MB/sec 89MB/sec
Test 2 85MB/sec 90MB/sec 83MB/sec 90MB/sec
Test 3 85MB/sec 90MB/sec 83MB/sec 90MB/sec
Test 4 85MB/sec 90MB/sec 82MB/sec 89MB/sec
Test 5 85MB/sec 90MB/sec 83MB/sec 89MB/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 SnaDisk 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 1 86MB/sec 93MB/sec 83MB/sec 92MB/sec
Test 2 86MB/sec 93MB/sec 83MB/sec 93MB/sec
Test 3 86MB/sec 93MB/sec 83MB/sec 93MB/sec
Test 4 86MB/sec 93MB/sec 83MB/sec 93MB/sec
Test 5 86MB/sec 93MB/sec 83MB/sec 93MB/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.

The 1TB Silicon Power Superior microSD card is available to buy now for $169.99 from Silicon Power’s online store. I haven’t seen it on Amazon USA yet, but it is listed (albeit “currently unavailable”) on Amazon UK. The 512GB version is available from B&H for $64.99.

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