SanDisk’s Switch MicroSD Card is a Good But Pricey Nintendo Storage Solution

The Nintendo Switch is having a pretty fantastic debut year, to say the least. The console/handheld hybrid has already ambaded a very solid list of games. But if you want to play those games on the go without dragging a bunch of cartridges around, or play the plethora of cool games that are download-only, you’re going to need a microSD card for external storage sooner rather than later.

The Switch has 32GB of internal storage, but that fills up fast. Some big games, like the most recent NBA 2K 18, even require owners to have a microSD card inserted and say so on the box. Fortunately, the Switch can support high-capacity cards with theoretical limits around 2TB. You can use and swap between cards as big or small as you want and easily redownload game data (although save data is still locked to the Switch itself aside from system transfers). So the hardest part of using a microSD card on Switch is just picking which one you want.

SanDisk, a prominent maker of SD cards, wants to make that choice a little easier for new Switch owners this holiday with its line of branded Nintendo Switch microSD cards. And since we couldn’t say no to more Switch storage, we tried one of them out. But while the card does the job, we can’t help but suspect consumers are paying extra for the Nintendo name.

In case the big and bright Mario Kart 8 picture on the package doesn’t give it away, yes this is a microSD card for Nintendo Switch. Obviously it could work in any other device that accepts microSD cards, just as any microSD card could work in Switch. But doesn’t this packaging just make it look like the card and the console go so well together? The branding on the card itself is a little more subtle, but it still features the Nintendo Switch logo alongside the size of the card, 128GB in our case but there’s a 64GB version as well.

For testing, I turned my system off, removed the 256GB Samsung card I’ve been rocking since launch, stuck in this new card, and turn my Switch back on. All of my games were already there on the home screen. I just had to redownload them. Of course I started with Super Mario Odyssey, which soon reappeared in full (and pretty smoothly given some questionable internet connections). I didn’t notice any difference while playing. The game still loaded pleasantly fast and all of my save data was there. Also, it was just nice to go into data management and see a card with so much storage left, instead of my typical card which is already halfway full.

Saying this SanDisk card had no negative impact on performance sounds like praise, and it is. But it also didn’t significantly improve performance. I also tested it with delightful one-person indie game Yono and the Celestial Elephants to maybe notice a performance bump in a game less technically optimized than Odyssey. After all, other developers don’t understand Nintendo’s hardware as intimately as Nintendo itself. But again the loading times felt about as speedy as when using my other, high-quality, Samsung card.

This disappointed me because on Amazon the 128GB Switch-branded SanDisk card costs $94.99, or twice the price as another, non-branded SanDisk card with the same storage. SanDisk’s website highlights the Switch card’s gamer-friendly fast read and write speeds, 100MB/s and 90MB/s, respectively. But the generic $48.99 card has similarly high stats. The Switch card seems to only have faster video speeds and I can’t say how useful that is in this context. In fact, you could buy a 200GB SanDisk card and it would still be cheaper than this Switch-specific card.

It appears SanDisk is asking hardcore Nintendo fans (or ignorant parents) to pay more for this card just because it has the Nintendo Switch name on it. While we understand paying a little more for an officially licensed, branded product (if anything just for the novelty) the markup we’ve seen is just too high to be fair. It feels like exploiting a hot holiday item. But fortunately, again, when it comes to microSD cards on Nintendo Switch, the choice really is yours.

Want to learn more? Here’s everything you need to know about the Nintendo Switch.

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