​Kingston 256GB MicroSD XC card review

This expensive Class 10 card is Tardis-like but not the fastest we’ve tested

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Kingston 256GB MicroSD XC card
  • Kingston 256GB MicroSD XC card
  • Kingston 256GB MicroSD XC card
  • Kingston 256GB MicroSD XC card
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Whopping 256GB capacity

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not the fastest
  • Only comes with SD card adapter

Bottom Line

A gargantuan capacity for such a tiny device. But dropping down to 200GB slashes the cost and improves performance and value.

Would you buy this?

We were amazed when Lexar provided us with a super-fast 200GB, corn-flake-sized MicroSD card back in June but now here’s Kingston with 256GB!

Like Lexar this is rated as a Class 10 and UHS-1 device which means it’s certified to record at a minimum of 10MB/s. These class ratings are designed by the SD Association to inform (primarily) videographers of the ability of SD-based media to record (extremely) high resolution footage. Class 10 is currently the highest rating. Kingston also claims a read speed of 45MB/s.

We threw a barrage of tests at it (using Lexar’s MicroSD USB 3 card reader) and here’s what we found...

Test Results

We ran the CrystalDiskMark benchmark several times in order to get consistent results (which were not always forthcoming in these tests.

The 256GB Kingston (left) was generally slower than the 200GB Lexar (right) but it's still a very fast Class 10 MicroSD card.
The 256GB Kingston (left) was generally slower than the 200GB Lexar (right) but it's still a very fast Class 10 MicroSD card.

In the important 4K sequential test the Kingston consistently scored over 10MB/s and topped out at 12.16MB/s write speed. The Lexar score on the right is lower in this test, but in other runs was much higher. In the straight data transfer write speed test however, the Lexar was always consistently ahead by some way with Kingston never getting higher than 13.13MB/s while Lexar pushed up to 39.87MB/s. But these scores reflect a wild ride. We’d say the Lexar was faster at writing here though.

When transferring our 1.62GB of 1000 AMD driver files it averaged 8MB/s – which might be under 10MB/s but many of those files are tiny so consistent writing speed is impossible. It read them back at 38.5MB/s. However, the Lexar was faster at writing with its 13.2MB/s write speed but similar with a 34.5MB/s read speed.

We also moved our new 30GB test file. The Kingston card scored 20MB/s write and 86MB/s read speeds. Conversely, the Lexar scored 30MB/s write and 75MB/s read.

So in terms of performance, both cards are very fast but the Lexar was consistently faster at writing by more than 50 per cent. Tests were pretty wayward though: we wouldn’t be surprised if heat issues played a part here as the tiny cards got pretty warm when testing. Both should be more than adequate for any current video camera or phone storage applications though.

Conclusion

At $349 RRP Kingston’s card is tremendously expensive. It will cost less when availability increases but it’s unlikely to be near the cost of the $143 Lexar for some time. Furthermore, the Lexar comes with a useful USB 3 card reader while the Kingston only comes with an SD card adapter. So the Lexar destroys it for value and has noticeably-faster write speeds. However, at this end of the market price will be irrelevant for many users and having a 256GB capacity in small, fast card will make it most attractive.

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