This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. After testing more than 20 new and updated microSD cards, we've found that the SanDisk MicroSDXC card for Nintendo Switch (128 GB) is the best for most phones, tablets, and, yes, Nintendo Switches, but there are several other cards that work fine. The hard part is finding a real one; the online marketplaces are flooded with counterfeits. The Switch card is fast, consistent, comes from a reputable company, has a picture of a mushroom on it, and works in anything that takes a microSDXC card, not just the Switch.
This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. When Apple introduced the 12-inch MacBook in early 2015, USB-C was merely a curiosity for most people, but now that many new laptops have dropped legacy ports, USB-C has gone from interesting to important. This all means that a critical mass of people need cables, adapters, and other ways to get older gear working with newer devices. After 18 hours of preliminary research, we tested more than 58 USB-C accessories to put together this guide to the best ways to connect peripherals and devices to a USB-C–equipped computer. It's by no means exhaustive. USB-C can, in theory, replace every other port, and there are a seemingly infinite number of port combinations you might encounter. We focused on the most important tasks you'll likely face, such as connecting older peripherals like hard drives and hooking up an external display. We'll expand our coverage of USB-C as the field matures; we've published reviews of SD card readers, portable solid-state drives, portable battery packs, portable AC battery packs, Thunderbolt docks, Lightning cables, flash drives, car chargers, charging-port outlets, and laptop chargers, and we have more in the works.
For content creators, a laptop with a built-in SD card reader is a preferred feature. Some users go so far as to consider laptops only if they have a reader. One mistake with that choice is it assumes all SD card slots are created equal. Our tests clearly show they're not. It's also difficult to know how fast the SD card reader in your laptop is.
With Thunderbolt ports becoming more common in laptops, a Thunderbolt dock can be an important accessory. Think of it as a more powerful version of a USB-C hub, adding I/O expansion to your laptop, in the form of extra ports for mice, keyboards, external drives, SD cards, and, most importantly, displays. Indeed, one important way that a Thunderbolt dock differs from its USB-C cousin is bandwidth. While a USB-C hub can support a single 4K display, often at an eye-wearying 30Hz refresh rate. Thunderbolt hubs can support up to two 4K displays, and at a comfortable 60Hz.
Last June, the SD Association announced SD Express, an incredibly fast SD card standard that taps a PC's PCI Express bus for speeds up to 985 Mbytes/s. Virtually no one adopted it. Now, the SD Association has tried again, applying the same spec to the much more popular microSD card form factor: microSD Express. On paper, the SD Express standard should have succeeded. With support for both the PCI Express bus as well as the NVMe memory access layer, SD Express cards could have provided external removable storage about as fast as an internal SSD--great news for laptops.