New Nintendo Switch Branded SD Cards Cost 3X More Than Normal Ones – Forbes
While it’s true that the Nintendo Switch’s hard drive is only 32 GB, and the Xbox One and PS4 base hard drives are already called too small at 500 GB, it’s not exactly an apples to oranges comparison. Using cartridges instead of disks, and more or less ignoring the digital download economy as much as it can, the 32 GB might be enough for many players as cartridges don’t require tons of information to be written onto the HD like we see with many disk-based games.
But for those who do want to download games or DLC or worry about that 32 GB filling up quickly, the Switch supports SD cards for extra data storage. And now, Nintendo has partnered with HORI for “official” Switch-branded 16 GB and 32 GB SD cards. While it may be logical that Nintendo would sell official cards (these are for the Japanese launch, but there may end up being Western equivalents) the problem is in the price.
The 32 GB card is ¥7,900, or about $70 USD. But on Amazon, the “high end” 32 GB SD card from Sandisk is ¥2,690, or about $23 USD. Past that, if you want a cheaper version with the same amount of storage (but with slower read/write speed perhaps), you can find one for as little as ¥1,180/$10.
All of this is to say that it is probably not the smart play to purchase the officially branded SD cards because of this rather severe price mark-up. Paying three times as much as necessary just to get the official Nintendo seal of approval isn’t worth it, and I’m not sure why the price point is what it is here. Keep in mind these are not proprietary memory cards like what we’ve seen with Sony handhelds. Any SD card will work in a Switch.
While many Nintendo fans have gotten used to the concept of SD storage, it does seem like a bit of an odd decision to rely on that in this day and age, and releasing a console in 2017 with just 32 GB of storage feels odd. But it may be one way Nintendo has kept costs down for a $300 asking price at launch.
However, turning the Switch into a console that has as much storage as even a base-level PS4 or Xbox One at this point is no small feat. Yes, you can double the size of the Switch’s hard drive for $10-70 as shown, but to get to 500 GB?
There are not many 500 GB SD cards on the market, and the ones that are range from $200-300. Breaking it down into smaller chunks, you can get a 200 GB SD card from Sandisk for $70, the same price as that Nintendo-branded 32 GB card, which seems a bit wacky.
This may be a non-issue for many players who are content to never download games and pick up smaller SD cards when they have to, but it goes against typical console behavior over the last few years where digital downloads have dramatically increased. I’d say that 95% of my console game purchases have been digital, which means that both my PS4 and Xbox One hard drives have been filled up and purged a few times over already. Meanwhile, downloading even just Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch will take up a majority of its hard drive space. And turning the Switch into a more traditional console with huge SD cards is a very expensive project.
In short, try to avoid downloading whatever you can onto your Switch, but if you want to expand it, despite their innate appeal, officially-branded Nintendo SD cards are probably not going to be your friend. Shop around, shop wisely.