We Survival Tested PNY SD Cards in the Laundry. Were They Destroyed?

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SD cards are like mini hard drives — but that mini part means they are prone to loss and destruction. I’ve lost SD cards to a teething puppy, to a toddler bending a plugged-in card, and to inexplicable card errors (thankfully, all after transferring the images). When PNY reached out with their Elite-X and Pro Elite Class cards, there was little doubt that the cards would be able to handle living in a camera. But, we wanted to see if the PNY SD cards could handle what happens after you pull them out of the camera. Like when you accidentally put them in a pocket and don’t remember until after laundry day.

We shot some photos with the 512 GB PNY Elite-X SD memory card and the 1 TB Pro Elite Micro SD card. Then, we tucked them in a pocket — and did the laundry. The cards went through both the washer and the dryer. That’s right, we washed and dried 1TB (terabyte) SD cards.

Elite-X Class 10 U3 V30 SD Flash Memory Card

  • Sequential read speeds up to 100 MB/s
  • 90 MB/s write speed
  • Class 10, U3
  • Video Speed Class V30
  • SDXC format available in 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB

The Elite-X are high-capacity SDXC cards that go all the way up to 512 GB, which is the version that I tested. That’s 12 GB more than the internal storage on my MacBook. Even with a high-resolution camera, I would have to shoot for days to fill this thing up. 

This PNY SD card has a 100 MB/s read speed, and a 90 MB/s write speed. I had no problem using the Z7 II with this card, and that speed is also sufficient for 4K video. For most photographers, the card will be plenty fast enough. But there are faster cards out there. If you’re shooting 8K video or 50 megapixels at 30 fps (thanks, Sony A1), you’ll want a faster speed. But, for most photographers, that speed will be sufficient — and more affordable than something that’s 300 MB/S.

Considering that high capacity, the $79 price tag is pretty reasonable, but PNY also has the 256 GB for about $40 and the 128 GB for $10, and the 64 for $12. SanDisk’s Extreme Pro, which is a bit faster, retails for about $130 for the 512 GB.

Pro Elite Class 10 U3 V30 MicroSD Flash Memory Card

  • Class 10, U3
  • V30 for video class
  • 90MB/s write speed and 100MB/s read speed

The Pro Elite Class 10 are insanely high capacity Micro SD cards. Quite honestly, when putting this test together, we had to verify once again that we used a 1TB Micro SD card. And yes, that’s the truth. This little Micro SD card holds more data than some of the SD cards have in our own cameras. These days, Micro SD cards are typically found in some phones and drones. If you’re shooting a lot of 4K video footage, you’ll need all that space. For most drones, this will be more than good enough if you’re shooting photos in RAW. If you’re planning on using an adapter and putting it in your camera, you’re probably going to encounter a slow down. The PNY adapter that comes with it doesn’t have all the extra write/read threads that newer SD cards have.

Of course, you’re also dropping $170 for a Micro SD card. But if you need one, then this is surely an option.

Can the PNY SD Cards Survive the Wash?

PNY says these cards have “uncompromising reliability.” Of course, we had to make sure that wasn’t just marketing-speak. So we tucked the cards into pockets and tossed them into dirty clothes. After laundry day, we plugged the washed-and-dried SD cards into our MacBooks to see the fate of our photos. (Which were, of course, backed up. We may be a bit crazy, but not that crazy). Both the tested SD card and MicroSD card survived unscathed.

When I retrieved the Elite-X SD card from the pocket — where it surprisingly hadn’t even fallen out — I was a little worried. I had washed a pair of tennis shoes with that load, and there were a few pieces of sand making the card feel gritty. But, I wiped the grit off, plugged it in, and found all of my original photos. The sticker on the front wasn’t even worn.

When I ran the Micro SD card through the wash, I decided to make the test extra tough. I wrapped it up in a damp microfiber cloth. Then to increase the risk, I dropped the laundry off at my local laundromat and paid them to do the laundry. They did exactly what they do. Anyone that’s done this before knows that the risk of losing pieces of clothing surely goes up. Luckily, the pair of pants I put it in was just fine. Wrapping the Micro SD card in the microfiber cloth also made it stay in place a bit better in a pocket. Specifically, I placed it in the smallest pocket on a pair of jeans. The laundry went through the wash and then a dryer. When I got everything back, the Micro SD card worked perfectly fine. The images showed no degradation. This PNY SD Card did a solid job.

The Elite-X and Pro Elite PNY SD cards offer a good balance between price, speed, and capacity. And — as the washer and dryer test proves — they don’t sacrifice durability. Though we always recommend having a safe, designated spot for SD cards, a laundry mishap didn’t destroy these cards.

Editor in Chief Chris Gampat contributed to this report.

Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a photographer and tech writer based in Michigan. She shoots weddings and portraits at Hillary K Photography. A mother of three, she enjoys hiking, camping, crafting, and reading.