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(Pocket-lint) - The Valve Steam Deck is available in several different models, with the main difference being the size of the internal storage. The storage options range from 64GB eMMC to 512GB NVMe SSD and represent how much space you have to install games.
With the size of modern triple-A games though, you might need additional storage. We'd highly recommend it in fact as we managed to fill up our 256GB Steam Deck with just four games. Even if you're only planning on playing smaller Indie games, purchasing additional storage will help boost your install options.
It's worth noting that the Steam Deck's microSD card slot tops out at around 100MB/s so you don't need the fastest card around. You also will find that the internal storage is much faster. So keep these microSD cards for your less important games that you don't mind watching load screens for.
Below, we've listed some of the best memory cards for the Steam Deck with a selection of options both budget and high-end.
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Best Steam Deck memory cards in 2022
- SanDisk 512GB Extreme microSDXC
- Samsung Evo Select 256GB microSDXC Card
- Samsung PRO Plus 512GB microSDXC
- SanDisk 512GB Ultra microSDXC
- Gigastone 512GB microSDXC Card
Best Steam Deck microSD card: Our top pick
SanDisk 512GB Extreme microSDXC
- Nippy speeds
- Reliable storage
- Larger sizes are pricey
This SanDisk microSD card is our choice when it comes to extra storage for your Steam Deck. It offers great read speeds (up to 160MB/s) and though that's not as fast as the internal storage on the console it's still a good balance of speed and storage size.
512GB is also a good boost of extra storage space for your Steam Deck, though if you can stretch to it the 1TB model is worth considering too.
Alternative microSD cards we'd also recommend
We think the above microSD card is probably the ideal pick for most users, but there are other options worth considering as well.
Samsung Evo Select 256GB microSDXC Card
- Super speeds
- Sometimes inconsistent reading
If you're looking for something more affordable then this Samsung drive is worth considering.
It's not as fast as our top choice with 130MB/s read speed, but should still provide a great experience in terms of additional storage.
We did notice an odd inconsistency compared to the SanDisk options we tested, but nothing major - often the card will just need popping out and clicking back in and it'll format correctly.
Samsung PRO Plus 512GB microSDXC
- Fast and reliable
- Also works with tablets and drones
- No 1TB option
The Samsung PRO Plus is slightly faster than the Samsung Evo Select which might not be necessary here. But you also get solid performance and a microSD card that's designed to with drones and other demanding devices.
These are excellent microSD cards designed to give you great performance and great gaming fun too. Alas, there's no 1TB option.
SanDisk 512GB Ultra microSDXC
- Fantastically affordable
- Range of sizes available
- Not as fast as other options
The SanDisk Ultra microSDXC range is an excellent choice if you're looking for an affordable alternative to our top pick. Though the read speeds aren't as fast, they're still good enough for the console.
This is one of the most affordable options around and yet will give you reliable and solid performance that you can rely on while gaming.
Gigastone 512GB microSDXC Card
- Affordable option
- Only just fast enough
This Gigastone microSD card is designed specifically for gaming and will work with both the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch.
We found it was just about fast enough for the Steam Deck (100MB/s) and works well plus has the added bonus of a 5-year limited warranty.
How to choose a memory card for your Steam Deck
If you've just got your Steam Deck it might be hard to know whether you need a microSD card. We certainly found we needed one for our 256GB model as it's far too easy to fill up that much space with just a few games. If you've bought the 64GB version we'd suggest that a microSD card is going to be a must-buy and a big one as well!
Do I need a microSD card for my Steam Deck?
Unless you're only planning to have a handful of indie games for your handheld console, then owning a memory card is pretty much a necessity. Steam Deck verified games can vary wildly in storage size. Even simple single-player games like Stray (for example) can take up to 10GB or more.
It's worth checking your Steam library to see how much storage space your favourite games will take up. You can also browse through the "Great on Deck" verified list to double-check how much space you might need.
We found that games like Forza 5 can take up over 100GB so it's far too easy to fill up the internal storage.
Which microSD cards work on Steam Deck?
Any microSD card will work with the Steam Deck. The Steam Deck has a maximum speed of 100MB/s on its external card port, so you don't need to go faster than that, but you will want speeds close to it though. We'd recommend getting the biggest card you can afford to avoid disappointment.
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- SanDisk 512GB Extreme microSDXC.
- Samsung Evo Select 256GB microSDXC Card.
- Samsung PRO Plus 512GB microSDXC.
- SanDisk 512GB Ultra microSDXC.
- Gigastone 512GB microSDXC Card.
Samsung EVO Plus microSD cards are just about perfect for Steam Deck, capable of consistent read and write speeds close to the console's maximum. Available in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.
Users can insert a card into the slot and select it as their storage device. Additionally, multiple SD cards can be used and interchanged to store a large range of save files. Users need to carefully open the slot on the device, slide in the microSD card, and choose it as the storage device through the Settings menu.
How to format an SD card on Steam Deck. 1. First, insert your Micro SD card into the slot along the bottom of the Deck. Next, click the Steam button beneath the left touchpad to bring up the Steam menu.
SD card classifications
For example, the Steam Deck adopts UHS-I, which tops out at around 100MB/s read speeds and 90MB/s write speeds. You'll be able to use the faster UHS-II standard because it's backwards compatible, but you won't get the higher rated read and write speeds.
Importantly, you want to have enough space to install the games you like to play. For most people, the $529 256GB model is the best match for functionality and price. If your budget can handle it, go for the $649 512GB Deck because it's undoubtedly the best.
Yes, users can install a new hard drive in a Steam Deck. Even the 64GB version that comes with eMMC storage can be upgraded with a brand new SSD.
The Steam Deck uses an 2230 M. 2 SSD, which means it can easily be replaced with another 2230 drive.
Turns out a simple Steam Deck mod means you can install a larger NVMe SSD.
While the Steam Deck comes with 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB SSDs, you can also use a microSD card to install games. And likely for all model owners, this is going to be an essential part of the experience. Granted you'll need to make sure the microSD offers fast read and write speeds if you want optimal load times.
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The game will download onto your microSD card automatically. Remember that you can play the game off the microSD card, but save data will always save to your system memory.
With a 128GB card, you can store between 42 minutes and five hours of 4K video, which should be enough for most people.
A growing number of PCs, phones, and other gadgets can support microSDXC cards with capacities as high as 2TB. There's just one problem: nobody actually makes 2TB microSD cards yet.
Much like the Nintendo Switch, it's easy to swap SD cards in and out of the Deck, meaning you could greatly expand your storage capacity by spreading your Steam games across multiple cards.
The original Steam Deck spec states a PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD for both the 256GB and 512GB versions of the device, but those SKUs are now listed with either PCIe Gen 3 x4 or PCIe Gen 3 x2 drives. It states that some models will ship with one kind of drive and some with the theoretically slower SSD.
The primary difference between SanDisk Ultra and SanDisk Extreme cards is video recording capabilities. SanDisk Ultra performs best with 1080p HD video recording, while SanDisk Extreme can record 4K video. SanDisk Ultra cards do not have read or write speeds fast enough for 4K video recording.