With Steam Deck finally becoming more widely available, it’s a great time to take a look at the storage expansion options for the portable PC. After all, even the most capacious 512GB Steam Deck isn’t going to cut it the deeper you delve into your library, especially as an increasing number of games are certified for Steam Deck. That’s why we’ve collected the best value Micro SD cards for Steam Deck, focusing on high-performance cards to ensure fast load times.
As you might expect from a handheld that brings portable PC gaming to a lower price point, Valve have opted for the more common UHS-1 standard rather than the faster but more expensive UHS-2. That means you don’t have to spend a lot to get a fast memory card, but it does mean that Valve have had to perform some minor wizardry to keep games loaded onto the Micro SD card feel as quick to load as those on the internal storage.
That leads us onto the recommendations. We’ve focused our efforts on cards between 128GB and 1TB in size, as these currently offer the best value per gigabyte (which we’ve calculated for each pick).
We’ve also looked at each card’s ‘Application Performance Class Rating’, which denotes an increasing level of random read performance, key to reducing game load times. A1 requires a minimum random read of 1500 IOPS, while A2 requires more than double: 4000 IOPS. Finally, we’ve listed the maximum sequential read speed for each card, another indicator of performance.
Best Steam Deck Micro SD cards UK
In the UK you’ll find that 512GB cards are the best value in comparison to everything else on the market. While we’d personally recommend going for as large as possible, with the Steam Deck having the functionality to move things across like a console (I guess that’s the whole point of the device, right?), it might be more beneficial to buy a couple 512GB micro SD cards and when you get to travelling, swap them in and out when you need a particular game.
Best Steam Deck Micro SD cards USA
American retailers have a wider range of Micro SD cards than the UK equivalents, so our recommendations here are slightly different. While some choices like the 1TB Lexar Play card seems to be a universally good deal, options from Silicon Power are great for smaller sizes in the US. However, we’d suggest considering 256GB or higher as you see similar value per gigabyte and more games will be able to fit onto the drive – there’s nothing worse than having 128GB free and realising that your game requires 130GB. Still, 128GB is more than enough for older or indie titles, so choose whatever size makes sense for you.
How to move games to the SD card on Steam Deck
So once you’ve decided on a micro SD card for your Steam Deck, just how are you moving things around? It’s really easy, with only a couple of menus to navigate.
Hit the Steam button and bring up the sliding menu, then choose settings. From here scroll down the settings menu until you get to the storage option. In this menu, you can press the Y button to initiate moving software from your internal drive to Micro SD, or vice versa. You can even press X when highlighting the two storage options to set your preferred default install location.
When you eject the Micro SD card, your games installed to that card will disappear from Steam – and when you reinsert it, the games will reappear. This unlocks the door to having different cards with different games; you could easily load up one card with your favourite multiplayer titles, and the other with singleplayer games for example. Of course, going with a higher capacity card means no swapping and an overall simpler solution.
We’re looking to run some performance tests on these cards in the near future, but our experience running game load tests on PC and Switch should hold us in good stead in the meantime.
Got any questions about Micro SD cards on Steam Deck that we haven’t covered here? Do let us know in the comments below, or talk to @wsjudd on Twitter.