Are you excited about the release of the Steam Deck? We sure are. Unfortunately, like us, you are probably stuck in line until Q2 2022. You might have noticed how expensive the 256GB and 512GB models are compared to the 64GB model. Is 64GB enough? It depends, lucky for us, the Steam Deck has an SDXC compatible SD card slot. This means we can increase storage capabilities well beyond 64GB. Knowing this, we can buy the cheaper 64GB model and expand its storage capabilities with a MicroSD card. But, what is the best MicroSD card for Steam Deck?
SD cards have many different ratings and can be a tad confusing. So, which is the best SD card for the Steam Deck? Don’t rush out and get any old SD card, there are some important factors to consider. The key considerations here are size and speed, SDXC cards are the fastest MicroSD cards, and the type we recommend for the Steam Deck. You can get older, larger cards for a cheap price, but these will not adequately read, load, and install data at the speeds you need.
As far as we know, the Steam Deck is limited to UHS-1 type SD cards. This means that it is limited to 100MB/s read speeds. Despite this, there are high-end UHS-1 MicroSD cards with speeds higher than this. For this reason, we are going to be looking at A2-rated SDXC cards with a read speed of at least 100MB/s.
SanDisk Extreme – 1TB
Type: SDXC | Size: 1TB | Read Speed: 160 MB/s | Rating: U3/V30/A2
- Fast read speed
- Large size
In our opinion, the SanDisk 1TB Extreme MicroSDXC Card is the best MicroSD card for the Steam Deck. This card was built with portable gaming devices like the Steam Deck in mind. You get a massive 1TB of storage with top-of-the-range specifications. This card has been tested in tough conditions and is temperature proof, waterproof, shockproof, and X-Ray proof. SanDisk is one of the most reputable brands in the MicroSD industry and this card is a true heavy-hitter.
The best feature of this card is its stated speed of up to 160MB/s. Typically UHS-1 cards are limited to 104MB/s, making this card a real speed monster. It may be one of the most expensive SDXC cards on the market, but you are paying for top-of-the-line speed and huge storage. One small feature to be aware of when purchasing Micro SD cards is the inclusion of an adapter. In this case, Sandisk has included one, which is nice.
The SanDisk 1TB MicroSDXC Card is the ultimate answer to the limited storage capabilities of the 64GB Steam Deck. Adding a MicroSD card to your Steam Deck will give you the capability to store dozens of your favorite AAA titles. You won’t have to pick and choose which games to keep on your Steam Deck at any one time.
The main drawback of this card is quite obvious, the cost. Be sure, we aren’t saying you NEED to get this card to get the most from your 64GB Steam Deck. But, if you want the absolute best MicroSD card on the market, then this is the one.
Lexar Play – 1TB
Type: SDXC | Size: 1TB | Read Speed: 150 MB/s | Rating: U3/V30/A2
The Lexar Play 1TB MicroSDXC card is another excellent option for increasing Steam Deck storage. It has excellent specifications that are comparable to the Sandisk 1TB Extreme. Despite some similarities though, it falls slightly short of the Sandisk; in read speed, durability, and added extras.
This Lexar MicroSDXC card offers great performance at a cheaper price than the Sandisk Extreme 1TB. It has many of the key MicroSD card specifications we are looking for in a MicroSD like U3/V30 and A2. The A2 specification is particularly important for your Steam Deck. A2 cards have much faster “random read” speeds than A1-rated cards. As random read speeds are a key bottleneck for game load speeds, this is a critical feature. Unfortunately, the Lexar Play 1TB does not come with a MicroSD adapter. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it is always nice to have one included.
The Lexar Play 1TB also exceeds the stated limits of UHS-1, offering up to 150MB/s. Within the portable gaming community, it is a very popular card and has a good reputation. This is down to it offering top specifications at a more competitive price to the Sandisk Extreme 1TB. There aren’t many fast 1TB+ high read speed cards available, but this is one of them.
Sandisk Extreme Pro – 400GB
Type: SDXC | Size: 400GB | Read Speed: 170 MB/s | Rating: U3/V30/A2
The Sandisk Extreme Pro 400GB offers a cheaper alternative to the Sandisk 1TB Extreme. It has comparable read speed, write speed, and performance ratings. You may have realized by now that unfortunately, the biggest and fastest MicroSD cards are the most expensive.
Do not lose heart though, cards such as this Sandisk Extreme Pro 400GB can still offer your Steam Deck a significant boost in quality storage. The extra 400GB from this card would increase the available storage space of your 64GB Steam Deck by 6x! The storage you gain via your SD card may not be as quick as the inbuilt NVMe SSD storage, but it is incredibly convenient.
One thing to consider with MicroSD cards is that the advertised read speed can vary, depending on the host device. For example, the top-end of the advertised read speed may only be achievable with a USB 3.0 connection to a computer, for example.
Lexar Professional 1066x – 512GB
Type: SDXC | Size: 512GB | Read Speed: 160 MB/s | Rating: U3/V30/A2
The Lexar Professional 512GB is an excellent budget option for your 64GB Steam Deck. This card has earned its place on our list by offering excellent value for the price paid.
The Lexar Professional 512GB offers the same rapid U3/V30/A2 speeds as the larger, more expensive cards seen above. The speed and size of this card make it a very solid middle-of-the-road option. As you should expect with high-end MicroSD cards, the Lexar Professional 512GB is shockproof, waterproof, and X-Ray proof.
Purchasing a MicroSD card to boost the storage capacity of your Steam Deck is an absolute no-brainer in our view. When you are looking at buying a budget MicroSD card for your Steam Deck, always choose an A2-rated card, like this one.
Samsung EVO Select – 512GB
Type: SDXC | Size: 512GB | Read Speed: 100 MB/s | Rating: U3
The Samsung EVO Select 512GB is probably the best bang for your buck MicroSD on this list. Whilst it only offers 100MB/s read speeds, no one is 100% by how far the Steam Deck will be capable of exceeding this UHS-1 cap.
For this reason, if you are on a really tight budget, we would recommend that you go for a cheaper UHS-1 card that has read speeds closer to the 100MB/s cap, like this one. It might not be quite as fast as the more expensive cards, but it won’t be super noticeable.
One of the standout features this MicroSD card offers is the 10-year limited warranty. This is one of the best warranty offerings on the market. Whilst it is only a limited warranty, that’s always much better than having no warranty at all.
That completes our roundup of the Best MicroSD cards for the Steam Deck, we hope you found it useful. We learned a few things along the way too. The most painful? The fact that big AND fast MicroSDXC cards are pretty expensive. Unfortunately, if you want the best of both worlds, it might cost you. Extra storage will be essential for playing your favorite titles like New World on Steam deck.
There is some good news though, there are large, price-competitive cards out there. These include the Sandisk Extreme Pro 400GB and the Lexar Professional 512GB, which offer a good balance between size, speed, and price. If you are on a REALLY strict budget, then go for a card like the Samsung EVO Select 512GB. The advantage of cards with a 100MB/s read speed is that they meet the theoretical cap for UHS-1 technology, which is used by the Steam Deck.
It is still up in the air how much extra speed will be gained from using SDcards with speeds over the UHS-1 cap. Most people agree that there will be some benefit. One final thing to note about MicroSD cards right now, there is a shortage. Because the Pandemic shut down chip fabrication, there is a huge production backlog. This is making it harder than usual to source the SDcard you want.
Valve is very confident that games will load fairly quickly on the Steam Deck using MicroSD cards. The Steam Deck was tested by users at IGN and all the games were installed on SD cards. Loading games of an SD card is expected to be equal to or faster than loading games from an HDD drive. random reads from the card are expected to be the main bottleneck and the main reason to make sure you purchase an A2-rated MicroSD card.
This is a good question, but the answer is quite straightforward. The 512GB Steam Deck has internal NVMe SSD storage, which is SIGNIFICANTLY faster than MicroSD cards. This doesn’t mean that you will be waiting forever for your games to load, though. The difference will range from seconds to a couple of minutes depending on file size.
Most people will say it is storage, and obviously, this is true in many ways. After all, we want to get as many games on our Steam Deck as possible. But, in terms of performance, the most important feature of an SDcard for the Steam Deck is the A rating. Only look for cards with an A2 rating. A2-rated cards have MUCH higher random read speeds than A1 cards and this is the biggest bottleneck for portable gaming load speeds.
To keep it brief, it won’t be as quick as the 512GB model’s in-built NVMe SSD. However, for context, UHS-1 SDXC cards have read speeds usually around 100MB/s; the PS4 and XBOX 1 used HDD’s capable of 70MB/s read speeds. Don’t expect the SDcards here to be offer second-tier speeds, they can hold their own!