With just three storage options on the recently announced Steam Deck, one of the first questions people started asking was around expandable storage options. Valve have confirmed that you can "augment your built-in storage with a microSD card". But what exactly does this mean, and what external storage should you use for your Steam Deck? Should you stick with a Steam Deck SD Card? These are the questions we'll be contemplating today.
What external storage should I use for Steam Deck?
We already know that the Steam Deck can benefit from an SD card. In an interview with IGN, Lawrence Yang confirmed that you can use "whatever size [of SD card] you want. Whenever you want". This clearly suggests that you aren't required to use a minimum or maximum size of SD card. Their official website doesn't state any limitations on SD card size either. Likewise, it supports SD, SDXC and SDHC, giving you a pretty broad choice over what SD card to go for.
What's the best Steam Deck SD Card?
Of these, SDXC tends to be the best performing option, and currently offers up to 2TB of storage. While these come in various speed types, the fastest it can go is 100MB/s read speeds, and 90MB/s write speeds. If you see a V-rating (usually V30, V60 or V90) this will tell you the minimum write speed of the card. Either 30MB/s, 60MB/s or 90MB/s. As a rule of thumb, the larger the card, the slower it tends to be.
It's also worth noting that the SD card slot is UHS-I compatible. This is important, because a UHS-II card may have compatibility issues. Overall, this is a fairly simple, user-friendly way to expand the storage on your Steam Deck. And given the sheer size of many modern games, this will be pretty useful, even if you have gone for the 512GB version of the device. But are there any other external storage options?
Can you dock the Steam Deck?
Valve have also confirmed that there will be an official Steam Deck dock, to be sold separately. This will allow users to stand up the device, and connect to an external display. It will also allow for wired networking, USB peripherals, and a powered USB-C hub. So it will allow you to set it up much more like a traditional PC. It also offers the potential (yet to be confirmed) that a USB-C external hard drive could be used as an external storage device.
An external hard drive would almost certainly offer superior performance to an SD card. This is because you have the option of an external SSD drive, which will typically be much faster, and much more in line with the 256GB and 512GB internal storage. That doesn't mean an SD card is a bad choice. But, if it's confirmed that it would be compatible, an external SSD might be even better.
The dock for the Steam Deck has yet to be released, and more information will be revealed in due course.