Steam Deck Storage: eMMC vs NVMe SSD And How Much Storage Do I Need For PC Gaming On The Go?

Steam Deck Storage: eMMC vs NVMe SSD And How Much Storage Do I Need For PC Gaming On The Go?

Are you confused by the differences between eMMC and NVMe storage?

With Steam's recent announcement of the Steam Deck, a portable gaming system with echoes of the Nintendo Switch, there are plenty of questions about which one you should pick. There are three different Steam Deck storage options - 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. For many people, that's all the difference they would pay attention to.

But you aren't most people, are you? You've noticed that the 64GB model is eMMC, while the other two are both NVMe SSD. So you've decided to find out what this actually means. That's what we'll get into today, and give you an idea of how much Steam Deck storage you'll actually need to play your games on the new PC handheld.

Steam Deck Storage: eMMC vs NVMe SSD

Let's start off with the fundamentals. The differences between the two memory types that are available on the Steam Deck. NVMe, which is available on the two larger storage models, is what gets utilised in an SSD. eMMC is short for Embedded MultiMediaCard and has much in common with SD cards.

Almost without exception, eMMC will not perform as well as NVMe. NVMe typically has a greater capacity to transfer data, meaning it will be much faster. It will also be better equipped to handle large files, such as an open-world video game.

eMMC tends to be found in cheaper computers, as well as things like phones or digital cameras. But for high-performance computers, you would typically expect to see an NVMe SSD installed. It makes sense, therefore, that Steam might choose to include eMMC on the cheapest variant of the Steam Deck. It would be very hard to incorporate more expensive storage and keep the price down. But will it be enough for you?

How Much Storage Do I Need For PC Gaming On The Go?

PSX Steam Deck storage
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Steam Deck storage is good enough to hold major AAA games, but will it be fast enough to run them?

The answer to this question is that it really depends. If you are a casual gamer who intends to primarily stream your games, rather than download them, then 64GB might be enough. On the other hand, a game like Red Dead Redemption II would require 150GB of available space. Even a less open-world game like F1 2021 needs 80GB of available storage. It will definitely be more suitable for smaller, indie-type games, or older games that needed less storage.

So there is definitely a question mark as to whether the 64GB model will be viable for anyone other than very casual gamers. Or, as we said before, by streaming the game, rather than installing it. It simply doesn't have room for newer titles with more demanding requirements.

And this leads us back to the difference between eMMC and NVMe. Because NVMe will be faster, it will be much better equipped to deal with new titles, that tend to be designed with greater system demands. So if you are someone who likes playing new AAA titles, that needs to be a consideration as well.

The good news is that you can use an SD card to expand your storage on the Steam Deck. But even if you do that on the 64GB model, you'll still be faced with slower loading times than you will get on the 256 or 512GB models.

So there you have it. Think about what type of games you will want to play on the go. Are you an AAA-type gamer, who needs bigger storage and faster loading times? Or a casual gamer who plays exclusively indie titles now and again? Depending on where you fit, will dictate how much storage you will need. But for us, that 64GB model just doesn't look like it's going to be enough.

If you are thinking about ordering a Steam Deck, have a look at the Steam Deck shipping time.

For more articles like this, take a look at our How To and PC Gaming page.