The next generation in handheld gaming is on here thanks to Valve’s Steam Deck, bringing PC gaming in a compact form factor. But, as many have experienced with the Nintendo Switch, you’re going to need a hell of a lot of storage to get those games installed. This is amplified even more with the graphically intensive AAA titles in Steam’s library, meaning you’ll likely need to expand the Steam Deck’s internal SSD with the best SD cards.
In this article, we’ll take you through the best Steam Deck SD cards so that you can be fully equipped for when you get your hands on Valve’s console.
Why you need the best SD card for Steam Deck
As previously stated, Steam’s library is ever growing with games being added on a daily basis. Moreover, at this point, if you’ve had a Steam account for some time, you’ve probably amassed a whole host of titles thanks to the various Summer Sales that have a way of giving you an excuse to buy yet another game. This, therefore, means that if you want to get through that library by playing them on the Steam Deck, you’ll need a crazy amount of storage space.
How We Choose
In how we’ve selected these best Steam Deck SD cards, we focused on both speed and capacity. These are the two most important aspects when it comes to SD cards in general but this is amplified even more when you’re thinking about slotting one into the Steam Deck.
Best SD Cards for Steam Deck 2023
SanDisk is a go-to for many when it comes to SD card storage and for good reason. They have a great reputation for fast, reliable, and affordable solutions that simply get the job done. This can certainly be said for their SanDisk 1TB Extreme Micro SD Card and why it comes in first on our best SD cards for Steam Deck roundup.
Right off the bat, it has a huge 1TB of storage space which is perfect for Valve’s handheld console. Take Jedi Fallen Order for example, this comes in at around 55GB and when you multiply that with all the games you need to play, no matter which version of the Steam Deck you pick up will be out of space quickly. 1TB will allow you to be able to fit a plethora of AAA titles with little to no worry of exceeding the storage limit.
For how quick the SanDisk is, you’re looking at up to 160MB/s read speeds and up to 90MB/s write speeds. This is perfect for the Steam Deck as that read speed number is particularly exceptional and something that’s very important for keeping your games running as smoothly as possible.
Due to the storage size of this SD card though, you are going to be paying a pretty penny which on top of the Steam Deck’s price, certainly mounts up. If you’re not willing to part with that kind of cash, read on, where we’ll detail some other low-cost options.
Before we get into those lower storage solutions though, let’s run you through another 1TB option that rivals that of the SanDisk.
The Lexar PLAY 1TB variant again, has that huge storage capacity for all your Steam Deck games, allowing you to really make a dent in that backed up Steam library we know you have. It also has read speeds of up to 150MB/s, making it almost as fast as the above SanDisk option and a fantastic alternative if you’re not a fan of the SanDisk brand.
The Lexar PLAY 1TB is also heavily promoted to be great for the Nintendo Switch which, again, furthers the claim that it’ll be a solid option for portable gaming on the Steam Deck.
In terms of pricing, it comes in at a little lower compared to other 1TB options which is perfect for those who are looking to save a little but also want that high storage capacity.
Taking a look at other storage capacities, this PNY PRO Elite SD card could be just the trick.
First off, it has 512GB of storage which when compared to the two 1TB options above, is almost half but don’t get us mistaken, 512GB is still a huge number and will allow you to store a bunch of titles on there with ease.
This PNY SD Card, as alluded to in the product name, is from their PRO Elite lineup. This makes it the best of the best PNY has to offer, with Class 10 performance and durability made to withstand high temperatures and even water.
Looking at the speeds you can expect from the PNY, you can utilize the 100MB/s read speeds for quick game loading as well as 90MB/s write speeds for relatively fast installations.
Overall, the PNY PRO Elite more than deserves its spot on the best Steam Deck SD cards list thanks to it’s solid storage capacity and overall speeds.
Last, but no means least, is the SanDisk 400GB Ultra.
Yes, as you can see, this is a 400GB variant from SanDisk which is far below that of the 1TB option we talked about earlier. But, it is far more inexpensive so if your budget is tight but still want a durable SD card, this one could be right up your alley.
You’ll be getting those glorious SanDisk speeds from the Ultra, a little lower than the Extreme, but the read speeds are still coming in at 120MB/s which is pretty stellar considering it’s not the most expensive SD card SanDisk produces and it still beats out higher priced alternatives.
Again, you’re getting the SanDisk quality meaning even after hours upon hours of heavy use, you can be sure that you won’t have any data loss and you can carry on playing your Steam Deck games for years to come.
Things To Consider
As shown in the above best SD cards for Steam Deck, there are certainly large variations in storage capacity. Personally, we’d recommend going as large as possible for the Steam Deck as you’ll be able to fit a crazy amount of games on there and not worry about uninstalling. However, if budget is an issue, as long as you pick up an SD card around the 200GB level, you should have a decent amount of room to get some less demanding titles on there.
Does the Steam Deck take SD cards?
Yes, the Steam Deck does take SD cards in micro SD card form to expand the internal SSD storage. This will allow you to install a bunch more games from your Steam library rather than having to switch out the ones you’re not currently playing.
Will the Steam Deck have expandable storage?
You can expand the Steam Deck’s storage either through inserting a micro SD card or plugging in an external SSD. Valve has stated that the internal SSD can be taken out and replaced but this is not advised, and with little to no options on the market that actually fit into the Steam Deck, we’d suggest sticking to SD cards or an external SSD.
In our opinion, if you’re wanting to all in on the Steam Deck, the best SD card you can pick up is the SanDisk 1TB Extreme. It has an insane capacity which is incredibly important due to the games of today only getting larger in size and the fact that Steam’s library is so big, you’ll likely have a large backlog to get through. Additionally, it’s one of the fastest SD cards on the market which is vital when you’re utilizing this best SD card for Steam Deck as an internal SSD replacement, hopefully not hindering loading times too much.
It is a little on the pricey side though, so if you’re a little budget-conscious, maybe knock that storage capacity down a little to a 512GB option.