It pops best SD card Steam Deck on Valve’s gaming laptop opens up a world of possibilities, regardless of which model you’ve gone for. After all, even the 512GB version will only fit Call of Duty: Warzone, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla before it struggles with storage.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to expand your storage with best SD card for Steam Deck from brands such as Samsung, SanDisk or Lexar. For those of you who don’t want to dive under the hood to install an NVMe SSD in your Steam Deck, you can use the microSD card slot on the bottom to fill up to 1TB of storage – at least until a 2 TB card. You could even get away with one you’ve previously used with your smartphone if you don’t mind formatting it, but you’ll want to make sure it has good read speeds and plenty of storage first – fast write speeds are a bonus.
In general, microSD cards are a bit slower than the eMMC storage found in the basic Steam Deck, so you’ll want to keep all your favorite games on the device itself. That said, microSD cards allow you to take more games, movies, TV shows and software on the go.
Here are the best Steam Deck SD cards:
1. SanDisk Extreme microSDXC
Of course, the best SD card for Steam Deck should be as large as possible without sacrificing read speeds – no disrespect to the loading screen advice, but we’d rather be playing the game. The SanDisk Extreme microSDXC 1TB model can’t reach the top 160MB/s read speed limit due to Steam Deck limitations, but it still outperforms its competition with heights of 100MB/s. This is the sweet spot with Steam Deck limitations in mind.
Western Digital claims the SanDisk Extreme microSDXC card is waterproof, shockproof, and even X-ray resistant. We don’t recommend trying any of these claims, but it also comes with a lifetime warranty if you do, which is more of most alternatives. If 1TB is a bit rich for your taste, it also comes in 512GB, 400GB, 256GB, 128GB, 64GB, and 32GB flavors, though you might struggle with anything in double-digit territory.
2. Samsung EVO Plus or EVO Select
Different names, different colors, but the same features under the hood: the Samsung EVO Plus and EVO Select are almost identical. Amazon has exclusive rights to Select in some countries, but with the same speeds, classifications and guarantees, it’s worth shopping around for the cheapest available. Even better, they are sometimes available in multipacks.
Write speeds are slightly slower than SanDisk’s alternative, but read speeds rival the best at 100MB/s. This is enough to run indie games on Steam Deck without problems.
3. Lexar Play
You’ll save the most money by going down to a 512GB, 256GB, or even 128GB model, but the Lexar Play is often the cheapest 1TB on the market thanks to sales. It’s designed with smartphones and Nintendo Switch in mind, but it’s up to the job to keep your Steam library running smoothly.
SD card classifications
When you look at an SD card, you might see what looks like a bunch of gibberish. Like game screens and their unruly array of letters and numbers, they each have a meaning, and the Steam Deck has limitations.
For example, the Steam Deck adopts UHS-I, which tops out at around 100MB/s read speeds and 90MB/s write speeds. You’ll be able to use the faster UHS-II standard because it’s backwards compatible, but you won’t get the highest rated read and write speeds. Since you’ll need to format the microSD card in the Steam Deck OS, it’s not worth spending the extra money on a branded UHS-II unless you’re into the Linux ecosystem and other devices.
Why not try the best external SSD for gaming?
The higher the V rating, the better. The V30, V60 and V90 show what the minimum stable write speed is, which is 30MB/s, 60MB/s and 90MB/s respectively. Write speed isn’t as important as read speed since you’ll want to download your games beforehand, but no one likes to wait.
The number that looks like it’s inside a circle (it’s actually the letter C) is the speed class. Category 10 is the fastest and default suggestion for HD video recording, but that’s less important for Steam Deck.
The “A” number is the performance class of the application, and A2 is naturally better than A1. Both are designed for smartphone operating systems such as Android, which means the standard is less relevant to Steam Deck’s gaming performance, but could help when jumping from one software to another.
Can I use the Nintendo Switch SD card?
The short answer is yes, but you can’t change the SD card between devices on the fly. The Nintendo Switch uses microSD cards that have the same form factor and fit the Steam Deck, but you’ll need to format it, which means you can’t store both PC games and Switch games at the same time. You’ll also want to consider the specifications of the microSD cards you have, as they may not reach the heights that the Steam Deck requires.