The Best MicroSD Cards for Steam Deck

Even with traditional PC support for SSD replacements, I’m convinced that getting one of the best microSD cards for Steam Deck is the wisest way to expand its storage. It’s technically possible to swap in a larger SSD, sure, but finding compatible M.2 2230 drives is a lot more difficult than finding the standard 2280 drives on our best gaming SSD list — and based on my testing, a microSD card could be nearly as good. As fast as SSD pre-installed on deck.

Plus, microSD cards are cheaper, easier to install, easier to remove, and available with much more options than Steam Deck compatible SSDs. That’s not to say any old card will work—Valve’s laptop PC specifically supports UHS-1 microSD cards—but I’ve found and tested a few that will do the job, and do it well.

You can read all about these below. For testing, I installed Aperture Desk Job and Shadow of the Tomb Raider on each card and timed, three runs, how long each game takes to a) launch to its main menu and b) load from the list to the appropriate game. Even if there isn’t much of a gap between the various microSD cards, they all deserve their place here by coming very close to Steam Deck’s 512GB SSD speeds: in our Shadow-to-game test, no card was more than 0.4 slower than Built-in solid state drive, which took an average of 15.9 seconds to load.

Since even a 512GB SSD can fill up quickly, and all Steam Decks already come with a case, I think a good microSD card is the best accessory you can get yourself. Why not make it one of those?

The Best MicroSD Cards for Steam Deck

Samsung Pro Plus

Best microSD card for Steam Deck overall

Samsung Pro Plus microSD card on top of Steam platform.

Samsung has made some of the best SSDs for PC (870 Evo, 870 Qvo, 980 Pro, etc.), so it’s not too surprising that they know their way around a Steam Deck-ready microSD card as well. The Samsung Pro Plus It was the only card I tested to get under 11 seconds in the Aperture Desk Job launch test, as well as the only card to kill 16 seconds in the Shadow of the Tomb Raider load test. It was also the fastest participant in the aperture load test and second fastest in the Shadow launch test, which all add up to make this the most consistent performance of the bunch.

Smaller capacities are a bit more expensive, especially compared to the SanDisk Ultra, but they’re generally no more than a few coins per dollar. And the 512GB model, the most spacious available, is actually quite a bit cheaper than the similar-spec Kingston Canvas Go! Plus.

  • Average Aperture Desk Job launch time: 10.9 seconds
  • Average slot desk job load time: 3.4 seconds
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider average launch time: 14.6 seconds
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider loading time: 16 seconds
  • SanDisk Ultra

    Best Cheap MicroSD Card For Steam Deck

    SanDisk Ultra microSD card on top of the Steam platform.

    The SanDisk Ultra It offers a wider range of capacities than the Pro Plus, with lower prices across the board. This is partly due to the U1’s lower speed class, which means that write speeds aren’t as fast as the U3 models, but that’s a bigger concern for videographers who need a microSD card for their camera. When it comes to gaming performance, reading speed is the best, and the affordable Ultra can keep up with higher priced cards.

    It was the second-fastest performance on the Aperture Desk Job, and even its worst performance – the Shadow of the Tomb Raider load test – was less than half a second slower than the higher-spec SSD drive. I would recommend going for a larger capacity than the 64GB card I used, brains; Both the 256GB and 512GB models are particularly good deals at their current prices.

    • Average Aperture Desk Job launch time: 11.1 seconds
    • Average slot desk job load time: 3.4 seconds
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider average launch time: 14.8 seconds
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider loading time: 16.3 seconds

    Kingston Canvas Go! Plus

    Good speeds with a wide range of capabilities

    The Kingston Canvas Go Plus microSD card is on top of the Steam deck.

    According to her marketing prose, Kingston Canvas Go! Plus It is for “adventurers”. Are you playing God of War at 11:55 to Swindon Adventure? Either way, this microSD card proves it can fit a Steam Deck just like a GoPro, with a very fast average time in our Shadow of the Tomb Raider launch test.

    Aside from not having a 1TB option, there is also a wide range of capacities compared to the Samsung Pro Plus or the PNY XLR8 below. The Canvas Go Exclamation Mark Plus 512GB model is currently more expensive than its counterparts, but the 256GB model easily undercuts the Pro Plus.

    • Average Aperture Desk Job launch time: 11.3 seconds
    • Average slot desk job loading time: 3.5 seconds
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider average launch time: 14.8 seconds
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider loading time: 16.3 seconds

    PNY XLR8 microSDXC Games

    Low prices, but only in the US right now

    The microSD card PNY XLR8 is on top of the Steam platform.

    A rare gaming-focused card, the PNY XLR8 microSDXC gaming card placed decent times in all four speed tests without any exorbitant price premiums. Indeed, in terms of absolute affordability, the three XLR8 capacity options breathe the necks of their SanDisk Ultra counterparts. That’s while offering U3-class write speeds, which may be useful if you plan on using Steam Deck as a desktop even if it’s not specifically useful for gaming.

    Unfortunately, the XLR8 has yet to be released in the UK and Europe – PNY tells me it will be released in May 2022, but they don’t have more specific information on a release date and price to share. boo. However, it is a good alternative option for our American friends.

    • Average Aperture Desk Job launch time: 11.2 seconds
    • Average slot desk job loading time: 3.5 seconds
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider average launch time: 14.8 seconds
    • Shadow of the Tomb Raider loading time: 16.1 seconds

    What microSD cards are compatible with Steam Deck?

    Steam Deck’s microSD requirements aren’t very demanding: any UHS-I microSD card should work, including microSDXC (extended capacity) and microSDHC (high capacity) cards. You’re better off looking at SDXC cards, though, like the ones above: Standard microSD cards are limited to 2GB, while microSDHC cards are at a maximum of 32GB. Since only microSDXC cards can occupy the 64GB – 2TB range, they’re the ones to focus on to make sure you’re adding enough space.

    The Samsung Pro Plus microSD card is partially inserted into the microSD card slot on the Steam Deck.

    Once you’ve got a compatible microSD card, it’s just a matter of pushing it into the slot on the bottom edge of the Steam Deck, then going into your SteamOS system settings to format it. From there, you can set it as the default install location for the game in the storage settings.

    What do interfaces and speed classes mean?

    UHS (Ultra Speed) is the current interface standard for SD and microSD cards, with specific classifications such as UHS-I, UHS-II, and UHS-III indicating maximum transfer speeds. UHS-I cards have a maximum speed of 104 MB/s, while UHS-II and UHS-III can reach speeds of 312 MB/s and 624 MB/s respectively.

    On Steam Deck, Valve chose the UHS-I interface. UHS-II and UHS-III cards are backward compatible with UHS-I, so you can use them in a deck, but you’ll be limited to UHS-I speeds; As such, there is no point in spending more to get newer interfaces. Besides, game start and load times are dependent on non-sequential read speeds, which usually aren’t close to the advertised maximum sequential speeds anyway.

    Other specifications you may see printed on microSD cards are the speed class, such as U1 or U3. Instead of the general maximum speeds, they represent minimum Sequential write speeds: U1 is 10MB/s, U3 is 30MB/s. Again, these ratings have no real bearing on how quickly Steam Deck games load, although it might be worth getting a U3 card if you’re using your desktop as a full desktop replacement, as faster write speeds would be useful in many ways. times.