A month ago, Valve quietly noted that some Steam Deck models were getting slower SSDs, and now that players have noticed the change, the company insists it doesn’t expect any changes in game performance.
In May, Valve updated its Steam Deck spec page (opens in new tab) to note that “some 256GB and 512GB models come with a PCIe Gen 3 x2 SSD. During our testing, we saw no impact on gaming performance between x2 and x4.” The change was recently noticed by the German outlet Hardwareluxx (opens in new tab)and has led to quite a bit of speculation – which Valve has now responded to immediately.
“In extremely rare cases, differences in read/write speed limits can minimally affect file transfer speeds,” Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang tells PC Gamer. (opens in new tab)“but OS performance, load times, game performance, and game response are identical between the x2 and x4 drives.”
As for Steam Deck’s current, real-world performance stats, there’s little reason to doubt Valve’s rating. And, as Yang explains, “many Steam Deck components are sourced from multiple vendors for enhanced redundancy and production capability” — so the decision to use slower SSD standards to get more of the handhelds to market faster makes sense. (Especially now that Valve is doubling down on Steam Deck production.)
But theoretical performance improvements would be possible with firmware updates to the Steam Deck, and that could leave users stuck with the x2 SSDs looking at poorer performance. APIs like DirectStorage can be used in games for improved load times and better performance – but at least on PC no games that have been released support this yet.
Similar Steam Deck APIs could install more SSDs on the platform, but that would likely require support for individual games or broader optimizations developed by Valve.
Want to know about Valve’s hardware? View our Steam Deck Review†