Get Ready for Gaming | Introducing Five SD Cards for Your Steam Deck
Before Valve introduced the Steam Deck, there were already several PC handheld manufacturers in the market, such as AYANEO, GPD, and others. However, none of them had the extensive support of Steam, the largest online store for PC gaming, to the extent that Steam Deck does. Additionally, the Deck boasts an astonishing level of repairability; it allows you not only to replace the built-in 2230 SSD but also to directly insert an SD card to run independent games. Pretty sweet.
Recently, Valve has even released an advanced Steam Deck OLED version. It supports a refresh rate of up to 90Hz, is equipped with faster WiFi 6E, a larger battery, and a more energy-efficient 6nm AMD APU, estimating a considerable increase in gaming time.
As mentioned earlier, the Steam Deck comes with a Micro SD card slot; this is a good expansion option for users who are not very tech-savvy or prefer not to tinker with their devices. In fact, many users have found that the difference in game loading speed between adding a Micro SD card and an SSD is not significant. For example, in Cyberpunk 2077, loading the same saved file took 19 seconds with an SD card and 12 seconds with an SSD! If it were my money, I'd opt for the much cheaper SD card.
So, this time, let's take stock of some Micro SD cards suitable for the Steam Deck.
Kingston SDXC Canvas Go Plus SD Card
First up is Kingston's Canvas Go Plus SD Card, with performance ratings of U3, V30, C10. For those who don't know, these three specs represent UHS Speed Class, Video Speed Class, and Speed Class, respectively. Here, they signify a minimum write speed of 30MB/s. It's waterproof, temperature-proof, shockproof, and comes in capacities ranging from 64GB to 512GB, with a lifetime warranty.
Performance-wise, it has transfer speeds of up to 170MB/s, supporting UHS-I U3 and V30 speeds, making it ideal for quick transfers and capturing full HD and 4K content. Its data transfer capabilities are particularly suitable for use with 4K cameras, action cameras, drones, Android devices, and, of course, handheld gaming consoles like the Steam Deck.
Lexar 1066x SD Card
Lexar's 1066x Micro SD card features performance ratings of U3, V30, A2, indicating a minimum random read speed of 4000 IOPS and a minimum random write speed of 2000 IOPS compared to the previous model. It also offers resistance to extreme temperatures, waterproofing, and comes in capacities ranging from 64GB to 1TB, with limited lifetime warranty.
With read speeds of up to 160MB/s, write speeds of 120MB/s, and WRITE BOOST technology, it ensures more stable 4K shooting. It's compatible with action cameras, drones, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, dash cams, music players, and more.
Netac 667X SD Card
Netac's 667X Micro SD card features performance ratings of C10, U3, A1, V30, meaning it has a minimum write speed of 30MB/s, a random read speed of 1500 IOPS, and a minimum random write speed of 500 IOPS. It also features resistance to cold, heat, shock, water, and magnetic interference. It's available in capacities ranging from 32GB to 512GB. But sadly, it only has a limited five-year warranty.
Performance-wise, it achieves read speeds of up to 100MB/s, smoothly supporting 4K ultra HD video streaming and adapting to various devices like action cameras, drones, gaming consoles, etc.
Samsung PRO Plus microSD Memory Card
Next is Samsung's Micro SD card, one of the best-selling SD cards on Amazon. It carries performance ratings of C10, U3, V30, A2, offering comprehensive six-layer protection suitable for home, outdoor, and travel use. It comes in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB versions, with a ten-year limited warranty.
Performance-wise, the 512GB version features sequential read/write speeds of up to 180MB/s and 130MB/s, enabling easy 4K video capture for smartphones, drones, and providing ample storage expansion for devices like the Steam Deck and tablets.
SanDisk Extreme SDSQXAV-128G-GN6MA SD Card
Lastly, the SanDisk Extreme Micro SD card. It carries performance ratings of U3, V30, A2, designed to endure harsh conditions and tested for high temperature, waterproofing, shock resistance, and X-ray protection. It's available in capacities ranging from 32GB to 1TB, offering a lifetime warranty.
Thanks to the A2 standard, it achieves faster application performance, delivering an excellent smartphone experience. It also prevents frame skipping when shooting videos, allowing easy capture of lossless 4K ultra HD and full HD videos. Versions above 128GB feature read/write speeds of up to 190MB/s and 130MB/s, suitable for smartphones, tablets, action cameras, gaming consoles, and video monitoring applications.
Summary of ChargerLAB
For Micro SD cards, there are several standards and protocols to consider. For Steam Deck users, it's important to pay attention to the A1 and A2 standards representing application opening speeds. Among the five Micro SD cards mentioned, only the Netac 667X SD Card is A1; the rest are A2. Additionally, due to differences in flash memory and controllers, there might be some variation in actual read/write performance.
Regarding warranties, only the Netac 667X and Samsung PRO Plus provide limited warranties of five and ten years, respectively. However, overall, these products tend to have high stability, with few quality issues. If product quality is a top priority, selecting the other three products with lifetime warranties would be advisable.
In terms of capacity, selections range from 32GB to 1TB. As mentioned on our last SSD buying guide article, considering the significant increase in the size of AAA games today, capacities above 512GB are a better choice. Not only do they meet current needs, but they also offer better cost-effectiveness.
Performance-wise, while there are differences in specifications among these Micro SD cards, the actual game loading speed on the Steam Deck might not exhibit significant differences.