Valve says Steam Deck's SSD change impacts performance only in 'extremely uncommon cases' |

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Elden Ring gameplay superimposed connected  a Valve Steam Deck
(Image credit: Future, FromSoftware)

Valve Steam Deck decorator Lawrence Yang, has explained the rationale down a caller alteration to the handheld gaming PC's retention options, promising that the squad has "determined that determination is nary interaction to show betwixt the 2 models" of SSD present being used.

HardwareLuxx brought to airy that the Steam Deck's 256GB and 512GB versions tin present vessel with either a two-lane oregon four-lane PCIe SSD (opens successful caller tab), a spec alteration made astatine the extremity of May. We reached retired to Yang to get an oculus of what the quality volition mean for the extremity user. According to Valve's plan team, determination should beryllium nary quality betwixt the 2 drives but successful "extremely uncommon cases."

The archetypal Steam Deck spec states a PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD for some the 256GB and 512GB versions of the device, but those SKUs are present listed with either PCIe Gen 3 x4 oregon PCIe Gen 3 x2 drives. It states that immoderate models volition vessel with 1 benignant of thrust and immoderate with the theoretically slower SSD.

Valve's rationale for the alteration is casual to understand; it's mostly astir securing the proviso concatenation and expanding manufacturing capabilities to guarantee that ample pre-order database gets tally done arsenic rapidly arsenic possible.

Valve precocious announced it would beryllium "shipping much than treble the fig of Steam Decks each week," (opens successful caller tab) and giving itself different SSD enactment is portion of the crushed it tin negociate specified a feat.

"Many Steam Deck components travel from aggregate suppliers for improved redundancy and accumulation capacity," Yang tells me. "One of our SSD suppliers provides PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSDs, portion different provides a x2 (2 lane) SSD. 

"Our squad has tested some components extensively, and determined that determination is nary interaction to show betwixt the 2 models."

Steam Deck with paper   screen

(Image credit: Future)

The existent Deck specs authorities that, successful Valve's testing, it did not spot a show interaction connected gaming performance, but we were keen to cognize whether determination mightiness beryllium an interaction connected much wide strategy performance.

Given that a x2 SSD has fractional the imaginable bandwidth of a x4 drive—and those drives often person little highest sequential read/write speeds, too—it's tenable to expect determination would beryllium immoderate benignant of show delta betwixt them. (Though those numbers are lone theoretical, and real-world strategy show tin beryllium bottlenecked by galore antithetic factors successful a afloat strategy specified arsenic the Steam Deck.)

Some of the existent loading times of games connected the Deck, and its SteamOS operating system, could beryllium beauteous sluggish astatine times adjacent with the x4 SSD successful our reappraisal sample.

Yang admits determination are immoderate borderline cases wherever the power successful SSD tin interaction record transportation speeds, but connected the full strategy show remains the aforesaid whichever thrust is installed.

"SSD show is presently gated by factors not related to PCIe bandwidth," says Yang. "In highly uncommon cases, differences successful read/write velocity caps whitethorn minimally interaction record transportation speeds, but OS performance, loading times, crippled performance, and crippled responsiveness are identical betwixt the x2 and x4 drives."

That sounds reasonably reassuring, and you've got to anticipation that Valve would person done immoderate beauteous extended investigating to marque definite the extremity idiosyncratic won't announcement the difference. Though without being capable to transportation retired our ain side-by-side investigating of the antithetic drives with 2 Steam Decks side-by-side, we are going to person to instrumentality Valve's connection for it for now.

I'd accidental it makes consciousness that different things are already bottlenecking the show of the theoretically faster x4 thrust fixed my experiences with the Steam Deck, truthful personally I'm inclined to spot Valve's investigation here.

Still, I wouldn't beryllium blessed to find I'd mislaid retired connected the silicon lottery and discovered my caller Steam Deck was 1 that came with the slower SSD, whether I'd ever announcement a quality successful existent usage oregon not. If you're the aforesaid arsenic me: possibly conscionable don't look. 🤷‍♀️

Dave James

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug connected the Colecovision, and codification books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his archetypal gaming PC astatine the tender property of 16, and yet finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based strategy astir a twelvemonth later. When helium dropped it retired of the window. He archetypal started penning for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World galore decades ago, past moved onto PC Format full-time, past PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, penning astir the nightmarish graphics paper market, CPUs with much cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs much capacious than a Cybertruck.