Can You Use Older SD Cards with Steam Deck?

A Steam Deck is basically a handheld gaming PC, much like a Nintendo Switch, developed by Valve. It is a mid-range gaming laptop with a quad-core CPU and a GPU similar to GTX 1660. This article talks specifically about the storage capacities and designs of Steam Deck and the usage of SD cards with Steam Deck. Steam Deck can have a storage capacity from 64 GB to 512 GB which may not be enough for your gaming requirements but it supports hot-swappable SD cards.

SD cards supported by the Steam Deck

As we have discussed before, the Steam Deck itself has limited storage capacity but you can change that by using micro SD cards. The official standard for an SD card with the Steam Deck is UHS-I which supports SD, SDXC, and SDHC cards. . Below are listed the five best micro SD cards for the Steam Deck. But before that, check out this detailed article on your favorite Alienware gaming laptops.

Samsung Evo Plus microSDXC

Samsung Evo Plus microSDXC SD cards are incredibly compatible with Steam Deck. It can match the reading and writing speed to the console’s maximum. The maximum read and write speed is 130 Mbps. These are available in 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB. This particular model was given a refresh around 2021 and they provide even better transfer speed than the older ones.

The cost of a 64 GB Samsung Evo Plus microSDXC is $14, for 128 GB it is $20, for 256 GB it is $35, and for 512 GB the cost is $80. Samsung provides a 10-year warranty for Samsung Evo Plus mircoSDXC, which is not extraordinary but still pretty good. As a bonus, it also has six-proof protection. But it won’t hit the advertised speed without a Samsung reader.

SanDisk 512GB Extreme microSDXC

SanDisk 512 GB Extreme microSDXC is a bit more expensive than the other micro Sd cards listed here. But it is reasonable because with this micro SD card you will get a read speed of 160 Mbps. The maximum write speed is 90 Mbps with your standard class 2 rated IOPS Speeds. The speed class for this micro SD card is Class 10, U3, v30.

SanDisk has been a reputed and trusted brand for SD cards for a long time and the Extreme series of micro SD cards are incomparable when it comes to increasing the storage of Steam Deck. The warranty for this card is thirty years which is very rare in micro SDs. The capacity of this card starts from 32 Gb and goes up to a whopping 1 TB. Although it is a bit expensive. The 128 GB card costs $21 while the 1 TB card costs $180. According to, SanDisk currently the recommended SD card for Steam Deck.

SanDisk “Apex Legends Sigil” MicroSDXC

These micro SD cards have one of the most attractive designs in the market. The capacity of this card goes up to 128 GB. This card is the best hot-swappable card for Apex Legends. It was created to be sold alongside a Nintendo version of Apex legends. But you can always buy just the card without the game. The read speed on this is 100 Mbps and the write speed is 90 Mbps. SanDisk provides a 30-year warranty on this card as well. You can buy this on Amazon for $25.

PNY PRO Elite microSDXC

Another micro SD that is worth mentioning in this list is the PNY PRO Elite microSDXC. PNY has been a reputed provider and manufacturer in the field of SD cards. The read speed on this card is the usual 100 Mbps and the write speed is 90 Mbps which is pretty decent. It has the standard durability approach with heat, shock, waterproof housing, and magnetic protection. The lowest capacity on this model card is 128 GB which costs $18. The maximum capacity offered by this particular model is 1 TB which is about $170.

SanDisk Ultra microSDXC

SanDisk 512GB Ultra microSDXC is a somewhat downgraded version of the SanDisk Extreme series. It is a lot cheaper as well. The storage capacity of this micro SD card starts from 8 GB and goes up to 400 GB. The exact choices of the SD card storage spaces are 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB, and 400 GB. The read speed on this thing is 100 Mbps but the write speed is significantly low. The maximum write speed is 10 Mbps. This card is water and heat-resistant and comes with x-ray and magnetic protection.

Lexar PLAY Series of microSDXC UHS-I-Cards

This is the most affordable card on this list. And the read speed you get is 150 Mbps with a write speed of 104 Mbps. The Lexar PLAY series is less expensive than the SanDisk Extreme series but really good if you want a game-dedicated SD card to hot-swap. The thing is it provides a much lower warranty time than its competitors which is about 5 years on limited products.

The most affordable version of UHS-I micro SD starts at 128 GB capacity which costs about $16, the 256 GB capacity card costs $28, and the 1 TB card is $133.

Using a micro SD card means your games will load at the speed of 90 Mbps on paper although compatible micro SD s can give you up to 100 Mbps speed.

Can You Reuse older SD cards?

The average lifespan of a micro SD card is about 15 years. For SanDisk SD cards you get a warranty of 30 years, i.e, a lifetime, in most cases. Samsung SD cards on the other hand give you a warranty of 10 years, which is also good. PNY too gives a lifetime warranty on their SD cards but not on the outdated models.

Although SD cards can theoretically last 30 years, heavy gaming can wear them down faster. If you have a gaming device bought in the last five years like a Nintendo Switch, DJ Drone, or any other device like a digital camera or an Android phone, the SD cards will probably be reusable.

How to format an SD card on the Steam Deck?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to format an SD card on the Steam Deck.

Step 1: After inserting the SD card into the Steam Deck slot, click the Steam Button below the left touchpad.

Step 2: This will open the Steam menu with a feature called settings. Click on that and press A.

Step 3: This will open another menu where you have to find System and then press A.

Step 4: Then go to Format SD and press A.

Final step: If your SD card has games installed there will be a pop-up message asking if you want to format your SD card. If you press OK it will erase all the data on your SD card permanently. If your SD card is empty you can just click OK and you’re done.

The formatting process can be a bit lengthy. It depends on the size of the SD cards and the existent data( if any).

Do you need to set your SD card as default storage on a Steam Deck?

No, you don’t necessarily have to set your SD card as default. When you try to install a game the Store menu asks you where you want to store it. The games you load usually load into the default device but you get to choose if you have SD cards installed with the Steam Deck. If you want to load a game faster than usual we recommend that you load it in the internal SSD of the Steam Deck because no external storage will ever be able to match the speed.

Are Steam Deck SD Memory Cards Hot-swappable?

Yes, they are. The Steam OS comes with a hot-swappable feature. This means that you can have specific SD cards for specific games and just switch to that SD card when you want to play that specific game. Larger games like Call of Duty or Marvel’s SpiderMan Remastered need SD cards dedicated to those games alone. This is when the hot-swappable feature comes in handy.

Can you use UHS-II SD Cards?

Steam Deck does not support SD cards other than the UHS-I standard. So you can use UHS-II SD cards, which are much more expensive, but in practice, you will get only the UHS-I standard performance. It doesn’t really make sense to pay extra for the same features.

Can you use an SDHC?

An SDHC has a maximum storage of 32 GB. So you won’t really be able to store any games on it. But if you want to test out the port you can use SDHC. The performance will also be pretty terrible since it has the same technology as PS3 or Xbox 360.

Using class 10 SD cards with the Steam Deck

Yes, but it is better to use one of the recommended micro SD cards from above. Using a class 10 SD card will also compromise the loading time and performance.

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