The best SSD for the Steam Deck in 2024: Fast NVMe drives for gaming on the go

Our picks for the best Steam Deck SSDs for gaming in 2024 come from our benchmarks and data collected from a large selection of modern M.2 2230 drives. When shopping for the best Steam Deck SSDs, you’ll want to balance performance, capacity, and features against your budget. We’ve compiled a list of the best options below based on a variety of factors, but be sure to visit our in-depth SSD reviews for more details on each SSD, where we have additional testing under Windows along with plenty of analysis and benchmarking.

The Steam Deck was the first portable gaming PC on the market to be widely successful. The waitlist was massive, but eventually users got their hands on the holy grail. One big limitation, however, was the size of the internal storage, with a good number of units being sold with only 64GB of capacity. It’s not difficult to add additional storage by way of a microSD card and/or external storage, but upgrading the internal SSD is a surer way of having reliable, fast storage. The SSDs below will also make a good choice for use with other gaming handhelds, like the Asus ROG Ally, MSI Claw, Lenovo Legion Go, and other devices that utilize M.2 2230 drives.

Some users have experimented with modding and the use of larger M.2 2242 SSDs, cut-down SSDs, double-sided SSDs, and even ribbon cables to place M.2 2280 SSDs on the outside of the Steam Deck. However, the best and simplest option is to simply pick from the growing list of M.2 2230 SSDs that are fully compatible with the Steam Deck. You’ll want a single-sided 2230 SSD as well, which allows for the EMI shielding to remain in place. This is critical so the drive does not interfere with the Steam Deck’s WiFi, and also a single-sided drive maintains the intended cooling configuration of the device.

Steam Deck SSDs at a glance

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SSD Performance Temperature Battery Life Specifications (Links to review)
Lexar Play 1TB 525 56 333 PCIe 4.0 x4, Silicon Motion SM2269XT, 176-Layer Micron TLC
Sabrent Rocket 4 1TB 518 57 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron TLC
Corsair MP600 Core Mini 2TB 500 61 333 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron QLC
Inland QN446 2TB 498 55 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron QLC
Corsair MP600 Mini 1TB 492 59 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron TLC
Sabrent Rocket Q4 2TB 487 59 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron QLC
WD Black SN770M 2TB 486 58 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, WD NVMe, 112-Layer Kioxia TLC
Teamgroup MP44S 1TB 482 60 300 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron QLC
WD SN740 2TB 482 66 333 PCIe 4.0 x4, WD NVMe, 112-Layer Kioxia TLC
Addlink S91 2TB 482 54 300 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron QLC
Inland TN446 1TB 475 61 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron TLC
Silicon Power UD90 2TB 462 59 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E21T, 176-Layer Micron QLC
Inland TN436 1TB 407 65 316 PCIe 4.0 x4, Phison E19T, 112-Layer Kioxia TLC
Valve 64GB eMMC 71 35 316 PCIe 2.0 x2, N/A, TLC

We’ll dig into the details of our best Steam Deck SSDs and Asus ROG Ally SSDs below. Although the Steam Deck only has a PCIe 3.0 M.2 slot, PCIe 4.0 drives work perfectly well and are in fact more efficient at lower speeds. Efficiency is paramount for portable devices like the Steam Deck as you want to produce as little heat as possible and at the same time improve battery life. Larger-capacity drives do peak at higher wattage, and some drives use older technology. For example, 28nm SSD controllers can negatively impact overall power draw. Gaming as a whole does not tend to pull too much power, thankfully, but Steam Decks are known to get quite hot.

Performance is a separate concern, and ideally you want a drive that offers a quick response time for game loading, often demonstrated by 4KB or smaller I/O benchmark results. Consistent performance as a drive fills is another concern, particularly when the drive is packed full of games. In most cases, there won’t be a lot of variation in performance between any two NVMe drives in the Steam Deck, as it’s limited by the interface speed, Wi-Fi download speeds, and even the CPU. Still, it’s best to get a higher performance model if the price is similar, though there’s no need to pay for more than you need.

Early Steam Deck SSD upgraders often had to resort to searching for drives on eBay, AliExpress, and other third party sites to secure a higher capacity SSD for their Deck. This can come with warranty concerns, and further, the specifications for many drives remain uncertain. However, a plethora of retail drives with newer hardware and explicit specifications now exists, making the experience of upgrading a lot easier.

As we only began our Steam Deck SSD testing in mid-2023, we don’t have results for many older drives. In fact, nearly all of the drives we’ve tested are PCIe 4.0 compliant and should run faster if used in newer handhelds like the Asus Ally. Most of the drives we’ve tested remain available for retail purchase, which is also a plus. We’re here to highlight the best options currently available, tailored around particular priorities.

Note that there are a lot of 2230 drives use the Phison E21T controller, with either Micron 176-layer TLC (1TB) or QLC (2TB) NAND. As nearly all of the drives we’ve tested feel similarly performant in the Steam Deck, a major factor will inevitably come down to pricing, availability, and support.

Best Steam Deck SSDs You Can Buy Today

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Best 1TB Steam Deck SSD in 2024

Specifications

Capacities: 1TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe

Sequential Reads/Writes: 4,800 MBps / 4,800 MBps

Warranty/Endurance: 5 Years / 600 TBW

Reasons to buy

+

TLC NAND

+

Good performance

+

Reasonable price

Reasons to avoid

A lot of competition

Only a 1TB option

The Corsair MP600 Mini is the quintessential Steam Deck upgrade SSD, offering 1TB of fast solid state storage. It’s essentially the same as the Sabrent Rocket 2230 and Inland TN446, but is often available at a lower price. Your opinion on Corsair might be a factor, but it’s better than a generic brand in terms of support.

The drive has a ton of competition at 1TB, made worse as the drive is only available at that capacity, but it’s a good pick in its spot as it performs well with good power efficiency. (Note that this was one of the first M.2 SSDs we tested in the Steam Deck, so performance may have improved with more recent updates.) As with so many of the Steam Deck SSDs that we’ve tested, the Corsair Mini 1TB uses the Phison E21T controller with Micron 176-layer TLC NAND.

MORE: Corsair MP600 Mini 1TB SSD Review

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Alternative Best 1TB Steam Deck SSD in 2024

Specifications

Capacities: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe

Sequential Reads/Writes: 5,000 MBps / 4,300 MBps

Warranty/Endurance: 5 Years / 600 TBW

Reasons to buy

+

TLC

+

Capacity range

Reasons to avoid

Competition

The Sabrent Rocket 2230 remains a popular choice for a Steam Deck SSD upgrade. It uses TLC on an efficient platform and, unlike the MP600 Mini, has a range of capacity options. If you happen to have the 64GB Steam Deck, the 256GB and 512GB options can be a way to save a little coin — though we’d still recommend saving up for a 1TB or 2TB drive.

Since the Rocket 2230 launched in early 2023, a number of competing products have come to market that make it less compelling at the current price. Still, it’s a known solid performer, and was our best-reviewed M.2 2230 SSD for quite some time. It has the same Phison E21T controller and Micron 176-layer TLC NAND as many other 1TB drives.

MORE: Sabrent Rocket 2230 SSD Review

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Best High-Capacity and Priced Steam Deck SSD in 2023

Specifications

Capacities: 1TB, 2TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe

Sequential Reads/Writes: 5,000 MBps / 3,500 MBps

Warranty/Endurance: 5 Years / 450 TBW

Reasons to buy

+

Up to 2TB

+

Efficient

+

Affordable

Reasons to avoid

The Teamgroup MP44S arrived after the Rocket Q4 2230 but has essentially the same makeup. Team’s drives tend to be hit or miss, but this drive is a winner if it’s priced right — and right now it’s by far the least expensive 2TB 2230 drive on Amazon. It does use QLC flash, which has lower endurance and performance than TLC, but you can get 2TB of space in a tiny drive as a result. The MP44S has the advantage of having a 1TB option out of the gate, even if it is late to the party, for added flexibility. (We tested the 1TB model, but the 2TB drive should perform similarly.)

In our testing, the fewer dies present at 1TB did not negatively impact performance. The drive is also quite efficient, which is perfect for the Steam Deck. It also costs less than the TLC alternatives, making it a real contender at 1TB, although you have to judge for yourself whether or not the cost savings are worthwhile. The performance gap is not large with the Steam Deck but could be more significant with the Ally.

MORE: Teamgroup MP44S SSD Review

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Best Alternative High-Capacity Steam Deck SSD in 2024

Specifications

Capacities: 1TB, 2TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe

Sequential Reads/Writes: 5,000 MBps / 3,200 MBps

Warranty/Endurance: 5 Years / 450 TBW

Reasons to buy

+

Quick way to get 2TB

+

Efficient

Reasons to avoid

Uses QLC with weaker sustained peak performance

More expensive than other 2TB models

Sabrent’s Rocket 2230 made waves at the beginning of 2023 as a mass-produced, retail storage solution for the Steam Deck. It provided an easy update to 1TB from the stock Steam Deck SSDs. However, users were clamoring for more storage, and that led to the release of the Rocket Q4 2230. Now it’s possible to toss in up to 2TB of internal storage for the Steam Deck without having to go to eBay or AliExpress. Still missing is the 1TB SKU, but this can be filled by the Team MP44S or Addlink S91.

The Rocket Q4 2230 is not perfect, however, as it does have plenty of competition and it only reaches 2TB through the use of QLC rather than TLC. It’s also one of the more expensive 2TB M.2 2230 drives now available. In general this is not a huge problem as the Steam Deck does not require fast storage, particularly as its M.2 slot is limited to PCIe 3.0 speeds. It’s better to have an efficient drive, which includes the Rocket Q4 2230, to help with heat and the Steam Deck’s battery life. Peak and sustained performance can suffer with QLC flash, but this wasn’t an issue in our Steam Deck tests.

MORE: Sabrent Rocket Q4 2230 SSD Review

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Best Alternative Budget Steam Deck SSD in 2023

Specifications

Capacities: 512GB, 1TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe

Sequential Reads/Writes: 4,700 MBps / 3,700 MBps

Warranty/Endurance: 6 Years / 600 TBW

Reasons to buy

+

Inexpensive at 512GB

+

Long warranty

Reasons to avoid

Limited availability

The Inland TN446 is Inland’s follow-up to the original TN436, which we previously reviewed. The TN436 had its issues but was an affordable option that was available relatively early in the Steam Deck’s lifecycle. The TN446 seeks to keep the affordability and great warranty while ironing out the kinks. This includes an additional 512GB capacity SKU and better all-around hardware. However, Inland as Micro Center’s house brand has limited availability and support for those without a Micro Center and especially those outside of the U.S.

Current pricing does not favor the TN446 at 1TB, particularly as QLC options like the MP44S are now available. However, its historical pricing at 512GB has been good enough to make it an excellent choice for a Steam Deck SSD upgrade if you can get away without more capacity. Inland wants you to jump up to their QLC-based QN446 for 2TB, but it has competition from the S91 for the best price.

MORE: Inland TN446 1TB SSD Review

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Alternative Best Budget Steam Deck SSD in 2023

Specifications

Capacities: 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe

Sequential Reads/Writes: 5,000 MBps / 3,200 MBps

Warranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Not Specified

Reasons to buy

+

Inexpensive

+

Capacity range

Reasons to avoid

Lesser-known brand

QLC (except at 512GB)

Addlink is a lesser-known brand, but we have reviewed SSDs from this manufacturer with positive results. Its products are positioned as budget alternatives to better-known brands, and this makes the S91 a potential sleeper. It uses the same Micron 176-layer QLC NAND to reach 2TB of capacity, but it’s also available in lower capacities, which offers purchase flexibility. At 2TB, it’s similar to the other Phison E21T QLC drives we’ve tested, like the Rocket Q4 2230 or Teamgroup MP44S, and may be less expensive.

At 512GB, the S91 uses TLC and it may be a good alternative to the TN446 with its potentially wider availability. Still, the TN446 has the better warranty and guaranteed hardware. Addlink is trying to cover all the bases with the S91 and the prices are good across-the-board, so it’s worth a look if your first choice is unavailable or you want to save some money.

MORE: Addlink S91 SSD Review

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Fastest 2TB Steam Deck SSD

Specifications

Capacities: 500GB, 1TB, 2TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4

Sequential Reads/Writes: Up to 5,150 / 4,900 MB/s

Warranty/Endurance: 5 Years / Up to 1,200 TBW

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent all-around performance

+

TLC at 2TB in single-sided M.2 2230

+

WD software and support

Reasons to avoid

Runs hot in desktop mode

Weaker power efficiency

The WD Black SN770M brings the best performance possible to the M.2 2230 form factor. It accomplishes this with a fast controller, the polished firmware that made the Black SN770 a fan favorite, and its mature BiCS5 NAND flash. This TLC can come in dense, 1Tb dies, which scales up to 2TB of flash in a single package. This is particularly relevant for the small 2230 form factor, where space is at a premium, especially as many devices require a single-sided drive.

The SN770M is not only a shorter version of the SN770 but also a retail version of the WD SN740 — a popular OEM drive for the Deck. A retail warranty with full WD support is a welcome bonus. Unfortunately, this drive pays a price for its capacity and performance. It’s the least-efficient PCIe 4.0 2230 SSD we’ve tested, including in PCIe 3.0 mode, and outputs considerable heat when tested with Windows in a desktop environment.

The good news is that it doesn’t seem to have any such issues in the Deck. It didn’t get too hot and battery life was in line with the other drives. Other drives may be better options for laptops, using QLC at 2TB for capacity, and TLC at 1TB and below for better performance. But if you want 2TB of TLC in a 2230 form factor? Right now the SN770M is the sole retail choice.

MORE: WD Black SN770M SSD Review

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Best PCIe 3.0 Steam Deck SSD in 2023

Specifications

Capacities: 1TB

Form Factor: M.2 2230

Transfer Interface/Protocol: PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe

Sequential Reads/Writes: 3,400 MBps / 2,400 MBps

Warranty/Endurance: 6 Years / 600 TBW

Reasons to buy

+

Inexpensive

+

Good warranty

Reasons to avoid

Older technology

The Inland TN436 was a popular Steam Deck SSD upgrade, being one of the first drives to be widely available in the M.2 2230 form factor. It’s basically a Kioxia BG5 clone with a Phison E19T controller, and that’s not the end of the world as many drives have the same hardware. Some stock Steam Deck drives and OEM alternatives may have even older hardware, but newer 2230 drives are better than this one in almost every way — the TN436 is not as fast and not nearly as efficient.

Still, this is a solid choice if you want an inexpensive baseline drive. Its PCIe 3.0 speed isn’t a problem in the Steam Deck, though it was a weak performer in Windows. The main draw for this drive would be if you can find it at a better price than other 1TB alternatives.

MORE: Inland TN436 SSD Review

How we tested Steam Deck SSDs

Tested Steam Deck SSDs

We started with our standard test suite, but ran it in both PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 modes because the Steam Deck uses the PCIe 3.0 interface. PCIe 3.0 testing helps gauge performance on older systems or even Windows on the Steam Deck, while PCIe 4.0 testing lets the drives open up to their full potential and may reflect performance on the ASUS ROG Ally.

Besides Windows benchmarks, however, we also wanted to get a feel for real world performance on the Steam Deck in its native SteamOS mode. We swapped out the stock 64GB Foresee eMMC drive and commenced testing each SSD. See our Upgrading and testing the Steam Deck’s SSD article for more details.

We’ve separated our Steam Deck testing into two categories: general Steam Deck and SteamOS operations, and KDiskMark synthetic testing. The former includes re-imaging the Deck (from a Samsung T7 Touch 1TB portable SSD), the initial SteamOS setup process, upgrading SteamOS to the latest version, booting SteamOs, then installing and launching the game Hollow Knight. We also have battery life estimates, where we drain the battery from a fully charged 100% for one hour while running Hollow Knight, then check the percentage remaining to arrive at the final estimate.

KDiskMark represents a Linux-based CrystalDiskMark analogue, and we log temperatures of the drive while running the KDiskMark default test suite three times. Together with our standard test results, this makes it possible to determine which M.2 2230 SSDs make the best Steam Drive SSDs.

Here are the test results, which are current as of March 8, 2024. 2TB drives are in blue while 1TB drives are in gray. We’ve also included the base model 64GB eMMC in black drive as a point of reference.

Most of the 2TB drives that we’ve tested use QLC NAND, which can impact performance more as a drive fills up. However, the Steam Deck wireless connectivity generally represents more of a bottleneck in practice, and while we saw peak download speeds of around 80 MB/s, average download speeds can often fall below 50 MB/s. Needless to say, even slower SSDs with QLC NAND can generally keep up with such data rates.

The launch timing results are more indicative of performance than the game installation results, for the above reason. Even with the Steam Deck in approximately the same location and position, we have measured relatively large fluctuations in download speed and installation time — and that’s for a relatively small game, Hollow Knight. Of course, you can’t install a lot of larger games on the base 64GB drive, which is why we opted for using Hollow Knight. We uninstall and reinstall the game multiple times to ensure consistency of our results, but there’s still some variability.

Our testing has occurred over a period of many months, which also means some of the more recent drives were tested with newer SteamOS updates. We cannot rule out some performance optimizations from that vector, so for example the Lexar Play 1TB and WD SN740 2TB drives are the latest additions and both booted SteamOS about a second faster than previously tested drives.

Outside of the 64GB eMMC drive, the performance results are mostly close enough that few people would notice a major difference in performance while using the Steam Deck. We have Windows testing for all of the drives in their respective reviews, so check those for additional insights into how the various models perform outside of the Deck.

Battery life ends up being mostly a non-factor. All of the SSDs had between 80% and 82% battery life remaining after one hour of testing. There’s about a 1% margin of error in that reading, which means effectively a tie, depending on how things shake out. That’s why all the SSDs are grouped at either 333 minutes, 316 minutes, or 300 mintues.

The KDiskMark results show far more variation among the drives, though again in practical use — i.e. inside the Steam Deck — most of the drives perform well enough that you likely won’t notice the difference. The only exception to this is the 64GB eMMC drive, which consistently ranks at the bottom of our charts. That’s not too surprising, since it’s limited to an x2 PCIe 2.0 interface that tops out at 500 MB/s.

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