Steam Deck SSD Downgrade Confirmed by Valve, 256 GB and 512 GB Models Affected

Valve has quietly downgraded the PCIe lanes on some of the shipped handhelds.
A disassembled Steam Deck, showing off its internals.
A disassembled Steam Deck, showing off its internals. Valve

In news that may be of interest to those who are getting Valve’s first foray into the handheld gaming space, apparently some Steam Deck SSDs are being shipped with significant downgrades to their PCIe lanes. Instead of the original PCIe Gen 3 x4 lanes that were quoted in the original spec sheet, some Steam Deck models within the 256 GB and 512 GB range will be coming with x2 lanes, a fact that has been quietly added by Valve to the Steam Deck fact page.

Here's the new storage spec sheet as seen on the Steam Deck page:

All models use socketed 2230 m.2 modules (not intended for end-user replacement)

All models include high-speed microSD card slot

*Some 256GB and 512GB models ship with a PCIe Gen 3 x2 SSD. In our testing, we did not see any impact to gaming performance between x2 and x4.

Valve said that the downgrade for some models will not be as noticeable. Then, why have two models in production? The design team offered an explanation, and let's hope that's acceptable for potential buyers.

"Many Steam Deck components come from multiple suppliers for improved redundancy and production capacity. One of our SSD suppliers provides PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSDs, while another provides a x2 (2 lane) SSD," stated Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang.

Yang acknowledges that the x2 lanes can “minimally impact file transfer speeds” in “extremely uncommon cases.” Game responsiveness, OS performance, and loading times, however, should be identical in both models.

It will be interesting to see if this picks up traction amongst the gaming community who have picked up or are patiently waiting for their own Steam Deck. While Valve may have assured the community that any potential differences may be incremental, many players will see a bait and switch. Those who already made payments might receive a variant model they did not order. The only way to know which model you’re getting is to have it in your hands.

Either way, we will just have to wait and see if there are indeed significant differences between x2 and x4 lanes. If there are, you can be sure that the same community will have something to say about it.

Steam Deck is now available for purchase on the official site.

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