The Steam Deck is finally available worldwide. The days of entering a lottery of sorts to get hold of this handheld are officially now in the past. Thank God.
But with three different versions to choose from and conflicting options everywhere, it’s hard to know which Steam Deck you should get. That’s why I – a Steam Deck owner who’s written far too many articles about the device – am here to explain what each version is and help you decide which version is right for you.
In This Article
Which Steam Deck Should You Get?
The most important element to consider when purchasing a Steam Deck is how much storage you’ll need. There are some superficial options, like the most expensive version comes with a different bag and some virtual items, but in terms of how each Steam Deck differs, they’re all near-identical excluding the hard drive size. RAM, CPU, GPU, screen size, and system-specific features are all the same across the board.
Your choice here boils down to how much storage is needed: 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB, though it’s worth taking a moment to consider speeds as well.
Both the 256GB and 512GB versions use NVMe solid-state drives. In short, that means both Steam Deck versions will be faster than the base 64GB model, which utilizes eMMC – a kind of halfway house between standard hard drives and solid-state drives.
That’s not to say the 64GB version is slow, just it’s the slowest out of the three.
|Version 1||Version 2||Version 3|
|Internal Hard Drive||64GB||256GB||512GB|
|Hard Drive Type||eMMc||NVMe solid-state drive||NVMe solid-state drive|
|Extras||Carry case||Carry case, Exclusive Steam Community profile bundle||Anti-glare etched glass screen, exclusive carry case, exclusive Steam community profile bundle, exclusive virtual keyboard theme|
|Price||$399 / £349 / 419€||$529 / £459 / 549€||$649 / £569 / 679€|
|Verdict||Storage fills up fast, cheapest||The all-rounder||Best value, most expensive|
I own the 64GB Steam Deck and after I updated and got all the latest software to let Windows games run inside a Linux environment, I was left with just 22GB to store games. I ended up using a 1TB micro SD card to store games, and while that works, it does mean I’m not getting the full speeds of the eMMC hard drive when loading games or performing tasks. For me, it’s not an issue, for others, it may be.
Conversely, think of the 256GB version as a Jack of all trades. It’s got a more roomy amount of storage, uses NVMe for the solid-state solution resulting in faster speeds than the 64GB offering, and the price sits directly in the middle of the three.
As for the 512GB Steam Deck, this one’s the most premium of the bunch. 512GB is the standard for basic gaming PCs and is a lot of space to store multiple AAA games. And it comes with a nicer bag. Woop. It also comes with an anti-glare screen, although if you decide you need that post-purchase, some companies have replacement anti-glare screens you can install yourself.
Factor In Your Game Library
It’s really worth thinking about what type of games you’ll be playing on the Steam Deck. If the goal is AAA games that look as good as they can, you’re going to use a lot of storage space.
For example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 clocks in at 125GB, while Assassin’s Creed Valhalla weighs in at a meatier 130GB on Steam. Playing these games simply isn’t possible on the 64GB Steam Deck unless you invest in a large SD card and run games from there.
To put this in perspective, if you install both games on the 256GB Steam Deck, you’d be left with 1GB, and that’s before factoring in how much the operating system and Proton versions take up. On my 64GB Steam Deck, after the operating system and software to run games was installed, I was left with just 23GB for games.
None of this should put you off picking up a Deck, of course, but you will need to plan your storage accordingly.
What Else Can the Steam Deck Do?
Primarily, the Steam Deck is a gaming PC in handheld form. Cyberpunk 2077, Jedi Fallen Order, and Elden Ring all run brilliantly on the handheld. While it is an exceptional piece of tech, PC gaming is only the start of what the Steam Deck can do.
The Steam Deck can emulate up to PlayStation 3 thanks to the likes of EmuDeck, it can be hooked up to the TV, the Linux desktop environment works like a Windows PC, and there’s the option to mod older games like Silent Hill 2 Enhanced Editon or even Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
All of that comes alongside FSR support, which allows games to upscale images without taking a hit to performance.
Oh, and if you don’t like Steam OS, you could always install Windows instead.
Can You Upgrade the Storage Later?
The Steam Deck’s internal hard drive can be upgraded, both internally and with external storage. For the internal option, you’ll need to purchase an NVMe M.2 2230 SSD separately, and prices right now are sky-high due to demand. What that means is if you do opt for the cheapest version, you aren’t stuck at 64GB forever.
Just if you do decide to upgrade, make sure you’re using the right drive. Not every M.2 SSD will work on the Steam Deck and installing a larger (length-wise) drive could damage the Deck.
“The charger integrated circuit gets very hot and nearby thermal pads should not be moved, ” User Experience Designer at Valve Lawrence Yang said when discussing a to allow for larger drives.
A standard M.2 2230 upgrade is fine, though. It’s similar to what’s already in there and shouldn’t damage the device in any way.
Where to Buy
As of right now, the only place to purchase a Steam Deck is through the official Valve website. Although it’s possible to buy a Steam Deck pre-owned on third-party marketplaces, I don’t recommend that. If you buy new, you get a warranty to take advantage of should anything go wrong.
On the whole, there aren’t that many faulty Steam Decks out there, so it’s not worth taking the risk.
When I ordered mine, it took around three weeks in total for my Steam Deck to arrive. What made it even more painful is the tracking info doesn’t update as the package is moving through different countries. Eventually, the info will update and it will be delivered a few days later, but if yours ends up taking a while, don’t panic. That’s normal.
As mentioned above, I went with the 64GB version and I have zero regrets. Sure, it’s not as fast as the other two Steam Deck versions, and the storage got filled within days. But as I’ve got a large SD card and an SSD built into my dock, there are ways around it.
If you’re someone with hundreds of Steam games, then storage is going to be the biggest consideration. If you’re planning on only playing indie games or emulated games up to PS1, the 64GB is more than enough storage.
Meanwhile, if you’ve got the money saved and don’t want to think about storage ever again, go with the 512GB version.