PCIe Gen 3 x4 has been the standard for all NVMe M.2 SSDs in Valve’s portable PCs, but Gabe Newell’s company has changed that…
Valve has already announced that it plans to double the amount of Steam Deck shipped over the next few months (and thus the third quarter starting in July with the booking deal starting today), but there will be a price to pay. Germany’s HardwareLuxx pointed out that mid-range and high-end Steam Decks (with 256 or 512 GB SSDs) will no longer have an SSD PCI-E 3.0 x4 exclusively, as x2 models might be used. It theoretically means halved read and write speeds. According to Valve, in testing the two affected models, gaming performance was not affected by switching to x2 SSD.
The difference between the three Steam Deck models is storage: the entry-level gets 64GB of eMMC storage, so the difference in pricing is only paying for the SSD and not a tiny amount. You can see what storage you have by selecting Device Viewer in the Applications Menu’s search bar, and from there, you can see the SSD model in the right-hand panel under Storage Devices > Hark Disk Drive. If there is no E13T towards the end of the code name, there is a good chance you have a lower bandwidth model.
PCGamer contacted Lawrence Yang, a Steam Deck designer, about the matter. The reasoning is simple: secure the supply chain and increase the production output so the company can meet its pre-order list as quickly as possible. According to Yang, “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 an x2 (2 lanes) SSD. Our team has tested both components extensively and determined that there is no impact on performance between the two models. The SSD performance is currently gated by factors not related to PCIe bandwidth. In extremely uncommon cases, differences in reading/write speed caps may impact file transfer speeds. Still, OS performance, loading times, game performance, and game responsiveness are identical between the x2 and x4 drives.”
Hopefully, it will be the case. For those who pre-ordered, keep a close eye on your emails in the coming days, as another round is about to start.