Valve’s Steam Deck comes in three versions – 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. The various Steam Deck sizes obviously carry different price tags, so which Steam Deck version should you buy?
Are the larger capacity Steam Decks worth the premium over the 64GB version? Is bigger really better? Is bigger even necessary?
I bought a Steam Deck at the end of 2022, and it has changed the way that I play games. It should go without saying, but the Steam Deck is worth it for adult gamers thanks to the freedom and convenience that it brings.
The Steam Deck version you should get depends on a few factors, such as your budget (obviously) and your willingness to do upgrades yourself.
I bought the 512GB version Steam Deck but that’s not to say that you should get a 512GB version, too. Is the 512GB version worth it? Yes and no, which I’ll break down below.
Steam Deck Specs
Whether you’re splashing out on the most expensive 512GB Steam Deck or the cheapest 64GB version, all Steam Decks have the same core hardware, other than storage:
- CPU: AMD Zen 2 4c/8t, up to 3.5 GHz
- GPU: AMD RDNA 2, 8 compute units up to 1.6 GHz
- RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT/s)
- Display: 7-inch diagonal, 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio), 60Hz refresh rate, and touch screen
- Audio: Stereo speakers, dual microphone array, and 3.5mm headphone jack
- Battery: 5,313mAh (and charger included)
While you get the same power regardless of how much you spend, there are key differences between each of the Steam Deck versions. You’ll need to consider these differences to determine which Steam Deck version is best for you.
Should You Buy the 64GB Steam Deck?
The 64GB version Steam Deck is one heck of a good deal, coming in at £349/$399. As mentioned, for that, you get the exact same hardware as in the more expensive Steam Decks.
The key difference between the 64GB Steam Deck and the more expensive variants is the storage (other than the carry case which, let’s be honest, doesn’t matter).
The 64GB version Steam Deck’s internal storage is not only smaller than the other versions, but it is eMMC. This is significantly slower than the storage used in the more premium Steam Decks. The Steam Deck’s memory can be expanded with a MicroSD card, which means you’ll have enough space for your favourite games, but those are slow too (and less reliable).
Does this mean that the 64GB Steam Deck should be avoided? No.
Valve has made the Steam Deck easily repairable, with replacement parts available via iFixIt. The efforts made to ensure that the Deck can be repaired also means that it is easily upgradable, including the internal storage.
If you’re comfortable opening the Steam Deck, you can switch out the provided storage for a higher capacity. Therefore, you can replace the provided eMMC storage with 1TB of 2230 NVMe storage for less than the price of the 256GB Steam Deck. That, my friends, is a bargain.
Here are some of the best SSD replacements for the Steam Deck:
- SABRENT Rocket 2230 NVMe SSD
- Kioxia 2230 NVMe SSD
- Western Digital 2230 NVMe SSD
- Toshiba 2230 NVMe SSD
If you’re on the fence about whether you’d be comfortable with upgrading your Steam Deck storage, then check out these YouTube videos showing how easy it is:
Another advantage to the 64GB Steam Deck is you’ll be able to put a screen protector on it. Yes, the same is true of the 256GB and 512GB version, but the 512GB’s etched screen actually causes problems when it comes to getting a protector for the screen. We’ll get to that shortly.
Screen protectors for the Steam Deck range from cheap to premium. Here are the ones we’d recommend you consider:
- Benazcap for Steam Deck Screen Protector
- amFilm Screen Protector Designed for Steam Deck
- JSAUX Screen Protector Compatible with Steam Deck
You Should Buy the 64GB Steam Deck if…
You should buy the Steam Deck 64GB version if:
- You’re comfortable with opening the Steam Deck up and upgrading the provided storage. That will mean that you could have a Steam Deck with much more storage than the more expensive versions for a fraction of the price.
- You love a bargain.
- You feel that you need a screen protector.
You Shouldn’t Buy the 64GB Steam Deck if…
You shouldn’t buy the 64GB if you’re not comfortable with upgrading the Steam Deck yourself, unless you’re willing to game off of MicroSD cards.
Should You buy the 256GB Steam Deck?
The 256GB Steam Deck is the perfect middle ground between the 64GB and 512GB versions. Priced at £459/$529, it has all of the features of the 64GB version but comes with, well, 256GB of storage. 256GB of NVMe storage, to be precise.
The increased, faster storage means that if you buy the 256GB version, you will have the space to install larger games, meaning you don’t necessarily need to upgrade the storage.
As with the 64GB version, you can also slap a screen protector on it with no real downside. As mentioned above, we’d recommend these protectors:
- Benazcap for Steam Deck Screen Protector
- amFilm Screen Protector Designed for Steam Deck
- JSAUX Screen Protectors Compatible with Steam Deck
You Should Buy the 256GB Steam Deck if…
You should buy a 256GB Steam Deck if:
- You’re not comfortable upgrading the storage
- 256GB is enough storage for you (plus Micro SD storage)
- You feel that you need a screen protector
You Shouldn’t Buy the 256GB Steam Deck if…
You shouldn’t buy the 256GB Steam Deck if you’re comfortable upgrading the Steam Deck yourself.
If you’re comfortable upgrading the storage and think that it may be something you wish to do immediately or in the future, just buy the 64GB version.
Should You Buy the 512GB Steam Deck?
The 512GB Steam Deck is the most expensive variant, coming in at £569/$649, it is approaching twice the price of the 64GB model.
For the premium paid, owners get 512GB of the fastest storage and an anti-glare etched glass screen (plus a slightly different carry case, a Steam Community profile bundle and exclusive virtual keyboard – nice to have, sure, but not essential).
It comes down to whether you feel that 512GB of storage plus the etched screen is worth it.
The additional SSD capacity is self-explanatory, but whether you really want the etched screen should be something that you carefully consider.
As a 512GB owner, I’m on the fence as to whether I would recommend the etched screen to other gamers. It does look fantastic and means that I can game without staring at my ugly mug every time there is a darker scene. It also means that I can play outside and still be able to see the action on my screen. The etched screen manages to retain most of the image quality, which can be lost with some screen protectors.
The biggest downside with the 512GB version is protecting the screen. If you put a glossy screen protector on the etched glass, you basically end up with a reflective screen like the cheaper versions of the Steam Deck, but with some of the blurring that comes with an etched, matte screen. If you put a matte screen protector on the etched screen, you end up with a significantly worse picture quality, as the etched screen combines with the anti-glare screen protector. One way or the other, you’re getting a worse visual experience.
I rarely take my Steam Deck out and make sure to put it in its case when not in use, so I’ve chosen not to put a screen protector on it. With that being said, it is a risk and if there had been a 512GB variant without the etched glass for a slightly cheaper price, I’d probably have gone for that.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very, very happy with my Steam Deck, as I covered in my Steam Deck review. The screen is just something to keep in mind when making your purchase.
You Should Buy the 512GB Steam Deck if…
You should buy the 512GB Steam Deck if:
- You don’t feel comfortable upgrading the storage yourself.
- You don’t need a screen protector, or don’t mind the compromises if you do.
- You want the larger, faster storage.
- You feel that the screen and storage are worth the premium.
You Shouldn’t Buy the 512GB Steam Deck if…
You shouldn’t buy the 512GB Steam Deck if you’re comfortable with opening it up to upgrade the storage yourself, and if you wish to use a screen protector.
You could save a lot of money by buying the 64GB Steam Deck, replacing the storage then putting a screen protector on it.
Which Version of the Steam Deck Should YOU Buy?
Ultimately, the version of the Steam Deck that is best will come down to you and, you want from your new handheld machine, and your budget.
The TL;DR is basically:
- Get the 64GB version if you’re comfortable upgrading the storage yourself, and want a screen protector.
- Get the 256GB version if you’re not comfortable upgrading the Steam Deck, only want to install a few games, and want a screen protector.
- Get the 512GB Steam Deck if you don’t want to open up your Steam Deck but want the most storage available off the shelf, plus an etched screen, and don’t necessarily need a screen protector.
Whichever version of the Steam Deck you buy, I’m sure that you’ll love it. It has everything you could want in a handheld gaming device: power, versatility, an ergonomic design, and a massive library of games. It is everything that I wanted in a handheld gaming device, and more. Enjoy!