Bottom line: A Valve engineer has confirmed that the Steam Deck is perfectly capable of playing games directly off of SD cards. That's noteworthy considering the Steam Deck, even the highest-tier model, only has 512GB of internal storage and that's not a whole lot these days.
Valve last week announced the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming device that looks to do for PC gaming what Nintendo did on the console side with its Switch.
The Steam Deck starts at $399, but that'll only get you 64GB of internal storage. Additional models were announced with up to 512GB of storage, but bumping up to the top-tier will set you back $649. And let's be honest - 512GB still isn't all that much storage when you're talking about modern PC gaming.
Fortunately, all variants of the Steam Deck also include a microSD card slot for expanded storage.
Stepping back a moment, Valve made a point to highlight the speedy internal storage used in the Steam Deck. But when you run out of internal storage and have to resort to the SD card slot, what sort of performance can you expect?
This very question was recently asked of Lawrence Yang, an engineer at Valve. Yang confirmed that games will load faster off of the system's internal storage, but noted that they are still very playable from an SD card. "When IGN came by, all of the games they tried (and shot footage of) were played off a microSD card," he added.
Yep, games will load faster off internal storage, but games still play great off an SD card. When IGN came by, all the games they tried (and shot footage of) were played off a microSD card.--- Lawrence Yang (@lawrenceyang) July 17, 2021
Yang is of course referring to IGN's hands-on demo video which premiered on the same day the Steam Deck was announced.
Valve started accepting reservations for the Steam Deck shortly after its announcement. The system appears to be in high demand as expected order availability has already slipped to the second quarter of 2022 as of this writing.