Anyone who bought one of Valve’s Steam Deck at launch got a special model of SSD installed on their device. Anyone who bought another one recently received another disk, the one that potentially Slow down.
As Hardwareluxx report (by using PC gamer), all Steam decks that originally shipped with 256GB or 512GB SSDs had to be connected via four “tracks”. Some devices now ship with drives that only connect via two “lanes”, a change that could theoretically lead to performance degradation since you’re essentially halving the drive’s bandwidth.
This downgrade was not publicly announced in a press release or statement, and the Steam decks shipped with these new discs did not feature the new model number. Indeed, the only public mention of the change comes from Valve discreetly editing the PDA’s specs page back in late May.
As a result, the only way to know if you have an original, theoretically slightly faster SSD installed in your Steam Deck is to check its specifications in the system menu. In the “Hard Disk” section as PC gamer adviseneed to find:
On the right panel, it will have a code. Our 512GB review model has a Phison ESMP512GKB4C3-E13TS drive. It appears to be a custom 2230 SSD using a Phison Gen3 x4 E13 controller. So you want to check if your code ends with -E13T or something else. If it contains a code such as -E08 (Physon Gen3 x2 controller), then your deck is one that has a drive running on a Gen3 x2 interface.
I was careful with my performance statements above because we haven’t seen any benchmarks that prove there is a clear difference in things like load times or frame rates between discs, at least in the games currently available and fully supported on the platform. Which is understandable given the fact that the news has just come out, and that with units still hard to come by, few, if any, people will have two Steam decks they can directly compare to.
But these tests will come, and it will be interesting to see what they find, because if I buy a Steam Deck now…and it gets easier— only to find that I have a different device than other people despite having the same model number and that the change was made so quietly that I wouldn’t be entirely happy!