The Steam Deck has the raw horsepower needed to play most of the 100+ GB games available, especially with the speed of the onboard SSD allowing for it to keep up with SSD-optimized games like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. However, its limited space for these huge games and their multi-gigabyte shader caches is a real problem...a problem that a reviewer at Storage Review saw fit to solve with a 61 TB SSD.
Cool as the Steam Deck is, one of the biggest compromises of the little Linux handheld is the lack of storage. The best SSD you're getting with the Deck before user modding is the 512 GB NVMe drive that comes with the high-end model, which is admittedly not that much when you consider the 100-200 GB file sizes of demanding modern games.
Compared to other gaming devices, Steam Deck also has a unique storage problem to solve with its Shader Pre-Caching system. By pre-caching shaders, the Steam Deck can avoid otherwise inevitable shader compilation stutter in a number of PC games. Unfortunately, pre-caching these shaders requires download time and upload space, and the shaders alone can take up quite a bit of the Deck's limited internal storage if you aren't careful.
To be precise, the internal M.2-2230 NVMe SSD of the Steam Deck was replaced with an M.2-to-U.2 adapter, which then connects to the new 61.44 TB SSD in an external enclosure. The cost of all these Terabytes of SSD storage is that the Steam Deck is no longer an actual portable device, but it still seems to function perfectly fine as long as it's hooked up to its new SSD and attached PSU.
For those of you hoping to carry around power like this in a bag or particularly spacious pocket, this is unfortunately not the mod project to look at. That said, it still goes to show just how flexible the Steam Deck really is as a piece of hardware (or perhaps Steam OS 3 as an operating system). Even an absurd storage replacement like this one can be recognized and used by the Steam Deck, and the replacement SSD is even able to reach higher speeds on the Deck than the original built-in NVMe drive could.
As you can see, the unit dishes out healthy performance in storage benchmarks, peaking at 3.6 GB/s of throughput. Unfortunately, the complete loss of portability makes mods like this pretty difficult to recommend, even if they're pretty cool to look at and talk about. Fortunately, you don't need to mod a 61.44 Terabyte U.2 SSD for use with your Steam Deck to get around its storage limitations.
Balancing the unit properly by moving games that don't require SSD storage to an SD Card can help stabilize performance in titles that need SSD throughput the most, for example. You also have several M.2-2230 drives on the market that can be used as Steam Deck replacement SSDs, allowing you to upgrade over the existing internal storage without needing to lug around an extra drive bay and power supply.
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