Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang has defined the rationale behind a latest change to the hand-held gaming PC’s storage choices, saying that the staff at Valve has “decided that there is no such thing as a influence to efficiency between the 2 fashions” of SSD now getting used.
HardwareLuxx (opens in new tab) delivered to mild that the Steam Deck’s 256GB and 512GB variations can now ship with both a two-lane or four-lane PCIe SSD (opens in new tab), a spec change made on the finish of Might. We reached out to Yang to ask what the distinction will imply for the top person. In line with Valve’s design staff, there is no such thing as a distinction between the 2 drives besides in “extraordinarily unusual instances.”
The unique Steam Deck spec states a PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD for each the 256GB and 512GB variations of the gadget, however these SKUs at the moment are listed with both PCIe Gen 3 x4 or PCIe Gen 3 x2 drives. It states that some fashions will ship with one type of drive and a few with the theoretically slower SSD.
Valve’s rationale for the change is straightforward to know; it is largely about securing the provision chain and growing manufacturing capabilities to make sure that giant pre-order checklist will get run by means of as rapidly as doable.
Valve just lately introduced it will be “delivery greater than double the variety of Steam Decks each week,” (opens in new tab) and giving itself one other SSD choice is a part of the explanation it might handle such a feat.
“Many Steam Deck elements come from a number of suppliers for improved redundancy and manufacturing capability,” Yang tells me. “One in every of our SSD suppliers supplies PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSDs, whereas one other supplies a x2 (2 lane) SSD.
“Our staff has examined each elements extensively, and decided that there is no such thing as a influence to efficiency between the 2 fashions.”
The present Deck specs state that, in Valve’s testing, it didn’t see a efficiency influence on gaming efficiency, however we have been eager to know whether or not there is perhaps an influence on extra common system efficiency.
On condition that an x2 SSD has half the potential bandwidth of an x4 SSD—and people drives typically have decrease peak sequential learn/write speeds, too—it is cheap to count on there could be some type of efficiency delta between them. These numbers are solely theoretical, although, as a result of real-world system efficiency will be bottlenecked by many various components in a full system such because the Steam Deck.
Among the precise loading occasions of video games on the Deck, and its SteamOS working system, may very well be fairly sluggish at occasions even with the x4 SSD in our evaluate pattern.
Yang says there are some edge instances the place the swap in SSD can influence file switch speeds, however on the entire system efficiency stays the identical whichever drive is put in.
“SSD efficiency is at present gated by components not associated to PCIe bandwidth,” says Yang. “In extraordinarily unusual instances, variations in learn/write velocity caps could minimally influence file switch speeds, however OS efficiency, loading occasions, sport efficiency, and sport responsiveness are equivalent between the x2 and x4 drives.”
That sounds pretty reassuring, and you have to hope that Valve would have carried out some fairly intensive testing to ensure the top person will not discover the distinction. Although with out with the ability to perform our personal side-by-side testing of the completely different drives with two Steam Decks side-by-side, we’re going to need to take Valve’s phrase for it for now.
I might say it is sensible that different issues are already bottlenecking the efficiency of the theoretically sooner x4 drive given my experiences with the Steam Deck, so personally I am inclined to belief Valve’s evaluation right here.
Nonetheless, I would not be completely happy to search out I might misplaced out on the silicon lottery and obtained a brand new Steam Deck with the slower SSD, whether or not I might ever discover a distinction in precise utilization or not. For those who’re the identical as me: possibly simply do not look. 🤷♀️