Valve has fiddled with its own gaming hardware over the years, but neither the Steam Boxes, nor the Steam Controller, nor the Index VR headset have garnered the same praise as the Steam Deck. Even in the era of the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck is back-ordered into next year. One of the oft-cited advantages of the Deck is its high repairability and modding potential. However, one of its designers is now warning against a newly popular mod, saying it could cause the console to overheat.
The Steam Deck is essentially a compact Linux computer that (more or less) fits in your hands. Valve designed the hardware to be easily repaired, and it plans to make all the parts available for purchase. That’s a pleasant departure from the standard 2022 approach of making disposable hardware that’ll go in the trash in a few years. Whereas the interior of the average smartphone is little more than metal spaghetti, the Steam Deck has modding potential.
The pcb appears to work fairly well for adapting a 2242 m2 to the steam deck, it doesn’t collide with anything on the motherboard or put any extra strain on any cables. However, it does make the heat spreader bow a tiny bit. The back plate reassembled without issue. pic.twitter.com/4j4LVbS0NG
— Belly Jelly (@TheSmcelrea) June 21, 2022
Several days ago, a Twitter user posted details of a particularly interesting mod that involves swapping the 2230 model SSD with a larger 2242 drive. The 2242 form factor is more common, making it cheaper and easier to bump your Steam Deck’s storage to a whopping 1TB — the device tops out at 512GB as purchased from Valve. While the mod is reportedly quite easy, it’s not necessarily something you should do, according to Valve designer Lawrence Yang.
Hi, please don’t do this. The charger IC gets very hot and nearby thermal pads should not be moved. In addition, most 2242 m.2 drives draw more power and get hotter than what Deck is designed for. This mod may appear to work but will significantly shorten the life of your Deck. https://t.co/Kmup7Zov13
— Lawrence Yang (@lawrenceyang) June 25, 2022
According to Yang, this part of the Steam Deck is not the best area to be tinkering. The SSD is adjacent to several very toasty components, for example, the power control IC. The larger drive could draw more power, causing temperatures in that area to reach unsafe levels, thus reducing the longevity of the hardware. Yang says the effect could be “significant.” The original modder also notes that some of the thermal pads need to be removed to fit the larger 2242 drive. Again, that’s not a good idea in an area where temperatures are already high.
Let this serve as a reminder that even if a device is built for tinkerers, that doesn’t mean every mod is a good idea. The Steam Deck starts at $400, and you’ll have to wait months for a replacement if you kill yours. Currently, Valve promises shipping at the very end of 2022 for new orders.