Steam Deck designer warns against DIY SSD upgrades

nanoguy

Posts: 1,231   +24
Staff member
Why it matters: The Steam Deck is a lot more upgradeable/repairable than many modern devices, and that's a good thing. However, Valve still doesn't want you to crack open yours unless you're well aware of the risks. The SSD, in particular, may be a tempting upgrade for many, but a good quality microSD card is just as good and much less of a hassle in comparison.

Back in July 2021, we learned that Valve's Steam Deck has a user-replaceable internal SSD, and this was well received by the gamer community. Modern devices are increasingly hard to repair (or upgrade) and companies have been trying everything in their power to prevent users from attempting to do repairs themselves, and that still holds true to this day.

After waiting several months for orders to ship, Steam Deck buyers started receiving their handheld consoles and quickly found some rough edges on an otherwise impressive first-generation product. Some users started experiencing stick drift, so they attempted repairs on their own despite Valve's insistence on leaving any required servicing to repair professionals.

Another pain point of the Steam Deck is that it comes with an M.2 SSD in a single-sided 2230 form factor, which is more compact than alternatives and also more energy efficient. However, such SSDs are notoriously hard to find and often pricier compared to, say, M.2 2280 and M.2 2242 models. Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop 4 owners who wish to repair or upgrade the storage capacity of their devices are familiar with this conundrum.

Recently, one Canadian Steam Deck owner decided to think outside the box and tried to cram an M.2 2242 SSD into the handheld. The procedure was successful, and the 512-gigabyte KingSpec PCIe 3.0 x2 SSD soon started cruising through the installation of SteamOS at speed of around 400 megabytes per second.

However, this is not without some caveats — the procedure requires moving some cables and thermal pads out of the way to make room for the longer SSD module. Furthermore, one of Steam Deck's designers, Lawrence Yang, warned against doing this mod as you run the risk of shortening the lifespan of your handheld. Supposedly, the Steam Deck's power management circuitry could overheat as it was never designed to handle the higher load of an M.2 2230 SSD.

Upgrading the SSD on your Steam Deck might be tempting, but you can already upgrade the storage via a microSD card slot with minimal risk and decent results. In fact, reviewers found no discernible difference between running games from the SSD versus a good microSD card. The only improvement will be in loading times, but even there you may only see a difference of a few seconds, at best.

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Last1Standing

Posts: 47   +22
This is a bad anti-consumer road that Valve continues to find itself driving on. Most Favored Nation anyone?

There are also reports that even the microSD capacity is limited or something.

The SteamDeck is too huge for it to not allow DIY SSD replacement and this anti-choice from Valve is clearly by design.
 
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George Keech

Posts: 211   +374
This is a bad anti-consumer road that Valve continues to find itself driving on. Most Favored Nation anyone?

There are also reports that even the microSD capacity is limited or something.

The SteamDeck is too huge for it to not allow DIY SSD replacement and this anti-choice from Valve is clearly by design.
Have you read the story? they are saying don't mod it. they have said you can change the SSD no problem just don't fit one that will overheat the system/ remove heat pads or it will cause long term issues.
 

Vulcanproject

Posts: 1,527   +2,778
Modders will mod.

The important thing is the base hardware is vastly more repairable than it otherwise could have been being an Apple product or similar.

For the storage I think you'll see more competitive 2230 drives later on because of Steam Deck. PS5 seemed to be a bit of a driver of high speed PCIe 4.0 SSD sales so although it won't likely be as popular or as influential as that it we should see improvements in availability and pricing before too long. Otherwise a fast Micro SD will do the business fine for the wide majority of people. Cheap and easy these days.
 

Last1Standing

Posts: 47   +22
Have you read the story? they are saying don't mod it. they have said you can change the SSD no problem just don't fit one that will overheat the system/ remove heat pads or it will cause long term issues.
And don't you understand that 2230 (almost out of extinction to find at your local nearby electronic shops) vs a most widely used 2242 PRO-consumer friendly storage?

Valve decided to use, intentionally, a storage that's not highly-favored to reduce DIYers. PERIOD!
 

George Keech

Posts: 211   +374
And don't you understand that 2230 (almost out of extinction to find at your local nearby electronic shops) vs a most widely used 2242 PRO-consumer friendly storage?

Valve decided to use, intentionally, a storage that's not highly-favored to reduce DIYers. PERIOD!
Why would they specifically change is so you couldn't do that but then provide a guide for how to change the SSD. at the end of the day is it a size problem 2242 maybe easier to come by than 2230 - but its also bigger.

I could understand someone saying it was a compromise they shouldn't have made. That is an understandable statement not that they made it all smaller so that you couldn't change it.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,598   +667
And don't you understand that 2230 (almost out of extinction to find at your local nearby electronic shops) vs a most widely used 2242 PRO-consumer friendly storage?

Valve decided to use, intentionally, a storage that's not highly-favored to reduce DIYers. PERIOD!

They chose it due to size / form factor, and power consumption. Period. It was not some kind of anti-consumer conspiracy. They designed for what was available at the time, without psychic abilities to know what would be available in the future (you do know this has been in development for years, right?)

If they had wanted to be anti-consumer, they would have made the SSD not accessible and/or replaceable at all.
 

Last1Standing

Posts: 47   +22
They chose it due to size / form factor, and power consumption. Period. It was not some kind of anti-consumer conspiracy. They designed for what was available at the time, without psychic abilities to know what would be available in the future (you do know this has been in development for years, right?)

If they had wanted to be anti-consumer, they would have made the SSD not accessible and/or replaceable at all.
The biggest a$$ handheld device, on the planet but let you tell it, Valve is trying to save space compared to its rivals that are more powerful, much higher resolutions, some units up to 8TB, at a fraction of the size of this mountain but Valves's rivals *manages* to get it done but not Valve, eh?! 🙄

Hey, you can pick-up the bridge that I sold you over here at I'm Credulous To Anything Street ~17:30! 😏
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,598   +667
The biggest a$$ handheld device, on the planet but let you tell it, Valve is trying to save space compared to its rivals that are more powerful, much higher resolutions, some units up to 8TB, at a fraction of the size of this mountain but Valves's rivals *manages* to get it done but not Valve, eh?! 🙄

Hey, you can pick-up the bridge that I sold you over here at I'm Credulous To Anything Street ~17:30! 😏
What does this have to do with rivals? Valve had an idea, they brought their limited/nonexistent handheld development experience to the project, shoehorned in what hardware made sense to effectively build a micro platform gaming PC, with their custom build of a Linux OS... Their selection of hardware was a part of the process, and if you think they had a crystal ball and would be able to predict that we'd be discussing the particular choices behind one particular component.......
 

Last1Standing

Posts: 47   +22
What does this have to do with rivals? Valve had an idea, they brought their limited/nonexistent handheld development experience to the project, shoehorned in what hardware made sense to effectively build a micro platform gaming PC, with their custom build of a Linux OS... Their selection of hardware was a part of the process, and if you think they had a crystal ball and would be able to predict that we'd be discussing the particular choices behind one particular component.......
Nonsense.
 

0dium

Posts: 324   +383
Nonsense.
Wow such a great argument. No point in discussing anything with you. You are just being ignorant.
Mb they also had to put a CPU socket in there for replaceable CPUs? SODIMM ram sticks?
2030 SSDs consume less power which helps battery consumption and makes power supplies circuit less costly aaaand take less space.