The Nintendo Switch was a massive hit, but it’s a bit underpowered and limited by design. Valve is looking to build on the same form factor without the same shortcomings via its upcoming Steam Deck. It’ll be a while before pre-orders ship, but Valve has taken to YouTube to give everyone a glimpse inside its handheld game machine. As the disembodied hands explain, Valve believes you should have the right to tinker with your hardware, but it doesn’t promise the Steam Deck will be easily repairable. In fact, the voice warns against doing any of what you see in the video.
The Steam Deck is basically a tiny PC, so you might be theoretically familiar with the components. However, Valve points out that almost everything inside the Steam Deck was specifically chosen for this piece of hardware, and the internals are very densely packed. If you replace a component with an unapproved part, for example, it could affect the machine in unpredictable ways. Hell, just opening the case is a process that is fraught with danger. According to Valve, opening the Steam Deck could mess things up “profoundly.”
As Valve notes during the disassembly video, the Steam Deck case uses self-tapping screws, which are easier to damage than regular screws. The screws in question will also never seal the case as well as they did before being removed and reinserted. That means your Deck won’t withstand as much punishment after some DIY repairs. The video goes on to demonstrate two common repair targets: the thumbstick and SSD. There are cables and covers you want to avoid as you dig in, and the battery should always be unplugged when you’re tinkering. Damage to the battery could cause it to catch fire.
The video explains that third-party replacement parts probably won’t work in the Steam Deck because it’s so customized, but there will be official sources for replacement parts, like the aforementioned thumbsticks and SSDs. For example, if you tried to swap in a non-official SSD to add more storage space, you might find that the new one causes interference with the nearby wireless radio. The official SSD has been tested to ensure it doesn’t do that.
Still, the video proves that you can open up your Steam Box in just a few minutes, if that’s what you want to do. The Steam Deck will begin shipping late this year, but only for those who were the first to pre-order. If you want to order one now, you’re looking at the middle of 2022, at the earliest. You can still do order one, though. The Steam Deck starts at $399 with 64GB of eMMC storage. An upgrade to a 256GB SSD comes to $529. The 512GB version is $649.
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