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Steam Deck Designer Warns Against SSD Mod

Steam Deck
Steam Deck (Image credit: Belly Jelly/Twitter)

After reports flooded the internet a few days ago showing users how to easily upgrade the Steam Deck's 2230 SSD to a bigger 2242 drive, a Valve employee has taken to Twitter to shut down the mod as quickly as possible due to reliably concerns for the device. According to a Tweet by Steam Designer Lawrence Yang, (opens in new tab) modding the Steam Deck to run larger SSDs than 2230 will result in a significantly shorter life span of the Deck due to overheating problems.

Yang says the internals around the M.2 slot is very sensitive to additional power requirements and thermal pad modifications. As a result, the charge ICs can get very hot if you relocate the nearby thermal pads. Additionally, Yang says larger M.2 drives traditionally draw more power than the 2230 models, which isn't optimal since Valve didn't design the Steam Deck for more power-hungry SSDs. These two factors combined will significantly reduce the life of the Deck.

Last week, Twitter user Belly Jelly shared a tutorial on how to upgrade the Steam Deck's built-in SSD to a slightly larger 2242 drive. The most incentivizing part of the drive mod is its low difficulty, with the modder saying there is very little work needed to make the transition. This mod is easy to carry out since it requires almost no additional effort from the end-user, and it should also be easy to accomplish for inexperienced modders.

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The mod consists of moving the cables and thermal pads around to accommodate the larger drive. The heat spreader will bend a little bit, but it isn't severe enough to cause any immediate issues. Belly Jelly stated that the drive does not collide with the motherboard or put additional strain on cables.

It is probably why Valve responded so quickly about this mod and warned against its use Since there is a high chance many gamers will try this mod on their Deck.

But thankfully, there is very little reason to upgrade the Deck's M.2 drive in the first place. Valve has already implemented an SD card slot into the Deck for storage expansion purposes. Even though SD cards are technically slower, we found in testing that the SD card solution is perfectly adequate, and frame rates are identical to running games on the internal M.2 drive.

Aaron Klotz
Aaron Klotz

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Translation: We designed the Steam Deck to be as inexpensive as possible, using components which just meet the design spec to increase profitability and eliminate the possibility that end users can improve the device, thereby enabling us to then release a "Pro" variant with the upgrades end users desire and charge a premium.
    Reply
  • pclaughton
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Translation: We designed the Steam Deck to be as inexpensive as possible, using components which just meet the design spec to increase profitability and eliminate the possibility that end users can improve the device, thereby enabling us to then release a "Pro" variant with the upgrades end users desire and charge a premium.
    Forgive me if I'm assuming incorrectly, but you think this is a bad thing? Designing with components to allow expansion would make it more expensive. Most users will never mod the device and won't even think about its internals beyond changing the SD card, so you'd be asking them to pay a higher price point for functionality they won't use.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Translation: We designed the Steam Deck to be as inexpensive as possible, using components which just meet the design spec to increase profitability and eliminate the possibility that end users can improve the device, thereby enabling us to then release a "Pro" variant with the upgrades end users desire and charge a premium.
    Do you even know what the steam deck is?!
    They made a product that is normally $1500 for $400
    They released a video on how to take it apart and change components even before it was released.
    They released a list of replacement parts available to basically anybody.
    https://www.ifixit.com/Store/Game-Console/Steam-Deck
    Yes they had to make it small, duh, and that means that the list of drives you can use is extremely narrow because everything is extremely close to each other and can be influenced by nearby stuff.
    Reply
  • _dawn_chorus_
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Translation: We designed the Steam Deck to be as inexpensive as possible, using components which just meet the design spec to increase profitability and eliminate the possibility that end users can improve the device, thereby enabling us to then release a "Pro" variant with the upgrades end users desire and charge a premium.

    That is probably the most bad faith way you could spin this. Valve has been very accommodating with the Deck's user reparability and upgradeability. The only reason you might want to do this mod is because the RESELLERS that sell 512Gb and up 2230 drives are charging outrageous prices for them since the Deck increased their demand and 2242 drives are about $50-$70 cheaper.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    You see it your way, I'll see it mine. When I read words to the effect of a certain component gets too hot because of its design and the M.2 connector wasn't designed to deliver adequate power for larger drives, that says to me it was designed and built to a price, especially when you consider they charge $120 to upgrade from 256gb to 512gb of storage. Why should they design it to be upgraded for half that (SK Hynix Gold P31 500GB $62 or Intel 670P 512GB $50) when they can design it in such as way that it costs twice that to upgrade, officially or otherwise?

    Every manufacturer does this, be it a mass market item like Nintendo or a flagship class cellphone like the Galaxy S22 series, both of which faced lawsuits and investigations, Steam is no different.
    Reply
  • peachpuff
    Silly valve, they should of oriented the ssd 180 degrees the other way, longer ssds would easily fit.
    Reply
  • drivinfast247
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Translation: We designed the Steam Deck to be as inexpensive as possible, using components which just meet the design spec to increase profitability and eliminate the possibility that end users can improve the device, thereby enabling us to then release a "Pro" variant with the upgrades end users desire and charge a premium.
    This is basically every successful companies motto since the beginning of time.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    You see it your way, I'll see it mine. When I read words to the effect of a certain component gets too hot because of its design and the M.2 connector wasn't designed to deliver adequate power for larger drives, that says to me it was designed and built to a price, especially when you consider they charge $120 to upgrade from 256gb to 512gb of storage. Why should they design it to be upgraded for half that (SK Hynix Gold P31 500GB $62 or Intel 670P 512GB $50) when they can design it in such as way that it costs twice that to upgrade, officially or otherwise?

    Every manufacturer does this, be it a mass market item like Nintendo or a flagship class cellphone like the Galaxy S22 series, both of which faced lawsuits and investigations, Steam is no different.
    As a Steam Deck owner, I can tell you first hand you have no clue what you're talking about, sorry.

    The thermal and power envelope of the whole device is really tight, so the advice they give out is absolutely important. Could have they made it so it accommodates bigger drives? Yes, but then the device itself would have been way more expensive: you need different cooling, a bigger battery and a thicker dissipation area for everything, not even taking into account a potential re-design of the PCB and case.

    Everyone in tech knows that smaller = costlier. There's a reason why laptops are more expensive than whatever equivalent desktop you can buy and so on. Then Valve managed to pack the equivalent of a compact laptop into a hand held device under $600. Check the market for the other handheld devices and compare. See if any of them offers a 2280 NVMe and costs under $1K, if it exists.

    Do I think the Steam Deck can be thicker and accommodate a 2280? Maybe. I personally want a bigger battery and if that means making the Steam Deck thicker, heavier and still sacrifice the 2280 NVMe, I'd give Valve my blessing, because storage is NOT the weak point of the Steam Deck, not by a long shot.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    So tight a design that 12mm longer SSD will kill it, do better next time!

    Do M.2 2242 use more power than a M.2 2230?
    From what I see they do not. https://overclock3d.net/news/storage/micron_has_launched_the_world_s_first_2tb_m_2_2230_ssd/1
    Reply
  • Hella_D
    Why not just Install this? https://www.newegg.com/p/0D9-00X3-00001?quicklink=true (Just an example)
    Reply