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Steam Deck's SSD May Be User Upgradeable

Close-ups of the Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve's Steam Deck has already caused quite a commotion in the gaming world. Right now scalpers are selling reservations far past the RRP and official delivery dates are reaching far into 2022. But there is one ray of hope via a Reddit thread that indicates that it may be possible to upgrade the M.2 2230 SSD. 

Valve’s Steam Deck uses a socketed M.2 2230 SSD, which could potentially be upgraded to a higher-capacity version. The M.2 2230 socket is obviously present on the 256GB and 512GB models, and an update to the tech specs states that it will be present, but unpopulated on the lower cost eMMC model. This could mean that eMMC owners may be able to add faster internal storage at a reduced cost. While M.2 2230 drives are not particularly widespread, they can be bought from online retailers, but they do come at a considerable cost.

The Reddit thread shows an alleged email conversation between midnight_watch and Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, which appears to have triggered an update of the official specifications.

Steam Deck NVMe Specification

(Image credit: Valve)

There are various reasons why something is not supposed to be user replaceable: hardware (accessibility, custom SSD, an off-the-shelf SSD with very specific thermals, etc.) and software (the OS is located on the pre-installed SSD, so one needs to migrate the OS to a new drive, which may not be possible depending on the location and connection of the SSD). In any case, Valve warns that it is not going to be easy (if possible at all) to replace the internal drive.

Getting Valve’s shiny new Steam Deck ahead of others by pre-ordering it seems like a good idea for a core mobile and PC gamer. Yet, it looks like those who have pre-ordered top-of-the-range 512GB version of Valve’s portable game console will have to wait till Q3 2022 in a bid to get their unit.

Users from the U.K. who had pre-ordered the top-of-the-range 512GB model have now been notified that they are set to get their units only in Q2 2022 (which stats in April), not in time for the 2021 Holiday Season.

For now we must wait until the hardware arrives and the teardowns begin.

  • thisisaname
    Valve offers three different versions of the Steam Deck: A $399 base model that features 64GB of eMMC storage, a $529 model that includes a 256GB NVMe SSD, and a $649 model with a 512GB NVMe SSD as well as anti-glare glass for the display.

    So that is $130 for 256GBs and $250 for 512GBs, rather over priced as here in the UK you can buy a 1GB NVMe SSD for about £90.
    Reply
  • excalibur1814
    "Valve's Steam Deck has already caused quite a commotion in the gaming world "

    Actual or orchestrated? Did they have 250 spots and they were taken within seconds?
    Reply
  • RareAir23
    Now this to me I find interesting. Valve recommended not to do it on the screenshot posted in the story but...if it's socketed and can be removed and remounted with a new drive even theoretically some technicians within our ranks will try. If they do succeed and it works? They're definitely going to post their findings here with also a video on YouTube showing how they did it. One thing to bear in mind about doing this if someone finds it possible and can make it work? It just makes the total cost of a Steam Deck just a little more expensive than the MSRP (price of new drive and labor time of work). I'm interested now to see what happens next when Steam Decks get into people's hands and people try this. Still don't know if I'll get one myself but we'll see. Out!
    Reply
  • hushnecampus
    If you have an M.2 model could you also add a cheap eMMC drive too? Slow, sure, but a bit of extra space, maybe handy for… something?
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    I do have to wonder.

    Are they just saying the drives are "not intended for user replacement" to try and get you to spend more on a higher capacity model, or are they saying this since the SSD is genuinely difficult to access?
    Reply
  • deesider
    hushnecampus said:
    If you have an M.2 model could you also add a cheap eMMC drive too? Slow, sure, but a bit of extra space, maybe handy for… something?
    Hopefully the answer is yes, as in the M2 socket is located separately to the eMMC mount, so that both are present on all versions. Although I expect that the eMMC is soldered on, so you might need to get out the heat gun to add one...
    Reply
  • RareAir23
    NightHawkRMX said:
    I do have to wonder.

    Are they just saying the drives are "not intended for user replacement" to try and get you to spend more on a higher capacity model, or are they saying this since the SSD is genuinely difficult to access?
    That's a great question. I would bet the latter. The way that console appears to be constructed, it's probably hard to get to and/or possibly in a place where if you're not careful you could break a key inner component of the device. Out!
    Reply
  • PillowOfWinds
    thisisaname said:
    So that is $130 for 256GBs and $250 for 512GBs, rather over priced as here in the UK you can buy a 1GB NVMe SSD for about £90.

    The price depends on read/write speed, a £90 1GB NVMe SDD will be around 3500/3000 MBs .

    Unfortunately the speed is not listed on https://www.steamdeck.com/en/tech, they only say that the 512GB is "high-speed".
    Reply
  • jepeman
    thisisaname said:
    So that is $130 for 256GBs and $250 for 512GBs, rather over priced as here in the UK you can buy a 1GB NVMe SSD for about £90.
    Its M.2 2230 socket.
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    1tb M.2 2230 SSDs do exist, however, they cost a ton.
    Reply