Steam Deck owners thinking of modding their handheld to run a physically larger-sized SSD shouldn’t do so, with Valve officially warning against such a course of action.
Valve’s Lawrence Yang, a designer who worked on the Steam Deck, took to Twitter to caution Deck owners that they shouldn’t perform a recent mod aired online showing that you can replace the factory installed 2230 M.2 drive with a bigger form-factor 2242 SSD.
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/Kmup7Zov13June 25, 2022
While this may be possible, as the modder who did this successfully demonstrated, most folks regarded the idea with caution anyway, as it’s effectively experimenting with your handheld. Any detrimental effects may not be obvious immediately or in the shorter-term, but they could well rear their heads in an unpleasant manner at a later date.
In case you were in any doubt, Yang’s tweet makes it clear that there are various issues with the thermals around this DIY upgrade, and most of the larger 2242 M.2 SSDs draw more power, meaning the Steam Deck will get hotter than its design parameters allow for.
The bottom line is that this mod could “significantly shorten the life of your Deck” no less.
Analysis: Surely this is no surprise to anyone, really?
Remember, this isn’t about swapping out the Steam Deck’s SSD for another alternative drive, but specifically, a solid-state drive which is physically bigger than the default model.
Why would you want to use such a larger SSD? Well, opening up your upgrade possibilities to include 2242 M.2 models obviously gives you more options, particularly for cranking storage up to 1TB with an entry-level Steam Deck, for example; certainly a tempting proposition on the face of it.
That said, an SD card is an equally viable route in this respect, with not that much difference performance-wise compared to running off the SSD. Obviously, it’s ideal to have your games on the system drive, but the SD card is really not that far off as a close second.
Is it any surprise that jamming in a bigger drive than the design spec allows for is a bad idea? Not really, and indeed the caveats originally outlined by the modder should make anyone pause before even contemplating such a DIY upgrade, one of which is that the 2242 M.2 SSD form-factor means that it makes the Deck’s heat spreader bend a bit, apparently.
Obviously the Deck has been carefully designed and doubtless put through multiple prototype models to balance the equation around CPU performance, battery life, and internal heat levels, so going ahead and simply whacking in a larger component with the expectation that everything should be fine is optimistic, to say the least. As we noted above, it may work fine now, apparently, but what about in a year – or two?
Part of the attraction of this SSD mod, and why it’s gained quite a lot of visibility online, is down to it being an easy upgrade that any Steam Deck owner could achieve – but just because you can do it, of course, doesn’t mean you should. In this case, with a potentially wider audience of would-be experimenters perhaps willing to try this mod, maybe that’s why Valve has felt the need to move swiftly to clarify that this is a bad idea in no uncertain terms.