Valve Designer Warns Steam Deck SSD Mod Will Shorten Its Life

A screenshot from an October 2021 Steam Deck teardown video in which Valve strongly recommends against modifying the handheld PC.

Valve’s Steam Deck is a cool little handheld PC you probably don’t wanna modify too much. However, if the creative juices start flowing and you feel the need to tinker with it, Valve user experience designer Lawrence Yang is at least advising against a mod that increases the literal size of the Deck’s SSD. The reason? Altering the m.2 2230 SSD “will significantly shorten” the device’s lifespan.

PC Gamer published a blog on June 24 reporting on a Canadian modder named Belly Jelly who posted some photos of their latest project: They figured out that the portable console is capable of holding a physically larger internal storage card than the one it currently comes with. So, as any modder does when making an intriguing discovery like this, Belly Jelly sought to put in a bigger 2242 m.2 NVMe SSD because it “doesn’t collide with anything on the motherboard or put any extra strain on any cables.” Belly Jelly noted that putting in a bigger card “does make the heat spreader bow a tiny bit,” which could impact the device’s charging abilities.

This is where Valve’s Lawrence Yang stepped in. In response to PC Gamer’s story and Belly Jelly’s bulging Steam Deck mod, Yang directly warned folks: “please don’t do this.” Yang briefly explained that the charging integrated circuits get “very hot” and that tangentially connected thermal pads “should not be moved.” More specifically, Yang seemed to decry the use of 2242 m.2 SSDs because they apparently “draw more power and get hotter than what the Deck is designed for.”

“This mod may appear to work but will significantly shorten the life of your Deck,” Yang said.

Kotaku has reached out to Belly Jelly, Valve, and Yang for comment.

Yang’s opposition to swapping out the SSD falls in line with Valve’s previous statements on the matter. Valve said in a July 2021 IGN interview that the internal storage is not upgradeable. Valve then reiterated this in an October 2021 teardown video where it mentioned that tinkering with the handheld device could result in power consumption issues or worse, death. And even the device’s site clarified that the socketed 2230 m.2 SSD is “not intended for end-user replacement.” So, be careful when you’re playing around with your Steam Deck’s internals. Things could get messy.

And modder Belly Jelly agrees, saying folks should do it at their own risk.

Anyway, if you’re still wondering where your Steam Deck is right now, Yang also confirmed on Twitter that Valve will start shipping more of them this Thursday to folks in the Q3 ordering queue. He also clarified to The Verge that Valve will start shipping double the units this week as well.

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