In October 2021, Valve showed the world how to take apart a Steam Deck, a relatively simple operation accompanied by a stern warning: “You must not do any of this.” Reasons included easy-to-remove screws, less drop, and a decidedly higher chance that a battery failure could burn your house down. However, it’s your deck, your money (and your house), so if you want to take it apart and see what’s inside, that’s up to you.
Now that the Steam Deck is starting to ship – Gabe Newell personally delivered a few of them – Valve has reiterated that it really would prefer that everyone leave the internals alone, said Valve engineer Pierre-Loup Griffe. Rock, Paper, Shotgun that technical work is “better entrusted to professionals.”
“At the end of the day, it’s a PC that you own, and so we were very aware of the fact that people wanted to have all the data on what’s on there,” Griffeis said. “But we recommend leaving repairs to the professionals or returning Valve if something goes wrong if it does.”
Griffiths acknowledged that presenting the Steam Deck as a tiny Linux-based PC, rather than a typical handheld console, promotes the idea that it’s a device that can be upgraded by the user, and the desire to be able to get inside and tinker with it is something that early adopters, in particular, may be inclined to do. Valve went to great lengths to make the system as user-friendly as possible, but size considerations ultimately took precedence.
“We understand that people have a big desire to be able to upgrade their PCs, and we looked at that very closely, but in the end, the goal of having the portability and a portable form factor was pretty much at odds with a lot of that,” Griffith explained. “So we did what we could and made it as modular as possible given the goal of being portable, but it’s definitely a big compromise that we had to go there.”
Steam decks will be slow to arrive for a while longer – orders placed now are still not expected to go on sale until the second half of 2022 – but we hope things start to improve or at least clear up soon. : Valve recently stated that Steam Deck production would “be in the hundreds of thousands” by April.