Valve haven’t changed their collective minds on DIY Steam Deck upgrades and repairs; although the portable PC is finally on its way to the earliest reservers, it’s still the company’s stance that you shouldn’t open it up and make hardware changes yourself. That’s according to Valve engineer Pierre-Loup Griffais, who spoke to us at length on the making of the Deck and its future prospects.
Valve have previously made the peculiar move of showing exactly how to open a Steam Deck and remove individual parts, complete with video, while simultaneously declaring it something owners should refrain from. On pain of borking components, personal injury, and even death, apparently.
I asked Griffais if, a few months on from that video’s release, it remains Valve’s stance that internal tinkering should be avoided.
“Yeah, I think it's best left to professionals,” he replied. “At the end of the day, it's a PC that that you own, and so we were very cognisant of that fact that people wanted to have all the data on what's in there. But we recommend repairs are left to pros or returned to Valve for anything that goes wrong, if that comes up.”
As I found in my Steam Deck review, there’s plenty that puts the Steam Deck closer to PCs than the closed-off consoles that form its handheld competition. Griffais explained that Valve were aware of the role that hardware customisation has in PC ownership, but ultimately needed to balance those concerns with the limits of portability.
“It's definitely a tradeoff. We recognise that there's a big desire for people to be able to upgrade their PCs and we looked at it really hard, but at the end of the day, the goal of having the portability and the handheld form factor was pretty at odds with a lot of that. So we got in what we could, and we made it as modular as possible, given the goal of being portable, but it's definitely a big tradeoff that that we had to walk there.”
Despite this stance, Valve have named teardown and self-repair specialists iFixit as an authorised reseller of Steam Deck replacement parts, though nothing appears to be for sale on their site just yet. There’ll be other ways to customise the exterior of the Deck as well, as Valve have also released its CAD files. For what it’s worth, there’s nothing physically stopping you from unscrewing the Deck’s rear cover and getting in there; Valve are mainly suggesting it would be safer not to.
Our full interview with Graiffais, along with Valve designer Jake Rodkin, will be posted later this week. We’ve also interviewed Gabe Newell on the Steam Deck, NFTs and more, and are maintaining a list of all the Steam Deck Verified games you can play.