Some important details have emerged about Valve’s Steam Deck handheld console-meets-PC — particularly about its target performance level and whether you can actually install your own NVMe SSD to upgrade storage.
In a video interview from IGN, Valve stated that the Steam Deck’s 800p display, capable of up to a 60Hz refresh rate, will be targeting 30Hz for gameplay. In other words, the Nintendo Switch comparisons might go a little deeper than the surface, as many games on that platform run well below 60 frames per second. Though, given that most PC games offer a trove of graphical settings to fine-tune, the Steam Deck should be able to achieve smoother gameplay at the cost of graphical quality if you’re willing to knock down a few settings, depending on the game of course.
Valve also shared that, crucially, the standard M.2 2230-sized SSDs used in the Steam Deck aren’t soldered to the board. In the world of gaming laptops, this usually means that effort has been made to ensure that M.2 SSDs are easy to swap out for, say, a bigger one you might already have on hand, or one that maybe doesn’t cost as much as Valve is charging for storage upgrades. An article from IGNconfirms that you can technically remove and upgrade the storage in a Steam Deck yourself, but the focus is on repairability, not for increasing the tweak factor for the everyday user. So, those SSD slots may not be as accessible as we’re hoping, like the PS5’s slot that’s covered in an easy-to-remove plastic shield, but we don’t know for certain as Valve hasn’t shown off the inside of the Steam Deck.
Valve hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat told IGN that “repairability is something we did actually focus on and try to make it as repairable as possible. But, it’s really meant for people who know what they’re doing, and have experience doing it.” If Valve isn’t exaggerating the difficulty, some people might be better off opting for a bigger microSD card to store more games — a much simpler operation.
The specs for the Steam Deck mention that the M.2 SSD is “not intended for end-user replacement,” after all. That won’t stop some people — voiding a warranty might, though. IGN doesn’t confirm outright whether attempting to swap SSDs will void your warranty or not, though the publication says it’s likely to. The Verge has reached out to Valve, and we’ll update this post if we receive confirmation about how attempting to upgrade storage may impact warranty status.
The Steam Deck is available for reservation now, and those who were first to reserve one will be the first to receive their orders starting in December 2021. Reserving one requires a $5 investment that will go toward the final purchase. Though, unless you’ve already done it, the console’s expected order availability is currently set for Q2 2022.