Valve’s Steam Deck lets you technically swap the SSD, aiming for 30fps gameplay

Some key details have surfaced about Valve’s Steam Deck handheld console-meets-PC — specifically about its target performance level and whether you can actually install your own NVMe SSD to upgrade the storage.

In a video interview from IGN, Valve stated that the Steam Deck’s 800p display, with a refresh rate of up to 60Hz, will target 30Hz for gameplay. In other words, the Nintendo Switch comparisons may go a little deeper than the surface, as many games on that platform run well below 60 frames per second. Although, since most PC games offer a large number of graphics settings to fine-tune, the Steam Deck should be able to achieve smoother gameplay at the expense of graphics 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 are not soldered to the board. In the world of gaming laptops, this usually means an effort has gone into making sure M.2 SSDs can be easily replaced with, say, a bigger one you might already have on hand, or one that might not be as expensive as just like Valve charges for storage upgrades. An article by IGN confirms that you can technically remove and upgrade the storage in a Steam Deck yourself, but the focus is on recoverability, not increasing the tweak factor for the everyday user. So those SSD slots may not be as accessible as we’d hope, like the PS5’s slot that’s covered in an easy-to-remove plastic shield, but we’re not sure because Valve hasn’t shown the inside of the steam deck.

Image: Valve

Valve hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat said: IGN that “repairability is something we’ve really focused on and are trying to make it as repairable as possible. But it’s really for people who know what they’re doing and have experience with it.” If Valve doesn’t exaggerate the difficulty, some people may want to opt for a larger microSD card to store more games – a much easier operation.

The specifications for the Steam Deck mentions that the M.2 SSD is “not intended for end-user replacement” after all. That won’t stop some people – voiding a warranty can, however. IGN does not fully confirm whether trying to swap SSDs will void your warranty or not, although the publication says it likely will. The edge has contacted Valve, and we will update this message if we receive confirmation about how upgrading storage may affect warranty status.

The Steam Deck is now available for pre-order, and those who pre-ordered one first will be the first to receive their orders from December 2021. Reserving one requires a $5 investment that goes toward the final purchase. However, unless you’ve already done it, the expected console order availability is currently set for Q2 2022.