Valve Designer Warns Modding Steam Deck With A Larger SSD Could Cause Serious Issues

Steam Deck
As it turns out, you shouldn't mod your Steam Deck console with a physically bigger solid state drive (SSD) because it "will significantly shorten the life" of the system, according to one of the device's actual designers at Valve. The warning comes after a mod began making the rounds showing a larger form factor SSD installed in the Steam Deck.

We wrote about this last week after spotting a Twitter post by Belly Jelly (@TheSmcelrea) showing a Steam Deck with an M.2 2242 form factor SSD shoved inside. According to the tweet, the bigger SSD makes the heat spreader bow a tiny amount but otherwise "appears to work fairly well." First looks can be deceiving, though.

Tweet by Valve Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang warning against applying an SSD mod making the rounds.
As news of the mod spread, Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang issue a warning on Twitter to anyone who be thinking about swapping the installed M.2 2230 SSD with a longer drive.

"Hi, please don’t do this. The charger IC gets very hot and nearby thermal pads should not be moved. In addition, most 2242 M.2 drives draw more power and get hotter than what Deck is designed for. This mod may appear to work but will significantly shorten the life of your Deck," Yang wrote.

What's especially interesting is he says "will" instead of "could," suggesting that a shortened lifespan is a foregone conclusion if modding the Steam Deck in such a fashion. As one of the console's actual designers, Yang is intimately familiar with its thresholds, so it's a good idea to heed his warning. It's not like Valve is having a tough time selling the Steam Deck, so it doesn't need to make false claims to push pricier SKUs with more storage. Plus it's easy enough to slap in an SDXC card for more storage.

Even so, some have called into question if the risk is as dire as it sounds. It would take some testing to find out. To that end, Belly Jelly responded to Yang's tweet saying, "I absolutely agree with this guy. Mod at your own risk!" He added that this is "mostly just a proof of concept." Then in a series of follow-up tweets, Belly Jelly says the thermal pad still makes contact with the longer SSD and has not observed any changes in temps by the Steam Deck's available sensors.

Belly Jelly on Twitter responding to a tweet by a Valve Steam Deck designer warning against applying an SSD mod.
"I am not too worried about the charging IC itself as the thermal pad there is still making contact just fine, nothing about that area was directly affected by the mod. The SSD itself is also pretty low power model so again I am not too concerned about that," Belly Jelly noted.

Belly Jelly also warned against using a double sided SSD, saying it won't work. They further warned that some people have damaged their consoles while attempting similar mods, so as always, proceed at your own risk.

The reason this specific mod appeared so appealing to begin with is because larger form factor SSDs are generally easier to find, and sometimes with a better bang-for-buck propositions. Pus the Steam Deck is basically a handheld PC that's relatively easy to get into.

We'd like to see some extensive temperature testing with this mod in place, and perhaps someone will do that at some point. As it stands though, we suggest following Yang's advice.