Update 5/23/2022: iFixit’s selection of Steam Deck replacement parts (opens in new tab) is now fully live alongside an overview (opens in new tab) of the device’s repairability. I was surprised at iFixit’s repair score of 7/10 for the deck, but the company cites some problem areas like the thumbsticks, which require some disassembly and desoldering if you don’t want to just buy an entirely new housing, as well as the battery, which lacks easy pull tabs and requires heat application and a pry tool to overcome its strong adhesive.
Ultimately though, iFixit notes that the device is still way ahead of its competition in terms of modularity and repairability, encouraging other console manufacturers to adopt similar practices.
Original Story: Spotted by IGN (opens in new tab) and GamingOnLinux (opens in new tab), DIY repair company iFixit (opens in new tab) accidentally revealed its catalogue of Steam Deck components early, providing an interesting look at the console’s repair options. The full list is as follows:
- Fan: $24.99/£19.99
- Anti-glare screen: $94.99/£89.99
- Normal Screen: $64.99/£59.99
- L/R Thumbstick: $19.99/NA
- Action button, D-Pad, or Steam button membrane: $4.99/£4.99
- Speakers: $24.99/£24.99
- L/R Trigger Assembly: $7.99/NA
- L/R Bumper Assembly: $6.99/£6.99
- Back Plate: $24.99/£24.99
- Front Plate: $24.99/£24.99
- Motherboard(no SSD): $349.99/£289.99
- L/R Daughter Board: $29.99/NA
- Battery or Screen Adhesive: $4.99/£4.96
- AC Adapter (US/EU/UK): $24.99/£24.99
Many of the components also come with an optional $5 “Fix Kit” from iFixit to aid in installation. The most surprising inclusion, to my eye, is the Steam Deck’s full motherboard sans SSD. Between this list of components and Valve’s release of the CAD files (opens in new tab) for the Steam Deck shell, you’re most of the way to being able to build one of these yourself. It wouldn’t be cost-effective by any means, what with the motherboard alone costing as much as a retail Deck, but it’s surprising to see this many official options in the typically proprietary, anti-DIY world of mobile computing.
That being said, the exclusion of the Steam Deck’s battery is surprising given the otherwise extensive selection—battery degradation over the span of years is a big concern in a mobile device’s longevity, and often a near-insurmountable obstacle in keeping smartphones usable in the long term. However, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens indicated that the company is working on eventually selling the Steam Deck battery separate:
“We don’t have a solution for battery repairs on day one, but we are committed to working with Valve to maintain these devices as they age,” Wiens told IGN. “Battery replacements are going to be essential to making the Steam Deck stand the test of time.”
The Deck is seriously living up to Valve’s repairability promises, but I’m curious what this openness and modularity might mean for the device’s upgradability down the line. Would it be conceivable to replace a first-gen Steam Deck’s motherboard with a hypothetical Deck 2’s down the line, bringing a degree of desktop modularity to this portable console? Time will tell, but it’s already taking mobile tech in an interesting new direction.