Last fall Valve released a short video showing how to disassemble the Steam Deck handheld gaming PC, but strongly advised folks not to actually do it since opening the case weakens its protection against drops and other damage.

But if you’ve got a broken part, then opening the case to see if you can replace it might be less of a risk than doing nothing. So it’s good to know that not only can you open up the Steam Deck, but Valve will also offer replacement parts for some components.

iFixit

That means if, for example, the thumb sticks start to exhibit problems, you should be able to remove the eight Phillips head screws holding the case together, remove the back cover, and then remove the thumb sticks, each of which are on their own board – making it easy to replace one or both.

The folks at repair shop and parts supplier iFixit have published a teardown guide that shows how to get the thumb sticks out… as well as everything else including the Steam Deck’s SSD, shoulder buttons, touchpads, mainboard, and other parts. Valve says iFixit will also be one of the authorized sellers of Steam Deck replacement parts.

But that doesn’t mean they’re giving Valve top marks for Steam Deck repairability. While it’s nice that the case is easy to open and some parts are modular and easy to replace, one of the things you’re most likely to want to replace is apparently a pain to remove.

The battery is sealed in place with a lot of adhesive. Removing it requires application of heat, and iFixit advises against using isopropyl alcohol, since there are holes in the frame beneath the battery that could allow liquid to leak into the display.

And that’s a shame, because odds are that heavy users of the Steam Deck could see the battery degrade relatively quickly. While you might get around 3-5 hours of game play on a charge for some games, others may require more horsepower and kill a battery dead in just about 90 minutes of game play. And that means you could end up charging a Steam Deck pretty frequently, which will shorten the longevity of the battery.

ifixit

The Steam Deck will begin shipping to customers later this month, starting with folks who reserved one last year. The handheld gaming PC sells for $399 and up and you can still reserve one, but if you request one now, you won’t actually get it until the second quarter of 2022 or later.

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  1. Excited for the embargo lifting and more reviews of the Steam Deck come out.

    Of the current 3 allowed to show stuff so far, only 2 of them actually covers useful info. The 3rd one focuses on pointless things.

    1. I’m hoping Valve made wiser decisions when sending other review units for the media/influencer coverage starting on the 25th.

      I’m not sure what Valve was thinking when they chose who to send to for the early HW previews but I guess 2 of 3 good choices is passing.

      1. I really don’t think that it’s right to “hope Valve made wiser decisions when sending other review units for the media/influencer coverage”.
        I just don’t think I could say why exactly without sounding like a jerk. It’s got nothing to do with the steam deck or people who want to use one, though.

  2. The only 2 things I ever plan on replacing are the SSD and battery. At least Valve got 1 of them right. Too bad they got the other horribly wrong.

    I guess I might attempt fixing other things if they break since Valve did a great job in having official parts sellers. This is pretty awesome news for the DIY fixers.

    1. Unfortunate about the battery when everything else seems to be going pretty well in comparison.

      Anyway, looking forward to my unit soonish.

  3. Excellent article Brad,

    Glad to see iFixit in the mix as well. Being able to pick up replacement parts for the SteamDeck directly through iFixit…totally cool in my opinion.

    I’m a big fan of iFixit. Especially since they’re standing up for consumers right to repair. Not many people are…or seem to care. My relatives who are farmers…they’re getting very concerned…and that means the reader should be too.

    I picked up iFixit’s “Essential Electronics Toolkit” about a year ago for phone/laptop repairs. Highly recommend it. Very durable.

    Best,
    Steven B.

  4. This is great! Too bad about the difficult to replace battery though. At least the SSD is easy to replace which is the other thing people are likely to replace.

    Would be great if Valve updates the battery and related cables to make battery replacement easier in newer units in the future.

    1. I wouldn’t be shocked if they do that in regards to the battery. Valve seems to have put so much thought into this, I can see them fixing some little mistakes. Maybe in the later runs. Might be good to to be a Q2 or later order, if they roll out the upgrades on the later units.