The Steam Deck 2 must be modular

The mighty Steam Deck has modified the gaming PC panorama, however regardless of its success it additionally seems like a missed alternative. Don’t get me flawed, I really like the moveable powerhouse, and I’ve bought no actual qualms with its general design. But with the ability to rework the hand held’s {hardware} in and out on a whim can be a real recreation changer, and Valve may dominate this market indefinitely by making its subsequent handheld modular.

The concept of a modular Steam Deck 2 would possibly sound absurd, however the idea is much from new. Whereas the most effective gaming laptop computer candidates at present aren’t notably serviceable, iconic machines just like the IBM Thinkpad as soon as featured a automotive bonnet method with element blocks stowed away inside. No screws, no messing round with fragile innards, only a easy swap that’s akin to taking part in with Lego.

It’s value noting that modularity didn’t die with IBM’s modern ’90s tech, because the likes of Framework’s 13-inch notebooks assist to maintain the dream alive. Nonetheless, handheld gaming PCs are a special beast, and I’d like to see Valve take issues a step additional by making a Steam Deck that’s unapologetically modular.

If you happen to’re each a tinkerer and a Steam Deck proprietor, chances are high you’ve already cracked the hand held. As you’d most likely count on, its innards are a compact sandwich of rigorously positioned components, and Valve says you need to assume twice earlier than poking round inside. That is good recommendation, as one flawed slip might ship it to the massive gaming desk within the sky, however it virtually seems like the corporate needs to allow you to fiddle contained in the Deck, however can’t.

Making the subsequent Steam Deck’s insides extra approachable would assist it really feel like a standard rig, however it wouldn’t remove related dangers. Relatively than catering to simply savvy fans, choosing hot-swappable components may entice novice gamers to get entangled and facilitate customisation tenfold. Valve doesn’t even need to reinvent the wheel to do that, as loads of merchandise already dabble with the concept of modularity.

Steam Deck with glowing Seagate SSD for Xbox

Modular SSD

Changing the Steam Deck’s storage with the most effective SSD for gaming isn’t diabolically tough, however I get why some customers could also be hesitant to strive. Once more, Valve advises in opposition to taking part in round with the hand held’s components, and also you’ll have to manually take off the prevailing drive’s protect to guard the Deck (yuck). So, to remove that nonsense, I reckon Valve ought to take a leaf out of Microsoft’s guide and use one thing just like the Xbox Storage Enlargement Card.

Now, I do know what you’re considering, and I agree that Microsoft’s Xbox drives are unreasonably priced. But, if Valve comes up with one thing that prices much less, it’d present the hand held with an expandable storage technique that’d exchange the most effective Steam Deck SD card choices, particularly if it implements an exterior case slot.

Alternatively, the Steam Deck 2 may instantly observe within the footsteps of Framework and go for generously spaced inside modules. For this to work, you’d most likely nonetheless have to carry out a much less intimidating technical post-mortem, however no less than you’ll be greeted with crystal-clear labeling, easy connectors, and a much less cramped setting to work with.

Inside modular Framework laptop with labelled parts
Picture supply: Framework

Modular battery

Prefer it or not, the Steam Deck’s battery gained’t final endlessly, and it’ll run out of steam sooner or later. You’ll be able to technically exchange it, however iFixit charges the job as ‘difficult’ (it’s simple to see why when you think about the steps concerned). Sadly, this reality will possible ship many Decks to an early grave, with some customers forking out for a brand new handheld slightly than risking restore.

I’m no Valve engineer, however I’d like to see a detachable Steam Deck battery that pays homage to Sony’s PSP. To swap out the bats on that retro dangerous boy, all you need to do is take away a singular screw and raise it out. Not solely would this make changing lifeless cells a breeze, however it’d let gamers simply add a better capability unit, which can enchantment to anybody who always runs out of juice.

Modular APU, RAM, and mainboard

In a means, the Steam Deck’s low specs are a part of the enchantment, however they’re nonetheless an element that’ll hamper the hand held’s longevity. Attempting to spice up fps on the moveable’s AMD APU will solely get tougher as time goes by, and releasing a successor with a greater chip perpetuates the cycle.

With that in thoughts, what for those who may simply stick new guts in your handheld, slightly than shopping for a completely new gadget? In principle, it’d remove the necessity for a Steam Deck 3 and allow Valve to persistently sustain with opponents like Onexplayer and Ayaneo. That stated, I’d nonetheless favor to see a full system module, slightly than separate APU and RAM parts, because it’d save gamers having to match up applicable specs.Ifixit tutorial image of hand removing Steam Deck screen
Picture supply: Ifixit

Modular display

Want the Steam Deck had an OLED display? Effectively, not everybody shares that opinion, because it’d possible drive up the moveable’s worth. As soon as once more, the answer to this specific conundrum is to make the show modular, because it’d add a component of visible versatility that’s often locked into place.

I’m not saying that Valve ought to essentially promote a number of screens with out objective, as even the subsequent Deck most likely gained’t be capable of drive a 4K display. As a substitute, I’d like to see the choice to really keep on with a lower-resolution display and doubtlessly slash the worth of the Steam Deck 2.

It’s exhausting to recommend this with a straight face as there isn’t actually a precedent for it, however a Steam Deck and not using a display in any respect would possibly even make sense. In any case, pairing the moveable with the most effective Steam Deck dock converts it into an affordable desktop rig, so you can simply ditch its built-in display altogether and use a module to clean out the hole. Sounds ridiculous? Possibly, however the concept might enchantment to thrifty players on a funds.

In fact, modular screens are an enormous boon for repairability, and so they’d ease the blow of any unlucky mishaps. Certain, paying for a brand new display will possible nonetheless upset your pockets, however no less than you gained’t need to ship it away to a restore store.Steam Deck with controller sticks and buttons lying on white surface

Modular buttons and sticks

Weirdly, the prospect of modular Steam Deck sticks and buttons excites me greater than the whole lot talked about above, to not point out it’s most likely probably the most sensible factor to implement. Altering the Deck’s format would possibly sound like a fundamental change, however as somebody that’s simply delay by the texture of a handheld, it issues above all else.

In case your present setup contains the most effective PC controller, you’re maybe conversant in modular gamepads already. Equipment just like the Thrustmaster Eswap Professional boast magnetic button modules, sticks, and set off grips, and you’ll even change the position of every.

By adopting comparable tech, the Steam Deck 2 may entice extra handheld lovers to the fold, particularly people who aren’t into the unique’s symmetrical stick format. It’d additionally offer you a chance to interchange Valve’s touchpads with one thing else totally. If it was as much as me, I’d launch a Playdate-inspired crank, however for this reason I’m not Gabe Newell.

In the end, a modular Steam Deck 2 would assist improve the hand held’s versatility and longevity. But, it’d additionally contribute to the identical battle as Framework, as trendy design is frequently eroding shopper proper to restore. By empowering customers with entry to modular components, Valve may solidify its dominance inside the handheld gaming PC house, which in flip will profit each gamers and the platform’s future.

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