Valve reveals some Steam Deck hardware upgrades you probably didn’t notice

Steam Deck on desk
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Steam Deck was a revelation when it came out — a handheld gaming PC that truly works. However, it turns out that newer Steam Decks might work slightly better than older models.

In a recent interview with The Verge (opens in new tab), Steam Deck designers Lawrence Yang and Pierre-Loup Griffais gave a ton of insight into the future of the handheld gaming PC. While software updates remain a key focus for Valve, the designers did drop a couple of key pieces of information regarding how they approach hardware in the Steam Deck.

First, apparently, it will be easier to replace your battery in newer versions of the Steam Deck, and there’s a reason its not particularly easy. Griffais said that the battery is glued down due to concerns about potential battery expansion as your Steam Deck ages — which is a real concern with any battery as a device gets older. But since Valve does want you to be able to repair the device, more recent models have been revised to have more easily loosened batteries.

Steam Deck controls

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Valve also revealed in the interview that it has been working to eliminate noisy fans. Initially, the Steam Deck was launched with fans from either Huaying or Delta Electronics. The Delta fans were noisy to the point where Valve made the competing Huaying fans available for purchase and stopped using them in production.

Now though, Valve thinks it has the answer. Yang says that they have devised “an engineered foam solution to reduce fan noise.” Basically, they added some padding to muffle the sound. If you still want to avoid Delta fans entirely, you can check to see if your Steam Deck has one. Just turn on your Steam Deck and go to Settings, then System and then Model/Serial numbers to see which fan you’re using. You can then either try to return your unit for one without a Delta fan (if possible), or you can buy a Steam Deck fan from iFixit starting at $24.99 (opens in new tab).

Finally, there are some other small improvements Valve has made that may have escaped your notice. According to Yang, they have improved the Steam and Quick Access buttons as of August. They also say you can expect relatively constant minor tweaks going forward until they move on to an entirely new device.

Waiting on a Steam Deck Pro? A Steam Deck 2 is more likely 

Steam Deck handheld playing games

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Speaking of a potential new device, Griffais indicates that we shouldn’t hold our breath for a Steam Deck Pro. Instead, its more likely that we won’t see a major change until we get a possible Steam Deck 2, with Griffais stating, “I think we’ll [Valve] opt to keep the one performance level for a little bit longer, and only look at changing the performance level when there is a significant gain to be had.”

So if you want to get a Steam Deck, now is probably as good a time as any. The minor hardware tweaks, while nice, aren’t so nice that’d we’d recommend holding out. Plus Valve has partnered with iFixit to ensure that if you do need to make some fixes, it's relatively easy to do — especially for a gaming handheld. So check out our Steam Deck review to see if this gaming machine is right for you, but we think you’ll love it. Our computing writer Tony Polanco called it the best handheld he’s ever owned

Malcolm McMillan
News Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a News Writer for Tom's Guide, writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment with a particular focus on phones and virtual reality. Before writing for Tom's Guide, he worked many retail jobs and many Black Fridays, including a stint for Microsoft so he knows all about finding the best prices for the latest tech. Malcolm had also been a fantasy football analyst for several years prior to his time with Tom's Guide. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.