As a relatively tiny, portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck has some fairly rigid limitations in terms of hardware. As crazy “because I can” dreamers, modders are shattering those limitations as quickly as possible. Case in point: Twitter user @theSmcelrea, who rearranged the insides of their Steam Deck in order to fit a longer and more capacious M.2 storage drive in there.
By default, the Steam Deck supports a 2230 M.2 drive, just 30mm long, and the shortest standard size for the M.2 format. That rather limits the amount of storage it can handle — the biggest 2230 drive on the market is 2TB, but Valve’s pre-configured Steam Decks top out at the more common 512GB. Adding to that, consumer SSDs using the relatively obscure 2230 size are difficult to find, given the format’s rarity.
TheSmcelrea (spotted by HotHardware) decided they needed a faster KingSpec drive in the 2242 form factor, 12 millimeters longer. To achieve this they bought a rather obscure 30-to-42mm bracket extension that moves the retention screw a skosh further up the motherboard, and moved a thermal pad underneath the SSD slot on the Steam Deck. That was pretty much all that was necessary to fit the slightly longer drive into place.
The modder reports that the new drive bows out the built-in heat spreader a bit, probably due to an extra millimeter or two of height added by the retention screw adapter. But the longer M.2 drive isn’t intersecting with anything else on the motherboard, and with the body reassembled and SteamOS reinstalled, it looks like it’s a clean and successful operation. It’s a fairly easy one, too, so long as you can track down that adapter and a compatible 42mm drive. (The Steam Deck’s M.2 slot is PCIe Gen 3, so don’t splurge on a Gen 4 drive.)
With the Steam Deck’s appeal directly to PC gamers and Valve’s laissez-faire attitude to the semi-standard hardware, it’s kind of surprising that we’re not seeing even more crazy mods. I’m waiting for someone to 3D print a new rear body panel so they can cram in a battery that lasts for two days. Get on it, gamers.