Can you upgrade the SSD in a Steam Deck?

I hope you like handling screws.

can you upgrade the ssd steam deck
Image via Valve

Valve’s Steam Deck is dropping soon, with three models in the range offering storage capacities of 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Some are already wondering whether the SSDs are replaceable, probably because they have massive Steam libraries.

Of the three available models, the entry-level 64 GB option is advertised with embedded multi-media card (eMMC) internal storage, while the other two have NVMe SSDs. Most devices with eMMC like mobile phones aren’t upgradeable because the memory is soldered directly onto the board. Playstation 5‘s and other devices with NVMe SSDs are often upgradeable because the memory fits into a slot and is easier to add and remove without causing any damage.

Even if the NVMe SSDs on the 256GB and 512GB options are upgradeable, it might not be an easy process. When IGN’s reviewer got his hands on an early access model, he found the SSD wasn’t soldered to the board, but they weren’t easy to access either. It seems like replacing the SSD on the Steam Deck will involve taking it apart, possibly voiding the warranty.

Valve also warned that opening up the Deck could cause other issues, including but not limited to:

  • Different SSDs could emit a different emissions pattern than the one installed with the Steam Deck, potentially interfering with the Deck’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth performance
  • The thermal performance of the Deck could be impacted, as installing a new SSD requires at least one of the APU’s screws to be removed
  • Your SSD might use more power than the Steam Deck’s pre-installed SSD, which could impact battery life

If users replace the SSD, they’ll also need to reinstall the operating system. Valve has confirmed users will be able to install Windows on the Steam Deck, but it’s not recommended—Windows has a much higher overhead than the Linux-based SteamOS, which will affect performance and battery life.

Valve’s official position of “all models use socketed 2230 m.2 modules (not intended for end-user replacement)” suggests it’s not compatible. But Valve is probably safeguarding itself from liability here.

Still, the only way to know for sure will be when the Steam Deck drops on Feb. 25.