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Teardown reveals good news for Steam Deck repairability

Right to Repair fans, you’re in luck, because the Steam Deck is pretty easy to fix according to iFixit’s teardown.

Valve released its own teardown video a few months ago, but it was packed with warnings about why you shouldn’t do it yourself. Undeterred by the warning, iFixit went to work and quickly tore down its model provided by Valve. The results are pretty surprising. Nearly every relevant part of the machine can be taken out, with rumors that Steam will have replacement parts widely available down the line.

A Steam Deck with the back covered removed, showing that one can easily remove the thumb sticks.

Of note is just how simple it is to swap out the thumbsticks. Drifting is a major problem on pretty much every controller in this console generation, most notably on the Nintendo Switch. Valve made it simple by letting users easily disconnect the entire thumbtack module for easy replacement.

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The SSD is also easy to get out, needing only one screw removed to free it from the motherboard. The motherboard is also labeled very clearly, so it’s easy to remember what needs to go where when reassembling it. Everything is simple to remove and only requires a Phillips-head screwdriver to take almost everything out.

Not everything is easy to remove, though. The trigger buttons require a bit more manhandling to remove. The battery is the real problem, though. It is tucked awkwardly into the frame and held down with lots of adhesive. That’s obnoxious, considering battery replacement will likely be the most common type of repair on a device like this.

All in all, iFixit gave it a 7 out of 10 on the repairability scale, which is quite high compared to other modern handheld electronics. It didn’t score as high as the Nintendo Switch (8 out of 10), but it’s leaps and bounds ahead of Apple devices. The 11-inch iPad Pro scored a paltry 3 out of 10. That’s not a handheld console, but you get the idea.

It looks like Valve has put a lot of work into making the Steam Deck a viable product that consumers will be able to enjoy for years to come. That benefits Valve, whose primary income is from game purchases and not hardware, and it benefits consumers as well.

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