The Steam Deck being analogous to a laptop but in handheld form makes it a viable device for modding, and that’s exactly what many people have done. While it’s a gaming device first and foremost, you can do basically anything on it thanks to the control that Valve hands over to the users. Not only can you modify the software running on it, but you can also make hardware modifications and even install another operating system if you wish. If you’re looking for ideas, we have a few for you below.
1 Replace your SSD to get more storage for more games
If you want more storage on your Steam Deck, you can buy a microSD or SSD and install it yourself. The Steam Deck takes an M. 2 2230 SSD, which you can typically get in up to 2TB of storage. That’s a massive upgrade over the official 512GB SSD that comes in the highest-tier option, and you can save a bit of money by going for one of the lower-tier devices and then buying your own SSD for installation instead.
More storage means more games, and given that the purpose of the Steam Deck is gaming first and foremost, then this is one of the best upgrades you can make for your shiny handheld. It’s a little bit more involved than some of the other mods you may want to do, but it’s certainly one of the most immediately rewarding.
2 Install Decky Loader to get plugins that enhance the SteamOS experience
If you’ve never heard of Decky Loader before, it’s a launcher for the Steam Deck that gives you easy access to browse and install a variety of plugins. By installing it, users will gain access to plugins that can be found through the Quick Access menu. There are a ton of options available, including FreeGames for free game notifications, Power Tools, ProtonDB badges, and more.
3 Get a dock and use your Steam Deck as a PC
The Steam Deck being a bona fide PC (it is just Linux, after all) means that you can use it as one with the appropriate peripherals, including a great dock. You can use it to add USB-A ports for accessories like a mouse and keyboard, Ethernet support, and HDMI or DisplayPort for connecting monitors or other displays. It greatly increases the capabilities of the Steam Deck.
If you don’t want to use it as a PC, you can basically turn it into a gaming console via a dock, like a Nintendo Switch. Any of the best Steam Deck controllers will also work with it, but other controllers will work as long as they support Bluetooth. I use a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller over Bluetooth with mine while sitting on the couch. In this way, I can play games like Wolfenstein: The New Order or Cyberpunk 2077 on the couch, something that I typically couldn’t do before as I don’t own any consoles.
4 Emulate all your favorite consoles
Owning a Steam Deck can also mean you don’t need to carry your other handhelds or hook up your retro consoles. I have a PS2, for example, along with other old-school consoles, and thanks to the openness of the Steam Deck, I can take all of those devices with me. I can play a Pokemon game on my Steam Deck instead of taking two consoles with me when I’m out and about.
Of course, emulation software like EmuDeck takes a little time to set up, but it’s a relatively straightforward process. Following on from that, dumping your own games to play on it will be fairly easy, with the biggest hiccup many run into being the process of transferring files to the Steam Deck. Once you’re set up, though, you’ll be able to take an even larger library of games with you everywhere.
5 Install Windows
The Steam Deck, being a handheld PC, can install and boot Windows. We don’t recommend it because it takes a lot to set up, but it will allow you to play games that require a Windows-based anti-cheat on your device. What’s more, you’ll be able to execute Windows-based applications if that’s something that appeals to you.
There aren’t many reasons you would want to install Windows, particularly because Proton is as good as it is. In fact, it actually makes some games run better on Linux than on Windows. Still, you can do it if you want, and Valve has drivers that will allow it to work properly too.
There are a lot of other mods or customizations you can perform on your Steam Deck. Those are the ones we recommend starting with, but you can find other ideas online if you know where to look. The Steam Deck subreddit is a great place to start. You can also put your Steam Deck in desktop mode and browse through the programs you can install under the Discover tab. The console itself can offer many options itself, so explore and see what you can find.
Valve’s first portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck, is one of the coolest handheld gaming consoles on the market, with a huge library of games to play and the ability to take them on the go.