If bigger is better, then this is the finest Steam Deck around. Behold the 32GB Deck, a configuration that’s not officially available but has been made possible by some intrepid DIY skills.
In terms of retail Decks, you can have any system memory amount you want, so long as it’s 16GB. That single memory config is certainly simpler in manufacturing terms. It also provides a fixed target for developers.
But here in 2023, 16GB can be a bit limiting. That’s doubly true when that 16GB is shared across both CPU and GPU, as it is in the Steam Deck.
Of course, Valve’s Steam OS uses miles less memory than Microsoft’s bloated Windows leviathan. But the prospect of a 32GB Steam Deck is still intriguing.
Thanks to the Deck’s streamlined design and single memory config, upgrading from 16GB to 32GB doesn’t just mean adding memory chips. You have to remove the existing chips first.
So, that’s exactly what Budapest, Hungary based Twitter poster Balázs Triszka did (via Hardware.info). So, it was out with the soldering iron to remove the Deck’s existing memory devices and then on with double density chips to achieve 32GB.
Apparently, the BIOS also needed a quick fettle to fully enable the new memory capacity. For now, Triszka hasn’t reported any performance benefits. It’s not inconceivable that some games might benefit from more RAM. We’ve reached out and will report back if Triszka indicates any performance uplift.
Exactly how hard it is to implement this mod isn’t entirely clear. No doubt, if you’ve never used a soldering iron before, this probably isn’t the ideal job to learn the basics. It’s also unlikely to jive terribly well with the Deck’s warranty.
So, we’re not necessarily expecting this hack to catch on as a DIY mod. But you never know. If it does show significant performance gains, there might just be scope for a workshop or two to begin offering an upgrade service.
If it could be done quite cheaply, then the prospect of picking up, say, a refurbished low-end Deck, as recently announced, for $319 and then adding a proper SSD and this 32GB upgrade would make for quite the value proposition.