Valve’s recent announcement of the Steam Deck OLED has sent shockwaves through the gaming community, leaving many enthusiasts eager to get their hands on this upgraded version of the popular handheld gaming PC. With its thinner and self-emissive pixels, the OLED panel promises a superior visual experience. However, the burning question on everyone’s mind is whether it will be possible to retrofit the OLED screen onto the original Steam Deck. Unfortunately, it seems that Valve’s design choices have made this endeavor a near impossibility.

The Steam Deck OLED is more than just a simple panel swap; Valve has taken advantage of the thinner display to make extensive improvements to the device’s internals. With the elimination of the LED backlight, the OLED panel allows for a thicker 50Wh battery, a larger cooling fan, and enhanced heat pipe and heat exchanger. These changes not only improve performance but also contribute to a quieter gaming experience. Lawrence Yang, a Deck developer, emphasizes that these modifications make swapping the parts between the OLED and LCD models unfeasible.

While it may be tempting for enthusiasts to attempt retrofitting their existing Steam Decks with the OLED module, Yang cautions against such endeavors. Although some brave souls will undoubtedly try, the likelihood of success is slim. The inherent differences between the OLED and LCD models, combined with the significant internal changes, make it highly unlikely that the OLED module will function seamlessly in the original Steam Deck. In fact, the time, effort, and potential risks involved make it impractical compared to selling the old device and purchasing the new OLED Deck outright.

Valve acknowledges that customers may still require repairs and replacements for their Steam Deck LCD units, despite the release of the new OLED version. To ensure continued support, Valve affirms that it will continue to sell the necessary internal parts for the LCD model. While Valve has not yet confirmed its partnership with iFixit for the OLED parts, their previous collaboration indicates a strong likelihood. This commitment to repairability aligns with Valve’s values and supports the right-to-repair movement.

The Steam Deck OLED is undeniably an exciting advancement in the world of handheld gaming PCs. Valve’s meticulous design choices have improved the device’s performance and battery life, making it a compelling option for gamers. However, the unswappable nature of the OLED module presents a roadblock for those hoping to upgrade their existing Steam Decks. Valve’s decision to prioritize internal improvements over interchangeability has limited the feasibility of retrofitting the OLED screen. As gamers eagerly await the release of the Steam Deck OLED, it is clear that Valve has crafted a truly definitive first-generation device worthy of its acclaim.


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