Steam Deck Raises the Question of Gaming Hardware Modifications

Players out there still looking to get their hands on one of Valve’s Steam Decks beware: you might not be getting the product you were expecting. According to a recent update to the Steam Deck website at Store.steampowered.com, some of the more recently produced 256GB and 512GB models will ship with a slightly downgraded SSD.

Moving from a Gen 4 to a Gen 3 storage drive means cutting the maximum storage bandwidth in half, though Valve states that its tests didn’t reveal any impact on gaming performance. This isn’t the first time that modifications of systems have raised questions, however, where changes to older systems have sometimes resulted in more drastic results for end-users.

When Modifications Matter

If what Valve says is to be believed, then changes to the Steam Deck’s hardware are analogous to the changes that Sony made to the PS2 model over its lifespan. While not many people are aware, the base PS2 system was released in eight different main revisions. Some of these revisions, such as the change from V2 to V3, substantially modified the system’s internal structure. Despite these changes, however, the games like Final Fantasy 10, Devil May Cry, or any of the other thousands of PS2 releases all played the same.

The same can be said for small corrections to mobile hardware, as Apple saw with the iPhone X in 2018 to improve their NFC chip. Though a modification to the core hardware, performance in popular mobile games like those on online casinos remained the same. In this instance, readers can check out loads of information at Bonusfinder.co.uk for an illustration of the websites that saw no appreciable changes to any step of the process. From browsing and comparing bonuses like free spins and deposit matches to loading the games themselves, there was no harm, so there was no foul.

“PS3 Silver” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by veroyama

Back in the video gaming and Sony space, one of the most egregious instances of hardware modification came about with certain PlayStation 3 models, as noted by Lifewire.com. While some of the original versions of this console launched with a chip that allowed full backward compatibility to the PS2, later versions and revisions like the PS3 Slim eschewed this component to save cost. This meant that many players either had to keep their PS2 plugged in to play PS2 games or if they traded in their PS2 for a PS3, they were completely out of luck.

A Question of Consequence

The simple takeaway of the modification concept is that, to most gamers, a change is only really a downgrade if their gameplay suffers. A less powerful piece of hardware might not sound great on paper, but few users will have a reason to care if nothing is different. By this same coin, any reduction in appreciable potential will inevitably result in significant backlash from a notoriously vocal audience.

As for the Steam Deck, it’s too early to tell exactly how accurate the claims made by Valve are. Though the company has a long history of making questionable decisions in both the hardware and software space, being dishonest in this way is not something they have a track record for. Regardless, we’d suggest new adopters wait for user testing before taking Valve at its word.

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