June 25, 2022

HayvanDestek

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Valve warns you not to fix the Steam Deck’s loud fan in this manner

4 min read
Valve says you shouldn’t fix the Steam Deck’s noisy fan this way

Two months ago, the Steam Deck began shipping. It’s been improving since but this week could be the best –because we finally addressed the biggest problem with the $400 portable computer. Yes, that’s the fan.

The Deck shipped with a loud fan to cool the AMD Zen 2 or RDNA 2 silicon. Since then, Deck owners have had to deal with its volume and constant whine from day one. It ran continuously, even though I wasn’t using it, and was constantly ramping up in light games such as Vampire Survivors.

It whines. It seems that some Steam Decks have this issue. The Reddit community discovered the Deck ships with two fans. One from Delta, the other and one from Huaying. From what I have seen, I have the Delta fan. Valve will not comment on fan selection and iFixit cannot say if you can swap out for a better one once replacement parts become available

This week, Valve made a significant step toward improving the system with a beta update. I can tell you that it’s an entirely new experience. The fan no longer kicks on when the system is just sitting there. It’s now silent when it’s warm or you open large folders of games.

It doesn’t ramp up as fast, either. Mine waits until the system reaches 65 degrees Celsius before increasing fan speed. However, I noticed it getting quite toasty before reaching maximum fan speed. I also saw some stuttering Elden Ring at around 87 degrees Celsius.

One problem is that none of Valve’s tweaks corrected the whine. Although my Delta fan might not be as fast, it still makes that small jet engine sound.

What did you do to fix it? Use electrical tape.

ALL VALVE’S TWEAKS DO NOT FIX THE WHINE.

u/OligarchyAmbulance discovered by Reddit that simply pressing on the shell of the Stream Deck was enough to stop the whine. They opened their Steam Deck and placed four strips of electrical tape on top of the same spot inside the shell. This was right next to the fan. These are before, and after videos that they created.

The Steam Deck already has its electrical tape; the new bits would go under the circle to the left.
 Photo by Sean Hollister

I repeated the process: I first pressed on the back to check if it worked, then opened up the Steam Deck and added the tape. The whine was almost gone. The fan still sounds loud at full blast, but that’s not what I meant. It’s mostly a rushing sound, not a screech.

Please be cautious when opening your Steam Deck.

  • Take out your SD card first. Some people have cut theirs in half as the case effectively guillotines them when it pops open.
  • Soft plastic spudgers are better than screwdrivers to pry the door open after eight screws have been removed. These tools are inexpensive!
  • Before opening the battery, drain it and then yank the connector.
  • When closing the door again, don’t tighten the screws too much

Is it safe to try this at home? We don’t know if it works or if there are any side effects, such as heat or wear. Lawrence Yang, Valve’s spokesperson for the company, said that changing the airflow path would not be recommended because we don’t know how it would affect thermals.

u/OligarchyAmbulance isn’t reporting any temperature differences yet. However, between Valve’s warnings and the fact that opening the Deck is a tiny bit more difficult than others make it seem, I don’t know if it’s something I would recommend to anyone.

It seems clear that the problem with this fan is not software but hardware — and if Valve does not have a plan or recommendation to reduce the sound, I am sure more than a few gamers are going to take matters into their own hands.

This week’s beta update to the Deck includes a fan curve. This update also includes an experimental method to adjust the screen refresh rate between 40-60Hz. This could increase battery life and smoothness for games that run at more than 30fps but not quite 60fps.

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