The Steam tire started shipping two months ago today, and it’s gotten a lot better since, but this week is perhaps the best yet – because we’re finally tackling the biggest single issue with the $ 400 laptop. Yes, I’m talking about the fan.
When Deck was launched, it came with an extremely noisy fan to cool its AMD Zen 2 and RDNA 2 silicon, and owners like me have been dealing with its volume and constant whining from day one. It ran constanteven when I was not doing anything with the system and always stepped up, even in relatively easy games like e.g. Vampire survivors.
Worse, that whining. Or at least some Steam Decks have that problem – the Reddit community discovered that Valve is actually sending the tire with one of two different fans, one from Delta and another from Huaying. I have the Delta, and so do most others who complain about the whining from what I’ve seen. Valve will not comment on the fan choice, and iFixit can not say whether you will be able to replace with a better one when spare parts are available.
We are aware of the noise problem and we are trying to find them without the noise but it will depend on what is available to us.
– iFixit (@iFixit) April 18, 2022
But this week, Valve took a big step toward improving it with a beta software update – and I can confirm that it’s a whole new experience. The fan no longer starts when the system is just sitting there – it is now completely silent when it is inactive until or unless you heat up the chip by downloading some content or opening large folders with games as a minimum.
It also no longer rises as fast where mine generally waits until the system crosses 65 degrees Celsius before raising the fan speed to a new level – although I noticed that it got pretty toasty before it reached maximum fan speed, and then even some choppy in Elden Ring when I topped at about 87 degrees Celsius on the GPU.
One problem: none of Valve’s tweaks resolved the whimper. My Delta fan may not be rising that fast, but it still has the little jet engine war.
Do you know what solved it? Electrical tape.
u / OligarchyAmbulance on Reddit simply discovered it tap the back of the Steam Deck’s shell, near the Valve logo, was enough to dampen the whimper. So they opened their Steam Deck and stacked four small strips of electrical tape on top of the same spot inside the shell – just behind the fan. Here are some before and after videos they have made.
I did the same thing: first tapped on the back to see if it could work, then Steam Deck opened and added the tape. The squeal was almost obliterated. Do not get me wrong, the fan is still high at full drilling! But it’s mostly the roaring air now, not a scream.
Are you going to try this at home? Not necessarily because we do not know why it works or whether there may be ill side effects – such as heat or wear and tear. “We do not recommend changing the airflow path as we do not know how it would affect the thermals,” says Valve’s Lawrence Yang.
u / OligarchyAmbulance and I can not see any noticeable temperature differences yet, but between Valve’s warning and the fact that it’s a little harder to open the tire than some make it, I do not know if I would recommend it to anyone.
But it seems pretty clear that this fan problem is hardware, not just software – and if Valve does not have a plan or a recommendation to mute the sound, I guess more than a few players will take matters into their own hands.
By the way, the fan basket is not the only nice addition in this week’s beta update to Deck. It also adds an experimental way to change the screen refresh rate between 40 and 60 Hz, which can improve battery life and smoothness when your game is running at over 30 fps, but can not quite reach 60 fps.