Update 8/3/22: Valve’s SteamOS 3.3 update will now display a pop-up notification if the Steam Deck leaves its safe operating range of 0-35 degrees Celsius, or 32-95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like millions of people around the world, Valve’s Steam Deck console is struggling to beat the heat. As temperatures reach record-breaking highs across Europe, the company warned customers that its handheld console will throttle, or slow down, when it gets too hot.
Valve’s official Steam Deck Twitter account reminded Steam Deck owners that the device operates optimally at temperatures between 0 and 35 degrees Celsius, or from 32 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When the built-in cooling system can’t keep internal temperatures below this limit, the console will deliberately slow down to protect itself.
More specifically, the chip powering this system will run up to 100 Celsius (212 Fahrenheit!) before it starts to throttle performance, and another 5 degrees will make the handheld shut down entirely. To be clear, this isn’t some unique limitation of the Steam Deck—every gadget has a maximum internal temperature that will trigger a shutoff. Leave your smartphone on your cash dash in the middle of summer and you’ll find out rather quickly.
By turning itself off, the Steam Deck is simply protecting its silicon from the potential physical damage caused by running too hot for too long. Before turning off, the device will throttle performance to reduce the amount of heat generated by the chip. Even with these safeguards in place, it’s not a good idea to keep the Steam Deck, or any gadget, in extreme temperatures for extended periods.
This isn’t Valve admitting a flaw in its product, but rather, an effort to educate customers on the inherent limitations of their electronics. Nintendo did its part last week by urging Switch owners to use their console in areas that are between 5 and 35C. The company also advised using a vacuum cleaner to clear out any dirt or grime that might be clogging the exhaust ports and preventing the fans from pushing out hot air.
These warnings arrive as temperatures in Europe consistently breach 35C (and even 40C in some areas) and after Japan endured its worst heat wave in recorded history. Climate change will force us to rethink how we live our lives, and the way in which we enjoy your gadget is no exception.