As cool as the Steam Deck looks with RGB lighting, you might not want to attempt to mod your device just yet. One Reddit user who tried the mod found that while adding the RGB LEDs doesn’t draw a significant amount of power from the battery, it can cause pretty big issues with the Steam Deck’s motherboard.
The “RGBDeck” mod started making the rounds on Reddit earlier this month, with u/WUBBSY documenting the process of affixing a small microcontroller and LED strips to the device. They topped it off with a transparent backing from JSAUX, allowing the lights to shine through the case while the Steam Deck’s switched on. The end result gives the Steam Deck a nice pop of color (in a very gamer PC kind of way).
Adam Honse (u/CalcProgrammer1), the developer behind the open-source lighting platform OpenRGB, also attempted the mod and even came up with an integration that lets users adjust the Steam Deck’s lighting through the app. However, Honse has since posted an update on Saturday night that advises against trying it, noting that it “seems to be a significant hurt on the motherboard.”
According to Honse, the source of the issue is a tiny component “that did not like the added power draw on the internal USB connection between the motherboard and controller PCB,” where he sourced the 5V needed to power the RGB lights. That piece ended up failing after a few days, causing the lights and controller to exhibit some funky behavior before they stopped working altogether.
It also did some damage to a component on the Steam Deck’s motherboard, which is supposed to cut off the 5V of power to the controller board when the device is in sleep mode. As explained by Honse, that piece no longer switches the power off to the controller when the Steam Deck’s on standby, causing the device to lose power. “We’ll need to find a new source of 5V power that can handle higher current,” Honse explains.
In other words, the mod just isn’t there yet, and that’s okay; I’m just glad Honse came forward before other modders go breaking their Steam Decks. Hopefully, it won’t be too long until we see a possible solution (at least until Valve decides to incorporate RGB into the Steam Deck by default).