The vacation gaming season has introduced us two cutting-edge handheld gaming gadgets. In a single nook, we now have the upstart Legion Go, Lenovo’s highly effective entry into the hand held market. Within the different? The undisputed champion of on-the-go PC gaming: Valve’s absolutely revamped Steam Deck OLED, bringing thrilling {hardware} updates together with a gorgeous new display.

Each gadgets have been designed with restore in thoughts. However which can take dwelling the fixability crown?

Earlier than we ring the beginning bell, we have to disclose that we offer repairability options to each Valve and Lenovo. That’s dealt with by a separate group. Our editorial group ordered our personal Legion Go. We did get a manufacturing model of the brand new Steam Deck from Valve a tad early however we additionally ordered our personal Deck to verify towards the model we obtained.

With disclosures out of the way in which, we’re able to rumble! It’s time for spherical certainly one of our handheld heavyweight bout: Screens.


Valve’s new Steam Deck comes out of the field swinging with a vibrant 7.4” inch OLED display. Every pixel in an OLED display individually illuminates, the place LCD spreads depend on an LED backlight. That provides OLED screens all types of advantages—darker blacks, greater distinction ratios, extra uniform brightness and shorter response occasions—that result in a better picture quality and a better gaming experience

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Steam Deck OLED

Restore, disassembly, and troubleshooting info for the Steam Deck OLED, a 2023 refresh of the favored handheld gaming console made by Valve. Launched on November 16, 2023. Recognized by mannequin quantity 1030.

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The individually illuminated pixels on the OLED display within the Apple Watch Ultra 2.

One factor we like about Valve’s incorporation of this new display is that they saved the identical general body form because the older LCD Deck. Which means your aftermarket add-ons will match on the OLED model like a (boxing) glove, although inner modifications—extra on these later—imply that the display is just not backwards suitable.

The Steam Deck OLED’s (high) display brings sharper colours and a smaller bezel than the LCD utilized in earlier variations (backside) whereas sustaining the identical body form.

What the Legion Go’s Quad-HD LCD display lacks in colour punch, it makes up for in dimension and precision. The display is available in at 8.8 inches and contains a greater decision: 2560×1600 in comparison with the OLED Deck’s 1280×800 show.

Mike Tyson famously mentioned that everybody has a plan till they get punched within the mouth. For handhelds, the identical holds true for a cracked display. So how do our contenders reply after they want a alternative?

First: the Legion Go. Slightly warmth and a few spudger work and the glue comes away simply sufficient. Then utilizing our trusty suction cup…crack! We flexed the panel and body a tad an excessive amount of, shattering the display.

That’s not a knock on the design, and when you’re changing a cracked display, just a few additional spiderwebs received’t matter. However do take observe—the LCD on the Legion Go has little or no help beneath it. Strategy your display alternative with care.

Changing the Steam Deck’s OLED is way the identical course of. Warmth, spudger, suction cup. There’s a bit extra stability in the midst of this display, that means it survived our highly effective (and generally clumsy) mitts.

One spherical in, and it’s a reasonably even combat: Each producers have been prepared for that shot to the kisser. Let’s check out the controllers subsequent.

It’s detachable! It’s a mouse! It’s the Legion Go’s progressive new controller!

Earlier than we discuss repairability, let’s try the candy new controllers on the Legion Go. 

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Lenovo took a web page out of Nintendo’s book by making the 2 controllers detachable from the display. However the Legion Go goes even additional. The suitable controller features as a mouse, bringing handheld avid gamers even nearer to the PC expertise.

Essentially the most hardcore avid gamers are most likely asking: is it optical or laser? Which tech is superior is a subject of much debate locally.

Each applied sciences emit gentle which displays off of your mousepad again to a CMOS sensor. The sensor captures these reflections, which your mouse analyzes to find out when you’re shifting your cursor left or proper, up or down. 

The distinction between the two types of mice lies in the kind of gentle that’s emitted. Optical mice use infrared LED lights to light up the floor, whereas laser mice—you guessed it—shoot lasers at your mouse pad. Lasers are much more highly effective than LED lights, that means that they will penetrate glossier surfaces and supply CMOS sensors with a extra detailed reflection. 

So far as we all know, Dr. Evil was not concerned in creating “laser” mouse expertise.

That elevated element, theoretically, results in larger accuracy—which could lead you to assume {that a} laser mouse is healthier for gaming. However it additionally results in a phenomenon known as acceleration, the place you progress your mouse quicker than the sensor can sustain with. Your mouse will get overwhelmed with the quantity of data and makes your cursor shake or leap throughout the display. No gamer desires that.

So laser mouse or bust? Once more, the reply is just not so easy. Optical mice may have acceleration issues. In the end, it comes all the way down to DPI and polling rate specifications, in addition to the compatibility of the floor that you simply use your mouse on.

Lenovo’s spec sheet for the Legion Go doesn’t go into any element in regards to the mouse. However right here’s what we are able to affirm: our Legion Go’s mouse is optical. A glance below our microscope discovered an IR emitter mounted subsequent to the CMOS sensor on our Legion Go’s controller.

However what about drift?

Mouse or no mouse, each the Legion Go and the Steam Deck OLED have joysticks. And joystick drift has been a persistent limp for avid gamers throughout platforms. If you wish to perceive why this occurs, we wrote a deep dive explaining the difficulty in our PS5 DualSense controller teardown

TL;DR – most thumbsticks are constructed utilizing a potentiometer, which runs electrical present by resistive movie laid on a round observe. A wiper slides throughout that movie measuring the voltage output, which is straight proportional to the place of the thumbstick, and interprets stick motion into gameplay motion.

We’ve discovered that drift is normally brought on by the wiper’s gradual abrasion of the resistive movie. In case you play so much, the elements will ultimately put on out. We’ve heard it may be as soon as four months after buy when you play for two hours a day.

It seems that each Valve and Lenovo took this into consideration of their designs, though they every solved the issue otherwise.

Valve carried over the easily-replaceable design of the original Deck. Disconnect a cable, take away three screws, and the thumbstick module is out.

They are saying magnificence is within the eye of the beholder. To our eye, an simply replaceable thumbstick module is about as lovely as they arrive.

Lenovo took a wholly totally different method to combating off drift. The Legion Go makes use of Hall effect sensors—not essentially the newest, however in our opinion the best—in thumbstick expertise. Utilizing a phenomenon first found in 1879 by American physicist Edwin Corridor, these controllers use magnetism fairly than bodily contact to control electrical present.

By utilizing magnetism, thumbsticks with Corridor impact sensors keep away from the wear and tear and tear attribute of potentiometer thumbsticks. Picture: Quadkopters

The Corridor impact will not be a miracle (apologies to our Juggalo group members), however its affect on longevity is miraculous. Corridor sensors take away the scraping components, eliminating the purpose of failure that led to joystick drift.

We love the repairable design of the Steam Deck OLED’s thumbsticks. The longevity of the Legion Go’s Corridor sensor sticks can be nice (although making them extra simply accessible can be useful for cleansing and post-drop fixes). One other lifeless warmth between two robust contenders.


One consumable that innovation hasn’t but solved? Lithium-ion batteries.

With 49.2 and 50 WHr batteries, the Legion Go and Steam Deck OLED’s energy items put them squarely in the identical weight class. And with comparable capability comes comparable battery life. 

Early evaluations point out that, out of the field, each Lenovo and Valve’s gadgets will give you just a few hours of uninterrupted gameplay on a full cost—an enchancment over the 90 minute battery life in Valve’s Steam Deck LCD. However heavy customers will proceed to see plenty of cost cycles. That, inevitably, means battery alternative.

How troublesome will that be when the time comes?

The Legion Go comes out of its nook sluggishly on this spherical. You could take away a plastic bracket after which bob and weave your method by a slew of antenna and speaker cables simply to get to the battery. Popping these again in place might be an annoying and delicate job.

In the meantime, the Steam Deck OLED comes out swinging. Simply pop off the again cowl, disconnect an interconnect cable operating between the daughterboards, and bang! You’ve received the battery.

However accessing the batteries is barely half the battle. How simple is it to really take away them?

Right here, the Legion Go is the pound for pound champ. With a pair pops of the glove—erm, pull tab—the ability unit is out from its housing.

Steam Deck OLED takes a success for utilizing glue, though considerably lower than the earlier LCD model. For security causes, we drained the battery first (and recommend you do the identical). Then it took some heating, wedging, prying—perhaps a little bit of cursing the inventors of this type of adhesive—to lastly take away the ability unit.

Each gadgets land some punches, however the Lenovo Legion Go wins the spherical because of its pull-tab adhesives. Valve ought to take observe when it hits the gymnasium in preparation for its subsequent design.

Lightning spherical: Different repairability concerns

We noticed plenty of different issues we appreciated—and didn’t like—whereas tearing down these two gadgets.

One factor that’s noticeable from the get go is the kind of screws the 2 device-makers use. Lenovo scores factors for utilizing Phillips #1 screws all through the Legion Go. The Steam Deck OLED makes use of T6 Torx screws. Each are completely nice decisions in our ebook, and we embody each in all our toolkits.

A Steam Deck OLED’s T6 Torx screw (left) subsequent to a Phillips #1 (proper) featured all through the Legion Go.

As you would possibly count on from the primary iteration of a tool, the Legion Go suffers from an excessive amount of inner complexity. Part and cable placement all through the hand held make it cumbersome to entry a lot of totally different elements.

Wires, wires in all places!

Valve has been a trendsetter by designing their devices with DIY restore in thoughts, and the Steam Deck OLED isn’t any totally different. The screw pillars at the moment are embedded with steel thread, lowering the probability of stripping when in comparison with the earlier plastic threads. 

The bumper buttons have been moved from the button daughterboards—components you may’t purchase new—to the thumbstick modules. That’s a aid for the butterfingered amongst us (undoubtedly not this author) who’re afraid a dropped system may put them out of fee.

Valve additionally moved the interconnect cable out from beneath the mainboard, the place it was simple to pinch and reduce when reinstalling the warmth protect. Now it’s much more accessible.

The black interconnect cable on the Steam Deck OLED (entrance) lays on high of the battery and mainboard. That makes for simpler disassembly than the unique (again) and up to date (center) LCD fashions, whose white interconnect cables have been tucked beneath their respective mainboards.

Each gadgets fall in need of our very best with their soldered on USB-C ports and microSD slots. Whereas this does avoid wasting house, these ports are uncovered to mechanical put on and can ultimately fail.

Who’s our repairability champion?

Let’s be clear: it’s a good time to be a repair-minded cellular gamer. Each the Legion Go and Steam Deck OLED are designed for avid gamers to take aside and restore with relative ease. 

As essential as design is the supply of manuals telling you repair your system and the components required to make these repairs. That’s why it’s a major a part of our scoring system. Lenovo has printed a service manual for the Legion Go, and we’ll be writing guides for the Steam Deck OLED as part of our partnership with Valve

We’ll even be promoting OEM components for the Steam Deck OLED. That provides Valve’s handheld the benefit—for now. Ought to Lenovo decide to promoting OEM components by any channel, as they often do for his or her laptops, we might be excited to replace their rating based mostly on the development.

To the judges! The Steam Deck OLED scores a 9/10—a leap from the original LCD model’s 7/10. They’ll thank their incremental repairability enhancements—and we are going to too!—for that. 

The Legion Go comes up simply shy at 8/10, although Lenovo may tie issues again up by promoting spare components. It was a hard-fought battle, with the true winner being avid gamers throughout the nation.

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