While the steam cover, Valve’s upgraded mini PC, offers a wealth of gaming experiences in a portable format, the lack of a kickstand has been a sore spot. Enter the deck mate: A simple plastic bracket that allows you to attach not only a very useful kickstand, but also various other specialist mounting solutions to the back of the deck.
The Deckmate is the brainchild of product design engineer Siri Ramos. Ramos has described how the Steam Deck Community Your enthusiasm and support have helped them turn what was once a fun personal project into a full-featured product. Without a doubt, the love of the community for small builder-style projects is evident just by scrolling through r/SteamDeck. The Deckmate evolved from a series of prototypes and first 3D printed parts to a professional-feeling end product. Now that I’ve used it for a few weeks, it feels like a very natural extension of my Deck, one with a few surprises of its own.
At the core of the Deckmate “system,” as the creator calls it, is the “grip,” a simple plastic claw that, well, grips the back of the mini PC like a crab on some poor zombie’s head. And just like that headcrab, this is a pretty seamless accessory, one that doesn’t interfere with the system’s original protective case. The grip can also hold two spare SD cards, and like a headcrab, it likely wants to stay where you put it. I’ve only transferred it to another Steam Deck once, and bending the plastic back to get it out feels like something I only want to do a handful of times at most.
Clips are visible on the top and bottom of the device when viewed from the front, but the color and texture of the plastic blend well with the deck. I hardly notice it anymore, and I don’t feel it with my hands when I play.
The grip mount itself doesn’t do much. Instead, it allows a variety of “mounts” to fit on the back of the device. These are locked in place with a pair of springs. Available mounts include that remarkably handy mount, “disks” with stickers to attach a battery or USB-C hub, wall mounts, and even a 75mm VESA mount like the one you see on the back of PC monitors. .
While I used one of my drives as a handy USB-C hub that allowed me to connect a variety of USB devices along with an Ethernet cable to speed up downloads, I found the kickstand more essential.
You may not think much of a kickstand; it is a very basic device and concept. But given the size and weight of the Steam Deck, being able to fit one on the back has been like growing a third arm, especially when playing on a couch or bed.
This I realized when I decided to turn on Spider-Man: Remastered one night Lying in bed, with the kickstand in place, I could prop the device up in front of me to watch the opening scene, then pick it up when I was ready to start spinning around the island of Manhattan. It might not seem that revealing if you haven’t spent too many hours on a Deck, so let me give you some context.
The Steam Deck is as heavy as it looks. It is a great device! And gaming for long periods of time, at least for me, makes my hands itchy and then numb. Being able to set it up with the screen still in front of me and giving my hands a break during non-interactive scenes has allowed me to spend more time playing. The kickstand also has a good amount of adjustability. It can move a full 120 degrees, and it never feels like that notoriously flimsy piece of junk attached to the Nintendo Switch, which always seemed to threaten to break. The Deckmate kickstand is also ideal for placing the unit on a desk and attaching a keyboard.
An unexpected benefit involves the platform’s high heat output. Being able to hold it with the exhaust fan pointed in a more vertical direction feels like a better way to position the device while downloading something or playing a graphically intensive scene. If Reddit is to be believed, there may also be aromatherapeutic Benefits a to enjoy.
Another amazing use of the kickstand was that while lying in bed or on a couch, you could use it as a monopole, allowing you to support more of the device’s weight. As a result, my hands weren’t doing the work of touching the device and holding it. Overall, the Deckmate with the kickstand attachment just made the Deck a more welcoming machine for me.
Although I found the kickstand to be the star of the show, others may find more utility in mounting additional accessories to the adhesive discs. As the Deckmate site warns, the adhesive used on these discs is virtually permanent. So if you want to attach a large battery or USB hub or whatever, keep in mind that you’re creating a pretty permanent link between the drive accessory and the accessory. They will be friends for life.
There are some other caveats. If you have some sort of smartphone-style case wrapped around your Deck, adding to its thickness, the base gthe cutting support probably won’t fit around it. Fortunately, a deck mate adapter sporting the same 3M adhesive as the discs offers an alternative means of attaching the gtear to the back of a third party case. However, it may be impossible to resolve conflicts with certain docks. While the Deckmate FAQ seems very optimistic about it fitting into something like a JSAUX DockI found that the grip mount was a bit too big and made it unstable when sitting on my stand.
You can also use only one kickstand at a time, so if you want to use the kickstand and charge the device with an external battery, you’ll have to choose which one connects to the device. Of course, if you’re using the kickstand, you probably have a flat surface to rest the battery on anyway.
Crucially, if you’re using a USB-C hub, you need to pay close attention to cable length, especially when making the final decision to attach a drive to the hub. In my case, I suspect I attached the drive too low on my hub, and as a result, the USB-C cable has too much tension when it reaches the only USB-C port on my Deck. I’ll probably try repositioning this, but since adhesive is a one-time-use thing, I’ll probably have to get creative. Moral of the story: measure the length of your cables and use right angle adapters where it makes sense.
Once disassembled, the kickstand and any drive-equipped devices fit easily into the storage case the platform comes with. you can put it in that compartment at the bottom that many Steam Deck users have found creative uses for. That said, if your accessory needs to extend to a gamepad, keyboard, and other peripherals, you’ll need a larger bag. For those times when you want to travel light, you can simply detach the Deckmate mounts and leave the “grip” mount barely noticeable.
If you just want to get the kickstand, you’ll need the grip mount, which is $20, and then the kickstand mount for an additional $15. Individual discs are $7 each. You can also choose to purchase the “Complete System” which includes the grip, two disks, the VESA mount, a wall mount, and the stand-alone case adapter for $49. While you can find cheaper stand options on Amazon and elsewhere, the Deckmate system feels sturdy and reliable. Sitting the deck up with the Deckmate kickstand, it never feels like it’s going to tip over (as long as the angle is just right). Its size and build quality feel like a good match for the platform itself.
You can also go the DIY route downloading the digital files from the Deckmate and print them yourself. I imagine it will take some trial and error, but the files are free and distributed, as everything should be, under a Creative Commons license.
Overall, the Deckmate, particularly with its kickstand, is a great Steam Deck accessory that expands where (and how) I can play games on it. It’s high-quality, looks good, and goes very well with the DIY ethos of the device. Hopefully, we’ll see more of these quality, unique projects as Deck settles into the larger landscape of gaming hardware.