The Steam Deck Really Needs a Kickstand, So I Made One

And it's way better than the flimsy kickstand on the Nintendo Switch.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
3 min read
3D-printed Steam Deck kickstand
Dan Ackerman/CNET

There's no new gadget that has brought me as much joy in the past year as Valve's Steam Deck. Yes, this handheld gaming PC from the owners of the Steam online game store is awkward and clunky in that first-gen hardware way. And yes, it requires a lot of troubleshooting and tweaking to get some games to run. But, it's also satisfying to play complex PC games on something that looks and feels like an oversized Nintendo Switch. 

Unlike the Switch, the Steam Deck lacks a built-in kickstand. So any time you put it down because your hands are needed elsewhere, it's lying flat on its back, screen facing up at the ceiling. That's not convenient, and also not safe for the screen. A docking station or stand was promised for the Steam Deck, but it's still a ways off. 

The original Switch had a wimpy little built-in kickstand that wasn't very stable, but the newer OLED version of the Switch has an excellent kickstand, reminiscent of the ones on Microsoft Surface tablets. 

Valve Steam Deck

My laser-cut Steam Deck stand. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

When I first reviewed the Steam Deck, I built a couple of homemade stands, taking existing designs for generic stands and tweaking them to fit the Steam Deck. One I made on a 3D printer, the other on a laser cutter. You can get the STL file for the 3D printed version and the SVG file for the lasercut version

But neither of those stands did exactly what I wanted, which was to let me prop the Steam Deck up anytime, any place. For that I did some more digging and found a great 3D printed project that fit the bill. 

Unlike the two stands I made before, this design was exactly what I wanted, so I didn't need to remix it or alter the design, which I found on the Printables.com 3D model repository. This is a three-part design, with a clip-on base, the kickstand and a hinge. The three parts took about 4 hours to print on a 3D printer, and two 6mm M3 screws are required (which I was able to pick up at my local hardware store). 

Two versions of the Steam Deck stand.

A couple of screws hold this kickstand together. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Get the file for this Steam Deck Kickstand

My initial test was in non-toxic gray PLA material, but I didn't like how it looked contrasted with the black Steam Deck body. So instead I reprinted it in black PLA, and now it sits on the Steam Deck full time, practically invisible. 

The main downsides so far are that the stand has a single angle and when attached, it doesn't fit into the Steam Deck zippered case. But having the stand attached has made the Steam Deck easier to use, especially when connecting an external keyboard and mouse, so I'd call it a big net positive. 

I'm sure the next generation of Steam Deck hardware will be slimmer and lighter, and will probably include a kickstand of some kind. Until then, we'll have to DIY our own solutions. 

More for makers and gamers