While steam deck, Valve’s beefed-up mini-PC offers a wealth of gaming experiences in a portable format, the lack of a stand was a sore point. Enter the cover buddy: A simple plastic mount that not only allows you to attach a very handy stand, but also several other dedicated mounting solutions to the back of the deck.
The Deckmate is the brainchild of product design engineer Siri Ramos. Ramos has described how that Steam Deck Community Enthusiasm and support have helped them turn what was once a fun personal project into a fully functional product. Sure, the community’s love for small Maker-style projects is evident just by scrolling through r/Steam Deck. The Deckmate evolved from a series of Prototypes and early 3D printed parts to a professional end product. Now, after using 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 heart of the Deckmate “system,” as the developer calls it, is the “handle,” a simple plastic claw that grips the back of the mini-PC like a headcrab on a poor zombie. And like that headcrab, this is a fairly seamless attachment that doesn’t compromise the system’s stock protective shell. The handle can also hold two spare SD cards and, like a headcrab, it probably wants to stay where you put it. I’ve only transferred it to another Steam deck once, and bending back the plastic to take it off feels like I only want to do it a few times at most.
The clips are visible on the top and bottom of the device when looking at it from the front, but the color and texture of the plastic blends in well with the deck. I hardly notice it anymore and can no longer feel it with my hands when playing.
The handle itself doesn’t do much. Instead, a variety of “mounts” can be plugged into the back of the device. These engage with two springs. Available mounts include the remarkably handy stand, “pucks” with adhesives for attaching a battery or USB-C hubs, wall mounts, and even a 75mm VESA mount like the ones you see on the back of PC monitors.
While I used one of my pucks for a handy USB-C hub that allowed me to connect a variety of USB devices along with an Ethernet cable to speed up downloads, the kickstand felt most important to me.
You might not think much of a boner; It’s a very simple device and concept. But given the Steam Deck’s size and weight, being able to attach one to the back was something of a grower of a third arm, especially when playing on a couch or bed.
That dawned on me when I decided to fire Spider-Man: Remastered one night. Lying in bed with my kickstand in place, I could simply place the device in front of me to watch the opening sequence, then pick it up when I was ready to swing around the island of Manhattan. This might not seem that insightful unless you’ve spent too many hours on a deck, so let me provide some context.
The Steam Deck is about as hard as it looks. It’s a big device! And when I play for a long time, my hands, at least for me, get kind of tingly and then numb. Being able to put it down with the screen still facing me and give my hands a rest during non-interactive cutscenes has allowed me to spend more time playing games. The stand also has a nice amount of customization. It can move a full 120 degrees and never feels like the notoriously weak piece of junk on the Nintendo Switch that always seemed about to threaten to snap off immediately. The Deckmate Kickstand is also ideal for placing the device on a desk and connecting a keyboard.
Continue reading: Yes, you can use the Steam Deck as a computer (Here’s how)
An unexpected advantage concerns the high heat dissipation of the deck. Being able to prop it up in a more vertical direction with the exhaust fan seems like a better way to put the device down while it’s downloading something or playing a graphically intensive cutscene. If Reddit is to be believed, there might be some too aromatherapeutic advantages to Have fun.
Another surprising use of the stand was that while I was in bed or on a couch, I could use it like a monopoly, allowing it to support more of the device’s weight. As a result, my hands didn’t do the job of playing and holding the device. Overall, the Deckmate with the kickstand attachment made the deck a more comfortable machine for me.
Although I found the stand to be the star of the show, others might find more utility in attaching additional accessories to the self-adhesive pucks. As Deckmate’s website warns, the adhesive used on these pucks is virtually permanent. So if you’re going to attach a large battery or USB hub or whatever, be aware that you’re making a fairly permanent connection between the puck attachment and the accessory. They become friends for life.
There are a few other caveats. If you’ve wrapped some sort of smartphone case around your deck, thereby increasing its thickness, the base gRip Bracket probably won’t fit around it. Luckily, A Deckmate adapter which features the same 3M adhesive as the pucks provides an alternative way of attaching the gto the back of a third-party case. However, it may be impossible to resolve conflicts with certain docks. While the deckmate’s FAQ seems very optimistic that it will fit into something like a JSAUX DockI found the handle mount to be a bit too big and made it unstable when sitting in my dock.
You can also use just one mount at a time. So if you want to both use the stand and charge the device with an external battery, you need to choose which one will connect to the device. Granted, if you’re using the stand you probably have a flat surface to rest the battery on anyway.
When using a USB-C hub, it’s important to pay attention to cable length, especially when making the final decision to attach a puck to the hub. In my case, I suspect I mounted the puck a little too low on my hub, and as a result, the USB-C cable has a little too much tension when it reaches my deck’s single USB-C port. I’ll probably try to reposition this, but since the adhesive is a one-off thing I’ll probably have to get creative. Moral of the story: measure your cable lengths and use angle adapters where it makes sense.
Once detached, the kickstand and all puck-equipped equipment fit easily into the storage box that the deck comes with. You can just hang out there compartment on the bottom that many Steam deck users have found creative used for. However, if your accessory needs extend to a gamepad, keyboard, and other peripherals, you need a larger bag. If you want to travel light, you can simply detach the Deckmate mounts and leave the barely noticeable “handle” mount.
If you just want the stand, you’ll need the handle mount, which costs $20, and then the stand mount itself for an additional $15. Individual pucks are $7 each. You can also opt for the “total system” which includes the grip, two pucks, the VESA mount, a wall mount, and the chassis-independent adapter for $49. While you can certainly find cheaper kickstand options on Amazon and elsewhere, the Deckmate system feels sturdy and reliable. When you set the deck down with the Deckmate stand, it never feels like it’s tipping over (as long as the angle is set right). Its size and build quality seem to go well with the deck itself.
You can also go the DIY route Download the deckmate’s digital files and print it yourself. I imagine it will take some trial and error, but the files are free and, as all things should be, distributed under a Creative Commons license.
Overall, the Deckmate, especially with its kickstand, is a great Steam deck accessory that expands where (and how) I can play on it. It’s high quality, looks good, and goes well with the DIY spirit of the device. With any luck, we’ll see more unique, high-quality projects of this nature as the deck settles into the broader landscape of gaming hardware.