When you get a controller, it’s going to come in one of three flavors:
Each individual has their own preferences when it comes to the “loudness” of the button presses. Some like it loud. There’s just something about that nice, “crisp” sound as you press the buttons down with your fingers. That satisfying “click” that lets you know you pressed a button. On the other hand, some may find clicky buttons to sound obnoxious. Something you’d definitely not want to use if your partner is in bed. So, it’s good that we have both worlds.
Now, the Steam Deck in particular – especially with the LCD model – doesn’t quite offer that “clicky” experience. No. Especially not where the Steam and QAM buttons are.
That’s where eXtremeRate comes in. The company that’s notorious for offering DIY tools for customizing the heck out of your controllers. And your Steam Deck. They actually have a clicky kit specially designed for the Steam Deck LCD model. This kit transforms your ABXY buttons, D-pad, and Start/Select buttons into that satisfying clicky goodness.
Do note, however, this may not be compatibile with the Steam Deck OLED. Upon asking eXtremeRate why this is the case, they told me:
We’ve tested the kit on the OLED and sometimes the kit is out of service after plugging the ribbon, but sometimes it worked. So we assume the ribbon connector of the OLED is structurally slightly different from that of the LCD and needs to connect the ribbon right on the contacts precisely. That’s the problem we noted from the tests.
They sent me two kits. I just used one for the LCD model that I have. I paid a pretty penny for my limited edition OLED model and I am NOT about to risk breaking the device in the event the clicky kit doesn’t register properly.
Inside the small black box is the following:
- “gamer” manual with the front cover looking just like a Gameboy
- Phillips screwdriver
- extra set of screws and springs for the triggers
- two sets of membranes for the D-pad and ABXY buttons
- sticky thing for the D-pad; don’t ask me what the technical term for it is as I have no idea
- the clicky kit for the D-pad/Select and ABXY/Start buttons
Personally, I found the tiny booklet they provided to be adorable. It was also good on them to provide extra screws should you lose any, as well as an extra set of membranes. However, you’re probably going to want to use your own Phillips screwdriver for taking the Deck apart; the tiny little thing they give you is frankly hot garbage. It does a terrible job trying to unscrew the screws on the back of the Deck.
Installation isn’t too difficult. Not as difficult as replacing the screen. No hair drying or soldering required. Essentially, installation is as follows:
- take the back shell off
- unscrew the screws holding the heat shield in place. Take the heat shield off and disconnect the battery cable
- remove the triggers
- disconnect a few ribbon cables
- unscrew the screws holding the thumbstick and daughterboards in place, then move them aside
- remove the two screws holding the shoulder button in, then remove the shoulder button
- peel off the flexible printed circuit (FPC) off the shoulder button
- take the clicky kit, peel of the sticker, apply it to the shoulder button
- take the old membrane out for the D-pad/ABXY buttons, put the new white membrane in
- for the D-pad, make sure you apply that sticky thing that the box supplies
Then follow these steps in reverse to put the Deck back together.
In the installation video that eXtremeRate provides, they mention using tape to hold the thumbstick and daughterboard in place. However, no tape is provided in the box. They also recommend using a hair dryer to soften the sticky surface of the FPC and make it easier to peel off, but I personally have not needed to do this.
Clicky-ness, Here We Come⌗
After I installed the kit on both sides, the Deck wouldn’t detect the buttons at all when I turned the device on. Steam just reported “No gamepad connected.” I turned the Deck back off, re-connected a few of the ribbon cables, then I was good to go. So, just watch out for the ribbon cables. Make sure they’re properly inserted. You may want to use a pair of tweezers. Also make sure the insulation tape for the ribbon cable going to the D-pad/ABXY buttons is properly covered back up when you put the Deck together.
The buttons just feel nice now. There’s less resistance to the button presses. And a nice “click” sound is heard. Other than that, I really don’t have much else to say here. I just wish I had a way to measure the latency of the button presses and the reaction time on screen. My gut feeling tells me there is now slightly less input lag, but I have no way to verify this at the moment, so don’t quote me on that.
What is a bit of a missed opportunity, however, is the kit could have provided a clicky kit for the Steam and QAM buttons. They’re still mushy as ever in my LCD model.
Another thing is, instead of having the modder peel off the old FPC on the shoulder button and put the new one in place, perhaps eXtremeRate could have provided the entire shoulder assembly from the get-go. So all the modder would have to do is take the old shoulder button out and put the new one in with the FPC pre-applied.
The $20 asking price? That’s not too bad. Installation is relatively straightforward, and this is a great way to upgrade your LCD Steam Deck.
- box provides everything you need to install the kit, including extra screws and an extra set of membranes
- straightforward installation
- satisfying clicky-ness!
- not compatible with the OLED model
- provided screwdriver is small and doesn’t do a very good job taking out the screws
- this is only for the D-pad/ABXY buttons; there’s no FPC supplied for the Steam/QAM buttons
- shoulder buttons could have been provided with the FPC pre-applied to make installation easier
You can get the eXtremeRate clicky kit on the official website and several other retailers for $20.
Review sample sent courtesy of eXtremeRate.
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