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Steam Deck won't turn on? Here's how you can try to fix it

You've got a number of steps you can run through before any cash is involved.

Published onDecember 20, 2023

It’s the nightmare scenario with a Steam Deck — you go to fire up a game like Elden Ring or Dave the Diver, and it’s not just stuck at the logo, it’s failing to turn on at all. What do you do? While you could be in trouble, there are at least a few troubleshooting tactics you can try to revive your Deck and keep playing.

How to fix a Steam Deck that won’t turn on

The Steam Deck OLED side profile

Some of these steps may seem easy and obvious, but we’re quickly going to venture into rougher ground. You may end up having to send your Steam Deck in for repairs or do it yourself. For that reason, it’s best to try all the easy options first.

  • Make sure it has a charge — and that it can charge. Naturally, a Deck with little to no battery power won’t be able to boot. Clean out your USB-C charging port, then try plugging in your charger and waiting a while, possibly as long as 30 minutes or more. Before you walk away however, see if the LED next to the charge port is on. If it’s not, that means your Deck isn’t getting any juice. You may need to try a different charger, wall outlet, and/or cable. Along those lines, remember to use a charger rated for at least 45W of power. Anything less may charge at a glacial pace.
  • Check that your Deck isn’t in sleep mode. If you’re lucky, it could be that your unit is simply stuck in its sleep state, which is normally meant to enable fast loading. To get out of sleep, force a shutdown by holding down the Power button for at least 10 seconds. Let go, then wait a moment or two before trying to switch your Deck back on. If it’s booting properly, you should hear a fan and/or system sounds. On LCD models, the display backlight should flicker to life.
  • Test if your Deck is in Battery Storage Mode. When Battery Storage Mode is active, the only way to power a Deck on is by plugging it into power, so you’ve already tested this unintentionally if you tried the first step. In fact, new Decks ship in Battery Storage Mode to prevent drain, and Valve recommends that you leave yours plugged in for a few minutes before starting up for the first time.
  • If you can, try connecting to an external display. This is a purely diagnostic step, but if you can get your homescreen to appear on an external TV or monitor using HDMI or DisplayPort, the problem is actually with your Deck’s LCD or OLED panel (or perhaps related software). You’ll probably need a dock or adapter cable to make the connection. If an external display does work, update SteamOS to the latest available version, then test if your Deck can run fully handheld again.
  • Boot into BIOS/Recovery mode. Hold down the Volume Up button, then press Power. If the BIOS menu appears, that means your device is powering on, it’s just stalling before SteamOS can load properly. In that case you may want to try some of the steps suggested in our “stuck on logo” guide.
  • Clean and/or fix the Power button. You’ve probably already considered this, but it could be that the Power button isn’t pressing down firmly enough to trigger. Disconnect your Deck from any chargers, then scan for gunk or debris around the button. Whether or not there’s nothing immediately visible, try using a toothpick or toothbrush to pick up larger debris, and a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol to deal with dust and grime. If you have 90% alcohol, you might want to dilute it with water first. Should the button still not press down all the way you may need to get the button repaired or do it yourself (more on both of those in a moment).
  • Check for other signs of damage. We’re out of easy-fix territory now. Normally the only other thing you can inspect without opening up your Steam Deck is the charge port, and if it looks like it’s bent or has scorch marks, that still means it needs to be replaced.
  • Contact Valve or research self-repair. At this point, the most you can do is talk to Valve if your Deck is still covered by warranty, find a third-party repair shop, or check out self-repair guides from the likes of iFixit. The Deck is friendlier to repairs than a lot of modern electronics, especially the OLED model, and companies like iFixit sell spare parts.

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