In high school, I kept my CD player from crashing into my schoolbag by wrapping it in a woolen sock. Considering the CD player was probably the most expensive thing I owned at the time, I probably could have done better. That’s how I felt with the first case I bought for my Steam Deck. It was definitely a step up from mismatched shoes, but I knew a device like this demanded a little more respect without constantly keeping it locked in the case it came packaged with.
Dbrand, manufacturer of accessories for your phone, AirPodsand even your PS5, share this sentiment and do “Project Killswitch.” Killswitch is designed to be a better protective skin for the Steam Deck and began development shortly after Valve announced the device.
The Killswitch Case is a semi-flexible case that fits your Steam Deck perfectly; the part of the case covering the grips has a nice grippy finish which is similar to Dbrand’s phone cases. The top and bottom of the case have raised edges to keep the buttons safe from direct impact (but the analog sticks are still exposed), while the back of the case has cutouts for the rear paddle buttons and fan vents plus a raised area for the magnetic kickstand.
However, we don’t recommend using the kickstand in its current state if you already have a Killswitch. The magnets used in the kickstand are incredibly strong, but their position may cause them to interfere with the fans used in some earlier Steam Deck models. We tested it on our Steam Deck review model and dropped the fan speed from 1500 to 2500 RPM with the kickstand installed. When we used this same method on a Steam Deck that shipped in July and another modified with a spare fan, the impact was much less pronounced.
Here’s a video showing you the impact on our Steam Deck review unit:
Here is an overview of how magnets can interfere with the fan:
Dbrand is aware of this issue and has released a disclaimer alongside the public release of the Killswitch. Until Dbrand can make a version of the kickstand that doesn’t use magnets, you have a few options. If you’re someone who reserved a Killswitch during development and ordered one on the 25th, you can either return it for a full refund or keep it, and Dbrand will send you both a case and a replacement kickstand. (those that don’t. feature magnets) as they become available. If you would like to reserve an order now, you can currently order a kit from the Dbrand website with an estimated ship date of Q1 2023.. Dbrand also stated that any future production of the Killswitch will only be done with a mechanical kickstand and released an official statement detailing the issue and the way forward on r/dbrand.
Moving on from magnets and fans, the other half of the Killswitch project is the Travel Case, a hardened piece of plastic that clips securely onto the face of the Steam Deck with the Killswitch Case installed. The travel case has a beveled surface with a pair of larger feet protruding from either side. Once installed, the travel case does not come into direct contact with the screen and protects the joysticks.
The Project Killswitch Essential Kit is priced at $59.95 and includes the Killswitch case, kickstand, and a vinyl skin of your choice. The Travel Kit is also available for $74.95, which includes all of the aforementioned loot, but also adds a pair of staff grips and the Travel Cover for the Killswitch.
It should be noted that every Steam Deck already comes with a case which is honestly pretty good. But given that your Steam Deck probably spends most of its time on the go, having a little extra insurance makes you feel a little less precious about your new handheld.
Protection aside, perhaps the most important aspect of the Killswitch is that, unlike some of the other Steam Deck cases I’ve tried, it doesn’t spoil the aesthetics of the device. Sure, all those silicone sleeves can protect your Deck, but they’re terrible, look worse, and are an absolute magnet for hair and dust.
Cases, skins, and other protective accessories have been available for the Steam Deck since day one, but are mostly what I would consider a “better than nothing” solution. The Killswitch is something I would really like to dress my Steam Deck in. The kickstand issues are a little disappointing, but I’d still pay $59.99 for the fit and finish of the Killswitch case alone. Until something better comes along, the Killswitch case is my first and second recommendation for anyone who is serious about protecting their Steam Deck. We would have liked to see a better product out of the box, but Dbrand is on the right track and we look forward to their next development.