A dock for the Steam Deck is a no-brainer. While the concept of a more powerful Nintendo Switch equipped with your entire Steam library is great, it’s currently an impossible dream. Valve hasn’t created a dock for the Steam Deck, or at least it hasn’t made one available for purchase. I was just plugging my console in with a variety of hubs and wires, but that left the handheld lying nervously on the TV stand or my desk.
That’s when I discovered Jsaux’s third-party Deck dock. If you think that’s a mouthful, try the official size name: M.2 Docking Station for Steam Deck HB0604. Jsaux usually refers to it by the product number, HB0604, but that’s silly, so I won’t. What you need to know is this: Jsaux has designed a competent dock that’s tailor-made for the Steam Deck, but is it worth spending more than twice as much money on that M. 2?
We’ll get to the verdict in due course, but right out of the box, the Jsaux dock looks solid. It has that hefty feel that makes the electronics feel premium, and the metal casing feels solid. Don’t worry about scratching your Deck, as there are small rubber cushions to protect your screen from unwanted attention when you rest it inside.
Everything about the docking station has been designed with users in mind, every possible quality of life fix is included as standard, even things you never imagined you’d need. The power cable is the perfect length to plug into your Deck and has one of those 90 degree angled connectors to make it nicer when your Deck is charging. The HDMI and USB ports are neatly tucked away behind the docking station, though the Ethernet port is on the side, which can bring a slightly messy twist to otherwise clean proceedings. There are even little magnets that seal the case satisfactorily when you’ve installed your SSD.
It’s not just a question of style, but everything is also high-end. The USBs are 3.1 ports, the charger is as fast as charging via the official cable (which you use, but the dock doesn’t diminish its efficiency), and the HDMI 2.0 port can display 4K at 60Hz, at provided you have a good enough cable. However, this latest addition feels redundant for the current iteration of the Deck, as the console isn’t powerful enough to play games at 4K, let alone 60fps. Perhaps it’s the longevity of Valve’s follow-up console, 2 Steam 2 Deck?
The Ethernet cable option is nice to have, but I don’t think many people will play competitive online games on the Steam Deck due to its meager specs and propensity to trigger anti-cheat systems. It’s nice to download games a bit faster, though.
The biggest addition over the previous Jsaux dock is the addition of expandable memory in the form of an M.2 SSD slot, which fits most (but not all) PCIe SSDs. You can buy the dock with built-in SSDs or use your own, but the result is much faster than using a Micro SD card in the Steam Deck, and only a little slower than accessing games from internal memory. of the Deck. Whether it’s worth raising the price or not probably depends on how often you’ll be plugging your Deck in, as the SSD is obviously only accessible when the Deck is plugged in.
I like docking the Deck, turning it into a laptop, but the main issues with that come from the Deck itself, rather than the Jsaux dock. The Steam OS is cumbersome to use, and the Deck’s lack of power becomes awfully apparent when hooked up to a 4K monitor. Playing anything above 1080p results in big frame rate drops, even in what seem like manageable games.
However, if you imagine the Steam Deck as an iteration on the Steam Link, allowing you to play your Steam library in a room away from your main PC, albeit at lower quality, that’s fine. You can then take it portable to have a more powerful Switch – but again with a caveat, this time the shocking battery life. A Deck dock is great, even if you’re just using it to charge more securely, but is it worth paying $99 (plus the cost of an SSD, if you’re not buying one bundle) for this hard drive slot? Jsaux’s basic dock is just $39 and does all the same jobs, minus the expandable storage.
Personally, I like to have a few big games stored on the SSD to play on my TV. But it’s a luxury I could easily do without. If you have $60 to spare, this is a nice upgrade to have. I would go so far as to say that a Steam Deck docking station is a necessity for neat storage of the device, especially when charging. An SSD is not. However, the biggest advantage of Jsaux is the fact that it has a dock. Valve is working on an official version, but until its release, it seems to be the best alternative on the market. It’s far better than any USB hub I’ve used, and the quality-of-life touches suggest Valve will struggle to improve on it with its official dock. The sleek presentation and future-proof technology are well worth the price, but it’s up to you whether you think you need the luxury of an SSD or not.
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