Why are Steam Deck users obsessed with sniffing the vent?

Steam Deck users have been sniffing the vent hole of the Valve handheld PC since it launched, with a growing number now getting in on the olfactory pastime

A nose emoji sniffs the Steam Deck vents on the rear

Several Steam Deck users are infatuated with the smell coming from the handheld PC’s air vents. It’s even suggested that the alluring aroma grants Gabe Newell-like powers. To clarify, it most likely won’t, but it’s fun to imagine.

The Steam Deck released in February 2022, and it didn’t take long to see reports of users getting joy from sniffing the hot air it emits. Back in March, Reddit user ZanfrNFT noticed the odour wasn’t going away anytime soon, adding that it smelled like “burnt plastic,” only without any actual burning, hopefully.

This was at the start of this Steam Deck meme, with many others chiming in to confess their love of sniffing the vent. Now that it’s possible to get Valve’s portable powerhouse without joining an e-queue, more users have come forward recently, savouring the electronic scent. It should be noted that the smell is only temporary – an indication of it being a brand-new device straight from the box.

It’s not always humans that get in on the act, either. Another Reddit user called Jcwhale posted an image of their cat sniffing the Steam Deck – or at least that’s what it looks like. There have also been doctored web comics, such as the one from Reddit user OrangelightningZING that repurposes a Shen Comix strip to really emphasise their love of Deck vent sniffing.

Outside Reddit, there are posts on Steam, with users asking whether anyone else is taking part in this olfactory hobby. Pretty much everyone seems to agree that the fumes from the Deck are irresistible.

As time goes on, and more people get hold of a Steam Deck, there’ll be an increase in users noticing this ‘new car’ type smell. It’s probably not a great idea to inhale it like it’s freshly baked bread, but when your device is not being held in the best Steam Deck dock around, it’s difficult to resist putting it to your nose for a good whiff.