If you’ve ever wanted to play your PC games on the go, then you may well be in luck, as Valve is looking to launch the Steam Deck in a matter of weeks.
The Steam Deck may look reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch, or even the long-gone PSP, but it has set itself apart with its powerful specs and ability to play almost any AAA game in the Steam Library.
Packing an AMD Zen 2 CPU and an AMD RDNA 2 GPU, the Steam Deck is a portable PC, with rumours suggesting that it will have a similar performance level as the PS4 and Xbox One.
Keep reading for a more detailed breakdown of the Steam Deck, and make sure to keep this page bookmarked for future updates.
The Steam Deck is set to launch “by the end of February” according to Valve. There’s no specific release date just yet, which may sound strange since we’re only a matter of weeks away from that deadline, but Valve has recently confirmed that its on track to ship Steam Deck on time.
The Steam Deck was originally supposed to launch in December 2021, but was hit by delays due to the ongoing chip shortage, which has made it difficult for many tech firms to get their devices to market.
There is currently no way to pre-order the device if you haven’t already reserved a unit, although the Steam website suggests that you’ll be able to put in new after Q2 2022 via the Steam website.
The Steam Deck comes in three different configurations. The starting price is US$399(~SGD$536.5) with 64GB of eMMC storage and a bundled carrying case. The second configuration costs US$529(~SGD$711.29) with 256GB, as well as a jump in speed thanks to an NVMe SSD.
And finally, the last and most expensive configuration sits at US$649(~SGD$872.65) with 512GB NVMe SSD, premium anti-glare etched glass for the screen, as well as an exclusive virtual keyboard theme.
Performance and software
For the size, the Steam Deck is packing some impressive specs, with AMD chip featuring both a Zen 2 CPU and an RDNA 2 iGPU. Add in the 16GB, and the Steam Deck packs far more power than the likes of the Nintendo Switch.
The RDNA 2 GPU should also allow the Deck to support high-end features, such as ray tracing, alongside the ability to play almost every game in the Steam Library, albeit with dialled back graphics for more demanding titles.
It still won’t be as powerful as a modern desktop gaming PC though, with the specs optimised for 720p resolution. It will reportedly offer a similar performance to the last-gen Xbox One and PS4 consoles, which is impressive considering this device is battery powered.
Another handy feature of the Steam Deck is that its capable of outputting to an external display via the USB-C port, with results up to 4K at 120Hz, or 8K at 60Hz. However, you might want to get too excited about playing the next big title in 8K, as this portable isn’t powerful enough to handle such resolutions with more demanding titles.
But the potential for the Steam Deck to work in tandem with an eGPU further down the line is still exciting, and we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled on that one.
Finally, the Steam Deck has Bluetooth connectivity, so you’ll be able to hook up any supported wireless headsets or earbuds, or even a PlayStation or Xbox controller.
Valve has also confirmed that the Steam Deck will use a new version of the SteamOS software, which includes features such as Steam Chat, Cloud Saves (so you can pick up where you left off on PC) and, of course, the Steam store. Remote Play functionality will also allow you to stream games from your home PC, which means it’s possible to play AAA games with maximum graphics settings as long as your Wi-Fi network can handle it.
The Steam Deck has a very specific design; at first glance, it looks very similar to the Nintendo Switch, but a closer look shows a bulkier and more hefty device.
To start, in terms of size the Steam Deck is a lot bigger than the original Switch, though its 7-inch screen does match the Switch OLED‘s display.
But with bigger controls and a lot more weight, coming in at 669g compared to the Switch’s dainty 297g, Valve’s handheld doesn’t seem to sport the same level of portability and seems like it would be much harder to fit inside a small bag.
There are also a lot more buttons here; two analogue sticks are in the top-hand corners, alongside two trackpads that are supposed to simulate the input of a mouse.
The standard shoulder bumpers and triggers can be found up top, but there are also some grip buttons at the back which can be assigned with custom input. This is very similar to the Xbox Elite Controller 2.
The handheld devices sports both a USB-C port (for charging and display output) and a 3.5mm jack for wired headphones.
The latest handheld PC has a 7-inch LCD touchscreen display, which is a slight disappointment, as the Switch OLED panel will likely offer up a superior contrast and picture quality.
The Deck is also capped to an 800p resolution, missing out on Full HD in portable mode. However, boosting the screen resolution would likely take a toll on the battery life, and considering the smaller screen size, it’s not as important that it reaches such a high pixel count.
The refresh rate here is capped at 60Hz, which is again a bit disappointing for anyone wanting to play competitively, or get the full experience of some bigger titles. However, as with the pixel resolution, it makes sense in terms of battery.
The Steam Deck looks like an incredible device, taking the Switch OLED out with its beefier specs and almost an endless game library.
However, it is a very expensive device, with the most expensive model coming in at a steeper price than both the next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X, and the least expensive version offering pitiful onboard storage. It is also quite a lot heavier than the Switch, adding doubt to its portability prowess.
But the idea and potential here is still very impressive, with features like ray tracing being supported, as well as an incredibly high display output when docked. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!
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