Valve, the company behind the popular Steam game distribution platform and maker of games like Counter-Strike and Half-Life, have unveiled Steam Deck, a handheld PC designed specifically for gaming.
Steam Deck looks like the powerful cousin of Nintendo’s Switch, but the two devices cannot really be compared. Valve calls it an all-in-one portable PC gaming device and claims that Steam Deck runs the latest AAA games “really well”.
Steam Deck is powered by Steam OS and AMD hardware. The device plays Steam games using Valve’s Proton technology. Since it is a PC, it can also be used for other activities thanks to the full Linux-based environment.
The device supports Bluetooth, which means that gamers can connect mice and keyboards to the device. A direct connection to external displays is supported by the base device, but Valve revealed that it will release a dock in the future which will expand the capabilities further.
Steam Deck will launch in select regions, United States, European Union, Canada and United Kingdom, with more regions to come in 2022. Interested gamers may reserve a single unit on Valve’s SteamPowered website; first units will be shipped in December 2021.
Three packages are available for preoder:
- A 64GB eMMC storage version with a carrying case for €419.
- A 256GB NVMe SSD with a carrying case for €549.
- A 512GB NVMe SSD with a carrying case, premium anti-glare etched glass, for €679.
Every other hardware spec is identical.
Steam Deck: the hardware
Steam Deck is powered by AMD hardware. A Zen 2 processor with four cores and eight threads, and a RDNA 2 1.6 Teraflops GPU. All devices have 16 Gigabytes of LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT/s), and come with 64 to 512 Gigabytes of storage space. A high-speed microSD card slot is available to extend storage on all devices.
The touch-powered display has a 1280×800 pixel resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio. It has a size of 7″ diagonally, a refresh rate of 60Hz, and a brightness of 400 nits.
Connectivity-wise, it features Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi support (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac). The base device
Steam Deck supports stereo audio channels, has a 3.5mm stereo headphone hack, a dual microphone array, and multichannel audio via DisplayPort.
A 40Whr battery is in the device which is good for 2 to 8 hours of gameplay, depending on the game.
The device’s dimensions are 298mm x 117mm x 49 mm.
IGN published a hands on video on YouTube
Steam Deck is not really that expensive if you compare it to gaming PCs. The 64 GB storage version uses slower storage technology and lacks the storage space needed to play some storage hungry games.
Battery life depends on the games that are played on the device and how good the battery actually is.
The base version can be connected to external displays and the Dock will expand the capabilities.
One of the main appeals of Steam Deck is that it brings the entire Steam library to the device in a matter of seconds. Just fire it up, sign-in to a Steam account, and all purchased games become available. You do need to install those on the device first before you may play them, and this is where storage available on the device comes into play.
The 64 Gigabyte version is not only ill-equipped when it comes to storing games on the device, it also uses slower storage technology, something that you may notice when it comes to game loading times on the device.
Who is it for then? Steam Deck may appeal to gamers who don’t want to lay a thousand or more Dollars for a gaming PC, and gamers who like the game-wherever-you-go option the game offers. Many PC games don’t work that well with controllers and while you may connect mouse and keyboard to the Steam Deck, doing so while on the go is not practicable.
In the end, it depends largely on the games you like and where you like to play them. It may even appeal to gamers who have a powerful gaming rig at home, but would like to take their gaming to other rooms of the home, e.g. to play a last round of Dota 2 or Faster than Light in bed before going to sleep.
Now You: what is your take on the Steam Deck?
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