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Steam Deck: Everything you need to know

The Steam Deck is Valve’s answer to the Nintendo Switch, but it’s not a console, it’s a portable PC. Here’s everything we know so far.

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, as we will be breaking down the performance, specs, and when we should expect to see the latest PC in stores. Also, make sure you keep this page bookmarked, as we’ll be updating it whenever more information comes out.

Release date 

Originally, the Steam Deck was planned for release this year in December, but Valve has recently confirmed that the handheld PC will be delayed until February 2022.

Valve mentioned that supply issues have made it too difficult to meet its original deadline, which has been a common issue this year, as chip shortages have made it difficult for many tech firms to get their devices to market.

There is currently no way to pre-order the device, but you can make a reservation on the Steam website and enter a queue. All pre-existing reservation holders will be able to keep their places in line, but the date will shift back in accordance with the eventual launch.

Price 

The Steam Deck comes in three different configurations, so you can figure out which handheld suits you best.

The starting price is £349/$399 with 64GB of eMMC storage and a bundled carrying case. The second configuration costs £459/$529 with 256GB, as well as a jump in speed thanks to an NVMe SSD.

And finally, the last and most expensive configuration sits at £569/$649 with 512GB NVMe SSD, with premium anti-glare etched glass included for the screen, as well as an exclusive virtual keyboard theme.

Specs 

We’ve listed the Steam Deck specs below:

CPUAMD Zen 2 (4-core, 8-thread @ 2.4GHZ – 3.5Ghz)
GPURDNA 2 (8 compute units @ 1GHz – 1.6GHz)
RAM16GB DDR5
Storage64GB eMMC base / 256GB NVMe SSD / 512GB NVMe SSD (microSD expansion)
Display7-inch, 1280×800 (16:10), 60Hz LCD touchscreen
Battery40WHr: “2-8 hours of gameplay” depending on title
Video output (docked)Up to 4K @ 120Hz / 8K @ 60Hz
Connectiivity2.4GHz / 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0
Weight669 grams

Performance

For the size, the Steam Deck is packing some impressive specs, including an AMD Zen 2 CPU, an RDNA 2 GPU and 16GB of RAM.

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.

Steam Deck

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.

A close up of the Steam Deck console

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.

Design

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 throw in a bag on the go.

Steam Deck

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.

Screen

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 Trusted Take

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, putting its portability prowess in some doubt.

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 it’s docked. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

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