It seems that the rumors were true then, as Valve has now officially announced the Steam Deck, a portable PC gaming system. We don’t say console because it is, technically, a portable PC like a laptop but in a more handheld form factor like the Nintendo Switch. It’s also available to wishlist and launching later this year.
For a while now rumors have spread regarding a handheld Steam console, which would see Valve competing against Nintendo’s Switch for the portable gaming experience. However, the differences are very clear, but the new Steam Deck is launching December 2021 and starting at $399.
In terms of an actual handheld design, you have the typical ABXY buttons, a D-pad, two analog sticks, shoulder buttons and triggers, plus some extra goodies like grip buttons and even the same mouse-imitation trackpads found on the Steam Controller (though apparently with “55% better latency” in comparison).
Steam Deck hardware specs
Obviously we all want to know the hardware specs as well, so here’s everything Valve has revealed:
- CPU (AMD APU): Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
- GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
- APU power: 4-15W
- RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT/s)
- Storage: 64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1); 256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4); or 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4). All models include a high-speed microSD card slot (for additional storage expansions).
- Display: 7" 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio), 60Hz, touch enabled
- Other features: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3.5mmm headphone jack, Dual microphone array.
- Battery: 40Whr battery (2-8 hours of gameplay)
- Size: 298mm x 117mm x 49mm
- Weight: Approx. 669 grams
Steam Deck hardware models
There’s also 3 different variants of the Steam Deck in terms of storage capacity, pricing, and extra features:
Steam Deck performance
Now what does that actually mean for performance? According to some reports online, it has the base performance of a PlayStation 4 but with a newer and more efficient architecture, essentially giving it the same raw performance as an Xbox Series X since it only targets a resolution of 1280x800.
That’s a pretty decent performance expectation for what is essentially a handheld PC. The 16GB of RAM is also 4x more than that of a Nintendo Switch. Obviously we’ll have to wait until release before getting any actual data on FPS performance in some of the latest games, but it is certainly exciting to say the least.
Valve also confirmed that whilst the Steam Deck is running on a new version of SteamOS, you can technically wipe the device clean and install WIndows on it basically turning it into a pocket PC, and may even allow you to be able to install Xbox Game Pass or the Epic Games Store for more games to play on it.
However, that’s not exactly recommended, since the new SteamOS is optimized for the Steam Deck, so you won’t get better performance out of doing that. But the idea that you potentially can do it adds another layer of why this could be a big contender in the handheld gaming market.
Valve also mentions that you'll be able to plug in various different PC peripherals, and even hook it up to a TV or monitor in order to use it as you would a normal PC system.
There’s still more information to come regarding the Steam Deck, so we’ll likely hear more about it as we get closer to the release date later this year. But for now it’s looking like a pretty big deal for PC gamers who have been wanting a proper handheld device other than streaming games on their phone or settling for a Nintendo Switch with limited games and features.
What do you think? Are you excited for the Steam Deck? Will you be getting one later this year? What model are you looking to get? And what kind of games are you hoping to play at what performance? Let us know your thoughts!