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Steam Deck from Valve lets you play PC games on the go

By Maria Pamela Reyes Published Jul 16, 2021 4:46 pm

Valve has revealed Steam Deck, a handheld portable device that will allow players to bring and access Steam titles on the go.

That’s right, players can simply lounge, hold on to their Steam Decks, lay down and play their favorite video games that can be found in their Steam library.

The brand new innovation to video gaming is expected to work more like a portable PC rather than an actual gaming console. Valve said that it is designed to be like the regular Steam app on desktop, with complete chat, notifications, cloud save support, library, and collections in sync.

Specs

Steam Deck’s APU is custom made and is optimized for handheld gaming. It is a Zen 2 CPU + RDNA 2 powerhouse, and according to the official website, it can deliver “more than enough performance to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient power envelope.” It also has 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM.

As for the storage, there are three different ones to choose from: a 64 GB eMMC, 256 GB NVMe SSD, and 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD. Individually, they come in different price points, $399, $529, and $649 respectively.

The Steam Deck is expected to run in a new SteamOS but it can also accommodate Windows games that don't have official Linux support through Valve's compatibility.

For battery life, well, don’t expect much. According to the developer, Pierre-Loup Griffais, the battery life depends on what the person is doing or playing.

“It's about 2-8 hours, depending on what you're doing. You can play Portal 2 for four hours on this thing. If you limit it to 30 FPS, you're going to be playing for 5-6 hours,” Griffais explained.

Here are the other features Steam Deck has:

  • Display: 7" diagonal, 1280x800 (16:10), 60Hz LCD touchscreen
  • Audio: 3.5mm stereo jack, dual mics, multichannel USB-C/Bluetooth output
  • Controls: Two analog sticks with capacitive touch, D-pad, face buttons, analog triggers, bumpers, assignable grip buttons, "view" and "menu" buttons, gyro
  • Trackpads: Two trackpads. Valve claims that they have "55% better latency compared to Steam Controller."
  • Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Wired connectivity: USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2

More information can be found at Steam Deck’s official website. 

Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch

The Steam Deck is obviously Valve’s own version of the Nintendo Switch, and it has both similarities and differences from its Nintendo counterpart. 

Among the similarities is that both handheld devices feature 720p touchscreen displays and are dockable, however, unlike the Switch’s case, Steam Deck is a portable PC. This means users can plug it into a monitor or a TV. They can even install applications and software, watch and stream videos, and install other game stores on it among others. Sadly, Steam Deck’s dock is sold separately. 

Comparing Steam Deck to the upcoming Nintendo Switch OLED, it is obvious that OLED is the less powerful between the two. The Switch uses Nvidia’s Tegra X1 chipset, a processor that is more or less four years old. Steam Deck on the other hand, uses an AMD Zen 2 CPU and the next generation RDNA 2 GPU, specs that are found in the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Then there’s the controllers, compared to the Switch, Steam Deck has two trackpads that are similar to the Steam controllers found on either side of the display. There are also thumbsticks and four extra buttons on the back of the device. It doesn’t stop there, the controllers also have Bluetooth audio so that players can connect wireless earphones or headphones.

For battery comparison, the Switch is better by a landslide. As mentioned before, Steam Deck has 2-8 hours of battery life, while the Switch OLED is expected to last 4.5 to 9 hours.

In the end though, the Switch and Steam Deck are still lacking compared to next-gen consoles such as PS5 and Xbox Series X who have more cores, faster CPU and GPU clock rates, and a lot more. Then there’s the price to be considered, with Steam Deck ranging from $399 to $649 while the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are priced at $499, and the Nintendo Switch OLED at $349, around $50 more expensive than the regular Switch.

Steam Deck is expected to be on the market by December this year.