Everything you need to know about Valve’s Steam Deck


Valve shocked the industry in July last year with the announcement of its next portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck. With its release next week – February 25, 2022 – just months away from its original launch date of December last year – what do we know about the Steam Deck – and can it succeed where its competitors haven’t? succeeded in gaining ground?

What is the Steam Deck?

The Steam Deck is a portable gaming computer that allows users to play games from their Steam library on the go.

PC giant Valve has revealed how it judges which games will run on its Steam Deck console. On its website, the company says there are four levels of compatibility for games with upcoming hardware. “Verified” titles will work fine on Steam Deck out of the box, while “playable” games may require users to tweak settings for a little while. “Unsupported” titles won’t work on the Steam Deck, while “unknown” simply means that Valve hasn’t verified it works on the console yet.

For a game to be Deck Verified, it must have full controller support, have no compatibility warnings, have a default resolution of 1280×800 or 1280×720, and must run on Proton software.

Some games, while great on desktop, aren’t a great experience on Steam Deck.

Valve software

“With Steam Deck, we bring your Steam library to a new form factor: a portable gaming PC,” Valve wrote. “While many games work perfectly on Deck right out of the box, this change means that some games, while they may be great on a desktop PC, aren’t a great experience on Steam Deck.

“We want to make it easy for you to find great gaming experiences on Steam Deck, so we’ve designed a system to make that happen.”

Note that some titles will not be supported by gaming PC – emphasis is on “gaming PC”. This is not a console. Users can plug their Steam Deck into a monitor, stream videos, and install apps and software (including other online stores, according to Valve). Users will be able to download other gaming services such as GoG and Battle.Net.

A portable device that behaves like a PC sets the Steam Deck apart from its obvious console comparison, the Nintendo Switch – more on that later – but does Valve’s next laptop have the power to play games? existing?

For those who are used to playing Switch, the Steam Deck screen will seem a little bigger.

The specifications

The Steam Deck comes equipped with a 7-inch LCD touchscreen display that has a 60Hz refresh rate and 1280 x 800 resolution. to the Switch in handheld mode, the Steam Deck’s screen will seem a bit larger (by 0.8 inches to be precise).

Running on an AMD APU, the chip is built around two AMD architectures; RDNA 2 and Zen 2. Four Zen 2 cores can be found in the Steam Deck, capable of eight threads. Zen 2 cores are found in the third generation of Ryzen processors such as the Ryzen 3000.

As for the RDNA 2, it is responsible for the graphics capabilities of the Steam Deck. With eight Compute Units (CUs) squeezed behind that 7-inch touchscreen, this handheld won’t keep up with next-gen consoles. For comparison, the Xbox Series X comes with an additional 12 RDNA CUs. That being said, this is a portable device and it should be able to run almost anything released for PC, albeit with lower graphics quality.

Price and release date

There are three different storage options, from the entry-level 64GB eMMC to the 256GB and 512GB NVMe SSD-based variants. All of these options come with MicroSD card slots should gamers need to expand their storage capacity.

Here are the prices Valve listed on the Steam Deck store page:

  • 64GB Steam Platform £349 ($399)
  • 256GB Steam rig £459 ($529)
  • 512GB Steam rig £569 ($649)

The Steam Deck store page now displays “Expected Order Availability: After Q2 2022” for new customers who have not pre-ordered. Valve recently reassured customers that their handhelds were on track for the release date announced in a “January Update” blog post.

Orders can now be placed from the United States, Canada, European Union and United Kingdom.

Alternatives to the Steam Deck

All of these systems have pros and cons – a consumer could justify any of them, depending on their needs. One thing more budget-conscious gamers might want to keep in mind is affordability, as even the lower-end versions of these handhelds are more expensive than even the highest-end Steam Deck.

GPD Win 3 (from $999)

Released last year, the GPD Win 3 offers healthy competition to Valve. With 1TB of storage as standard, memory isn’t much of an issue with this portable gaming PC. Housing a full QWERTY keyboard behind the mobile display – along with traditional controller inputs – the GPD Win 3 offers more versatility when it comes to playing games designed for PC. However, with a 5.5-inch 720p display, if graphics prowess is a sticking point, the GPD Win 3 will more than likely run triple-A titles on lower graphics settings.

The GPD Win 3 conceals a QWERTY keyboard

OnexPlayer (from $1059)

On the higher end of laptop gaming is the OnexPlayer. Boasting an 8.4-inch display with a 2560 x 1600 IPS display, the OnexPlayer is capable of producing commendable visual quality. If raw power is what gamers are looking for, this handheld delivers just that. Capable of playing triple A titles at 60 fps in 1080p, this is the most technologically advanced portable gaming PC on the market.

The OnexPlayer has been criticized for its less than stellar audio quality, but the 3.5mm audio jack paired with a decent pair of headphones can overcome that.

The OnexPlayer has an 8.4 inch screen

AYA Neo (from $925)

The AYA Neo was the world’s first 7-nanometer gaming handheld device, launched in March 2021. The integrated AMD APU supports both processing and graphics output. Offering a 1TB option, AYA Neo users will have more internal storage than their Steam Deck counterparts.

In terms of performance, this handheld can leave users wanting more. It can play the latest versions, however, it will be on the lowest graphics setting and slow frame rates. According to GBAtemp, this 720p console can play Cyberpunk 2077 on low graphics settings at 20fps.

The AYA Neo was the world’s first 7 nanometer portable gaming device

The Rabbit in the bedroom

Nintendo has owned the dedicated handheld gaming device industry for several years in terms of big-name competitors.

With the relative failure of Sony’s PlayStation Portable and Vita on-the-go gaming systems, Nintendo has had the dedicated portable gaming device business all to itself in terms of marquee competitors for several years now. Sales also reflect this, with Nintendo moving over 89.04 million Switch consoles (according to Nintendo Life as of August last year). But should Nintendo be worried about Valve throwing its hat in the ring?

Switch and Steam Deck both feature the same versatile handheld/docked functionality, but it makes sense for a handheld in a post-Switch world. If a portable system were to come out now without the ability to play it on your living room TV, it would feel a bit behind the times.

As mentioned earlier, the Steam Deck is NOT a game console, so we would suggest that it caters to a different demographic. The Steam Deck could be considered the perfect gadget for a PC gamer who may not have the time or physical space at home to play on PC.

Alternatively, the Switch is used by gamers for social play – board games, for example. Its portability means gamers can carry them to friends to play. This is where the Switch excels – bringing a group together with the same couch game.

The Switch is the king of on-the-go gaming, but is the Steam Deck even in the same contest?

Takeout (literally!)

Making PC gaming more accessible to the general public

The Steam Deck has the ability to provide more options for the type of games typically seen on PC. This could allow game developers to create experiences tailored to be played on the go, while making PC games more accessible to the general public.

As we’ve seen, despite the hugely popular Switch and Steam Deck appealing to different consumers, Valve’s new handheld hardware isn’t without competition. With more systems with similar functionality on the market, Valve will need to ensure its product stays ahead of the competition. Otherwise, this latest venture has the potential to become another steam engine – and we all know how it turned out…


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