Youtuber makes budget Steam Deck for $30, sort of

A YouTuber has created a budget Steam Deck alternative for only $30, and it can actually run games like Skyrim and Minecraft without looking like a slideshow

Steam Deck: tablet with controller grips and Steam big picture on screen

A YouTuber has cobbled together a Steam Deck alternative for $30, and the improvised handheld cheap gaming PC is better than you’d think. While its creator describes the portable rig as “sketchy and cheap,” but it’s surprisingly capable considering it costs less than a newly released game.

Shared by low-spec gaming PC enthusiast Budget Builds, the improvised Steam Deck is actually an old Windows tablet. The creator transforms the low-spec device into a faux Deck by pairing it with a “weird and rare” Microsoft-certified Xbox controller dock and using Steam big picture, which sort of emulates Valve’s official handheld experience.

Budget Builds admits the low-spec tablet is not as sleek as a Steam Deck, and its specs aren’t a patch on the real portable deal. However, it can run older favourites like Skyrim and Minecraft without turning into a slideshow – an impressive feat considering its rocking an Intel Atom CPU and 2GB RAM.

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The budget Steam Deck undeniably lacks oomph in terms of hardware, but it’s actually possible play Red Dead Redemption 2 at 1440p using the device. The catch? Well, you’ll have to harness the power of cloud gaming by streaming games from your gaming PC. That might sound like a cop out, but it could technically give the upcoming Logitech and Tencent handheld a run for its money.

Naturally, if you’re looking for a portable powerhouse that runs the latest games with ease, we’d recommend buying an actual Steam Deck. Valve just nudged outstanding reservations forward, so you probably won’t have to wait long to get your mitts on one.

That said, Budget Builds’ experiment is a testament to the viability of low-spec gaming, both as a platform and a hobby in its own right. Sure, even your gran won’t be fooled into thinking this is a Steam Deck 2, but it’d be neat to see more alternatives like this pop up in the future.