Steam Deck prototypes show the evolution of Valve’s handheld gaming PC

Valve has shared some images of early Steam Deck prototypes as part of the Asia launch, meaning you can get a good look at how the handheld gaming PC evolved

Steam Deck prototypes show the evolution of Valve's handheld gaming PC: a picture showing an early Steam Deck prototype on a table

A number of Steam Deck prototypes have been shared by a coder at Valve, giving us a look at the evolution of the handheld gaming PC before the final version came to market earlier this year.

The images of four Steam Deck prototypes come from Valve coder Pierre-Loup Griffais, who said they’ve been on display as a part of the Asia launch press event for the Steam Deck. Some of these are even playable, with a “bootable family tree from mod-2019 to now” on display.

Some of these prototypes were even hand-built, before going into mass production further down the line. You can also clearly see the evolution of some of the buttons and thumb sticks, even if the general shape and design of the Steam Deck remained the same. For example the trackpads went from circular to square-shaped, while the thumbsticks started out with a dome shape before moving to concave.

Griffais notes in a follow up tweet that the Steam Deck prototypes “mostly still boot, serving as an exciting reminder of how far things have come since”. Griffais adds that older models had flatter ergonomics, which then taught Valve a ton about how to improve the comfortability of the Steam Deck itself. Steam Deck prototypes show the evolution of Valve's handheld gaming PC: a picture of tree Steam Deck prototypes on a table

Recently a Steam Deck mod has spruced up Valve’s boring back buttons, as custom moulded L2 and R2 buttons have been made, giving the Steam Deck some pretty sleek white triggers, with the modder saying they might be doing the same for all buttons on the handheld PC.

Projects like this are helped by the fact that Valve supports third-party accessories for the Steam Deck, like the best Steam Deck dock. Stepping even further afield than third-party accessories, a YouTuber actually made a budget Steam Deck for just $30, well…almost.

Made from an old Windows tablet and a “weird and rare” Microsoft-certified Xbox controller dock, the tablet then runs Steam’s big picture mode, which almost makes the handheld a much cheaper Steam Deck.

While you won’t likely ever get to play with one of the above Steam Deck prototypes, we can at least help you out with the best PC games for Steam Deck instead.