Valve is entering the handheld gaming PC market with the Steam Deck, which launches on February 25. Prices start at $399 USD / £349 GBP for the 64GB version, but you can grab a Steam Deck specced with 256GB or 512GB of NVMe storage for $529 USD / £459 GBP and $649 USD / £569 GBP, respectively.
In terms of specs, the Steam Deck is powered by a custom AMD APU built on the Zen 2 microarchitecture. However, this particular chip features RDNA 2 graphics. This is the same microarchitecture used to power team red’s best graphics cards, which should help it run everything from indies to the latest AAA games. Storage capacity will vary between models, but they all come equipped with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM.
Instead of Windows 11, the Steam Deck comes with Valve’s new SteamOS 3. It’s a Linux-based OS, but you’ll be able to install other operating systems if you’d like. However, Proton compatibility has dramatically improved to the point that you probably won’t need to.
Here’s all we know about the Steam Deck:
Steam Deck release date
The Steam Deck will launch on February 25. However, those with reservations will need to pay off the rest of their pre-order before their new handheld gaming PC ships out.
If you don’t already have a pre-order in place, you’ll have to wait in line to get your hands on the Steam Deck. You can still reserve one of the three models for a small fee of $5 USD / £4 GBP.
Steam Deck price
Three models of the Steam Deck are available, with slightly varied specs but widely different prices. The base model will set you back $399 USD / £349 GBP, and comes with 64GB of eMMC storage. For $529 USD / £459 GBP, you can upgrade to a Steam Deck with 256GB of NVMe storage that also comes with an exclusive Steam community profile bundle.
This most-expensive $649 USD / £569 GBP 512GB model’s screen uses a premium anti-glare etched glass, which could make it a better choice for outdoor play. It also comes with a slightly more boujie carrying case, but comes in the same retail packaging (complete with Portal Easter eggs).
Steam Deck specs
No matter what model of Steam Deck you opt for, you can expect the same level of performance from every version of the device. All Steam Decks have a custom AMD quad-core Zen 2 APU that features eight threads, with a base clock of 2.4GHz and boost clock of 3.5GHz. It also has an RDNA 2 iGPU and 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, which should help to future-proof the device nicely.
It uses a 7-inch IPS touchscreen with a 1280×800 resolution, with a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. While colours won’t pop as much as the panel on the Switch OLED, the Deck should still boast great viewing angles. A peak brightness of 400 nits should be great for outdoor gaming, as the Switch Lite performs well with at just 380 nits.
The Steam Deck features all the buttons you’d expect to find on the best PC controller, along with a gyroscope and two trackpads. You’ll also be able to easily upgrade any Steam Deck’s storage with a microSD card, which will be a necessity on the 64GB model as the OS will take up 15% of its internal storage.
Steam Deck performance
Game benchmarks conducted by Linus Tech Tips show that the Steam Deck is more than capable of running the best PC games, provided you temper your expectations accordingly. The Deck can run demanding titles like Control with an average of 60 fps, on the Low preset. Other titles, like Devil May Cry 5, can run at upwards of 80 fps at the Medium preset too.
Valve claims that the Deck’s 40Whr battery should allow for two to eight hours of gameplay, depending on how demanding the game you’re playing is. However, according to Gamers Nexus, you can drain the device’s battery in just under 90 minutes, if you don’t cap your frame rate and use higher settings. VSync and fps caps will be a must for any Steam Deck owner looking to extend their playtime.
For those concerned that microSD cards won’t be able to keep up with the Steam Deck’s internal SSD, The Phawx has some good news for you. In their benchmarks, they found that load times between the two storage mediums were “largely the same.” In the worst case scenario, games loaded around 12-17 seconds slower than the internal SSD.