Gaming laptops, beware, because Valve just made Steam games on the go possible, and for a relatively accessible price. Gamers on the go won’t have to wait for their favorite titles to port to Nintendo Switch or rely on bulky gaming laptops to play their favorite titles. Now the Steam Deck is here – a handheld gaming PC made by Valve.
After tons of rumors within the gaming community about the supposed Steam handheld console, dubbed SteamPal, gamers around the world were surprised when Valve announced Steam Deck, a handheld gaming PC – as reported by IGN. According to Valve, the device is an AMD powerhouse capable of running the latest AAA gaming titles, displaying them on a 7-inch 1280×800 touchscreen. Additionally, it’s equipped with several control inputs, meaning you can use the handheld as a gaming console or a standard PC.
On the software side, Steam Deck runs on a new version of Valve’s proprietary OS, the SteamOs – a Linux-based operating system Valve originally intended for its line of prebuilt gaming computers. But that doesn’t mean the system is limited to Linux-only games. Valve stated that the new version uses significantly improved Proton compatibility software that works with anti-cheat systems and allows gamers to play Windows games that don’t have official Linux support. Additionally, Valve made sure that gamers have access to third-party games outside of the Steam store and Steam library, thanks to the new console-like interface and unrestricted computer desktop mode.
The controller setup on either side of the console has all the buttons and triggers, including full-sized joysticks found in modern gamepads, and they’re capacitive, meaning that they can detect your thumbs testing on them. Below each joystick, Valve placed a small trackpad that can be used for mouse inputs, allowing easier “desktop” navigation through third-party games and software. Steam Deck also has some level of control input, as it has four back buttons on the rear side of the handheld, which can be mapped per the user’s preference. Also, the aforementioned 1280×800 display is actually a multi-input touchscreen.
In terms of hardware, the Steam Deck packs more power than the recently revealed Nintendo Switch OLED model in a smaller form factor, though with a lower-resolution screen. Valve packed an AMD APU 4-core, 8-thread CPU and paired it with an 8 RDNA 2 CUs GPU and 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, which is more than enough to run AAA titles on its own 1280×800 resolution screen. It’s more or less on par with the most popular handheld of all time in terms of graphic performance, though Switch runs at 1080p when docked and connected to a TV. Steam Deck also has docking capabilities and connections to an external display, but the dock is sold separately from the device.
On the subject of selling, the Steam Deck will be available in three different models, with three different storage capacities – which dictate individual pricing. Apart from storage capacities, the handhelds feature identical hardware. Valve announced the beginning of shipping in December 2021, at the price of $399 per unit of base Steam Deck.