In case you missed it yesterday, Valve has announced it will be releasing the Steam Deck later this year.
While earlier rumours were made that the company was making some kind of handheld device, it’s nice to see that the thing is real and looks spectacular. We’ve got a full breakdown here of what the Steam Deck is and if you should get one.
WHAT IS THE STEAM DECK
Simply put, it’s a handheld console that allows you to play PC games from your Steam account on the go. You simply log into your Steam account and can start playing games natively on the console right away.
It has all the same features your Steam account on PC has like your games, collections, favourites and friends list. Thanks to the cloud saving features of Steam, you can also install games you’ve played previously and pick up straight where you left off.
You can see what the Steam Deck looks like in the image above. If you’re a Nintendo Switch owner, you’ll already begin to see the similarities. According to IGN’s hands-on with it, the handheld has a 1280×800 resolution display, meaning all games should run in 720p.
Similar to the Switch, it also has two controllers on each side of the screen. These feature the standard ABXY buttons, D-Pad, triggers and thumbsticks you’d come to expect from a modern controller. It also has two trackpads, however, which work to give you a little bit of extra precision similar to a mouse.
WHAT SPECS DOES THE STEAM DECK HAVE
According to IGN’s hands-on with the Steam Deck, the handheld runs on a next-generation AMD Zen 2 CPU and an RDNA 2 GPU with 8 compute units. I know that sounds complicated, but the best way to describe it is being similar in power to a PS4 or Xbox One.
I’d say it’s probably a bit more powerful than those platforms due to the lower resolution of the screen and the ability to tweak graphics settings. This means you could potentially play a game like Metro Exodus on the lowest graphics settings but at a high framerate.
There are three models available for the Steam Deck, but they each run the same internal specifications. The only difference is storage, coming in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB versions. 64GB is intended to be the budget version, as it also comes on a weaker SSD (but will still be lightning fast compared to the Nintendo Switch).
If you ask me, the 256GB and 512GB versions will be the most popular ones. With many games now reaching hundreds of gigabytes in their install sizes, this means many 64GB Steam Deck owners will be completely locked out from them.
WHAT ELSE CAN THE STEAM DECK DO
The Steam Deck is running a custom operating system called SteamOS to give the handheld a console-like experience. This makes it a little less complicated to set up, as you needn’t worry about installing drivers or extra software like you would with a new PC.
This also gives you a massive amount of flexibility like you can with a PC. You can connect a keyboard and mouse to it and play games like that. You can install mods to it and continue your modded Skyrim playthrough.
Interestingly enough, you could even install Windows on it and get access to a whole bunch of other programs. Want to play Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Now on your Steam Deck? You certainly can! Though having Windows installed on this thing probably doesn’t do the battery much good, while SteamOS is optimised to utilise the battery to the best it can.
It’s also worth noting the Steam Deck comes with a dock similar to the Switch, allowing you to plug that baby into a TV or computer monitor and use it like a regular PC. You can use any standard USB-C hub for this, but according to IGN Valve is also developing a standalone dock for you to buy.
SHOULD I GET A STEAM DECK
Priced at £349, £459, and £569 depending on how much storage you want, the Steam Deck is certainly a powerful machine for a generous price. For about £70 more than the regular Nintendo Switch RRP, the 64GB model features double the storage and on an SSD, while also opening you up to thousands more games than that platform has.
The more expensive versions will cater to the gaming hobbyists who want to dip their toes into PC gaming but have been overwhelmed by high hardware prices and an endless amount of choice. While not as beefy as a regular PC (or the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5), it will certainly take its place on the handheld market as a nice piece of kit.
If you already have a powerful PC or a current-gen console, the appeal of the Steam Deck will basically boil down to: do you want to play your games on the go? If so, then this might be the platform for you.
It will be available later this year with a launch date of December 2021. Steam is currently opening reservations from today to ensure users can have a fair and orderly process of ordering one.
Will you be picking up a Steam Deck? Let us know across our social channels.
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Featured Image Credit: Valve