Do you know the Steam Deck? This is the new portable console that Valve has begun to market since the beginning of the year. It offers a way to play games you bought on Steam on a device similar to a larger Nintendo Switch. I’ve had mine for two weeks and this is what I think so far.
Image credits: Christian Jarry
- AMD processor specially created for Steam Deck
- 16GB LPDDR5 RAM
- Three available configurations of 64GB eMMC, 256GB NVMe SSD, or ultra-fast 512GB NVMe SSD
- 7-inch IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1280 × 800 at 60 Hz
- Bluetooth 5.0
- WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Steam Deck is huge compared to a Nintendo Switch. This is the only comparison we can make as the Steam Deck is much more powerful. It is a bit complex to calculate the exact power of the Nintendo Switch but it is estimated between 0.5 and 1 Teraflops. It’s also more powerful when in its docking station than when in handheld mode.
Meanwhile, the Steam Deck offers a 3.5GHz AMD Zen 2 CPU and an AMD 8 RDNA GPU. It therefore offers a power of approximately 1.6 Teraflops, or approximately the power of a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One. So we have approximately twice the power of the Nintendo Switch.
Although all models are sold with a slot for a micro SD card, I decided to go with the medium model, which offers 256 gigabytes of storage. Partly because I thought 64 gigabytes of storage was too tight, but mainly because models sold with 256 and 512 gigabytes offer better performance thanks to their faster NVMe storage. For its part, the 64 gigabytes of storage model is equipped with eMMC storage that is more similar to what we find in SD cards or small cheap computers.
Massive, but comfortable.
The most surprising thing when taking the Steam Deck in your hands is how huge it is. You might think it might be tiring in the long run, as it still weighs 669 grams, as opposed to the Nintendo Switch’s 297 grams or the Nintendo Switch OLED’s 320 grams.
Still, even long gaming sessions have proven to be surprisingly comfortable because the grip is super solid. The 7-inch LCD screen is more than adequate for gaming from a good distance away, and I was impressed with its clarity even when gaming outdoors. If you want to have a matte finish, I advise you to opt for the 512 gigabyte model.
The buttons are all of very good quality with excellent relaxation when worn. The same goes for the two joysticks on each side of the console or the four programmable buttons below the console.
Probably one of my favorite things about the Steam Deck setup is the two touchpads on either side of the console. They can be used in some games for more precise aiming with your thumb, which makes things a lot easier.
The same when it comes time to select things on the screen. Although it is often even easier to use only the touch screen.
Solid SteamOS operating system
A big question mark remained over the Steam Deck: how would the SteamOS operating system work?
So far, I have to say, it’s been pretty admirable. Although the architecture is that of a PC, therefore x86, SteamOS is not Windows. Therefore, games must be compatible with SteamOS, which is based on Linux, or must use emulation mode.
It’s easy to go to the Steam store to find games compatible with the Steam Deck. At the moment there are quite a hundred but you will find more than 700 games that are rated as playable.
Some will require some tweaking, others just have fonts that are too small, and so on. In my experience, I’ve had just as much fun playing indie games like Eastbound or bigger games like Grand Theft Auto V or even Resident Evil Village.
A highly variable stack
What will change your gaming experience a lot is the stack. Unsurprisingly, the more demanding the game, the faster your stack will deplete.
When playing a non-3D indie game, you’ll get 6-7 hours of gameplay if you don’t set the refresh rate to 60Hz.
Let’s just say playing Grand Theft Auto V at 60Hz won’t get you much more than an hour and a half to two hours of gameplay.
Very intriguing Steam Deck
So far, my impression of the Steam Deck is quite positive. There are still several questions like if Valve support will be good. At the moment, we are entitled to several frequent updates, but the console has just been released.
Another good point in the long term, Valve has designed their console well so that it is even easily repairable and it would even be possible to change the storage! It’s not the easiest, but it’s still nice to have the chance.
You can reserve your Steam Deck at Vapor. There are three configurations available and they will be available at 3the quarter of 2022, either in October or later.
- 64 Gigabytes of eMMC storage for $499 with storage case.
- 256 Gigabytes of NVMe storage for $659 with storage case.
- 512 Gigabytes of NVMe storage for $819 with premium anti-reflective coating storage and roaming case.
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