Steam Deck is kind of what everyone expected with the enigmatic “Switch Pro” that’s supposedly in production by Nintendo. Announced earlier today through Steam, the handheld PC is aiming to deliver adequate AAA experiences completely at the palm of your hands (taking a note from the PSP’s marketing strategy). Interestingly enough, the device’s announcement comes in the back of Nintendo opening pre-orders for their recently announced Switch (OLED model).
The Steam Deck is slated for a December 2021 release and currently has three versions available for pre-order:
- $399.00 64 GB eMMC + carrying case
- $529.00 256GB NVMe SSD + faster storage + carrying case + exclusive Steam Community profile bundle
- $649.00 512GB NVMe SSD + fastest storage + premium anti-glare etched glass+ exclusive carrying case + exclusive Steam Community profile bundle + exclusive virtual keyboard theme
The internals for the new machine is impressive as well. From the information we have, the Steam Deck should be substantially more capable than a PS4 Pro but not still not matching more current consoles like the budget-friendly Series S. The handheld will hold a 40Whr battery that Valve says should last 2-8 hours depending on usage which might be a little low for some. Still, it’s a more than capable portable device at a reasonable price at least depending on which version you decide to purchase. More details are listed below.
CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
APU power: 4-15W
16 GB LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT/s)
64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1)
256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4)
512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4)
All models include high-speed microSD card slot
Inputs for the Steam Deck consist of your standard twin thumbstick, face buttons, D-pad, plus some additional quirks exclusive to the new device.
Since the Steam Deck is proposed as a portable PC, the machine holds two trackpads just below the thumbsticks that look like mini-versions of the ones found on Valve’s own Steam controllers in order to maneuver menus that are more conducive to point-and-click inputs. The 7-inch capacitive touchscreen also clocks in at an odd resolution of 1280×800 px (16:10 aspect ratio)
Aside from your standard shoulder buttons, you’ll also find four rear, mappable buttons akin to the ones found on Xbox’s Elite controllers. Some Switch fans might be disappointed that the most revered feature of the handheld isn’t found in the Steam Deck—a flimsy kickstand.
The Steam Deck will however feature its own dock that will be sold separately at a later date. The dock features familiar I/O ports if you’re a Switch owner but Steam Deck’s dock does include a DisplayPort port and built-in ethernet port.
Steam Deck will run a proprietary Steam OS made specifically for the portable machine but the interesting bit comes in the fact that the OS is built on an incredibly flexible version of Linux called Proton. Owners could theoretically strip their Steam Deck’s and install whatever OS or application they want just like with a standard laptop or desktop.
Valve isn’t exactly flawless when it comes to releasing hardware. The Index is seen as one of the premier VR headsets to this day but missteps like the aforementioned Steam Controller and head-scratching Steam Machines are blemishes on the company’s reputation. Initial reactions to the Steam Deck are relatively positive and with the release coming so soon we won’t have to wait long to see if Valve delivers another winner or if the handheld will share the same fate as their more forgotten products.