Valve has announced that they’re throwing their hat into the ring of handheld gaming with the reveal of their Steam Deck gaming system. It will essentially be a Nintendo Switch type system, but for PC gaming. With it you will have access to the full Steam library of games, but won’t necessarily be Steam exclusive. This means you will be able to get access to other game libraries such as Epic Games and even the games available on PC through Xbox Game Pass.
Referring to the Steam Deck as a Nintendo Switch type system may be as much an oversimplification as it is insulting though when you really dive into things. The most impressive thing about Valve’s Steam Deck is that it is really just a portable PC. With it you are able to plug it into a monitor or TV, install apps or software, stream videos, whatever you need to do with it. The Steam Deck will reportedly run on a new version of SteamOS, but just like any PC you have the freedom to uninstall it and install Windows operating system if you so choose. This system may yet prove to be one of the biggest steps forward for the industry that we’ve seen in a long time.
Steam Deck Specs
- Four Core AMD Zen 2 CPU
- CPU Clock Speed 2.4-3.5GHz
- AMD RDNA 2 GPU
- GPU Clock Speed 1-1.6GHz
- 16GB LPDDR5 RAM
- 7 inch LCD Touchscreen
- 1200 x 800 Resolution
- 60Hz Refresh Rate
As you can see there will be three different storage options available to purchase for the Steam Deck. Ideally, I think everyone would pick the 512GB option. Games nowadays require a lot of storage, and anything below that would probably feel quite restrictive. However, I believe either the 256GB or the 512GB would be a viable choice due to the fact that both offer fast NVMe SSDs.
When it comes to the 64GB option I’m not sure how smart of a purchase it would be. To start, it will not have an NVMe, but rather an eMMC drive which is noticeably slower. Additionally, I’m not sure how you can manage a gaming PC work only 64GB of storage. That just doesn’t seem like a possibility in my eyes. It creates a nice selling point like “Offering PC gaming options starting at just $400!”, but beyond that I just can’t believe Valve is expecting that particular model to sell very well.
If you do plan on pre-ordering a Steam Deck they are expected to begin shipping out in December 2021. I wouldn’t expect to see yours by then though. The Steam Deck site is now showing the expected order availability varying by model. Quarter one 2022 for the 64GB model, quarter two 2022 for the 256GB, and quarter three 2022 for the 612GB option.
Steam Deck, a Solid PC Starter
When it’s all said and done with, if you stop and think about what the Steam Deck offers, it is the cheapest entry into PC gaming period. That is undeniable. There’s no need to spend that extra money on a monitor as well as a nice keyboard and mouse either. Even if you choose to go with the highest storage option at $649 it’s hard to beat when buying a decent starter PC anywhere. Additionally, if you add the mobility aspects of a Nintendo Switch it’s hard to deny the value you’re receiving for the price. Even more so, having access to the vast library of games that players do on PC will add to the appeal of the system immensely.
Outside of the potential dismal battery life estimates I’ve seen the Steam Deck has potential to really take off and be a real contender in the market as a mobile gaming console and PC hybrid. If the Nintendo Switch as basic and niche as it is can outsell the Xbox One then the sky’s the limit for the Steam Deck. I’ll be here for it, and will be looking forward to getting on to try it out as soon as possible.