Steam Deck: Amazing Valve’s Handheld Gaming PC

Valve unveiled the Steam Deck, a mobile gaming computer, on February 25, 2022. The Steam Deck, like the Nintendo Switch, may be used as a portable or connected to a monitor.

Steam Deck: Amazing Valve's Handheld Gaming PC

It’s an x86-64-v3 device with integrated gaming inputs that can play the entire Steam catalog, including Windows PC games, thanks to the Proton compatibility layer, which is built on Linux. The system is an open platform, allowing users to install other compatible games or operating systems like Microsoft Windows on the device.

The Steam Machine, a computer specification based on the Linux-derived SteamOS that could be embraced by any computer manufacturer to produce systems optimized for running Steam and games from it, was Valve’s first step into hardware.

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Valve suddenly pulled back on the platform in April 2018, although stating that they remained dedicated to creating some type of open-hardware platform. The platform was introduced in 2015 and did not sell well. “There was always kind of this classic chicken and egg problem with the Steam Machine,” according to Steam Deck designer Steve Dalton because it required the adoption of Linux by both gamers and game developers to reach a critical mass of interest in the machines that would entice manufacturers to produce them.

Since there were few Linux games available throughout the Steam Machines’ existence, Valve decided to invest in Proton, a Linux-based compatibility layer that allows most Microsoft Windows-based applications and games to operate without modification on Linux.

Other elements from the Steam Machine series were included in the design of the Steam Deck. Valve created the Steam Controller as part of their Steam Machine series.

Early controller prototypes contained a small LCD screen in the middle of the controller that could be set to display a second screen in addition to the game the user was playing.

The Steam Link, a hardware device capable of streaming game material from a computer running Steam to a different monitor, was included in this prototype, with the output being routed to the small LCD on the controller.

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Valve later regarded this to be an early concept for the Steam Deck. Furthermore, Valve learned from their attempts to persuade other manufacturers to make Steam Machines that it was best to develop all of their hardware in-house. “It simply got clearer and clearer, the more of this we do internally, the more we can kind of construct a whole product,” Dalton said.

The Steam Deck seeks to instill a sense of adventure among PC gamers by allowing them to bring their favorite activity with them regardless. The Steam Deck dwarfs Nintendo’s current darling in size, therefore it’s not the Nintendo Switch. Of course, this is due to the Steam Deck’s requirement for greater hardware to handle games that would make the Switch scream. This does, however, imply that holding this gadget for prolonged periods may be more uncomfortable. And, unlike the Switch, the controllers cannot be detached to decrease the load.

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 What is the price of the Steam Deck?

Steam Deck: Amazing Valve's Handheld Gaming PC

The cost of the Steam Deck is determined by whatever version you choose, and there are three options based on storage capacity. The Steam Deck is priced at:

The 64GB version costs $399.

The 256GB variant costs $529.

The 512GB version costs $649.

The Steam Deck’s more expensive models have faster NVMe SSD storage, while the cheapest has a 64GB eMMC (embedded multi-media card) storage solution. At the very least, all three variants will allow you to expand your storage space using a MicroSD card.

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What are the specifications of the Steam Deck?

Valve disclosed the Steam Deck specifications alongside the system, so we now know everything about what’s underneath the 7-inch screen.

The most crucial thing for PC gamers to know is that the Steam Deck is powered by an AMD APU, something we haven’t seen before. This chip is based on two of AMD’s most popular architectures: Zen 2 and RDNA 2.

The Zen 2 architecture is the same as in AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs, and there are four Zen 2 cores in the Steam Deck, each capable of eight threads, ready for your portable gaming demands.

If you wish to increase the storage capacity, you’ll probably want to invest a little extra money in a faster MicroSD card. It will also be able to replace and upgrade the SSD, but this may not be the best option. Valve claims that the SSD in the Deck was chosen for its performance and to minimize electromagnetic interference with other components, so don’t expect any off-the-shelf part to measure up.

The 256GB model is also speedy and would be a good choice for folks who don’t mind a little less storage space.

In terms of the 64GB variant, we’re not so sure. It’s powered by an eMMC drive, which won’t match the speed of an NVMe SSD but, more importantly, has a capacity that’s nearly unheard of in a gaming PC. Maybe as an indie machine, but you’d be better served to get a Nintendo Switch instead.

All three include MicroSD slots for additional storage, and we think that the faster the MicroSD, the better the game load times will be. For those with the lesser storage model, this may be a blessing.

Valve has chosen a 1280 x 800 display for you to enjoy the games while on the go. The Steam Deck’s touchscreen is a 60Hz LCD panel with 400-nits brightness, which isn’t much to write home about. However, because it’s only 7 inches wide, its flaws may not be as obvious as they would be on one of the top gaming monitors.

Finally, Valve revised the RAM specification for the Stream Deck, actually improving it over what it had originally published. Instead of the dual-channel RAM that was originally described, it includes 16GB of quad-channel LPDDR5 at 5,500MT/s. For an APU-powered workstation like this, that’s a major deal the more memory bandwidth, the better.

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The gameplay performance.

The Steam Deck’s gaming performance in a variety of games. Horizon Zero Dawn, GTA V, and Forza Horizon 5 all have average frame rates of 30–40fps. In God of War, the average frame rate is 51 frames per second.

We found that setting the frame rate to 40 gave us the ideal balance of performance and battery life, though Valve has since removed that option. Instead, you can pick between a 30 or 60 frames per second lock (or none at all). And, to be honest, we didn’t mind lowering the frame rate to 30fps in order to extend battery life and extend our gaming time away from the power outlet.

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Games on Steam Deck.

Valve has confirmed that a large number of titles will work on the Steam Deck. These games have been assessed by Valve as having good input, display, system support, and seamlessness. These validated games will appear in your device’s library with a green tick.

A yellow I may appear in other games. This indicates that the game is playable but does not meet the requirements for verified status right out of the box. We’ve discovered that a number of these games perform well on Steam Deck, and you may just need to tweak them a little to get them up and running.

Then some games aren’t supported, such as Half-Life: Alyx, and games that Valve hasn’t checked yet. Given the sheer number of games available on Steam, it’s safe to say that the vast majority of them are unknowns. However, the majority of today’s most popular titles have already been checked.

 

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