Everything we know about Valve’s Steam Deck handheld gaming PC

Valve is moving into the hand held gaming area with the launch of the brand new Steam Deck. It’s principally a gaming laptop that you may maintain in your palms… or a PC that appears a bit like a Nintendo Swap.

The Steam Deck went up for pre-order starting July 16th, with costs beginning at $399 for a mannequin with entry-level specs. However prospects pays extra if they need further (and quicker) storage. The Steam Deck ought to start transport in December February, 2022.

The Steam Deck contains a 7 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel touchscreen LCD show sandwiched between two sport controllers. The display screen has a 60 Hz refresh price and helps as much as 400 nits of brightness.

Below the hood, the Steam Deck options 16GB of LPDDR5 reminiscence, 64GB to 512GB of storage, and an customized low-power AMD processor which options:

  • CPU: AMD Zen 2 with 4 cores, 8 threads (2.4 GHz to three.5 GHz for as much as 448 GFlops efficiency)
  • GPU: 8 x AMD RDNA 2 compute items (1 – 1.6 GHz for as much as 1.6 TFlops)
  • Energy consumption: 4 – 15 watts

Valve says the customized chip is code-named Aerith, and whereas it solely have 1GB of devoted video reminiscence, it will probably entry as much as 8GB of shared LPDDR5 reminiscence with a bandwidth of 88 GB/s.

Whereas it’s a low-power chip designed to be used in a handheld, Valve says it performs the identical whether or not the Steam Deck is operating on battery energy or plugged in, and the corporate didn’t put any synthetic efficiency constraints on the processor… however recommends builders contemplate capping body charges on their video games to be able to prolong battery life.

The Steam Deck could solely have the graphics efficiency of an entry-level discrete GPU like NVIDIA’s GeForce MX450, that processing energy ought to go a great distance on a tool with a 1280 x 800 pixel show since there’s no must render 1080o or greater res graphics. And Valve can also be permitting builders to add variations of their video games to Steam which might be optimized for lower-resolution shows to be able to cut back the storage wants and pace up obtain occasions for Steam Deck customers.

The Steam Deck measures 298 x 117 x 49mm (11.7″ x 4.6″ x 2″) and weighs 669 grams (1.5 kilos) and packs a 40 Wh battery that Valve says needs to be good for as much as 7-8 hours of net shopping or a number of hours of sport play.

You possibly can cost it through a 45W USB Kind-C energy adapter, and the Steam Deck’s USB-C port additionally helps DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode, that means you may join it to an 8K/60Hz show, a 4K/120Hz show if you wish to sport on the massive display screen. Alternately you may join as much as two 4K/60Hz shows.

Different ports embody a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader, and the Steam Deck has twin microphones and twin audio system.

The sport controllers characteristic many of the common buttons you’d anticipate together with twin analog sticks, X, Y, A, and B buttons, shoulder set off buttons, and a D-Pad. However there are additionally trackpads on either side of the display screen, which might turn out to be useful should you’re taking part in video games that usually require a mouse. This can be a carry-over from Valve’s discontinued Steam Controller.

There are additionally View & Menu buttons which might be helpful for navigation.

When you’re questioning what precisely you’ll be navigating, apart from video games, it’s Steam OS. Valve’s laptop will ship with a customized GNU/Linux distribution primarily based on Arch Linux and that includes the KDE Plasma desktop and Valve’s customized person interface.

Steam OS first debuted years in the past when Valve was making a push to work with third-party PC makers to ship “Steam Machines,” or compact desktop computer systems that prospects may use like sport consoles, however with assist for PC video games downloaded from the Steam store.

Steam Machines by no means actually took off. However Valve did port the Steam sport consumer to work with Linux, inspired many builders to port their video games to Linux, and even constructed on present open supply instruments to launch Proton, a software that permits many Home windows PC video games to run on Linux with none modifications in any respect.

And that every one may give Valve an edge within the handheld gaming PC area over rivals… and there are rivals. In recent times two Chinese language firms have launched quite a few handheld gaming computer systems that characteristic the heart of laptop computer stuffed into compact chassis designed to be carried round.

GPD and One Netbook have kind of dominated this area, with somewhat latest competitors from AYA, however their gadgets are additionally geared toward lovers prepared to drop as a lot as $1,000 on a handheld gaming system from a Chinese language firm with restricted presence exterior of their house international locations.

You possibly can see how the Steam Deck stacks up in opposition to the competitors in our comparison table.

Handheld gaming PCs
Clockwise from prime left: Valve Steam Deck, GPD Win 3, OneGx1 Professional, Aya Neo, GPD Win Max 2021

Valve’s Steam Deck is a bit more costly than a Nintendo Swap (even the brand new OLED model). But it surely’s cheaper than most GPD or One Netbook gadgets, and it’s additionally backed by an organization that’s made a reputation for itself in gaming. Steam OS could not assist all Home windows PC video games, however it is going to assist lots of them.

And for the reason that Steam Deck is principally a PC, you may set up Home windows or different working methods on it, as IGN confirmed.

And if the little laptop doesn’t have sufficient horsepower for the titles you wish to play, you may all the time use it to stream video games from a extra highly effective PC utilizing Steam’s remote play service.

I don’t anticipate GPD or One Netbook to surrender and not using a struggle. However positioning the Steam Deck as a cellular gaming PC with a beginning worth of $399 will put loads of strain on these firms to supply lower-cost gadgets and/or options that Valve’s handheld doesn’t match.

That stated, the entry-level model of the Steam Deck has simply 64GB of eMMC storage. If you’d like extra & quicker storage, you need to pay additional. Listed below are the pricing choices:

  • 64GB eMMC for $399
  • 256GB PCIe NVMe for $529
  • 512GB PCIe NVMe for $649

All three fashions have an M.2 2230 socket, so you would theoretically purchase the most cost effective mannequin and add your personal SSD. However Valve does say that the SSDs are “not meant for end-user substitute,” suggesting that you just’ll should open the case and probably void your guarantee to carry out upgrades, since there’s no easy accessibility slot. Upgrades are possible, however not essentially straightforward.

The excellent news is that Valve says you can even broaden storage through an SD card, and the corporate says that whereas video games load extra slowly from eMMC or SD card storage than from an NVMe SSD, the efficiency hit isn’t that huge:

  • Video games load 12% slower from eMMC storage.
  • Video games load 18% slower from an SD card.
  • A Steam Deck with eMMC storage takes 25% longer besides than one with an NVMe SSD.

All three fashions additionally include a carrying case, however the most costly mannequin additionally comes with “premium anti-glare etched glass” and has an “unique digital keyboard theme” if that’s one thing you suppose you’ll want.

Valve’s Linux-based Steam OS is one other key characteristic that helps set the Steam Deck other than the competitors. Delivery a handheld gaming PC with a customized working system targeted on gaming offers Valve extra management over the person interface and efficiency of its system, whereas additionally serving to hold prices down for the reason that firm doesn’t should pay for a Home windows license.

The Steam Deck will ship with a brand new model of the working system referred to as Steam OS 3 with an up to date person interface that’s been optimized for small, handheld gadgets.

Amongst different issues, there’s a brand new house display screen structure, a common search characteristic, a notification space that may be accessed with the press of a {hardware} button, and a mobile-friendly digital keyboard. There’s additionally a brand new Steam Enter configurator.


And though many Home windows PC video games don’t natively assist Linux, Valve has been a frontrunner in each encouraging builders to create native Linux ports and growing Proton software program that permits many Home windows titles to run on Linux with none further work from builders.

The corporate can also be now giving builders the choice to reap the benefits of new APIs that may make PC gaming somewhat extra console-like. For instance, as an alternative of simply synchronizing person’s saved knowledge to the cloud after they exit video games, builders can now add an choice for saving when a Steam Deck is suspended, permitting customers to droop and resume the Steam Deck with out shedding any knowledge and shortly get again to the place they left off when the system wakes up.

Whereas Steam OS 3.0 is made with the Steam Deck in thoughts, the brand new person interface can even substitute Steam’s Massive Image UI for the corporate’s desktop shoppers sooner or later, making the Steam expertise extra unified throughout platforms and permitting Valve to roll out updates extra shortly.

Different options constructed for the Steam Deck can even be coming to the corporate’s desktop shoppers. For instance, the brand new controller settings configurator may have the identical person interface on desktop and laptop computer methods because it does on handhelds.

Valve can even promote an official dock accent that’s principally a USB-C hub and stand that provides you further ports together with HDMI, DisplayPort, and Ethernet jacks. Pricing and availability particulars haven’t been introduced but.

The Steam Deck will probably be obtainable within the US, Canada, UK, and European Union at launch, earlier than ultimately increasing to further markets.

Valve Steam Deck Specs
  • 7 inches
  • 1280 x 800 pixels
  • LCD
  • 400 nits
  • Touchscreen

  • 4-cores / 8-threads
  • 2.4 GHz to three.5 GHz
  • As much as 448 GFlops FP32
  • 4-15 watts

  • 8 compute items
  • 1 GHz to 1.66 GHz
  • As much as 1.6 TFlops FP32
RAM 16GB LPDDR5-5500
  • 64GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1)
  • 256GB NVMe SSD (M.2 2230 PCIe Gen 3 x4)
  • 512GB NVMe SSD (M.2 2230 PCie Gen 3 x4)
  • microSDXC card reader
  • 1 x USB-C (with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt Mode for 8K/60 Hz or 4K/120 Hz video out)
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Kind-A
Sport controllers
  • 2 x analog sticks with capacitive contact
  • A, B,  X,  Y buttons
  • D-pad
  • L & R analog triggers
  • L & R bumpers
  • 4 x assignable grip buttons
  • 2 x 32.5mm sq. trackpads with haptic suggestions
  • 6-Axis gyroscope
Different buttons & switches
  • Quantity Up
  • Quantity Down
  • View
  • Menu
Keyboard Digital
Battery & charging
  • 40Wh battery
  • 45W USB Kind-C PD 3.0 charger
  • Stereo front-facing audio system
  • 3.5mm audio jack
Webcam & mic Mic solely
OS Steam OS (Arch Linux with KDE Plasma)
Dimensions 298mm x 117mm x 49mm
11.7″ x 4.6″ x 1.9″
Weight 669 grams
1.5 kilos
Docking Station
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x USB Kind-C energy enter
  • 1 x USB-C out to Steam Deck
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Kind-A
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • $399 (64GB eMMC)
  • $529 (256GB NVMe)
  • $649 (512GB NVMe)

through Steam (1)(2)(3)

This text was initially printed July 15, 2021 and final up to date November 13, 2021.

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