The $ 399 Steam Deck is coming this December.
Rumors made the roundsthat Valve was working on a portable, Switch-like game console for portable PC gaming. Now it’s official: the Steam Deck for $ 399 will go on pre-sale on Friday, July 16, with the units expected to ship in December.
If you’ve ever wanted a Nintendo Switch Pro for PC gaming, this may be your chance.
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The device sticks near thePlaybook, with full-size controls and a separately sold dock that allows you to easily connect an external display. It has a 7-inch touchscreen, two trackpads, built-in microphones, network connectivity via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, a microSD card slot, a headphone jack and a USB-C socket for charging, docking or connecting peripherals. The 40 kWh battery promises several hours of gaming fun between charging processes. There’s also a suspend feature that lets you pause the action with a quick press of the power button and later pick it up where you left off.
“We partnered with AMD to develop Steam Deck’s custom APU, which is optimized for handheld games,” it says on the device’s home page. “It’s a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 powerhouse that has more than enough power to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient power range.”
Pre-orders start at this link Friday, July 16, 10:00 a.m. PT (1:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. GMT) in the US, UK, Canada and the EU.
Will it be a perfect switch for Steam?
The Steam Deck looks very Switch-esque, no surprise, and its relatively low price point ($ 399 and up based on storage) is aimed right at console buyers. Will it be the perfect handheld gaming PC? From a distance it’s hard to tell. It has its own custom AMD chip with a Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 graphics, plus 16GB of RAM and internal storage from 64GB to 512GB, depending on what price you pay. But there is also a microSD card slot. The 7-inch LCD screen with 1,280 x 800 pixels is the same size as the upcoming OLED Nintendo Switch, with almost as many pixels.
Like a switch, the Steam Deck can dock to a TV or monitor via USB-C, but according to Valve it also works with any powered USB-C adapter or dock – which sounds promising. The separately available dock offers many connections: DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.1, two USB 2.0s, HDMI 2.0 and Ethernet.
This isn’t the first time anyone has tried to build a PC gaming handheld: Razer has done it, and promised a similar idea in 2020.
The Steam Deck accesses the Steam store and library directly, making it a handheld download-only device. It will be interesting to see how many games it is compatible with, but Valve promises it will work with many of its AAA titles.
There are tons of controls that make the Steam Deck stand out: dual analog sticks, shoulder and trigger, four buttons on one side, a D-pad on the other. But there are also two trackpads on the front and four additional control points on the back.
It’s not that easy, however: Valve lists it as weighing 1.47 pounds, considerably larger than the Nintendo Switch but lighter than almost any PC.
It runs SteamOS and Linux, could run more software
The Steam Deck runs Valve’s own SteamOS for playing Steam games in addition to Linux. According to an exclusive hands-on from IGN, the handheld / dockable will also be able to run Windows and Linux apps via Proton, essentially as a full-fledged mini PC.
How flexible does that make the Steam Deck? Good question. Valve told IGN that the Steam Deck can install any software they want and work with a variety of peripherals. Which suggests many ways to play games on the Steam Deck. But we haven’t tried one yet.
According to IGN’s hands-on experience, the hardware was sturdy enough to play Portal 2, EA’s Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, Death Stranding, and Doom Eternal. That sounds promising indeed.
Which version should you buy?
Valve sells three different configurations: one with 64GB of storage for $ 399, a 256GB version for $ 529, and a 512GB version for $ 649. The 512 GB version also has an anti-reflective, etched glass on the display. While the Steam Deck has MicroSD support for game storage, and Valve told IGN that it aims to load and play games from MicroSD, internal storage should perform at its best. Given the size of Steam games, the 512GB version sounds like the safest choice for a serious gamer looking to keep this handheld … but again, we haven’t even tried the Steam Deck yet. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see one soon.