Valve, the company behind popular PC gaming platform Steam, has announced SteamDeck. SteamDeck is a gaming laptop that seems to take some inspiration from the Nintendo Switch. We have seen some devices like this look, but mostly come from relatively small or unknown companies. Even Qualcomm has reportedly been working on a similar device.
Let’s start with the material. SteamDeck is powered by a custom APU developed by AMD. The CPU is a quad-core, eight-thread model that ranges between 2.4GHz and 3.5GHz. It uses, for example, the Zen2 cores, which are the same on the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. The valve achieves up to 448GFlops of FP32 performance for the CPU. As for the GPU, it is based on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture and has 8 computing units (CUs) operating between 1 and 1.6GHz. This amounts to a total of 1.6TFlops, which is impressive considering the size of the hardware.
You also get 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 512 GB of internal storage. It starts as low as 64 GB, and this model uses eMMC, which is slower. If you upgrade to the 256 GB model, you will get a PCIe Gen 3 x4 SSD. 512GB is even faster. Storage on all models can be upgraded via the high speed microSD card.
There is a 40Whr battery in SteamDeck, which claims that Valve will take you anywhere between 2 and 8 hours of play, depending on the game you play. The whole unit charges with a USB Type-C cable that delivers 40W of power.
The screen on the SteamDeck is a 7-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1280 x 800, aspect ratio 16:10. The screen operates at 60Hz and reaches 400 nits of maximum brightness, so it should be clearly visible outdoors. For audio, you get stereo speakers and dual microphones, but you can also connect headphones via Bluetooth, USB-C or the 3.5 mm headphone jack.
In terms of controls, the Valve SteamDeck has what one would expect in a modern console. with a few extra additions. There is a pair of thumbsticks, one on each side of the screen, along with a D-pad and the standard ABXY button panel. However, there are also two trackpads under the thumbsticks, which can be used in a similar way to analog sticks. This is transferred from the Steam Controller, which also used trackpads instead of standard analog sticks.
On the shoulders, you have the usual shoulder buttons and analog trigger. As a bonus, there are also four customizable buttons on the back of the unit, which can be useful for some games. The console also has a six-axis gyroscope for targeting.
Because SteamDeck is basically a computer, it can also connect to external monitors as one would expect. Valve will be selling a USB Type-C stand-alone to help users connect external monitors and peripherals. The base adds three ports USB Type-A, Ethernet, DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0.
In terms of size, the SteamDeck measures 298 x 117 x 49 mm and weighs 669 grams. Compared to the Nintendo Switch, this is a much bigger beast in almost every way. It is over 50% heavier than a Nintendo switch, and is also wider, taller and more than three times thicker. This may raise some questions about laptop portability, but it is also much more powerful than a switch.
In terms of software, Valve SteamDeck is running a new version of SteamOS based on Arch. Valve says it uses Proton, a compatibility level that should allow your games to play without compatibility issues. Because this is not a Windows computer, many games have not been developed for this inherently and this may be one of the biggest concerns here. Valve says it is working to further improve Proton compatibility, so hopefully most of your games will work. Either way, it’s a computer, so you can install Windows on it if you want.
Reservations for Valve SteamDeck will open tomorrow, July 16, at 10 a.m. Pacific time. The portable device will start from 399 $ / 419 € for the 64 GB model. You’ll have to pay $ 529 / $ 549 for the 256 GB model, which also adds a carrying case and an exclusive Steam Community profile pack. Finally, the 512 GB model will bring you $ 649 / $ 679, and also adds on-screen anti-glare glass and an exclusive virtual keyboard theme. SteamDeck is expected to launch in December. You can pre-order it here.