Valve announces the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming PC starting at $399

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,441   +132
Staff member
Highly anticipated: Valve says the Steam Deck is comparable to a gaming laptop and has the ability to run the latest AAA games. With it, the company says you’ll be able to play your Steam library wherever and whenever you want. And, since it’s a true PC, you can also install software and connect hardware as you would with any PC. It’ll ship running SteamOS 3.0, we’re told.

The developer, publisher and digital distribution platform has formally introduced the Steam Deck.

The system, previously referred to as the SteamPal, is a Nintendo Switch-style handheld PC powered by a custom AMD APU consisting of a quad-core (eight threads) Zen 2 CPU alongside eight RDNA 2 compute units. Collectively, the APU is rated to sip between four and 15 watts of juice.

There’s also 16GB of LPDDR5 memory and a 7-inch touchscreen display that operates at 1,280 x 800 pixels (16:10 aspect ratio) with a 60Hz refresh rate and up to 400 nits of brightness. It additionally boasts dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and ships with a 40whr battery that’s good for up to two to eight hours of runtime between charges.

Models will be offered with 64GB of eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1), 256GB of NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4) or 512GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4) storage configurations. All models will also include a high-speed microSD card slot for additional storage.

The Steam Deck looks to be a full-on PC gaming console and Switch rival, as it will also get a dock so you can play your PC games on a monitor or TV. With more details to follow about that.

Valve’s Steam Deck starts at $399 for the 64GB variant and scales up to $529 for 256GB and $649 for the 512GB model. It is scheduled to ship in December 2021 in the US, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, hopefully in time for the holidays.

More regions will be added to the mix in 2022. Interested parties can reserve theirs over on the Steam Deck website.

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dangh

Posts: 256   +335
Very nice stuff. I wonder how it does compare to the competition. And 800p is little low, is rather have 1080p to browse internet or use other apps without jaggy edges.
 

3volv3d

Posts: 399   +204
I took one look and thought, hell no.
Put a screen on a ps4 clone style controller.
I personally would like to play PC games from the couch but they fudged the steam link they fudged the steam box and this looks fudged from the outset
 

Bulllee

Posts: 215   +136
Nice, so that‘s what Van Gogh was for. LPDDR5 should give this device pretty good bandwidth.

Here‘s hoping for good reviews and good Christmas availability.
There is no Santa Clause on the evening stage...so far.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,765
I took one look and thought, hell no.
Put a screen on a ps4 clone style controller.
I personally would like to play PC games from the couch but they fudged the steam link they fudged the steam box and this looks fudged from the outset

While I would really want this to try I have to agree: this looks like a bust: unwieldy, cumbersome and yet at the same time, tiny for what we would want it for: 7 inch screen is too small for most Steam games you'd want to play to be nice and legible (Since remember: they were all designed to run on at least 21 to 23 inch class screen) and if that didn't hurt the chances enough, 1280 x 800 resolution? Sure the games probably wouldn't run at any higher res given the APU but regular use would benefit from a non-potato resolution that's legible on every day use and could bump up some of the classics you'd want to play like modded Skyrim at at least 1080p

There's already better portable PC computer devices like the GPD Win 3 that all but match this specs, sorry but this ain't it Valve.
 

Torrentius

Posts: 21   +63
At first I was in love, but price points don't make any sense - 130$ difference between 64GB eMMC and 256GB SSD is a price of a 1TB SSD for the consumer - not HW bought in bulk when manufacturing a device.

I'd be the first one to buy 399$ model if I was able to put my own SSD inside.

On the other hand - even the most expensive option is a kick to the balls for other x86 handhelds producers: 4500U based Aya Neo costs around 1k$... And as they confirmed you can install any x86 OS you want on it, with USB-C dock it can double down as an entry level workstation/streaming/study device.

I feel like everything but the storage options is amazing here.


There's already better portable PC computer devices like the GPD Win 3 that all but match this specs, sorry but this ain't it Valve.

Win 3 starts at ~850$ - 200$ more than most expensive Deck model.
Deck has slightly worse CPU (4/8 Zen 2 vs 11th gen 4/8 Intel), but most likely much better iGPU (8 RDNA2 CUs) that should give it an advantage in gaming scenarios. And with casual office/study/streaming applications you shouldn't see any difference.
 
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Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,765
I feel like everything but the storage options is amazing here.

The screen resolution isn't: 720p (But on 16:10 instead of 16:9 but effectively the same res) might seem ok if *all* you want to do is stare at graphics, but as soon as text is involved it's just not very easy to read at all. I know that while inside many games (But notably, not all given the size of the Steam library) probably wouldn't work out too well with a 1080p screen at this size but come on: This is the same kind of screen you find on the bottom-of-the-barrel, ultra cheap tablets. Not even entry level phones in 2021 come with a 720p screen anymore and those are a full inch shorter than this screen.

It is possible some people might not care at all about the screen if all you want is a PC Version of the switch that runs Steam games natively, but if I wanted a switch well, I'd get a switch. If I wanted mobile type games I'd use my phone of my tablet. If I get this device, I *want* to use it to replace a laptop when needed, and with this screen I just don't see this happening.
 
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Torrentius

Posts: 21   +63
The screen resolution isn't: 720p (But on 16:10 instead of 16:9 but effectively the same res) might seem ok if *all* you want to do is stare at graphics, but as soon as text is involved it's just not very easy to read at all. I know that while inside many games (But notably, not all given the size of the Steam library) probably wouldn't work out too well with a 1080p screen at this size but come on: This is the same kind of screen you find on the bottom-of-the-barrel, ultra cheap tablets. Not even entry level phones in 2021 come with a 720p screen anymore and those are a full inch shorter than this screen.

It is possible some people might not care at all about the screen if all you want is a PC Version of the switch that runs Steam games natively, but I I wanted a switch well, I'd get a switch. If I wanted mobile type games I'd use my phone of my tablet. If I get this device, I *want* to use it to replace a laptop when needed, and with this screen I just don't see this happening.
I still use an old 1200x800 15-inch laptop from time to time, so I don't have any worries about the resolution, especially with a 7-inch screen. And I also think of it as a laptop replacement - but I'd pair it with a lapdock for that.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,765
I still use an old 1200x800 15-inch laptop from time to time, so I don't have any worries about the resolution, especially with a 7-inch screen. And I also think of it as a laptop replacement - but I'd pair it with a lapdock for that.
You probably should worry if you don't want to wear glasses on your old age or have your prescription significantly worsen if you already do.

But jokes aside the point isn't that it's unusable, the point is that it's a really low resolution for a late 2021 device. Like I said: comparable devices are 20 dollar chinese tablets that are basically disposable.

It's just a hard pill to swallow, it feels like a really good APU trapped on a really inconvenient device.
 

Torrentius

Posts: 21   +63
You probably should worry if you don't want to wear glasses on your old age or have your prescription significantly worsen if you already do.

But jokes aside the point isn't that it's unusable, the point is that it's a really low resolution for a late 2021 device. Like I said: comparable devices are 20 dollar chinese tablets that are basically disposable.

It's just a hard pill to swallow, it feels like a really good APU trapped on a really inconvenient device.
The screen is good for gaming, as this really good APU wouldn't run games in higher resolution. And, honestly, I had 11-inch 1080p 2in1 once and reading was too inconvenient without scaling, unless it was used as a tablet, closer to eyes. Can't imagine how horrible it would be on a 7-incher with high resolution. I believe this will make an amazing handheld gaming device and a nice little PC, when used with a USB-C dock and peripherals.
 

bandit8623

Posts: 335   +186
You probably should worry if you don't want to wear glasses on your old age or have your prescription significantly worsen if you already do.

But jokes aside the point isn't that it's unusable, the point is that it's a really low resolution for a late 2021 device. Like I said: comparable devices are 20 dollar chinese tablets that are basically disposable.

It's just a hard pill to swallow, it feels like a really good APU trapped on a really inconvenient device.
but you are not going to be holding this as close as a phone. you cant see the difference. unless you hold your handheld gaming screens a foot away from your face?
 

Watzupken

Posts: 315   +303
Screen size and resolution wise, I think it is not a problem. Even with the RDNA2 iGPU, I don't believe one can play games at very high resolution to begin with. My main issue is the storage space and potentially the heat.

Given the size of games nowadays, 64GB will be wiped out with 1 or 2 recent game titles. In fact, there are some games will not even fit in. So I feel the storage size is a big issue considering the games on Steam are optimized for PC, and not going to be storage friendly.

Heat is probably going to be the next big problem. 15W at full tilt is a lot to cool in a small chassis like this. Even the 2500U that I am using in my mini PC (NUC form factor) and with a chunky aluminum cooler is close to 50 degs Celsius with an ambient temp of 29 degs with very low load. And being small, means all the hot components will be closer.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,765
but you are not going to be holding this as close as a phone. you cant see the difference. unless you hold your handheld gaming screens a foot away from your face?
No but the further away from you, the harder it is to read small text if it's not really sharp, and that needs more dpi than what's available here.

I get that the main concern here is the battery life which looks to be the limiting factor as it is (2-8 hours) but I think includying 1080p screen with variable resolution or resolution scaling options would be nice to have.

That being said I have been giving this device some more thought through the day and I think I might be a bit closer to being convinced on it as basically a portable thin client: If I have a solid internet I can phone home to my rig and really make that battery last a long time but if not it should still be capable of most things except maybe 2077.
 

Vrmithrax

Posts: 1,587   +644
I know they are trying to compete with the Switch as far as form factor, but I really wish they had gone for something more like the Razer Edge concept tablet. Bigger screen, more room for internals, etc. Would have been a higher price point, but might have been far more attractive for a "console" option to PC gamers.

 

Bao Nguyen

Posts: 106   +80
I am speechless at some of the comments as people can be so entitled these days. Steam released an actual PC at that form factor that gives out 2 Tflops which is about the same as the Xbox One & PS4 for the price of $399 and people is still complain about it?

I am for one that is extremely impressed at what Valve has achieved here to be honest, have a look at similar devices like the GPD Win 3 (5.5in 720p screen), or the Aya Neo (7in 1280x800 screen), and they are all in the $1000 ballpark.
 

Irata

Posts: 1,675   +2,807
Screen size and resolution wise, I think it is not a problem. Even with the RDNA2 iGPU, I don't believe one can play games at very high resolution to begin with. My main issue is the storage space and potentially the heat.

Given the size of games nowadays, 64GB will be wiped out with 1 or 2 recent game titles. In fact, there are some games will not even fit in. So I feel the storage size is a big issue considering the games on Steam are optimized for PC, and not going to be storage friendly.

Heat is probably going to be the next big problem. 15W at full tilt is a lot to cool in a small chassis like this. Even the 2500U that I am using in my mini PC (NUC form factor) and with a chunky aluminum cooler is close to 50 degs Celsius with an ambient temp of 29 degs with very low load. And being small, means all the hot components will be closer.

Heat might be a problem, but I don‘t believe both are in the same TDP class. 2500U is 15W base, boost can go higher. Seems like Van Gogh is 4-15W, I.e. 15W is boost.

Still, will be interesting to see how well the cooling solution works and what performance the device can sustain.

As for the 64GB version: I agree with you regarding the game size, unless someone plays many older / light titles.

It feels like this model mostly exists to show a lower Switch-like starting price. But if the storage is user upgradeable, that might make it interesting.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,608   +1,714
9.5/10 on the build quality and look of the device from what I've seen.
I'm not a customer for this, but I'm interested to see if it has a place in the market.
There are a couple things I don't like, but we'll see.