Valve's Steam Deck targets 800p, 30Hz gameplay, and the internal SSD is user-replaceable

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,441   +132
Staff member
In brief: Details regarding Valve’s recently announced Steam Deck handheld gaming system continue to trickle out, and its mostly good news. In a recent sit-down with IGN, Valve’s hardware team said they believe that the entire Steam library, even the latest games released this past year, will scale down to meet their 800p, 30Hz target quiet well.

“We haven’t really found something that we could throw at this device that it couldn’t handle, at least yet,” said Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais.

The team said they were also intentional about not integrating local storage directly onto the motherboard for repairability sake. As such, the standard M.2 NVMe SSD can be swapped out should yours go bad, or if you want to upgrade to a larger capacity drive. It’s a task that isn’t really intended for inexperienced users, however, and it’s unclear how it might impact the device’s warranty.

The Steam Deck can be configured with up to 512GB of speedy internal storage, and all models include a microSD expansion slot. Games will load faster from internal storage, but they will still be perfectly playable directly from a memory card.

Valve is currently accepting reservations for the Steam Deck, but you’ll be waiting a while before you get it if you’re just now getting in line. The mid-tier and high-end models have an expected order availability date of Q2 2022, while the most affordable variant is listed as “after Q2 2022.”

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 5,224   +5,927
A user replaceable SSD is the icing on the cake. You can buy the cheapest model and upgrade it to a 4TB as they decline in price. I only wish it was that easy with the Xbox Series X.

Thing is, I don't even have that many Steam games to play that I would be using this portable for. Can't run DCS World here. But Mortal Kombat, Adventure RPG and a few other Genre would be cool.

GTA:VI maybe?
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
I like the idea of a portable gaming PC. So when someone announces one I will be very excited. This thing is not portable. It weighs 669g, by comparison an iPad is about 430g and we all love holding those for extended periods of time.

Also my laptop has a Vega 3700u with 16GB of RAM and it does NOT handle any game you throw at it at all. I tried running rdr2 at 720p and got 23fps on the “low” setting. So I’m curious what this has that my laptop doesn’t.

Looks to me like it’s probably best to wait until the hardware has had a few revisions and the software gets established. Also, the storage is pathetic for a PC gaming machine.
 
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ikesmasher

Posts: 3,123   +1,534
It is NOT the common 2280 NVMe form factor. It's 2230. The biggest 2230 I found was 512GB for $200.
the 1TB exist, but not from a brand or in a price anyone is happy about -
https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/del...0-ssd-pm991/apd/400-bfvw/storage-drives-media

Also my laptop has a Vega 3700u with 16GB of RAM and it does NOT handle any game you throw at it at all. I tried running rdr2 at 720p and got 23fps on the “low” setting. So I’m curious what this has that my laptop doesn’t.
This thing has RDNA2 gpu cores which is a first in APUs, a noteably faster CPU, (3000 series laptop chips are not zen2), and somewhat resolves the biggest bottleneck for APUs which is slow memory. The memory is substantially faster than really any regular laptop which is the biggest bottleneck for GPU performance in APUs. I'd imagine it has better managed thermal and power management than a lower end windows laptop considering how many of those manufacturers crank out. Not sure I would expect RDR2 in high settings or anything, but I can see medium settings at 30fps stable being a reasonable expectation at 800p.

I dont see this as worthwhile for bleeding edge games/30FPS though. I see a lot of garry's mod, halo custom games, simulator-type games, etc in my future.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
the 1TB exist, but not from a brand or in a price anyone is happy about -
https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/del...0-ssd-pm991/apd/400-bfvw/storage-drives-media


This thing has RDNA2 gpu cores which is a first in APUs, a noteably faster CPU, (3000 series laptop chips are not zen2), and somewhat resolves the biggest bottleneck for APUs which is slow memory. The memory is substantially faster than really any regular laptop which is the biggest bottleneck for GPU performance in APUs. I'd imagine it has better managed thermal and power management than a lower end windows laptop considering how many of those manufacturers crank out. Not sure I would expect RDR2 in high settings or anything, but I can see medium settings at 30fps stable being a reasonable expectation at 800p.

I dont see this as worthwhile for bleeding edge games/30FPS though. I see a lot of garry's mod, halo custom games, simulator-type games, etc in my future.
Right ok, so we dont know what sort of
Performance to expect exactly. Judging by it’s size, I doubt that this steam deck thing has better power and thermals than a laptop. It may be significantly bigger and heavier than an iPad but it’s lighter and smaller than an average ultrabook. Although maybe that’s why it’s so heavy, valve put a watercooler in there so that the cores are screaming?

The problem is I can’t think of what you might play, it doesn’t look likely that AAA gaming (Ac Valhalla, cyberpunk etc) is going to be a favourable experience. So games like CS Go, Dota, Fortnite etc l guess. The problem is the sort of games this thing has the power to run aren’t really designed to be portable and often don’t have controller support, for example MMOs, Diablo 3. But Diablo 3 is a moot point as it’s not available on steam. Same goes for overwatch and most MMOs. I’ve been going through my steam library, there are a lot of games that would work but not many that I’m interested in buying a heavy £500 semi portable, storage limited device just to play. Prison architect maybe although once again, without a proper mouse it’s not ideal.

Nintendo are very successful at portable gaming because they drive the software for it. Valve could do the same, they are capable of making great games. They could easily make like a “Half Life Racer” or something, another portal game, maybe a platformer, some sports games etc. They haven’t made “Back 4 Blood” and the company that are making it have listed 6 CPU cores as a minimum spec which could rule it out for the steam deck (unlikely). Skyrim could work but seriously who hasn’t played that by now, it’s 10 years old in November.
 

passwordistaco

Posts: 22   +40
Right ok, so we dont know what sort of
Performance to expect exactly. Judging by it’s size, I doubt that this steam deck thing has better power and thermals than a laptop. It may be significantly bigger and heavier than an iPad but it’s lighter and smaller than an average ultrabook. Although maybe that’s why it’s so heavy, valve put a watercooler in there so that the cores are screaming?

The problem is I can’t think of what you might play, it doesn’t look likely that AAA gaming (Ac Valhalla, cyberpunk etc) is going to be a favourable experience. So games like CS Go, Dota, Fortnite etc l guess. The problem is the sort of games this thing has the power to run aren’t really designed to be portable and often don’t have controller support, for example MMOs, Diablo 3. But Diablo 3 is a moot point as it’s not available on steam. Same goes for overwatch and most MMOs. I’ve been going through my steam library, there are a lot of games that would work but not many that I’m interested in buying a heavy £500 semi portable, storage limited device just to play. Prison architect maybe although once again, without a proper mouse it’s not ideal.

Nintendo are very successful at portable gaming because they drive the software for it. Valve could do the same, they are capable of making great games. They could easily make like a “Half Life Racer” or something, another portal game, maybe a platformer, some sports games etc. They haven’t made “Back 4 Blood” and the company that are making it have listed 6 CPU cores as a minimum spec which could rule it out for the steam deck (unlikely). Skyrim could work but seriously who hasn’t played that by now, it’s 10 years old in November.
8 RDNA2 CUs in the Deck is 1/10 the 80 RDNA2 CUs in the 6900XT. Coincidentally, 1200x800 is 1/10 the pixels of 4K. Seems like a good match.

Techspot just reported on a mod that inserts AMD FSR into SkyrimVR and Fallout 4VR. If Steam can work FSR into the render pipeline, the Deck could be a "beast" at native resolution.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
8 RDNA2 CUs in the Deck is 1/10 the 80 RDNA2 CUs in the 6900XT. Coincidentally, 1200x800 is 1/10 the pixels of 4K. Seems like a good match.

Techspot just reported on a mod that inserts AMD FSR into SkyrimVR and Fallout 4VR. If Steam can work FSR into the render pipeline, the Deck could be a "beast" at native resolution.
Optimis
8 RDNA2 CUs in the Deck is 1/10 the 80 RDNA2 CUs in the 6900XT. Coincidentally, 1200x800 is 1/10 the pixels of 4K. Seems like a good match.

Techspot just reported on a mod that inserts AMD FSR into SkyrimVR and Fallout 4VR. If Steam can work FSR into the render pipeline, the Deck could be a "beast" at native resolution.
The thing has a 1280x800 resolution, I don’t want to use FSR with that. What would that mean, rendering games at 540p or lower and upscaling? I guess the switch does this with resolution scaling but that device has a smaller screen and so lower res is less noticeable. Also I’ve seen the image quality of FSR, it’s not great, you can def notice the difference between it and native (much like DLSS was 3 years ago). I don’t want to pay more than the cost of a PS5 or XSX to run games at 800p with FSR in 2021. Not to mention the screen being an LCD. What’s with that, even the switch will be an OLED by the time this thing is out.

I love the optimism for this device but it’s too big, too expensive and doesn’t have the software support for me to believe it will be a success. I mean you can buy a standalone VR headset for less money in the oculus Quest 2 and it doesn’t need FSR to run even games like Alyx.

I travel a lot and am absolutely in love with my switch lite and would love a portable PC alternative. But this is not it. I think my regular switch is too big to travel with and it’s a lot smaller than this steam monstrosity!
 

pcnthuziast

Posts: 1,150   +861
The concept is good, the aesthetic is decent and the hardware scrapes by for the desired output, but overall it's shortcomings are too much to overlook. A top tier phone with something like a Razer Kishi would beat the brakes off this and while I realize I'm talking about something potentially triple the price, this in the grand scheme of things feels akin to an Amazon device in a certain way. Something that for all intent and purposes is indeed a legitimate device which for the most part ticks all the boxes for value to feature and quality ratio, but better options exist. On the surface it could appear to have mass appeal, but long term I'm betting niche.
 

Lounds

Posts: 896   +796
Optimis

The thing has a 1280x800 resolution, I don’t want to use FSR with that. What would that mean, rendering games at 540p or lower and upscaling? I guess the switch does this with resolution scaling but that device has a smaller screen and so lower res is less noticeable. Also I’ve seen the image quality of FSR, it’s not great, you can def notice the difference between it and native (much like DLSS was 3 years ago). I don’t want to pay more than the cost of a PS5 or XSX to run games at 800p with FSR in 2021. Not to mention the screen being an LCD. What’s with that, even the switch will be an OLED by the time this thing is out.

I love the optimism for this device but it’s too big, too expensive and doesn’t have the software support for me to believe it will be a success. I mean you can buy a standalone VR headset for less money in the oculus Quest 2 and it doesn’t need FSR to run even games like Alyx.

I travel a lot and am absolutely in love with my switch lite and would love a portable PC alternative. But this is not it. I think my regular switch is too big to travel with and it’s a lot smaller than this steam monstrosity!

You're judging something before it's even had time to be properly tested and reviewed.
No one in their right mind is going to be using FSR unless they're extremely in need to run a very demanding game. As for the specs, although it's in a 15w power envelope, the RAM alone will be enough to push it for 720/800 gaming. I wouldn't be surprised if this thing can hit 60,FPS, as most of the laptops with the 15w 4700u hit around 30-40fps in AAA games at 720p.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,864   +3,749
TechSpot Elite
Optimis

The thing has a 1280x800 resolution, I don’t want to use FSR with that. What would that mean, rendering games at 540p or lower and upscaling? I guess the switch does this with resolution scaling but that device has a smaller screen and so lower res is less noticeable. Also I’ve seen the image quality of FSR, it’s not great, you can def notice the difference between it and native (much like DLSS was 3 years ago). I don’t want to pay more than the cost of a PS5 or XSX to run games at 800p with FSR in 2021. Not to mention the screen being an LCD. What’s with that, even the switch will be an OLED by the time this thing is out.

I love the optimism for this device but it’s too big, too expensive and doesn’t have the software support for me to believe it will be a success. I mean you can buy a standalone VR headset for less money in the oculus Quest 2 and it doesn’t need FSR to run even games like Alyx.

I travel a lot and am absolutely in love with my switch lite and would love a portable PC alternative. But this is not it. I think my regular switch is too big to travel with and it’s a lot smaller than this steam monstrosity!
FSR would most likely be useful when using the dock if you connect it to a 1440p monitor. Many games should be able to run at higher than 800p natively so you might be able to pick the high quality FSR.

Anyway, 800p should very easy to run any game at (some might not run at very high settings, but you can go with a mix of high and medium).
 

mattferg

Posts: 180   +173
A user replaceable SSD is the icing on the cake. You can buy the cheapest model and upgrade it to a 4TB as they decline in price. I only wish it was that easy with the Xbox Series X.

Thing is, I don't even have that many Steam games to play that I would be using this portable for. Can't run DCS World here. But Mortal Kombat, Adventure RPG and a few other Genre would be cool.

GTA:VI maybe?

It is. The SSD inside is M.2 iirc and the expansion slot is a standard CFExpress port.
 

hwertz

Posts: 65   +28
Cool! I had previously assumed Steam Deck was Steam making another crack at a game system (to plug into a TV). Hadn't realized it was a portable. Very nice!
 

Bamda

Posts: 270   +133
That is great news "As such, the standard M.2 NVMe SSD can be swapped out should yours go bad, or if you want to upgrade to a larger capacity drive."

As a recent purchaser of the device I just keep getting happier the more I learn about it.