Valve surprised everyone by launching a new handheld gaming device called the Steam Deck. It aims to compete against Nintendo Switch and capture some of its market share. Given the Switch Pro isn't out anytime soon, we'd say Valve has a big chance.

The Steam Deck has caused so much buzz in the gaming industry that even PC gamers are excited about it. This is because it doesn't differ from any other handheld on the market. Here we go into detail about the Steam Deck and answer all your important questions.

What is Valve's Steam Deck?

Valve steam deckImage credit: valve

Valve's Steam Deck is a handheld gaming device that allows you to play any game on the Steam Store. Yes, we are talking about full-blown PC games here and not a specific port of the game. At first glance, it looks like a bigger, clunkier Nintendo Switch, but there's more to it than just looks.

For starters, the Steam Deck has a 7-inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels (yes, no 1080p!). Under the hood is a custom AMD APU that combines the Zen 2 CPU architecture and RDNA 2 GPU capabilities. It also includes 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and comes with NVMe SSD storage options.

The Steam Deck doesn't impress on paper, but it's worth noting that the graphical performance is maxed out at 1.6 TFlops (teraflops), which isn't much better than the 1 Tflops on the Nintendo Switch. The battery life isn't exceptional either, as it can fluctuate between 2 and 8 hours depending on the game and your graphics settings, according to Valve.

Related: Teraflop vs. Terabyte: What's the Difference?

Speaking of games, any game you already own can be played right away on Steam. Thanks to cloud storage, you can switch seamlessly between your PC and the Steam deck without worrying about how the game is progressing. In addition, you can also download and play games from other third party providers such as Origin or Epic Games.

Is Valve Steam Deck a PC or a console?

Valve Steam Deck next to the laptopImage credit: valve

We could easily call it a hybrid device, but the Steam Deck really isn't a gaming console. In fact, it is a portable computer that can run any PC app. The SteamOS, which runs natively on the device, is Linux-based; H. You can access pretty much any program you have on a Linux computer.

The Steam Deck has trackpads to mimic the action of a mouse, but you can connect an external keyboard and mouse to it and operate it the traditional way. You can't get anywhere near that flexibility with a game console, especially if you're looking at something like the Nintendo Switch or the PS Vita.

While the Nintendo Switch lets you dock and play games on your TV, the Steam Deck takes that experience to a whole new level. An optional dock, which Valve plans to sell separately, allows you to connect it to an external display and use it as a desktop computer. It will also be compatible with third-party USB-C docking stations in the market.

Can the Steam Deck be upgraded like a PC?

Valve Steam Deck docked multiplayerImage credit: valve

Now that you know the Steam Deck is a handheld PC, the next question you probably asked is whether the hardware is upgradeable like a typical PC. Well the answer is no. Since this is a portable device, Valve soldered most of the internal hardware like RAM and SSD.

Thanks to the microSD card expansion slot, however, you can increase the total memory of the Steam Deck to a maximum of 1 TB. Don't forget that external storage isn't nearly as fast as internal drives.

Read more: The fastest and best microSD cards

Can you run Windows on Valve's Steam Deck?

Valve Steam Deck interfaceImage credit: valve

When you think of Linux as a gamer, the first thing you think of is compatibility issues. The good news is you can install Windows to play literally any PC game you want on your Steam Deck. That said, if you have a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you can essentially turn your Steam Deck into an Xbox handheld console.

Similar: Xbox Game Pass vs. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: Is It Worth Upgrading?

Windows isn't the only operating system you can install. For example, you can install Ubuntu or Chrome OS if you want to experiment with your Steam Deck. It's amazing how versatile such a compact machine is.

For those who don't want to mess around with Windows, Valve uses Proton, a compatibility layer that allows Windows games to run on the Linux-based SteamOS. So you should be able to play most of the games without any problems.

What is the release date of Valve's Steam Deck?

Play on Valve Steam DeckImage credit: valve

Valve will release the Steam Deck this holiday season, i. H. in December 2021, but it won't be available worldwide. In the first phase of release, Valve will limit availability to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union.

Reservations for the first release began shortly after the announcement and sold out within an hour. The rest of the countries will have to wait longer as Valve plans a release in 2022. Further details on availability will follow shortly.

How much does Valve's Steam Deck cost?

Valve Steam Deck MultiplayerImage credit: valve

One of the most interesting aspects of the Steam Deck is its price, especially given the hardware it packs. Valve is pursuing an aggressive pricing strategy with the Stream Deck to compete against the Nintendo Switch.

Prices start at $ 399 and go up to $ 649, depending on the storage space required. The $ 399 base model comes with 64GB of eMMC storage, which may not be good enough for most users. To store AAA games, you'll have to settle for 256GB or 512GB storage with faster NVMe drives that cost $ 529 and $ 649, respectively.

Valve's Steam deck has enormous potential

Valve sees the Steam Deck as a completely new product category in the PC gaming space. Depending on how well it sells, the company is hoping to attract more game developers to the idea. We can even see third party vendors releasing their own versions of the Steam Deck as SteamOS is free.

Right now, the Steam Deck looks good enough to seduce anyone who has been waiting for the Switch Pro and been disappointed with the Switch OLED announcement. If Valve can capitalize on Nintendo's mistakes, it has a successful product in its hands.

Image credit: valve


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About the author

Hamlin Rozario
(58 published articles)

Hamlin is a full-time freelancer who has been in the field for over four years. Since 2017 his work has appeared on OSXDaily, Beebom, FoneHow and others. In his spare time, he either trains in the gym or takes big strides in the crypto room.

By Hamlin Rozario

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