The SteamPal console rumours were true, and Valve is indeed entering the handheld PC gaming market with the recently revealed Steam Deck.
The Steam Deck is Valve's next step into the gaming hardware market, as the company is now trying to get a foothold in the mobile gaming business and rival Nintendo's Switch.
While the initial reveal and general idea look rather promising, the console's success and longevity will depend on many factors, including pricing, the system's components and Valve's support in years to come.
Still, Valve seems to be really serious with this project and dedicated to do things right, so we have a lot of hope for the future of the Steam Deck and its success.
Let's check out what we currently know about the Steam Deck.
Release date - when is the Steam Deck coming out?
While we don't yet exactly know the precise release date, Valve has confirmed that the console will "start shipping" in December 2021.
Given the current crisis with the chip shortage and general lack of computer components, this, unfortunately, doesn't mean that everyone will get their unit in December, rather Valve will slowly start delivering Steam Decks to the people who have reserved one.
At this moment, all available units have already been reserved, and Valve has informed new potential buyers that new units will be available at a later date, with the 64 GB model and 256 GB NVMe model due in Q2 2022, and the 512 GB NVMe model by Q3 2022.
How to reserve and pre-order the Steam Deck?
The Steam Deck is only available for purchase directly through Steam, one per Steam account, and currently only for buyers living in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, with more regions coming in 2022.
You can reserve your unit via the Steam Deck reservation page, but there are currently no units available, so keep an eye on the page, as they might become available at any moment and will probably quickly be sold out again.
The Steam Deck price - How much does it cost?
The Steam Deck comes in three versions, which are all essentially the same in terms of power, and the only difference is in the system's internal storage, both in terms of size and speed.
The price of the Steam Deck is:
- US$399 for the 64GB version
- US$529 for the 256GB version
- US$649 for the 512GB version
The cheapest version comes with a 64GB embedded multi-media card (eMMC) and asides from offering the smallest capacity, it's also the slowest one, while 256GB and 512GB versions feature NVMe SSD storage, which has significantly faster writing and reading speeds, and Valve states that the most expensive version has the fastest R/W speed.
All three versions include a high-speed MicroSD slot for additional storage capacity.
The Steam Deck technical specifications
Valve has been very open from the very first day about their handheld PC system specifications.
The Steam Deck comes packed with significantly better specifications than those offered by the Nintendo Switch, but, on the other hand, the Steam Deck is much slower than the Xbox Series S.
Still, for a system that is designed for mobile gaming and to be played on a 7-inch, 1280 × 800 screen, the specs are more than capable to provide you with decent results and run even some of the latest AAA games, including Control, Doom Eternal, Jedi Fallen Order, Death Stranding, and more.
Here are the Steam Deck hardware specs:
|System on a chip||AMD custom APU|
|CPU||Zen 2, 4-core, 8-threads,
variable frequency @ 2.4–3.5 GHz
|Graphics||RDNA 2 with 8 CUs,
variable frequency @ 1.0-1.6 GHz
|Memory||16GB LPDDR5 @ 5,500MT/s|
|Operating system||SteamOS 3.0|
|Display||7-inch, 1280 × 800 LCD, native 720p @ 60Hz
Docked: Up to 8k @ 60Hz or 4k @ 120Hz
|Sound||Stereo, headphone jack, digital output when docked|
1x USB-C port with USB 3.2 and DisplayPort 1.4
|Battery||40 Wh Lithium-ion battery|
|Dimensions||298 by 117 by 49 millimetres (11.7 in × 4.6 in × 1.9 in)|
|Mass||669 grams (1.475 lb)|
Can you install Windows and other stores on the Steam Deck?
The Steam Deck comes with SteamOS 3.0 preinstalled and you will be able to play your Steam games immediately after you log into your account.
With that being said, Valve states that the Steam Deck is a PC just like any other, and it is designed to be a completely open system with anyone being able to do whatever they want with it.
So the answer is yes, you will be able to install Windows, the Epic Games Store launcher, GOG Galaxy, or even use emulators to play games from consoles!
Can you use the Steam Deck as a normal PC?
Valve is currently designing a USB-C dock for the Steam Deck which will be sold separately. The dock comes with DisplayPort and HDMI output, an Ethernet adapter, and three USB inputs, which you can use to set up your monitor, internet, mouse, and keyboard, and you will have a regular desktop PC.
While Valve is creating their own dock, it is important to note that the dock will be sold separately, but you don't need to buy that one, you can buy and use any other USB-C dock available on the market.
How long is the battery life on the Steam Deck?
One of the most important aspects of any handheld system is the device's battery life, and how long it will last before you need to charge it again.
Most users plan to buy handheld gaming systems because they would like to play the game on the go, and that's why the device's battery life is crucial.
According to Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais: "It's about 2-8 hours, depending on what you're doing. You can play Portal 2 for four hours on this thing. If you limit it to 30 fps, you're going to be playing for 5-6 hours."
So, it all depends on how much power you want from your system and how demanding the game you are playing will be. We expect an hour and a half of playing max for the latest AAA games before you will need to charge the battery.
And there you have it, almost all the important details you will need to know about the Steam Deck. If you want to dive into even more details, we advise you to check the official Steam Deck website.