Scalpers are already selling the Steam Deck for over $1,000

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TechSpot 19 July, 2021 - 06:55am 6 views

Is Steam deck a PC?

Only this time, its Steam Machine dreams and unusual touchpads have been rolled into a 7-inch handheld PC that looks and works like a Nintendo Switch. It's called the Steam Deck, and you can read all about its specs, extensive controls and TV docking station right here. The VergeWhy the Steam Deck won’t flop like Valve’s Steam Machines

Following the Steam Deck announcement, Valve allowed consumers to preregister for the handheld by paying a $5 deposit that is applied to the final cost when the devices get closer to their shipping dates.

In addition to the reservation fee, the only people able to pre-order the Steam Deck within the first 48 hours of availability were those who had bought something on Steam before June 2021. The first shipments are scheduled to begin in December 2021, but the huge demand has seen Valve change the availability for new pre-orders

The $399/64GB base version of the Steam Deck will ship in Q1 2022 for new reservations. The $529/256GB model is expected in Q2 2022, and the $649/512GB variant is scheduled for Q3 2022.

With the change in shipping times for new orders, scalpers have been selling reservations for Steam Decks that will ship in December—even though Valve doesn’t guarantee they’ll be sent out during this month. There are even some eBay listings with vague “2022” dates.

The good news is that eBay told Kotaku the listings are being removed as they violate the website’s “Presale Policy,” which states all pre-sales items must ship within 30 days. There are only four Steam Decks on the site at the time of writing.

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Steam Deck: is it the Nintendo Switch for nerds?

The Guardian 20 July, 2021 - 11:00am

Announced on 16 July and due to launch in December, the Steam Deck features a 7in LCD touchscreen, an array of analogue and touch-pad controls, a gyroscope for motion detection, wifi connectivity and a base station so it can be hooked up to a monitor. Tech-wise, it’s built around a custom Zen 2 AMD processor, AMD RDNA 2 GPU and 16GB of memory. In a recent deep dive on the machine’s specs, Eurogamer found it compared to the Xbox Series S console in terms of performance.

But the real competitor Valve must be eyeing up is Nintendo’s Switch. The Switch has effectively cornered the handheld gaming market, with its clever combination of portable and home gaming possibilities, its library of excellent first-party games and its own digital store. Through titles such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Monster Hunter, it has sold us all on the idea of playing epic console games on the small screen.

But the Switch is a tightly controlled walled garden, with limited online functionality – and it would never run Microsoft Office. Valve is pushing Steam Deck as a fully capable handheld PC, with web browsing, streaming video and access to all your favourite productivity programs as well as games. It’ll even let you access rival digital stores, so you’re not locked into the Steam library. The two touchpads on the front are there to mimic mouse controls, but you can also plug a mouse in if you like, and the dock will allow an ethernet internet connection. Valve says to expect six to eight hours of battery life, but let’s see how it holds up with some of the more visually demanding titles.

Is that something PC gamers actually want to do? And haven’t we already had our fingers burned by Valve’s other experiment with small form factor PCs – the ill-fated Steam Machines? The answers seem to be yes to the first question and a loud no to the second. Already, the Deck has caused something of a stir. The preorder system completely imploded over the weekend, as interested purchasers were hit with error messages for hours. Naturally, scalpers have reacted quickly, offering confirmed preorder purchases on eBay for up to $4,000, although Valve has prevented the block buying of pre-order machines by only allowing orders from long-term Steam user accounts, and limiting customers to one preorder each.

Valve has been aggressive on the price point. The base edition is £349/$399 with 64GB storage, £459/$529 with 250GB SSD and £569/$649 with a 512GB SSD, so the cheapest model is comparable to the new OLED Switch, which is retailing at around £310. Valve chief Gabe Newell told IGN that getting this right was “painful” but “crucial”, and it feels as though they’ve got the correct balance of power and cost – although it’s doubtful the specs will be up to those needed to handle the very latest PC titles. Users are likely to accept lower-performance versions of new games for the convenience of playing on the go, but they’ll be relying on developers actually providing the option.

Newell has said in his video interview with IGN that he expects to sell millions of Steam Decks – and if the chaotic preorder process is anything to go by, there is certainly interest from a portion of Steam’s 120 million active users. And although Switch offers an extremely stable and user-friendly experience that Valve will struggle to replicate with its more open system, the user base for Steam Deck is likely to be much more tech savvy and proficient, and less likely to need or want the sort of hand-holding, gatekeeping presence offered by Nintendo.

The way games are going right now – utilising cloud servers and remote saves to divorce games from whatever device you play them on – Steam Deck seems very much like the right gadget at the right price point. In a world where people are just starting to get moving again, it also feels like very astute timing.

Turns out the Steam Deck's final spec is now more impressive than Valve first listed

PC Gamer 20 July, 2021 - 06:38am

Valve corrects the Steam Deck specs page, and its massive memory bandwidth is hugely important for its performance.

The raw speed that Valve is touting for its handheld console, 5,500MT/s, hasn't actually changed since it was announced, but as Twitter user Locuza rightly points out, something didn't add up with the initial LPDDR5 spec listed by Valve.

A discussion and curiosity is resolved now.Van Gogh, which is used by Valve's Steam Deck, has 4 UMCs.I expected 4x 16-Bit (a memory channel under LPDDR5 is actually 16-Bit wide). The official spec claimed 5.5 Gbps (dual-channel), which didn't made sense to me.It got corrected pic.twitter.com/orgzMKJldEJuly 19, 2021

The Steam Deck was first listed with dual-channel LPDDR5, however, that has now been corrected to quad-channel 32-bit LPDDR5. An important distinction, as this confirms the Steam Deck has a tremendous amount of bandwidth relative to its expected GPU performance.

Memory bandwidth is of particular importance for a device like the Steam Deck, and that comes down to Valve's choice of chip.

The Steam Deck is powered by an AMD APU—a slice of silicon containing both CPU and GPU—and if there's one thing that's incredibly useful for an APU, it's memory bandwidth. That's because both CPU and GPU share access to the same memory pool, thus doubling the demands on the memory component versus a conventional PC setup.

A desktop PC with a discrete graphics card needn't worry in quite the same way. While it's still important to have plenty of memory bandwidth available to your key components, it shares the burden across two dedicated pools of memory—today, that's most commonly DDR4 memory for the CPU and GDDR6 memory for the GPU.

So even more reason to be excited by the Steam Deck? Indeed, Valve's handheld device is shaping up to be an exciting device, and following this correction it appears even more a well-considered one.

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Valve boss confirms the Steam Deck SSD is upgradable

HEXUS 19 July, 2021 - 12:11pm

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaequs

It seems like many HEXUS readers were interested in the launch of the Valve Steam Deck. We have seen many a compact handheld PC in the news over recent years, and some crowdfunders fail to arrive, while some are very costly, so this well-engineered device priced from $399 has gained worthy attention. With any such announcement we are commonly left with some crucial questions unanswered which the designers can clear up ahead of third party reviews. Over the weekend, Valve responded to some of the most common queries regarding storage.

One of the hottest topics after the announcement was whether the Steam Deck would have upgradable storage. With the pretty hefty cost increases between models – 64Gb eMMC (£349) to 256GB NVMe SSD (£459) to 512GB NVMe SSD (£569) – it was natural to wonder if one could avoid the Apple-esque storage price uplift fees.

In an email shared on Reddit, it appears that Valve's Gabe Newell replied to one user to confirm that the Steam Deck SSD storage comes courtesy of a standard M.2 2230 slot. That is great news for buyers who might want to upgrade someday or are unfortunate enough to face an SSD failure.

A few caveats must be highlighted with regard to SSD upgrading. Firstly, the drive is an M.2 2230 device, very short compared to the more common M.2 2280 SSD form factor. Remember that this form factor features a 22mm wide key slot, with the length of the stick described by the remaining digits. Due to the more compact form, and being less common, M.2 2230 drives are more expensive for the same capacity as say an M.2 2280 drive. Also, higher capacities are harder to come by, with 512GB the max capacity I could find.

Secondly, the Steam Deck has been built, like many mobile devices, with user upgradability limited to inserting a microSD memory card. The official line is that the supplied SSD is "not intended for end-user replacement," and it is said to be not that easy to access – one must open the device and remove EMI and thermal shielding.

Another thing is that replacing the SSD would require you clone your existing SteamOS for transfer, or re-install it from scratch on the new drive, somehow.

Moving onto another popular question among the thrifty – Can you upgrade the $399 eMMC 64GB version with an SSD? Again, Gabe Newell replied to a Reddit user with a simple confirmation. I'm not sure if that means that you can add an M.2 2230 drive to boost the capacity of your 64GB eMMC machine, or Valve uses a 64GB eMMC on an M.2 stick on the lowest storage capacity Steam Deck - in which case it is another switcheroo job.

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