Steam Deck orders move to 2022. What to know about reservations for the Switch-like console

Technology

CNET 19 July, 2021 - 05:15pm 3 views

Is Steam Deck sold out?

All three Steam Deck SKUs are currently available for reservation, though they may not all have the same expected availability for final ordering. As of this moment, the $399 Steam Deck expects orders to be available in Q1 2022. The $529 Steam Deck has already sold out through Q1 for an expected Q2 2022 release. Game RantSteam Deck Reservations for 2021 Sell Out and Early 2022 is Going Quickly

It also seemingly wasn't enough to stop the scalpers, either. As many people missed out on the first lot of pre-orders – thought to despatch sometime in December 2021 – and may be waiting until as long as Q3 2022 for some Steam Deck models, sites like eBay are now full of auctions from those promising "December" or "Q1 2022" shipping. 

Tempted to pick one up? Don't be. There's no way these auctions can guarantee anything, as all the pre-order does is secure you a place in line for when Valve finally begins to ship the handheld device, which may – or may not – be December or Q1 2021.

There are three units to choose from, ranging in price from $399 / £349 to $649 / £569 with improved specs to match. The handheld console uses a custom AMD Zen 2 APU to run it, with a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, and 16GB of Ram - which Valve says can comfortably "run the latest AAA games". It also has a battery life of two to eight hours depending on how demanding your gameplay session is and features a USB-C dock to connect it to external displays with up to 4K or 8K output. 

Those who manage to get their hands on the console will also get a protective carry case for it, with the largest model also featuring an anti-glare etched glass screen. 

The best TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X: get the best experience on next gen consoles

The best 16 board games for kids - fun at home for everyone

Thank you for signing up to GamesRadar+. You will receive a verification email shortly.

There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.

GamesRadar+ is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site.

© Future Publishing Australia ABN: 96 734 906 323 | PO Box 1077, Mount St, North Sydney NSW 2059.

Read full article at CNET

Do you think the Steam Deck will be a success?

PC Gamer 21 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

Release the woodgrain model and we'll see.

Valve has announced its own handheld device, the Steam Deck, which is a very William Gibson thing to call it. Were you tempted to slap a $5 deposit down? What do you think the odds are of it doing well? Maybe there are enough people out there with kids who hog their Switch, or who want to play indie games on the go without paying the Nintendo mark-up, or need more ways to chip through their backlog of PC games. Or maybe this will be another abandoned Valve experiment, like the Steam Machine or Gordon Freeman.

Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.

Robin Valentine: Honestly, no matter how strong the pitch, I think you've got to be skeptical at this point about Valve hardware releases. We've been down this road before, with Steam Boxes, Steam Controllers, Steam Link, etc. The ideas are always interesting and compelling, but their ambition seems to outstrip their capabilities more often than not. I hope it's great—I love using my Switch handheld, and if I could basically have that but with access to loads of games I already own, that's appealing. But I think it'd be foolhardy to preorder. Wait and see, is my philosophy.

Dave James: That's going to depend on the parameters for success you lay out for the Steam Deck. If your measure of success is Valve having a massive backlog of pre-orders, then the answer is definitely a yes. The chip shortage is going to inevitably mean the pre-order queue moves slowly and with Valve unlikely to divulge exact numbers of sales you can bet the fact it's perpetually out of stock will make it look successful. 

A more meaningful measure of the Deck's success will be whether it becomes the jumping off point for the industry in creating more Deck-a-like handheld gaming PCs running Valve's bespoke version of SteamOS. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and all that. But whether it will be a genuine success on that front, I'm less sure. I can see super-expensive, premium versions coming in 2022 from the likes of Asus, Alienware, and MSI, but I'm not convinced those will be iterated upon any further than version one.

Whether Valve makes a Steam Deck 2.0 will also be some measure of success too. And I'm yet to be convinced of the likelihood of that either.

Andy Chalk: Nope. I mean, the entire pitch is literally, "Everything you can already do on your PC, but shittier!" The screen is small, the storage is minuscule, the controls are barf (although I have to admit that I don't like controllers, so I'm not entirely without bias on that one), and for a handheld unit, it's pretty damn big and heavy. Is that really how you want to play your PC games? Or are you just dazzled by that ol' Valve magic—which, I will gently remind you, has literally never paid off for hardware?

As others have pointed out, "success" can mean a lot of different things, and I'm sure the Steam Deck will be a fine piece of technology. Obviously there's some demand for it, although we have no idea of numbers at this point. But will it usher in a new era of portable PC gaming? I don't think so. I expect it'll be the opposite: An expensive reminder that PC gaming is really best on a PC.

Jody Macgregor: People sure do seem interested in pre-ordering the shit out of the Steam Deck. I haven't put money down myself, but I see the value in something more convenient than my gaming laptop, which runs too hot to use without a cooling pad beneath it and needs to be plugged in to get a decent framerate.

Alm: I am tempted. I think I'll put £4 down and keep my eye on how hardware reviews develop. I watched a hands-on with IGN on YouTube and it was pretty positive in the main. I can't afford an AYA Neo but this is just as good for me at nearly half the price. And having hundreds of my games on Steam makes this potentially trump my Switch.

To answer the original question: I think it will be popular, but might end up being a niche device. I don't see it competing with Switch/Playstation/Xbox in a meaningful way. I could be wrong though.

Colif: The biggest obstacle for new consoles is normally games. Steam might have that covered so its a possibility its will succeed. I don't need a hand held PC just for gaming but its another thing people want without ever touching.

Kaamos_Llama: People have been waiting for a more powerful Switch for a while. Its a great little system but its starting to struggle with even some newer indies, I heard Boomerang X isn't great on Switch and Hyrule Warriors ran badly. Even Zelda BOW was running pretty framey 3/4 years ago.

Personally I need a new tablet, I've been using my Switch mostly as a Youtube device recently and its annoying I can't stream Netflix or Prime to it. If this also allows me to play games when I'm travelling like the Switch, and I don't have to buy anything specifically for it, then it makes a lot of sense for me.

DXCHASE: Its gonna be successful at selling out and then taking forever to be restocked.

ZedClampet: I think this will be a huge success. Even if you didn't want to play on the go (or in bed, etc), you could buy it and hook it up to your monitor, keyboard, and other devices, creating a decent desktop PC (based on Steam hardware surveys, many people are gaming on low end PC's anyway). It's going to be the cheapest way to get into PC gaming and seems to have the power and price point to be a legitimate option for everyone. This could potentially mean many more PC gamers, which would have an enormous positive impact on PC gaming as a whole.

One other thing: If it ever becomes available in Japan, I think it could be a huge hit there, where PC gaming barely registers now, but handhelds are all the rage. Getting a foothold in Japan would be great, not only for the financial health of the PC gaming ecosystem, but also for the breadth of games available on PC. While PC is already the go-to platform for game variety, encouraging Japanese developers to port more of their games to PC would be great for all of us gamers.

As for whether I'm tempted to put $5 down to reserve one, yes I am, but the hardware shortage and doubts about how many will actually be available in December are kind of working to hold back my enthusiasm. I'd rather wait until I can hop onto Steam and just buy one and have it shipped immediately.

mainer: I think it could be very successful, especially in Japan as ZedClampet mentioned, but the big thing will be availability. Will they be able to produce & ship enough to keep up with the orders? That could be huge. Is it going to be a similar situation like the Nvidia RTX cards: great technology but very few people can actually buy one? A situation like that would certainly limit its success.

Brian Boru: As a few have said, availability of the whole Steam—and every other PC games retailer—library will be this device's 'killer app'. So the main issue, as others also said, is supply—if they can get a good number on the table early December, then it'll be a holiday smash. Otherwise, a painful wait.

The basic storage is low—256GB might get you 2 AAA titles on board. 512 helps, but they really should have a 1TB option as well.

This can only help PC gaming, so I wish it every success.

Johnway: The premise is interesting enough; your steam game collection on the go with the ability to upscale when at home etc. It worked for the Nintendo Switch so will it work here? To be brutally honest I doubt it. My main doubt is perhaps the hardware itself, game specs increase constantly and will this thing obsolete very quickly. But then again, you are playing on a smaller screen so that might work in its favor to keep things low. But on the other hand, the basic/mid tier model 64/256 gb disk space is pretty worthless if I want to play modern games that have 100gb+ as standard... But for now, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. If Steam/devs work their magic and somehow get most/all of the games running on the deck for several years then great.

flashn00b: I'm pretty sure I've mentioned how John Carmack criticized the Steam Machines' usage of Linux, and how he was proven right when they launched and failed. With the failure of the Steam Machines in mind, I doubt the average consumer would see Proton running Windows games on Linux, but rather a Linux box with no games if you look at the Steam Linux library. To those people, going for the more convenient Nintendo Switch would be the better option for them than to jump through the hoops and sweat bullets over the removal of SteamOS in favour of Windows

I think it'd do well for Valve to provide developers with an up-front monetary incentive to port those games so those that are even vaguely interested in the system would have zero risk when making those games for the Steam Deck. Reason that's important is that if they're to make games for the Steam Deck and it goes belly up, the developers will be punished for it rather than Valve. I also would like to think that Valve should approach Japanese developers into porting their console games to SteamOS so as to help sell the Steam Deck as a Switch Pro model from an alternate universe. Stuff like Rune Factory 5, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles or even games that are only on the PS4 and/or Xbox One but not on PC could help push that point forward

Hey folks, beloved mascot Coconut Monkey here representing the collective PC Gamer editorial team, who worked together to write this article!

Thank you for signing up to PC Gamer. You will receive a verification email shortly.

There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.

© Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036.

Steam Deck Will Work To Avoid Joystick Drift, According To Valve

Screen Rant 21 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

On July 15, Valve officially announced Steam Deck, a handheld PC that runs a custom Steam OS. Not only does the machine have a substantial amount of power behind its seven-inch screen (roughly two teraflops of APU combined power), the 720p resolution allows the system to take full advantage of the power it has. The Steam Deck features triggers, bumpers, back buttons, face buttons, thumbsticks, a D-pad, trackpads, a touch screen, and a number of ports that allow output to displays, as well as mouse and keyboard support. In short, the Steam Deck can do just about everything a normal PC can do while also acting as a portable system. Steam Deck's status as a hybrid handheld begs the question of whether the notorious Joy-Con drift that plagues the Nintendo Switch will also affect Valve's upcoming system.

IGN pressed Valve on the issue of stick drift during a recent Steam Deck hardware deep-dive. When asked whether stick drift was considered when designing the system, hardware engineer Yazan Aldehyyat noted that a lot of reliability testing had been done across a number of environmental conditions. Before pointing out that all parts of a system will eventually fail with time, Aldehyyat said, "I think we feel that this will perform really well. And I think people will be super happy with it. I think that it's going to be a great buy." In regards to parts, designer John Ikeda pointed out, "We purposely picked something that we knew the performance of, right? We didn't want to take a risk on that, right? As I'm sure our customers don't want us to take a risk on that either."

It would be a huge win for the handheld space, and gaming in general, if Valve can effectively avoid stick drift in its Steam Deck. Unfortunately, gamers ready to try out the handheld for themselves will have to wait. The Steam Deck launches in December 2021, but much like the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, supply will be constrained for some time to come, and scalpers are already moving to capitalize on the Steam Deck.

Source: IGN

Steam Deck resellers are being removed from eBay for breaking website policy

Dot Esports 21 July, 2021 - 02:00pm

Online marketplace eBay will take down listings for Valve’s Steam Deck handheld device because the practice violates the website’s Presale Policy, the company told Kotaku. Scalpers were listing various models of the device on eBay just hours after official reservations went live.

Users experienced widespread issues and errors with the Steam Deck pre-registration yesterday due to the significant number of customers trying to lock in a spot. The offering was just an early registration for Valve to gauge a user’s interest in actually purchasing the handheld PC, not an actual pre-order.

Valve required users to put down a $5 registration fee to try and lessen the potential for scalpers to get too many reservations, and the company aims to send out purchase invitations to registered users and begin shipping units in December 2021. 

This means that the resellers on eBay are not only listing all three variants of the Steam Deck for more than Valve is selling them, but a majority of them are calling them “confirmed orders” when Valve’s own FAQ for the product notes that it can’t confirm availability yet. 

Consequently, these accounts are violating eBay’s Presale Policy, which specifically notes that all pre-sale items listed on the website must ship within 30 days. Even if Valve did ensure that everyone who put down a reservation would be able to order their Steam Deck at the same time, the devices won’t ship until at least December and the listings would continue to break the policy. 

As a result, eBay confirmed to Kotaku that these listings would be removed, and this could lead to lowered seller ratings, selling restrictions, and potential account suspensions for the resellers. 

At the time of writing, eBay has already removed a majority of the Steam Deck listings. New listings, however, continue to appear on the website. 

You can still put your own reservation down for all three Steam Deck models via Steam, though the website now has the earliest shipping for new reservations at Q2 2022 for the 64 GB and 256 GB versions, while the premium 512 GB version is listed for Q3 2022.

Steam Deck: Everything we know about Valve's new handheld gaming device

PC Gamer 20 July, 2021 - 11:52am

Valve is getting into the handheld gaming business. Here's the scoop on the new Steam Deck.

That's because it's not a games console, it's really a portable PC. You can plug it into a monitor or a TV, install apps and software, use it to watch streaming video, and more—even install other game stores on it, according to Valve. The Steam Deck will run on a new version of SteamOS, Valve's Linux-based operating system, though you'll be able to play Windows games that don't have official Linux support using Valve's compatibility tech, Proton, or even uninstall SteamOS and just install Windows.

Here's everything we know about the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck will begin shipping in December 2021.

However, that doesn't mean if you reserved one you'll receive it this year, as the Steam Deck site is now showing "expected order availability" in Q1 of 2022 for the 64GB version, Q2 2022 for the 256GB version, and Q3 2022 for the 512GB version. This may vary depending on your region, however. We'll update when we know more. 

Currently a Steam Deck can be reserved if you put down a $5 deposit, though Steam's servers were immediately overwhelmed when the reservation page went online. Customers trying to reserve a Steam Deck were faced with timeouts and error messages, and some who tried multiple times were told they would face a delay before they could try again for attempting to make "a lot of purchases in the last few hours."

Others are seeing messages that their Steam accounts have been created too recently to reserve a Steam Deck, though many seeing this message say they've had their Steam accounts for years (including some staff members of PC Gamer).

This error is related to the efforts Valve made to prevent people from ordering multiple Steam Decks and then reselling them, as we've seen happen with GPUs, PS5s, and other new hardware. New accounts can only reserve a Steam Deck starting on Sunday, July 18.

Some, however, including a couple of us here at PC Gamer, managed to reserve a Steam Deck about thirty minutes after the reservations went live.

The $5 deposit will go toward the cost of the Steam Deck if you do decide to order one, though it'll be refunded if you change your mind and decide to cancel.

"When inventory is available, customers will be notified in the order reservations were made to make their purchase," says Valve.

The Steam Deck is currently only available to reserve for the US, UK, Canada and the European Union. The first Steam Decks reserved will ship in December, but the expected fulfillment date has pushed into 2022 as reservations stack up.

The price of the Steam Deck depends on which version you want, and there are three different versions based on storage size. The Steam Deck costs:

The more expensive versions of the Steam Deck feature faster NVMe SSD storage, while the cheaper is listed with a 64GB eMMC (embedded multi-media card) storage solution. All three versions will let you increase storage space with a MicroSD card, at least.

If you plan to upgrade the storage, you'll likely want to spend a bit more cash on a faster MicroSD card for quicker loading times. We're not sure how expansion storage will work on the device just yet, but some MicroSD cards are going to feel extremely slow next to a super-fast SSD.

The Steam Deck specifications were revealed by Valve alongside the console itself, which means we know all about what lies beneath the console's 7-inch screen.

The most important thing to note for PC gamers is that the Steam Deck runs on an AMD APU, and one we're yet to see elsewhere. This chip is built around two key AMD architectures: Zen 2 and RDNA 2.

The Zen 2 architecture is the same one found within AMD Ryzen 3000 processors, and within the Steam Deck reside four Zen 2 cores, capable of eight threads, ready and waiting for your portable gaming needs.

The RDNA 2 architecture is behind the handheld PC's graphical grunt. The Steam Deck comes with 8 Compute Units (CUs) for a total of 512 cores. That's not a massive amount—the Xbox Series S comes with 20 RDNA 2 CUs—but it appears enough to get by at 720p without too much hassle.

As mentioned before, there are three different storage configurations for the Steam Deck: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. 

Ideally, we'd all pick up the 512GB model. Games are big and anything smaller than that is going to feel a tight squeeze. It's also kitted out with a speedy NVMe SSD, which allows for bandwidth upwards of 3,000MB/s. That really depends on Valve's choice of SSD, however. Speeds vary quite a lot between drives. 

The 256GB model is similarly quick, and would be a suitable pick for those willing to put up with slightly less storage space.

As for the 64GB model, we're not quite as convinced. It's built using an eMMC drive, which won't match an NVMe SSD in terms of speed, but most of all its slim capacity is almost unimaginable for a gaming PC. Perhaps as an indie machine, but then you might be better off buying a Nintendo Switch.

All three offer MicroSD for further expansion, and we suspect the faster the MicroSD, the better for optimal game load times.

Valve's decided upon a 1280 x 800 display through which you'll enjoy your games on-the-go. A 60Hz LCD panel with 400-nits brightness, there's not a great deal to write home about in regards to the Steam Deck's touchscreen. However, seeing as it's only 7-inches big, its shortcomings may not be as immediately noticeable as one of the best gaming monitors.

Lastly, Valve recently corrected the RAM specification for the Stream Deck, actually improving the memory specification beyond what it had first announced. We're now looking at 16GB of quad-channel LPDDR5 at 5,500MT/s, instead of the dual-channel RAM that was first listed. That's a big deal for an APU-powered machine like this—the more memory bandwidth, the merrier.

If you head to the Steam Deck store page on the account which you made your Steam Deck reservation, you will find an expected order availability listed beneath the cancel button (don't press this).

A word of warning, however: a few members of the PC Gamer team with reservations are yet to see an order availability update on the store page. We expect updates over the course of the next few days, so sit tight.

A bit, yes. For comparison, the Nintendo Switch (standard version) is 9.4" x 4" x .55" and weighs just under a pound. So the Steam Deck is a couple inches wider, half an inch taller taller, considerably thicker and a bit heavier than the Switch.

Well, yeah. Battery life doesn't sound especially stellar, with Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais telling IGN: "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."

That's not a heck of a long time for gaming without the device needing to be plugged in or recharged, and more demanding games will take a bigger toll on the battery than 2011's Portal 2. That could be a real issue if you want to take your Deck with you while traveling or if you're away from an electrical outlet for a while.

There is a dock, but it's sold separately. Like the Switch, there's a dock for the Steam Deck that will allow you to connect it to your TV or a monitor. The USB-C dock will provide DisplayPort and HDMI output, an Ethernet adapter, and three USB inputs.

The dock doesn't come with the Steam Deck, though. Valve hasn't yet revealed how much the dock will cost or when it'll be available to order.

You can—potentially a lot more. Just like your PC, the Steam Deck is intended to be an open platform. You can install Windows on a Steam Deck and even install other game storefronts like the Epic Store (you probably have a pile of free games in that library) or Xbox Game Pass. We just don't really know how well non-Steam games will work on the Steam Deck, but it's an exciting idea that you might be able to play games from your other libraries on the Steam Deck, too.

You can even wipe SteamOS off the Steam Deck completely and just use it to run Windows, according to IGN, who got some hands-on time with the device. Pierre-Loup Griffais told IGN the Steam Deck "can pretty much run anything you can run on a PC."

"We don't think people should be locked into a certain direction or a certain set of software that they can install,” Valve designer Lawrence Yang said. “If you buy a Steam Deck, it's a PC. You can install whatever you want on it, you can attach any peripherals you want to it."

You might even be able to get VR working with the Steam Deck, though "that's not really what we're optimizing the performance for," Griffais told IGN.

If all that isn't enough information for you, you can visit the official Steam Deck website here

Thank you for signing up to PC Gamer. You will receive a verification email shortly.

There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.

© Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036.

6 questions you should ask before reserving a Steam Deck

CNET 19 July, 2021 - 12:29pm

There's still a lot to know about the Steam Deck.

Although it's not set to release until December, the Steam Deck is already a hot commodity. Valve introduced its Nintendo Switch-like portable PC gaming device on Thursday, and on Friday, its site was bombarded by people trying to snag reservations

Since this was a surprise announcement by Valve, there are still a lot of questions about the device. We're here to answer some of those questions you might have. 

Valve says the Steam Deck battery will last for seven to eight hours, depending on what games you play. More graphics-intensive games require more power, especially if they're set at a higher graphics setting.

The game Portal 2, for example, can be played for four hours at 60 frames per second. But if you drop the FPS down to 30, it'll last for six hours, according to Valve. 

How long the battery will last for nongaming activities is still unknown. 

We're also unsure if it will support the largest microSD cards out there, such as a 1TB card, which can cost almost $200

Thanks to Bluetooth, a variety of devices can work with the Steam Deck. These include Bluetooth controllers and earbuds, to name just a couple. 

The Steam Deck can actually go up to 8K through its USB-C port. It supports 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz.

Sure. The Steam Deck is itself a portable PC. It uses Valve's SteamOS, which is based on Linux, so if you're familiar with that system you can jump right into using it as a PC. 

If you aren't familiar with Linux, Valve says you can install Windows. But it's not yet clear whether the Windows experience on a Steam Deck will be the same as it is on your desktop or laptop.  

This depends on whether you want to put your money behind a company that's done amazing things with its software but has made some questionable decisions with its hardware. 

In 2014, Valve revealed it was getting into the hardware business with its Steam Machines. Excitement for the Steam-focused gaming devices was initially high but petered out when it became clear they would only come with SteamOS and not the typical Windows operating system, thus making the devices unable to play even the newest games because they weren't compatible with the operating system. 

With the Steam Machine came the Steam Controller, a customizable controller that could work with a variety of games, but it had a steep learning curve, making it unpopular among gamers. In 2019, Valve sold the Steam Controller for just $5 during one of its sales, seemingly to clear out its inventory. 

Steam Link was another device from Valve that was designed to stream computer games to your TV. While it did work, a gaming PC still had to be part of the equation, and there was an issue with input lag. Valve eventually replaced the hardware with its Steam Link app, but it's still not the smoothest experience. 

While Valve's track record might not be ideal, portable gaming devices are of interest to hardware companies, thanks to the success of the Nintendo Switch. The Razer Edge and Nvidia Shield were the first attempts at this design back in 2013. Last year, Dell tried its hand with the Alienware Concept UFO prototype

Considering the Steam Deck reservation platform bogged down Valve's site when it first went live, there is a clear demand for portable gaming devices to play PC games. 

Steam Deck: everything we know about Valve's handheld PC

TechRadar 19 July, 2021 - 05:25am

Valve's portable PC is real, and it's called the Steam Deck

News originally surfaced that the company behind Half-Life was secretly developing a dedicated handheld device back in April. Dubbed the “SteamPal”, which was also previously known by the codename Neptune, Ars Technica were the first to break the news about Valve's portable PC gaming device which we now know is real.

At a glance, the Steam Deck is an all-in-one portable PC gaming device that brings the features and games you love from Steam and packs it into a new powerful and convenient form factor that you can take with you wherever you go. It runs a modified version of Valve's SteamOS, complete with a console-like interface, and has 7-inch LCD screen. 

Much like the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck can also be docked and output to a TV or monitor using its USB Type-C port. Valve plans to sell its own dock separately at a later date, but you can use existing USB Type-C docks without worry. 

The Steam Deck is set to release in December 2021, and costs $399 / £349 for the base model that comes with 64GB of eMMC internal storage and a carrying case.

The mid-range option costs $529 / £459 and includes a 256GB NVMe SSD inside for faster storage, a carrying case and an exclusive Steam Community profile bundle.

Finally, the highest tier option costs $649 / £569 and includes 512GB of NVMe SSD internal storage, premium anti-glare etched glass, an exclusive carrying case, exclusive Steam Community profile bundle, and an exclusive virtual keyboard theme. 

All three consoles storage can be expanded thanks to a microSD card slot, which supports SD, SDXC and SDHC formats.

Steam Deck pre-orders opened on July 16, at 10am PDT / 6pm BST / 7pm CEST. You had to put down a $5 / £4 deposit to reserve your console, and orders were placed from the Steam Store. Unfortunately, many users were unable to reserve a console in time for December 2021 as Steam was flooded with people trying to place their order. It means that a lot of pre-orders will arrive during Q1 or Q2 of 2022, much to the irritation of many.

We expected the Steam Deck to be sold at a higher price tag than the Nintendo Switch, which retails for $299 / £279.99 / AU$469, but it's even more expensive than the new Nintendo Switch OLED, which retails for $349 / £309. 

Valve's Gabe Newell said the company found hitting Steam Deck price "painful" but "critical" in an interview with IGN. Newell told IGN about the need to be "very aggressive" in terms of pricing, and said that the top priority was to make sure that PC players are able to pick up the Steam Deck and feel like it works perfectly.

"I want to pick this up and say, oh, it all works. It's all fast. It's all... and then price point was secondary and painful. But that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it," Newell said. "But the first thing was the performance and the experience, [that] was the biggest and most fundamental constraint that was driving this."

The Steam Deck may look rather ungainly, but Valve says it's been designed for comfortable, extended play sessions, and it has full-fidelity control so you can play your favorite games without any compromises.

The Steam Deck features "best-in-class" thumbsticks with capacitive touch sensors built-in, which Valve says will provide "a level of precision and comfort not found on other portable gaming devices". Unlike the Switch, the controllers can not be removed from the display like the Joy-Con. It means the Steam Deck is more akin to the Nintendo Switch Lite in this regard. 

You'll notice that the Steam Deck also includes two trackpads, which means users will have mouse-like control in games that don't play nice with a gamepad. Valve says these pads are similar to those found on its now discontinued Steam Controller, so expect some haptic feedback and general improvements over the trackpads of old.

Along with the usual triggers on the back of the device, which are pleasing analog unlike the Nintendo Switch's digital triggers, the Steam Deck also includes Grip buttons, which will provide extra input options right at your fingertips. If you've ever used a "Pro" controller, you'll understand how useful these extra buttons can be.

Valve's portable device features a 7-inch LCD touchscreen, and even includes gyro controls, so you can fine-tune your aim by physically positioning the device and achieve more precision than using a thumbstick or trackpad alone. 

The Steam Deck also lets you suspend and resume games by pressing the power button to put the device into sleep mode, just like the Nintendo Switch. You can only suspend one game at a time, however, so don't expect something like Xbox Series X's Quick Resume feature that lets you suspend multiple games at a time.

In terms of other features, the Steam Deck has expandable storage thanks to a microSD card slot, includes two stereo speakers, onboard dual microphones, and the battery life is predicted to last between two to eight hours, depending on the games you are playing.

As the Steam Deck is basically a PC with a gamepad attached, you can choose to install PC software, browse the web, watch streaming video and even complete productivity tasks. You can even install games from other stores, if you like.

Of course, the Steam Deck comes with all the Steam features you'd expect. It supports Steam Chat, Remote Play, notifications, the entire Steam Store experience, Cloud Saves and access to the Steam Community. It runs a new Steam operating system that is optimized for a handheld gaming experience, too, so it should feel intuitive to use.

What's inside the Steam Deck? Valve's portable PC promises to run the latest AAA games, and run them really well. Here's a full breakdown of the Steam Deck's internal specs:

As the Steam Deck is powered by a custom APU using AMD Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures, it means that while the Steam Deck should be able to comfortably play most games, you'll probably be limited to medium settings at its native 1280x800 resolution in the most demanding of titles.

We've seen footage of the Steam Deck from playing indie classics like Stardew Valley to graphical intensity games like Star Wars: A Fallen Order and Death Stranding, the latter of which wouldn't be possible on the Switch without some serious cutbacks.

The Steam Deck is significantly more powerful than the Nintendo Switch, which means it's a bit bigger as a result. We also expect the fan to be slightly more audible than on the Switch, which is usually whisper quiet. 

The Steam Deck isn't the first portable PC we've seen enter the hardware space – the likes of Onexplayer have shown that it can be done. However, Valve's handheld promises to deliver a more refined and optimized experience than previous attempts from other manufacturers.

It's this focus that makes the Steam Deck a genuine competitor to the Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite and recently announced Nintendo Switch OLED. With a price differential of $50, consumers will now have a big decision to make when it comes to which portable console they want to buy this Christmas, as the Steam Deck has some big plus points over Nintendo's system.

First of all, having access to Steam and your existing library of games means that PC owners who pick up a Steam Deck could potentially have hundreds of games to play from day one. The Steam Deck is also far more capable in terms of hardware than the Switch, which means you can run AAA games, and achieve higher framerates and consistently hit the 720p resolution target.

The Steam Store is also a far more appealing proposition than the Nintendo Switch eShop. While Switch games have a tendency to be overpriced, Steam is notorious for its enticing discounts and deals, so even if the console itself costs more on day one, there's a good chance you'll save in the long run.

Much like the Nintendo Switch and Switch OLED, the Steam Deck can also be docked, allowing you to output the display to a TV or monitor. However, it's far more flexible than the Switch, as it's for all intents and purposes a portable PC. That means you can attach any peripheral you like, install a new OS and browse the web. You could even use the Steam Deck to complete productivity tasks.

There's some added value, then, and while you lose the ability to start a spontaneous multiplayer session like you can on the Switch, the Steam Deck seems like a device that will instantly appeal to Switch owners who have been craving a Nintendo Switch Pro.

It's worth noting that the Nintendo Switch OLED will come with a more vibrant display than the Steam Deck's 7-inch LCD screen, but until we see the Steam Deck in person, it's hard to say just how nice Valve's chosen display performs. 

As it stands, Valve's Steam Deck won't be able to run every single title from the Steam Store. In fact, the Steam Deck won't be able to run Destiny, Apex Legends, PUBG or Rainbow Six Siege, which are extremely popular in the PC gaming space.

The reason why is because the Steam Deck is a Linux-based system. This means that not every game is compatible, particularly ones that use anti-cheat software. Valve developed a feature called Proton, which is designed to combat this problem, but the company is looking into "improving Proton's game compatibility and support for anti-cheat solutions by working directly with the vendors". 

Of course, while SteamOS might sound slightly restrictive based on this information, it's important to clarify that Valve has said you could literally install Windows if you wanted to. However, we wouldn't be surprised if these issues are ironed out before the handheld's release in December.

How does the Steam Deck stack up to Nintendo's trio of Switch models when it comes to price? Remember that all Steam Deck purchases come with a free case, and the high end 512GB model includes premium anti-glare etched glass. Both the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch come with expandable storage via a microSD slot.

Valve's Steam Deck looks like it will provide stern competition for Nintendo's Switch, then, and could be a viable alternative for those looking to pickup a hybrid device that can also function as a desktop gaming PC, albeit at the cost of graphical performance.

In an interview with IGN, Valve hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat said that the team has “done a ton of testing on reliability,” in terms of the handheld’s inputs and that they chose hardware that had well-known performance records. “We didn’t want to take a risk on that, right?” Aldehayyat said. “As I’m sure our customers don’t want us to take a risk on that either.”

Still, the possibility could be there, which might encourage more people to pick the 64GB or 256GB models if they know they can expand in the future. 

Thank you for signing up to TechRadar. You will receive a verification email shortly.

There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.

© Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036.

Technology Stories