Steam Deck Specs: How the Nintendo Switch Compares to Valve's Handheld Gaming PC

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IGN 20 July, 2021 - 01:03pm 20 views

Is Steam Deck sold out?

The Steam Deck, a Nintendo Switch competitor determined to dominate the handheld gaming world, is already selling like hotcakes. The most expensive configuration, packed with 512GB of storage, won't be available until early 2023. Laptop MagSteam Deck is sold out — the priciest model won't ship until 2023

When will the steam deck be available?

Introducing Steam Deck: powerful, portable PC gaming starting at $399. Designed by Valve, powered by Steam. Shipping December 2021. On the updated Steam Deck reservation page, orders for the 64GB and 512 versions are listed to be available in Q2 2022, while the 256GB is listed as Q1 2022. CNETSteam Deck orders move to 2022. What to know about reservations for the Switch-like console

At first glance, the design bears some resemblance to the Nintendo Switch, a handheld home gaming console that currently has a third model refresh on the way. Yet despite sharing a similar concept – a handheld device that also allows you to connect to a TV or monitor – the two devices have drastic differences on both the inside and outside.

To get a better understanding of what you can expect from both of these gadgets, and maybe figure out for some which device is the better investment for you, let’s take a look at the specs and go over some standout differences between the current flagship Switch model and the Steam Deck:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: when in handheld mode, both the Steam Deck and Switch have touchscreens that do not produce a 1080p resolution. The Steam Deck features an 800p touchscreen, while the Nintendo Switch includes a 720p display. The resolutions for both consoles increase when connected to their individual docks using a USB-C. Both docks also include a LAN port that enables you to establish a wired internet connection (although this is only present on the newest version of the Switch dock).

The Steam Deck will have an official docking station, but it will not be included with the handheld and it will not be available at launch. However, there is some flexibility, as you can use any standard USB-C hub to connect the Steam Deck to a TV or monitor to mimic more of a traditional gaming PC or laptop.

But when both are docked to a compatible docking station, the resolution does increase. Valve’s handheld can theoretically produce up to 8K resolutions at 60Hz or 4K at up to 120Hz. In comparison, the Nintendo Switch produces up to 1080p at 60Hz.

Let’s compare the screens on the flagship models for both the Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch: all the Steam Deck models include an LCD screen, but the flagship $649 model includes a “premium” anti-glare-etched glass, meaning players can focus on what’s being displayed on the screen and not what is reflecting off the screen like say, a fingerprint.

The Switch OLED, for its part, strays away from the other two Switch models, replacing the LCD with an OLED display, meaning it will have better contrast, deeper blacks, and increased brightness than its predecessors.

The Steam Deck is simple: it is an affordable gaming PC in an age where building or upgrading PC parts is quite expensive due to expensive modern GPUs, a problem exacerbated by the ongoing global chip shortage. It runs a modified version of SteamOS that is built on Proton, a version of Linux that is capable of running Windows and Linux apps and games – but as we mentioned in our hands-on, you can do a fresh installation of Windows if that’s your preference. In contrast, the Nintendo Switch has a custom operating system used exclusively for the console, with no customizability offered.

There are three configurations available for the Steam Deck; each offers different storage solutions, but all other internal components remain the same. The entry-level $399 model gets you 64GB of Embedded MultiMediaCard [eMMC] storage, while the other two include Non-Volatile Memory Express [NVMe] storage: one priced at $529 with 246GB and the flagship, which includes 512GB. With that in mind, there is a possibility that load times and game installations will likely be slower on the entry-level model, but Valve claims performance for all three models will not be impacted, no matter which configuration you chose to buy.

The standard Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite models include 32GB of eMMC internal storage and the OLED model includes 64GB of internal eMMC storage, just like the entry-level Steam Deck. With no other internal storage configurations beyond 64GB currently available on Nintendo’s console.

The Steam Deck and Switch each also support MicroSD cards for additional storage. This is especially welcome on the base Steam Deck model, which is otherwise stuck supporting PC games with just 64GB of memory.

While we can’t yet do a direct size comparison, the dimensions for both tell us what we need to know: The Steam Deck is noticeably bigger and wider than the Switch, with its length 2.2 inches longer than the OLED model and standing 0.2 inches taller than the upcoming hardware refresh. The Steam Deck has thicker bezels than most electronics in 2021, including the OLED, and the Steam Deck has a bigger outside frame compared to the newest Switch model.

At 1.47 pounds, the Steam Deck weighs more than the Nintendo Switch, with the Switch OLED model weighing 0.93 pounds with Joy-Cons attached to the display. While 1.47lbs is not extremely heavy, it is noticeably heavier than any Nintendo Switch model, and hand fatigue could be a bigger issue for Steam Deck owners.

Taking a closer look at the parts found inside the Steam Deck, it is much more capable than the Switch. Firstly, the CPU is an AMD APU with four cores and eight threads; it uses the Zen 2 architecture (which the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 use), in addition to Ryzen 3000 desktop computer processors. The Steam Deck also includes the same graphical architecture as the ninth-generation gaming consoles, powered by an AMD RDNA 2, meaning it will support hardware-based ray tracing.

Since the Steam Deck is first and foremost a portable device, it does not use desktop memory. Instead, it has 16GB of LPDDR, which consumes less power and is aimed at mobile computing devices, such as laptops, tablets, or even mobile phones.

It is important to note that some of the hardware in the Steam Deck more closely resembles the PS4 and Xbox One than the Series X/S and PS5 – especially when you consider that the SSDs in the two more expensive models use NVMe Gen 3 SSDs instead of the Gen 4 found in new-gen gaming hardware.

Using AMD architecture also means that the Steam Deck supports FidelityFX Super Resolution, AMD’s open-source supersampling technology. This allows it to offer four different settings that prioritize either performance or visual fidelity.

Since 2017, the Nintendo Switch’s specs have remained the same, including the upcoming Switch OLED, all of which have the Nvidia Tegra X1 mobile chipset. The custom Tegra processor is ARM-based while the graphics use the Maxwell architecture, which was used most notably in Nvidia desktop GPUs such as the GeForce 900 cards. Looking closely at the CPU and GPU the Switch uses, it is clear that the Switch is not the biggest graphical powerhouse, and that’s shown clearly in AAA games ported to the console.

There have also been instances where Switch ports do not always launch alongside other versions of the game, such as Doom Eternal. Even some of the biggest games of the last few years like Control and Hitman 3, while playable on Switch, cannot run natively on the console and instead are streamed through the cloud to accommodate the hardware limitations.

In terms of built-in controller hardware, the Steam Deck has a lot more going on. While it doesn’t have detachable controllers or a kickstand – making it a bit more limited in how to enjoy your handheld gaming – there is a lot more freedom given to owners in terms of how to make your game experience feel catered to you. Alongside traditional dual thumbsticks, the Steam Deck has two trackpads that promise a more mouse-like experience. There are even four rear buttons — akin to something like the SCUF or Xbox Elite controllers. These paddles can be remapped to add a more personal touch to handheld control schemes. The Steam Deck also supports external controllers, including the Xbox Series X/S controller, the DualSense, and even the Switch Pro controller. It also has Bluetooth so it can connect to any Bluetooth controller wirelessly or through a USB cable.

Even if you do not buy a Switch Online subscription, there is still local multiplayer. The Switch can connect to other consoles to offer a LAN party-esque experience. You can also pair multiple controllers and Joy-Cons with a single Switch, which supports up to eight Joy-Con controllers.

As you’d expect, the Steam Deck offers similar support. It has built-in Wi-Fi, meaning you can play online or local multiplayer and it does not include an online subscription to play games online. Some games like Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft do require online subscriptions to play, but generally most games the Steam Deck can support are free to play online.

The Switch has better battery life than the Steam Deck, ranging anywhere between 4.5-9 hours on a single charge compared to the Steam Deck’s 2-8 hours. Nintendo says that the base Switch and OLED models can last approximately 5.5 hours on a single charge, while the Lite can last 4 hours playing the same game. Valve says that you can expect 4 hours of Portal 2 running at a resolution of 720p at 60FPS. Of course, with Steam Deck supporting a huge variety of games across the entire Steam library, battery life will vary wildly. It’s important to note that both consoles use completely different batteries — the Steam Deck uses a 40Whr Lithium-Ion battery while the Switch uses a 4310mAh Lithium-Ion battery.

The Steam Deck is slated to launch sometime in December. You can check out more information on the Steam Deck, such as Gabe Newell elaborating on the pricing for the Steam Deck, our hands-on preview with the handheld, as well as a FAQ with the developers. If you would like to know more about the Steam Deck, check back for the rest of the month.

Read full article at IGN

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