Valve unveils the Steam Deck, a Linux-based PC gaming handheld to challenge the Nintendo Switch
Valve is best known for its Steam PC gaming store and for classic gaming franchises including Half-Life, Portal and Team Fortress. However, it has ventured into hardware with its failed Steam Machine venture which was aimed at trying to bring a consistent hardware and software experience to PC gaming in a similar style to consoles. Undeterred, it seems, Valve is back for a second crack at gaming hardware in the form of the new Steam Deck.
As you can tell by the accompanying images, the Steam Deck looks similar to the Nintendo Switch and previous handheld gaming consoles like the Sony PS Vita and PlayStation Portable. The key difference is that the Valve Steam Deck is designed to run PC games while it also features alternative touch control pads, in addition to the standard joystick, D-Pad, X, Y, A, B buttons and gyros for motion control. While the Nintendo Switch is all about gaming, the Valve Steam Deck can also be used as a fully-fledged Linux desktop PC when docked and connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor.
The Valve Steam Deck is powered by a quad-core AMD Zen 2 APU with support for processing up to eight simultaneous threads. Integrated into the SoC is an AMD RDNA 2 GPU with eight compute units which is good for delivering around 1.6 teraflops of graphics processing power. This is around 60 percent more power than the Nintendo Switch and on par with the Sony PlayStation 4. It will be sold in storage configurations of 64 GB eMMC (US$399), 256 GB of NVMe SSD storage (US$529) and 512 GB of high-speed NVMe SSD storage (US$649).
The Steam Deck is centered on a 7-inch IPS display with a 1280 x 800 pixels for 720p gaming - this is a slightly higher pixel density than the Nintendo Switch. The built in battery pack delivers 40 watt-hours gaming which equates to around four hours of intensive gaming on a title like Portal. Turn frame rates down to 30 fps and this is expected to boost battery life to 5 to 6 hours. For 2D games and lighter use such as browsing the web on the go can result in battery life of up to 8 hours. Games can also be streamed directly from a PC to the device as well, off-loading most of the processing requirements to the rig.
The Steam Deck can be reserved from Friday afternoon (EST) with a US$5 reservation fee. They will ship to customers in the US, Canada, the EU and the UK from December with other markets to be added in 2022.