The rumors about Valve making a version of the Nintendo Switch for handheld Steam gaming are true. The company has revealed the Steam Deck, which will arrive in December in the US, Canada, the European Union, and the UK, with availability expanding to more regions later. The system starts at $399. Although the hardware isn’t final, according to IGN, the device currently looks like a mashup of a Switch, a Sega Game Gear, and the Steam Controller. It has a seven-inch touchscreen, with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 at a 16:10 aspect ratio, 400 nits of brightness, and a 60Hz refresh rate. There are dual thumbsticks, two 32.5mm square trackpads, an analog directional pad, four main face buttons, triggers, and a quartet of grip buttons, as well as gyro controls. The Steam Deck also has a headphone jack, stereo speakers, dual microphones, and haptic feedback. It weighs around 669 grams and it’s just under a foot wide.
Valve teamed up with AMD on the hardware. The Steam Deck’s custom chipset features a 2.4-3.5GHz processor and a 1.0 to 1.6GHz GPU with eight RDNA 2 compute units. Valve claims it’s a “Zen 2 + RDNA 2 powerhouse” that’s capable of running the latest major games “in a very efficient power envelope.” The handheld PC comes with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 512GB of NVMe internal storage, which you can expand with a microSD card. Valve says the 40-watt-hour battery will power the device for between two and eight hours on a single charge. The battery life will depend on how resource-intensive the games you play are. The Switch, meanwhile, runs for up to nine hours. Steam Deck runs on a new version of SteamOS that’s designed for handheld use. Valve says it uses Proton, a compatibility layer that lets games run without developers having to do any porting work. You’ll have access to your full library of games. You can expect to have access to many Steam features, including chat, remote play (so you can play games from your PC just about anywhere), cloud saves, and, of course, the Steam storefront.
The device has a built-in quick suspend and resume feature. Pressing the power button will suspend your game and send the Steam Deck into sleep mode. You’ll be able to continue where you left off when you hit the power button again. Steam Deck will support a variety of Bluetooth and USB-C peripherals. You can plug in a powered USB-C hub and use multiple devices at once. You can connect the system to an external display and play games at up to 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz. Valve is also making an official dock with DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and Ethernet ports, as well as one USB 3.1 connection and two USB 2.0 sockets. You’ll be able to use the Steam Deck as an actual PC if you like. In fact, you’ll even be able to install some other game stores.
The Steam Deck could be compelling for those who’ve been yearning to play all kinds of PC titles while they’re on the move or even relaxing on a couch. However, the name is very similar to Elgato’s Stream Deck, so it remains to be seen whether that part of the system will stick. Notably, the device costs just $50 more than the upcoming OLED version of the Switch and is the same as an all-digital PlayStation 5. The base $399 Steam Deck comes with 64GB of eMMC internal storage and a carrying case. For $529, you can upgrade the storage to a 256GB NVMe SSD. The 512GB model costs $649 and comes with “premium anti-glare etched glass.” The dock will be sold separately.