What to expect from Steam Deck? Questions and answers about the console

The Stream Deck is a portable gamer PC from Valve that should hit stores in December 2021. The product has a console look and can play computer games from the Steam digital store on its screen, similar to the Nintendo Switch handheld. The device uses a single processor based on AM’s Zen 2 architecture and performs the graphics card work. The product, with this, can run games similar to the PlayStation ( PS4 ) and Xbox One in a slightly lower resolution.

The Stream Deck is available in three models with prices starting at US$ 399 in the version with 64 GB of storage. See below:

When will you arrive?

For now, the Steam Deck does not have a set release date. The notebook was announced in July of this year, and the first units of the device were made available on pre-order. Users who booked this initial batch should receive them in December 2021. To reserve the device, it was necessary to pay an initial amount of US$ 5 which would be deducted from the total price of the device later, when the user received an invitation to complete their purchase.

In this first batch, only users from some world areas could book the Steam Deck, such as the United States, Canada, European Union countries, and the United Kingdom. To do this, the buyer needed to have a Steam account-based in one of these regions. The official website mentioned that other sites would have information about Steam Deck availability “soon,” but no new information has been revealed since then.

Is it a computer or console?

Despite the video game look with buttons on the sides, the Stream Deck is, in practice, a portable computer and runs on Valve’s SteamOS operating system, whose structure is based on Linux. The user can connect a keyboard and a monitor to the device like an ordinary computer. Being a complete device, it will be possible to install other programs besides games.

According to Valve, it will even be possible to take the SteamOS operating system and install Windows to use the device as a traditional computer. The company warns that this can affect the notebook’s performance, as the Microsoft system has not been optimized. Therefore, it is recommended to keep the original software, which promises to be light and made so that the Steam Deck has the best possible Performance.

Will only run Steam games?

The essential Steam Deck experience is to play Steam games portable, but not limited to that. The user will purchase and download games there and from other stores like Epic Games Store and Origin, for example, as he usually would on his computer.

At the moment, some Steam games don’t run very well on the Steam Deck. Specific titles like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Apex Legends, Destiny 2, among other multiplayer games, are still incompatible due to the anti-cheat programs required to play. Companies that work with these programs, such as BattlEye, have already announced that they intend to offer specific solutions aimed at the device.

What to expect in Performance?

Steam Deck settings are relatively robust when considering their size and price. Despite being much less powerful, the processor is very different from others available on the market but uses an architecture similar to the PlayStation 5 ( PS5 ) and Xbox Series X / S. The device’s graphics card should perform 1.6 Teraflops of graphics calculations. At the same time, new-gen consoles come in at 10 TFLOPS.

Steam Deck performance is closer to consoles like PS4 and Xbox One, but with a resolution of 720p and frame rate of 60 fps. According to a GeekWire test, the device was able to run Doom Eternal at 110 fps, and users can expect other games considered heavy that run efficiently on it, such as Control, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and No Man’s Sky.

Will it be possible to play on TV?

Yes. The Steam Deck will feature video output via a USB-C adapter which will be sold separately. For now, there are still few details, but the official website reports that the accessory will have support for HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4. Valve has yet to reveal the price or whether the dock will be available at launch but has confirmed that any USB-C adapter should be able to do the job.

Once plugged into a television or monitor, the Stream Deck’s resolution will no longer be limited to 720p in portable mode: the device promises to reach even 4K resolutions. However, this resolution increase depends on how demanding the game in question will be, as this can affect its Performance, as it happens in computer games.

Is it better than Switch?

The Stream Deck is much more powerful than Nintendo’s Nintendo Switch, but they have very different goals despite the physical similarity between the devices. Launched in 2017, the Nintendo Switch already has hardware a little outdated in relation to the Stream Deck, but it continues to be well used for being standardized. However, even a great Doom Eternal to Switch conversion runs at just 30 fps.

Usually, on computers, games always aim for new, more powerful configurations, and only users who update their PCs frequently enjoy games’ visual features. The titles released on Steam aren’t made specifically for the Steam Deck either, meaning the advantages of having a handheld may not be the same as a traditional desktop.

Although it runs most Steam games well, the “console” has some simple issues, like text and HUD (onscreen information like hit points or ammo) that weren’t explicitly designed to be displayed on a small display. According to Valve, there will be a zoom function on the device to help in these cases.

Models and Prices

The Steam Deck will be available in three virtually identical models in terms of hardware but with different storage sizes. The cheapest 64GB model costs $399 followed by the 256GB at $529 and the 512GB version, which sells for the US $649.

The 256GB and 512GB models are identical, with the difference only in storage capacity. The 64 GB version is the one that most distinguishes from the others, as it uses eMMC memory instead of NVMe like the other models, which should lead to a slight performance difference. The 64GB model also doesn’t include a case for storing and transporting the Steam Deck.