Valve’s Steam Deck is shaping up to be 2022's must-own gaming item, as it merges PC gaming's flexibility with handheld gaming's accessibility and portability. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy their favorite Steam games on the go? With the first batch of Steam Deck pre-orders shipping at the end of the month, you may be wondering how to buy one for yourself. Or, you’re unfamiliar with Steam Deck, and curious about the hype. Here, we'll answer your Steam Deck questions. We'll start with the basics, but add more questions and answers as we test and review the Steam Deck.
Not from traditional retailers. Valve intends to partner with stores as the Steam Deck becomes more readily available, but for the time being, you can only buy the handheld directly from Steam when the handheld is available for purchase on February 25. If you pre-ordered a unit, and received a Q1 ship date, your system should ship on February 28. If you received a Q2 or later ship date, don't expect to receive a Steam Deck in coming days. Sure, you may get lucky with resellers, but don’t hold your breath (and you may pay an arm and a leg).
The Steam Deck comes in three models that feature 16GB of RAM, and Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures. However, they differ in storage types and storage capacities.
The entry-level Steam Deck costs $399, and uses 64GB eMMC PCLe Gen 2 internal storage. Considering the size of many modern games, this model has rather skimpy storage. It also comes with a handy carrying case.
For $529, the mid-tier Steam deck offers more and faster storage. It comes with a 256GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4), as well as an exclusive Steam Community profile bundle and the aforementioned carrying case.
The priciest Steam Deck option costs $649 USD, but offers the fastest storage with its 512GB, high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4). This version comes with a premium, anti-glare, etched glass screen; a unique carrying case; an exclusive virtual keyboard theme; and the Steam Community profile bundle.
If you’re worried about installing games after reading those storage sizes, Valve's got you covered. The Steam Deck incorporates a UHS-1 bus slot on the system's bottom that supports SD, SDXC and SDHC cards. You can nab 512GB cards on Amazon for less than $30.
Steam Deck has auto-formatting capabilities, making choosing and using a SD a cinch. In addition, you can boot an operating system, such as Windows, from the card.
The Steam Deck has a 7-inch touch screen, with a 1280 by 800 resolution and 60Hz refresh rate. This glass is an optically bonded IPS LCD that generates brightness up to 400 nits. As mentioned earlier, the high-end, 512GB model has an anti-glare, etched screen.
Steam Deck features fairly standard gamepad controls: A/B/X/Y buttons, a D-pad, L/R analog triggers, and L/R bumpers. It features View and Menu buttons, instead of the tried and true Start and Select buttons, and two, analog thumb sticks that house capacitive touch tech.
In addition, the Steam Deck has four assignable grip buttons on the system's back. If you’re familiar with the Steam Controller, or the 8BitDo Pro 2 controller, you’ll know what these look and feel like. These are fantastic for mapping additional functions.
If you need more controller inputs, the Steam Deck includes two trackpads. The twin, 32.5mm, square trackpads utilize haptic feedback, with two LRA motors under each pad. Valve touts that these trackpads have 55% better latency compared to the underrated Steam Controller. The pads also have pressure-sensitive controls and customizable click strengths. The trackpads were easily the most ingenious aspect of the Steam Controller, as they offer tactile, mouse-like functionality.
To top it off, the Steam Deck also has a 6-Axis IMU gyro sensor. This could be great for aiming guns in shooters or steering cars in racing games.
The Steam Deck is powered by a 40Whr battery that delivers 2-8 hours of gameplay, according to Valve. This estimation assumes that a game is running at 30 frames per second, with 50 percent brightness and volume. Naturally, your mileage will vary.
The Steam Deck features a 45W USB-C PD3.0 power supply. A 1.5 meter (4.9 feet) charging cable is included with the system.
Yup! Steam Deck accommodates multiple accounts, so each person has their own local save data and settings. You can conveniently swap between these profiles without needing to log in each time, not unlike the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series S/X.
You can play offline, once you download a game to the Steam Deck—with a few key exceptions. First, online multiplayer games, by their very nature, can only be played online; the Steam Deck needs to be connected to the internet for these titles. Sorry, you can’t fire up Lost Ark unless you find an internet connection.
Secondly, some publishers implement DRM that requires your games to always be online. Many Activision games do have this limitation, so do some research before making a purchase.Steam Deck Hands On: Valve Successfully Frees PC Gaming From the DesktopHow Valve’s Failures Led to the Steam DeckCan't Buy a Steam Deck? 6 Of the Best Alternatives
Steam Cloud, a cloud-save feature, has been a Steam staple for quite some time now. The option makes it easy to pick up where you left off should you switch PCs or need to reinstall a game. With the Steam Deck's release, Valve expanded this functionality. The new Dynamic Cloud Sync is designed to let you seamlessly transition your play session from the Steam Deck to another device or PC, without exiting the game. We'll need to see how it works in practice, but on paper, Dynamic Cloud Sync sounds like a terrific addition for portable players who tend to put their handhelds to sleep, rather than turn off their devices.
Steam Deck uses a modified version of Arch Linux called SteamOS. On Steam Deck, this OS utilizes an application programming interface (API) to optimize how games run on the system. Valve is combing the Steam game library to highlight the titles that run well in SteamOS, a designation it calls Steam Deck Verification. Verified games are titles that are compatible with the Deck without any additional tinkering.
Yes, via Proton.
Proton is a unique compatibility layer, developed by Valve, that lets Windows games run on Linux-based operating systems—including SteamOS. This means that Steam Deck supports many Steam games, despite lacking a Windows foundation. On that front, you should check out ProtonDB, an extensive database that highlights SteamOS-compatible PC games.Update: Valve released an official compatibility checker that you can use to see if your Windows games will run on Steam Deck. A green checkmark indicates that a game is fully verified to run well on Steam Deck; a yellow checkmark indicates that the game is playable on Steam Deck, “but requires extra steps or manual work from the user.” Remember, a PC game may run well on Steam Deck even if Valve hasn't reviewed it yet (the library is deep, after all).
Beyond Proton compatibility, Steam Deck lets you install multiple operating systems. By dipping into Steam Deck's BIOS menu, you can load Windows or another operating system.
Valve designated iFixit, the parts retailer and repair-guide community, as an authorized Steam Deck replacement part seller. The exact details are still being hammered out, but you should bookmark the iFixit website right now. You never know when you may need to get your Steam Deck serviced.
Yes, but not right out of the box. The Steam Deck is a robust machine, but it is a portable-focused system when it arrives at your door. To connect the Deck to TVs or monitors, you need the official dock (sold separately, price TBD). The peripheral includes a USB-A 3.1 port, two USB-A 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, a DisplayPort 1.4, and an HDMI 2.0 port.
The Steam Deck has a USB-C port, so it should work with a standard USB-C hub. Fortunately, USB-C hubs are relatively inexpensive, typically ranging between $20 and $60.
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