It’s been rumoured for a while, but Valve’s Steam Deck handheld has been officially unveiled.
Sometimes you have to question the timing of things like product announcements. It might be a coincidence, certainly, but if it looks too perfect? It makes you wonder.
Take the Steam Deck, the handheld Steam machine that has just been announced formally today.
I’m sure Valve was already pretty close to revealing the Steam Deck – it’s been rumoured long enough – but when the Nintendo Switch Pro rumours turned out to be just a mid-generation facelift? It might just have incentivised Gabe Newell and Valve to bring its more powerful handheld into the public eye, to try and snap up some of those disappointed Nintendo fans.
Good timing, then, whatever the reason. But what are the key selling points of the Steam Deck, then, over and above the very-not-Pro Nintendo Switch?
For starters, it will be more powerful. Rather than the weedy Nvidia Tegra part paired with 4GB of RAM in the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck is powered by a custom AMD APU with 8 Xen 2 CPU threads, 8 RDNA2 Compute Units on the GPU, and 16GB of RAM.
The Steam Deck is also competitively priced, for something that looks considerably beefier than the Nintendo Switch. It starts at $400 US / £350 for a version kitted out with 64GB of eMMC storage, with upgraded models increasing the storage to larger NVMe drives, and adding some extra bits into the bundle.
And then there’s the library of games. According to Valve, the Steam Deck will allow players to run anything in their Steam library. (Though the Steam Deck does run SteamOS, the custom Linux operating system that Valve built to power its devices like the Steam Deck, which hasn’t always had the best support compared to standard Windows PCs.) You might have to sacrifice some settings to get it to play nicely, and the battery life might struggle if a game is too demanding, but you can play the latest AAA titles, apparently.
All the other stuff is pretty standard for a Nintendo Switch competitor: the form factor, the screen size, the control layout, the optional dock for playing games on your telly. The Steam Deck will also support voice chat natively, which is a bit of a win over Nintendo’s clunky mobile app solution. The controllers don’t look to detach like Nintendo’s Joy-Con, though.
So that’s it. The Steam Deck is real, it’s coming soon, it’s relatively sensibly priced, and it (apparently) plays your whole Steam library. Pre-orders will open on July 16 at 10am PDT / 6pm BST, in part to help Valve gauge manufacturing levels, but also, to try and deter scalpers.
Also, it looks like a Game Gear, and we’re very much here for that.
Enjoyed this article?
We hope you found it useful, or informative, or thought provoking, or maybe even a little entertaining. Perhaps it was a guide that helped you through a tight spot, or we even saved you some money? Lovely stuff! If you'd like to say "thanks" you could always buy the team a cup of coffee.
Recommended for you
Latest from Thumbsticks
Last chance to save in the Xbox Ultimate Game Sale
This week's Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S digital sales features a new Deals with Gold lineup and the Ultimate...
Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water gets a fall release date
Koei Tecmo has confirmed that classic horror game Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water will be released on PC and...
New PlayStation Store releases for August 2-6, 2021
A bunch of DLC "headlines" this week's new PlayStation Store releases for the PS4 and PS5.
New Nintendo Switch releases for August 1-6, 2021
A Monster's Expedition, The Falconeer, and retro Picross headline this week's lineup of new Nintendo Switch eShop releases.
New Xbox releases for August 2-6, 2021
Apex Legends: Emergence is the big-ticket item on the list of new Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One releases this...
Marvel’s Avengers is now free on PS4, PS5, PC, and Stadia
Square Enix opens up Marvel's Avengers to PlayStation, Steam, and Stadia players for the next three days.
Ori: The Collection bundles both games on one Nintendo Switch cartridge
Iam8bit, the specialist publisher of collector's editions, is bringing Ori: The Collection to Nintendo Switch later this year.
PlayStation Plus gets three games in August 2021
Sony reveals the free video games available to PlayStation Plus subscribers in August 2021.