Valve has launched the Steam Deck – a handheld gaming PC. The announcement doesn't come completely out of the blue, as we saw references to a Steam console in recent Steam beta client code, and a question about consoles at a Q&A with Gabe Newell at a high school New Zealand clearly caught out the Valve boss.
The Steam Deck is a real self-contained gaming PC – it isn't designed for cloud, though it can probably handle such services easily. Remembering its low power budget, it is a 7-inch handheld with about 6 hours battery life, it is hard to see what better specs Valve could have chosen at this time to realise such a device (except to be more generous with storage). So, what are the specs? I've compiled the key system specs below, for quick reference.
- Processor: AMD APU with Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz, GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32), and power consumption of between 4 and 15W.
- RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT/s)
- Storage: Choice of 64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1), 256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4), or 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4). All models have a "high speed" microSD card slot (SD, SDXC and SDHC).
- Display: 7-inch 1280 x 800px (16:10) optically bonded touch screen. It can pump out up to 400nits and runs at 60Hz. An ambient light sensor, adjusts brightness for you if you wish.
- Wireless connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0
- Ports: USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2, 3.5mm headphone / headset jack, optional dock
- Audio: Stereo speakers with DSP effects, dual mics, digital audio options
- Controls: touch screen, buttons, twin thumbsticks, triggers twin trackpads, gyro, volume up/down – see diagrams.
- Other: 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 power supply, 40Whr battery for up to 8 hours of 30fps gaming, size of 298m x 117m x 49mm, weighs 669g, runs SteamOS 3.0 but is open to other OSes.
Making the Steam Deck even more of a Nintendo Switch rival, it has an optional dock. Valve says it will reveal more about the dock in coming weeks/months, but we have the basic specs, which you can see in the diagram, but not the price/availability. The dock looks really useful for convenient big-screen Steam Deck use, especially if you use it for occasional productivity tasks.
The entry level price has been kept at a competitive level, at US$399. However, this model sports just 64GB of eMMC storage – and a chunk of this slower storage type will be used by the OS. Looking at my Steam library, I have several games that eat up more than 50GB, so this lowest capacity model is destined to be for smaller older/casual PC gaming titles only. Pricing moves up to $529 for 256GB, and $649 for the 512GB model – but remember these use faster NVMe SSDs too.
Valve expects the Steam Deck to ship starting from December in the UK, US, Canada, and EU. Pre-orders will start from tomorrow.