The Nintendo Switch is a nifty concept, but arguably underpowered and lacking in game variety. Valve is now having a crack at the idea with the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming console that lets you play your existing Steam library on the go or on a big screen.
At a glance the Steam Deck sure looks familiar – there’s a 7-in LCD screen in the middle, flanked by a pair of thumbsticks and an array of buttons. The most obvious new additions are the trackpads on either side, which look set to emulate the experience of using a mouse. Or if that doesn’t feel right, the display is a capacitive touchscreen, to make it easier to type or swipe through menus.
But it’s what’s inside that really counts. The Steam Deck is running on an AMD Zen 2 CPU and an RDNA 2 GPU with up to 1.6 Teraflops of graphics processing power. It’s packing 16 GB of RAM and three storage space options: 64 GB of eMMC flash storage, 256 GB of NVMe SSD or 512 GB of high-speed NVMe SSD. That can be expanded with Micro SD cards too.
Those are decent figures in the world of gaming laptops, and of course they absolutely blow the Nintendo Switch out of the water. The cherry on top is that you’ll have access to the tens of thousands of games on the Steam store, and all purchases you’ve made previously will be right there waiting. Cloud saves mean you can pick up where you left off on PC, and other Steam features, like achievements, friend lists and chat, will also work natively.
Intriguingly, it’s not just a games machine either. The Steam Deck is basically a portable PC, able to run other software, browse the internet, stream video, and even play games not on Steam. Between Bluetooth and USB-C connections, most accessories will work too, including headphones, mice, keyboards, controllers, and whatever else you have lying around.
Taking a more direct page from the Switch’s playbook, the Steam Deck can be connected to an external display through the USB-C port in the bottom. Valve also says that a dedicated dock will be available later.
Power might end up being the biggest hurdle though. The 40-Wh battery is claimed to last up to eight hours of use – but only for less intensive games or things like web browsing. If you’re playing the meatiest of triple-A games you could be reaching for the charger in as little as two hours.
Still, it’s an intriguing idea, and one that we hope the ever-fickle Valve actually bothers supporting long-term (RIP, Steam Machine). Valve is currently taking preorders, with prices starting at US$399 for the 64-GB model, $529 for the 256 GB and $649 for the 512 GB. Shipping is due to begin in December to the US, Canada, UK, and Europe, with other regions to follow.
Source: Steam Deck
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