Valve Finally Reveals the Steam Deck, Its $400 Nintendo Switch Competitor

The handheld gaming space just became a bit more crowded with Valve’s announcement of the Steam Deck, its long-awaited Nintendo Switch competitor. Valve’s new handheld gaming device will begin shipping in December 2021, with the base modeling retailing for a cool $399. Steam Deck reservations open on 16 July, and we expect pre-order to fill fast.

Valve’s Steam Deck Finally Takes the Fight to Nintendo

The Steam Deck has been rumored for a long time. It even made an appearance earlier in 2021 as the “SteamPal,” but now Valve has officially revealed its answer to the Switch: the Steam Deck.

Valve’s new handheld gaming PC promises some decent power.

The Steam Deck comes equipped with an AMD Zen 2 CPU clocked between 2.4-3.5GHz, with a 1.0-1.6GHz AMD RDNA 2 GPU (delivering up to 8CUs), and 16GB DDR5 RAM, a tidy amount. Furthermore, the Steam Deck will allow three different storage configurations. The base model comes with 64GB, while 256GB or 512GB variants are also available. You can also boost your onboard storage with a microSD card too.

In terms of controls, the Steam Deck has two capacitive touch analog sticks, a D-pad, regular buttons, shoulder bumpers, triggers, and more. All in all, the range of controller options on the Steam Deck is impressive, given it is a limited scope handheld. Nevertheless, Valve has done well to offer so many different configurations.

For gaming, the Steam Deck has a 7-inch, 1280×800 60Hz touchscreen powered by a 40Whr battery that should deliver between 2-8 hours of gaming. The Steam Deck weighs around 1.47lbs (roughly 669g), and its dimensions are 11.7″ x 4.6″ x 1.8″ (298mm x 117mm x 49mm).

Finally, in terms of connectivity, the Steam Deck comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless connections or gaming, along with USB-C and DisplayPort 1.4.

Steam Deck Will Use a Linux Operating System

Particularly of note in Valve’s Steam Deck reveal is that the new handheld will run on a new version of SteamOS optimized for the mobile form factor. SteamOS is based on Linux, and as such, the Steam Deck runs on a Linux operating system using the Proton compatibility layer to run the Windows games found in most gamer’s Steam libraries.

Given the propensity for Linux modding, it is highly likely that experienced users will access the regular Linux desktop and the extensive options that that brings.

Has Valve’s Steam Deck Got What It Takes?

Overall, it looks like a really good spec-sheet in terms of portable gaming.

However, one thing that might let the Steam Deck down is the battery life, which from the specs, doesn’t look all that impressive. With a low-end of two hours gaming, potential Steam Deck users must hope that Valve is overly cautious because a $400 handheld that lasts for a couple of hours gaming is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Speaking to IGN, Valve said, “You can play Portal 2 for four hours on this thing. If you limit it to 30FPS, you’re going to be playing for five to six hours.”

It isn’t a huge amount but should get most people through a flight, bus journey, or the daily commute.

Valve’s Steam Deck will begin retailing at $399 for the 64GB eMMC model, rising to $529 for the 256GB NVMe SSD model and $649 for the 512GB NVMe SSD model. Reservations open on 16 July, and all that is required initially is $5 to hold down your space in the Steam Deck queue.

With a tip of the hat to Valve, only accounts with registered purchases on Steam before June 2021 can join the queue, the company hoping to stop bot reseller accounts from snatching up stock.

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