Valve announces the Steam Deck, a handheld console with Steam and all features already integrated.
by Dimitry Halley, Geraldine Hohmann, Florian Franck,
Steam expands and enters the market for handheld consoles. After rumors of a handheld from Valve have been around for the past few months, it’s now official: In February 2022, a portable version of Steam will be released with "Steam Deck".
We summarize the most important information about the new console for you and tell you when it will be released.
Latest Update: 27. January 2022
New: Release date and ordering info adjusted
Everything you need to know about the Steam Deck
Release: When will the Steam Deck be released in Germany?
Steam deck is from the 25. February 2022 available for shipping. However, only customers who have already reserved a console in time are allowed to order for the time being. They will then receive a mail and have three days to complete their purchase – after that the reservation expires and the next customer in the queue moves up. This is to ensure a fair ordering process, according to the Steam FAQ. Pre-order the Steam Deck directly from the Steam Store.
The consoles will then be shipped from the 28th of March onwards. February 2022. You can see the first pictures of the console here:
Versions: What editions are there of the Steam Deck?
There will be three versions at release:
- 64 GB eMMC handheld for 419 euros
- 256 GB NVMe-SSD handheld for 549 Euro
- 512 GB NVMe SSD handheld for 679 euros
The versions should not differ in performance, only the different fast hard drives should affect loading speeds. In terms of framerate and graphic details, all versions offer an identical level. The charging cable also turns out to be equally short with 1.5 meters for all versions.
Here you can see an overview of all versions.
What else do the versions differ in?
The smallest variant has 64 GB eMMC memory. The two larger variants have an NVMe SSD memory. The 549 euro version also comes with an exclusive Steam community profile bundle.
The storage of 512 GB is much bigger in the variant for 679 Euros (~$679). The handheld also comes with anti-reflective and etched glass. Also included is the exclusive Steam community profile bundle and additionally a virtual keyboard with exclusive design.
If you want to learn more about the Steck Deck, we recommend our Podcast. There we talk about the different editions and what we can expect from Valve in the future:
Can the internal memory be replaced?
In an exchange with a Reddit user, Gabe Newell himself confirmed that the Steam Deck’s internal memory slot allows the hardware to be replaced. The memory info has already been added in the English tech specs, but not in the German one. Specifically, it says:
All models use socketed 2230 m.2 modules (not intended for end-user replacement)
It is expressly warned against making independent modifications to the Steam Deck’s internal hardware. By the way, the RAM can’t be expanded anyway.
Can I expand the memory via SD card slot?
Yes, you can expand the storage space of the Steam Deck with additional SD cards. The device offers similar to the Switch an SD card slot, in which you can insert a memory card of your choice. Whether it’s worth it to expand the cheaper 64 GB version externally or to go straight for the expensive model, you’ll have to work out for yourself in case of doubt depending on the desired memory size.
Can I also boot directly from SD card?
The Steam Deck uses the ext4 file system for the SD memory cards and formats the inserted cards automatically. Afterwards, you can use all features, so also the direct boot. For example, you can use it to prepare an SD card with retro systems like RetroArch and access it directly without having to load your internal memory.
Especially for buyers of the cheaper Steam Deck variant with only 64 GB of internal memory, this SD functionality should be a reason for joy.
Battery life: How long can I play?
A 40 watt hour battery is installed, which, according to Valve’s 2 to 8 hours of gameplay should enable. Of course, the concrete performance depends heavily on the respective game. In the IGN reveal (more on that below), Portal 2 is cited as an example that you can play at full details for just under 4 hours before running out of juice. A Cyberpunk 2077 should logically eat a hole in the battery in significantly less hours, whereas performance-saving indie games last longer.
According to Valve, the full 8 hours will only be possible if you don’t play on the console yourself, but use it to stream from another PC or via a service à la Google Stadia:
Weight: How heavy is the Steam Deck??
Due to the built-in battery, the hardware and size, the Steam Deck weighs a whopping 669 grams. It’s not prohibitively heavy for a handheld device, but it’s almost 300 grams heavier than the regular Switch with Joy-Cons attached (398 grams). The Steam Deck is even a bit heavier than the 12.9-inch variant of the iPad Pro.
Ultimately, weight is not the only factor that determines whether a device can be held comfortably in the hand for long periods of time. The curved controller grips on the sides of the Steam Deck should help the feel a lot. Nevertheless, the Steam Deck will probably be too heavy for kids over longer periods of time.
We also asked our experts about the Steam Deck. You can read the very different opinions from our editorial team in our big opinion article:
Performance: How powerful is the Steam deck?
We have not yet been able to test the Steam Deck ourselves and can therefore only refer to the official information from Valve. The Steam Deck was created in collaboration with AMD and inside was a specially designed Zen2/RDNA2 processor:
Processor: AMD APU
CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4 – 3.5 GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0 – 1.6 GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT/s)
Resolution: 1280 × 800 pixels (16:10 aspect ratio)
Display size: 7 inches diagonally
Refresh rate: 60 Hz
Benchmarks already give a taste
As many dev kits have already been sent to developers, new benchmarks and more details about the Steam Deck’s performance are gradually leaking out to the public. Find out how the handheld should perform in Doom Eternal, Cyberpunk 2077 and other games, and what that means for battery life here:
In addition to the integrated memory, there will also be a slot for micro-SD cards. The handheld is charged via a USB-C port, which can also be used to connect other peripherals. This will also allow you to connect the Steam Deck to a monitor. As operating system Valve relies on the self-developed, linux-based SteamOS 3.0. The Steam Deck also features Bluetooth, which can be used to connect not only a mouse and keyboard, but also Bluetooth headphones or controllers.
Thanks to the 720p resolution even demanding games should run properly with the existing hardware. However, we still have to wait for concrete benchmarks.
All info about the technical details can be found in the official overview.
The English-speaking colleagues from IGN have already tested the Steam Deck. We have included the introduction video for you below:
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Games: What titles are running on Steam Deck?
The Steam Deck supports with SteamOS 3.0 "out of the box" a linux-based operating system, whose compatibility Valve has been pushing for years already. In the ProtonDB overview you can find a list of all Steam games that now already run very well on Linux.
This includes for example CS:GO, Total War: Warhammer 2, Payday 2, Civilization 5 as well as Ark. On Steam itself you will find just under 7.500 games that officially support Linux and Steam OS. Compared to the total of around 55.000 games, that’s a comparatively small part.
Simple rating system for a better overview
Nevertheless, Valve should spare no effort to make as many games as possible run on the Steam deck. One checks namely the entire Steam catalog for compatibility! Each game is ultimately classified into one of four categories so customers know immediately how well the title will run on their handheld:
- Verified: Means the game has full controller support, no other compatibility issues, and supports the native resolution of the Steam deck.
- PlayableSome adjustments by the user might be necessary, like using a control profile from the community or operating an upstream launcher via the touchscreen, etc.
- UnsupportedShould be self-explanatory. Valve mentions here as an example Half-Life: Alyx.
- Unknown: Valve has not yet tested compatibility.
New videos show how well games run
Want to know how well The Witcher 3, Psychonauts 2, Devil May Cry 5 and other titles run on the Steam deck? Then check out these videos: