The Steam Deck, Valve’s handheld gaming PC, is nearly here… well, at least for those who were able to preorder it fast enough. But not only does this device give access to the Steam Store and a user’s Steam library wherever they may be, it can also be run as a regular PC that supports the install of third-party storefronts like the Epic Games Store.
However, the entry fee for Valve’s new handheld isn’t cheap, as the base model will run potential buyers $399. To help ensure you have all the information you may need when deciding on whether you want Valve’s Steam Deck for yourself, we’ve tried to answer all of Steam Deck’s biggest questions below, including what games it can play, how long its battery life is, how you can pre-order one, how it compares to others consoles, and so much more.
Steam Deck Cost and Configurations
The Steam Deck pricing starts at $399, and there are three different models available for purchase. The base Steam Deck model is $399, features a 64GB eMMC internal drive, and comes with a carrying case.
The next-highest priced model costs $529 and trades in the eMMC drive for a 256GB NVMe SSD internal drive. In addition to the carrying case, this model boasts “faster storage” and an “exclusive Steam Community profile bundle.”
The most-expensive model will run buyers $649 and offers a 512GB NVMe SSD internal drive. By choosing the highest-end Steam Deck, buyers will enjoy the “fastest storage” and “premium anti-glare etched glass” for the screen, as well as an exclusive carrying case, Steam Community profile bundle, and virtual keyboard theme.
Will the Steam Deck Have Expandable Storage?
Yes! Steam Deck owners can choose to upgrade the storage on any model by using its microSD slot.
Can You Replace the Internal SSD in the Steam Deck?
Yes, but it won’t be an easy process. Valve hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat said the SSD is not soldered to the motherboard, so it is technically user-upgradeable. However, he also noted it should only be replaced by someone with experience, as it does require the user to take their unit apart and likely void the warranty along the way.
When Is the Steam Deck Release Date?
The Steam Deck will officially go on sale on February 25, 2022, and the first batch of handhelds will be shipped out on February 28, though reservations have been going on for months. Valve said customers who already have reservations will get invites to finish the pre-order process “shortly after 10 am PT” on February 25. Once the invite is sent, users will have 3 days/72 hours to make the purchase. If no order is made, the next person in the Steam Deck reservation queue will get their chance to place an order.
Furthermore, Valve will only let customers purchase the Steam Deck model they originally reserved, and the down payment made to secure one of the handhelds will be applied to the total price.
Following Steam Deck’s launch, Valve says it will send out new order invites in batches weekly in the same order as the reservations were received.
Close-Up Photos of Valve’s Steam Deck
Can I Still Pre-Order/Make a Reservation for a Steam Deck?
Yes! As of 2/16/22, the expected order availability is “After Q2 2022.” To reserve a Steam Deck:
- Head over to the reservation page
- Choose the exact model you wish to purchase (you won’t be able to change it later without losing your place in line!)
- Login with your Steam account
- Pay $5 to secure your reservation
If you choose to cancel your reservation, Steam will refund the $5 back to either your original payment method (cancel within 30 days) or to your Steam Wallet (cancel after 30 days).
What Is It Like to Play the Steam Deck and Is It Good?
During our IGN First coverage of the Steam Deck, we were able to get the first hands-on preview with Valve’s new handheld gaming PC and we came away very impressed.
“All-in-all, I’m extremely impressed with what I’ve seen of the Steam Deck. $399 for the entry-level model is a very attractive price point for folks who are either new to the PC space, or are looking for a more powerful alternative to the Nintendo Switch,” IGN’s Bo Moore wrote. “And for PC veterans, the higher-end models offer the storage space needed to tote around a handful of triple-A games in their backpack – at a price point that’s actually quite compelling compared to a cheap gaming laptop, let alone a full desktop PC build.”
What Games Can the Steam Deck Play?
The Steam Deck will play most of the games currently available on Steam and players will obviously be able to bring their Steam Library with them to the new handheld. However, since this is a different device than a PC and isn’t as powerful as a high-end rig, some games will run better than others.
To help players understand what games will run best on the Steam Deck, Valve has created a Steam Deck Compatibility program that is designed to categorize the entire Steam library into four groups – Verified, Playable, Unsupported, and Unknown.
Verified games will run great on Steam Deck right out of the box, Playable games will play but “may require some manual tweaking by the user to play,” Unsupported means a game is “currently not functional on Steam Deck,” and Unknown means Valve simply hasn’t checked the game for compatibility yet.
Valve is currently working on a way for Steam users to be able to check the compatibility category of each of the games in their library before launch. It is also working to make it so games on the store will show if they’ve gone through Steam Deck review and what category they fall in.
On the Steam Deck Compatibility program page, it is confirmed that Ghostrunner, Death Stranding, Hades, and Portal 2 fall into Verified, Team Fortress 2 falls into Playable, Half-Life Alyx falls into Unsupported, and Day of Defeat falls into Unknown.
To get an idea of where other games may be placed, a Steam user named Avery used data from SteamDB to see which games have been tested already. It appears that 106 Steam games have been tested so far and 60 of them have earned a spot in the Verified category.
Can I Play Non-Steam Games on Steam Deck?
Yes, non-Steam games can be run through Proton.
How Powerful is the Steam Deck?
The Steam Deck comes complete with an AMD APU with a 4-core/8-thread Zen 2 CPU, an AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 8 compute units, and 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. For the total APU combined power, the Steam Deck offers 1.6 teraflops of power, which puts it right around the Xbox One and PS4. However, it’s a bit more powerful than how that sounds on the surface.
Since the Steam Deck targets 720p, it allows the system to play current PC games – including AAA titles – at medium to high settings with smooth frame rates.
Does the Steam Deck Support 30FPS, 60FPS, or More?
Steam Deck designer Pierre-Loup Griffais has said that the team has been working hard on creating a “30 FPS target” that refers to “the floor of what we consider playable in our performance testing.”
“Games we’ve tested and shown have consistently met and exceeded that bar so far,” Griffais said. “There will also be an optional built-in FPS limiter to fine-tune perf vs. battery life.”
So the Steam Deck does support higher FPS, it’s just that Valve wants no game to perform at less than 30 FPS.
What Is Steam Deck’s Resolution?
The Steam Deck has a 7-inch 800p LCD touchscreen that has an aspect ratio of 16×10 and an exact resolution of 1280×800.
Can I Connect my Steam Deck to my Monitor or TV?
Yes! The Steam Deck supports 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz via its USB-C port.
What Control Options Does Steam Deck Have/Support?
The Steam Deck comes complete with thumbsticks that have capacitive touch sensors built into them. There are also Analog triggers on top of the Steam Deck that allow for a wider range of input that will especially help in driving games. It also features four grip buttons on the back that can be customized to whatever the user may need.
Alongside a capacitive multi-touch display, the Steam Deck also has two trackpads on the front that will allow users to play games that weren’t necessarily meant to be played on a handheld or with a controller. If that’s not enough, a Gyro sensor is also on board.
Steam Deck also has Bluetooth, which “allows for a wide variety of wireless peripherals – from controllers to headsets, keyboards, and mice.”
How Does the Steam Deck Compare to the Nintendo Switch?
When the Steam Deck was announced, many were quick to begin comparing it to the Nintendo Switch, for obvious reasons. While the Steam Deck is more powerful, there are many other factors to consider when deciding between the two. To help, IGN has created a handy guide that will answer many of your questions.
Speaking of Nintendo Switch, What Is Valve Doing to Prevent Thumbstick Drift?
Though the Nintendo Switch continues to break new sales records, a fair share of users have experienced Joy-Con drift or know someone who has. For those unfamiliar, drift is a technical issue that sees controllers registering movement on a joystick when none is being applied.
This has been a big problem for many Switch owners, but luckily, Joy-Con can be replaced (except for the Switch Lite!) without having to replace an entire system. Considering the Steam Deck does not have removable controllers, potential drift problems have been a concern. As of now, Valve is confident they’ve tested the hardware enough to ensure stability for players.
“We’ve done a ton of testing on reliability, on all fronts really – and all inputs and different environmental factors and all that kind of stuff,” Steam Deck hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat said on drift. “I think we feel that this will perform really well. And I think people will be super happy with it. I think that it’s going to be a great buy. I mean, obviously every part will fail at some point, but we think people will be very satisfied and happy with this.”
Does Steam Deck Have a Dock?
Yes, there will be an official dock available for purchase that will not only prop up your Steam Deck, it will also allow it to connect to external displays, wired networking, USB peripherals, and power. Powered USB-C hubs are also supported for extra connectivity.
The Steam Deck Dock is sold separately and more information will be coming soon, but it has been confirmed that the Dock will add no further CPU or GPU power to the Steam Deck, similarly to how the Nintendo Switch’s Dock works.
Can I Play Steam Deck Offline?
The Steam Deck will be able to download games as any other PC can. Once a game is installed, it can be played whether there is an internet connection or not. Obviously, multiplayer games will need internet access.
Does Steam Deck Support VR?
According to Valve, PC VR Headsets can “technically” be connected to the Steam Deck, but the handheld itself is “not optimized for PC VR experiences.”
Can I Use the Steam Deck as a PC?
Yes, Steam Deck allows for operating systems to be booted from a microSD card. Steam Deck also has a full Linux desktop that can be used as a regular computer as well. This means that users can install non-Steam games and third-party storefronts like the Microsoft Store or the Epic Games Store thanks to the Linux compatibility layer Valve made called Proton.
Will My Game Saves Travel Between my Steam Deck and PC?
Valve has revealed that the Steam Deck will feature a quick-resume-style function called Dynamic Cloud Sync that will allow for players to “seamlessly move between Deck and PC instances of the game without needing to worry about exiting the game on the Steam Deck.”
What are the Specs for the Steam Deck?
Valve has released the Steam Deck full specs and they are as follows:
- AMD APU
- CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
- GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
- 16 GB LPDDR5 on-board RAM (5500 MT/s quad 32-bit channels)
- Storage Options
- 64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1)
- 256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4)
- 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4)
- Controls and Input
- Gamepad Controls: A B X Y buttons, D-pad, L & R analog triggers, L & R bumpers, View & Menu buttons, 4 x assignable grip buttons
- Thumbsticks: 2 x full-size analog sticks with capacitive touch
- Haptics: HD haptics
- Trackpads: 2 x 32.5mm square trackpads with haptic feedback, 55% better latency compared to Steam Controller, Pressure-sensitivity for configurable click strength
- Gyro: 6-Axis IMU
- Resolution: 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio)
- Type: Optically bonded IPS LCD for enhanced readability
- Display Size: 7″ diagonal
- Brightness: 400 nits typical
- Refresh Rate: 60Hz
- Touch Enabled: Yes
- Sensors: Ambient light sensor
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0 (support for controllers, accessories and audio)
- Wi-Fi: Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
- Channels: Stereo with embedded DSP for an immersive listening experience
- Microphone: Dual microphone array
- Headphone/Mic Jack: 3.5mm stereo headphone / headset jack
- Digital: Multichannel audio via DisplayPort over USB-C, standard USB-C, or Bluetooth 5.0
- Input: 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 power supply
- 40Whr battery. 2 – 8 hours of gameplay
- microSD: UHS-I supports SD, SDXC and SDHC
- External Connectivity for Controllers & Displays: USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2
How Big Is the Steam Deck and How Much Does it Weigh?
The Steam Deck is 298mm x 117mm x 49mm/11.7in x 4.6in x 1.9in and weighs approximately 669 grams/1.47 lbs.
For comparison, The Nintendo Switch – OLED Model is 241.3mm x 101.6mm x 13.97mm/9.5in x 4in x .55in and weighs approximately 421.8 grams/.93 lbs
@carygolomb on Twitter has shared a ton of comparison shots of Steam Deck vs such items as a Switch OLED, PlayStation Vita, a SEGA Game Gear, and even a banana.
How Is the Battery Life on the Steam Deck?
Valve has said the Steam Deck has a battery life of roughly 2-8 hours. The battery life will obviously vary depending on what you are doing on the Steam Deck, but Valve did share that players can expect to play four hours of Portal 2 running at a resolution of 720p at 60FPS before needing to charge. If you bump that down to 30FPS, you can expect 5-6 hours of gameplay before needing to charge.