Valve’s Gaming Handheld the Steam Deck Release Date and Details
Valve recently revealed the Steam Deck, it’s long-rumored handheld gaming device which is like the Nintendo Switch. It will start shipping in December and reservations open July 16th at 1 PM ET. It begins at $399, and you can get it for $529 and $649 models as well.
The new handheld has an AMD APU containing a quad-core Zen 2 CPU with 8 threads and 8 compute units’ worth of AMD RDNA 2 graphics, alongside 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. There are 3 storage tiers: 64GB eMMC storage for $399, 256GB NVMe SSD storage for $529, and 512GB of high-speed NVME SSD storage for $649, according to Valve. You can also expand the available storage with the high-speed microSD card slot.
The Steam Deck has a tremendous number of control options. There are two thumbsticks, but also two small, Steam Controller-style trackpads under the thumbsticks, which could give you more accuracy for things like first-person shooter games. The front of the Steam Deck also has ABXY buttons, a D-pad, and a 7-inch 1280 x 800 touchscreen for 720p gameplay. The device also has a gyroscope for motion controls. Like the Switch, it has two shoulder triggers on each side, and there are 4 back buttons (two on each side) as well as built-in microphones.
“Steam Deck comes with 40 watt-hour battery which can give several hours of play time for most games,” Valve says. “For lighter use cases like game streaming, smaller 2D games, or web browsing, you can expect to get the maximum battery life of approximately 7-8 hours.” Valve tells IGN that “You can play Portal 2 for four hours on this thing. If you limit it to 30 FPS, you’re going to be playing for 5-6 hours.”
If you pause your game, the Steam Deck gives a quick suspend/resume feature comes into SteamOS that will let you put the device into sleep mode and pick up where you left off at a later time.
Valve will also market a dock which you can use to prop up a Steam Deck and plug it into outer displays like a TV. You won’t need a dock to plug it into a TV, though — Valve says that the “Deck can be plugged into your TV, monitor, or even your old CRT if you have the right cables.” The Deck comes with fully-fledged USB-C ports that contain HDMI, Ethernet, and USB data, as well as standard Bluetooth. You’ll have native Bluetooth audio, something that was not present in the Nintendo Switch.
The Steam Deck runs what Valve is calling “a new version of SteamOS,” that it’s optimized for the handheld’s mobile form factor. But the actual OS is based on Linux and will use Proton as a compatibility layer to allow Windows-based games to run without demanding that developers explicitly port them for the Steam Deck.
In December, the units will be available in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, with other areas following in 2022. The preorder invites are supposed to go out before December, and if you didn’t get the invite, your reservation fee will be returned to your Steam Wallet.
That’s a mixed strategy that Valve took with the Valve Index VR headset, when it deliberately tried to push the business forward with what was then the most valuable consumer-grade VR experience, at $999. Here, a $400 entry-level Steam Deck comes in just $50 more expensive than Nintendo’s new OLED Switch, which will be available on preorder for $350 today and ships October 8th.