Nintendo Switch OLED's lack of ambition brutally exposed by Steam Deck console

If the Nintendo Switch OLED was underwhelming when it was unveiled, now thanks to Steam Deck it looks positively ancient

Nintendo Switch OLED Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve)

Talk about a hammer blow! The Nintendo Switch OLED has just got one heck of a shock in the form of the just announced Steam Deck, a portable handheld console that, on paper, absolutely smokes it in terms of hardware, software library and ambition.

The response to the Nintendo Switch OLED has been massively mixed so far, with many commentators left unimpressed with it due a series of perceived missing features, any sort of noticeable upgrade in terms of internal hardware, and what feels like a plain lack of ambition.

And now the Steam Deck handheld console has been announced mere days after the Switch OLED and, at least on paper, has shown just how little ambition the BigN's console has. Where the Nintendo Switch OLED offers dated half-a-decade old tech under the hood, and charges a premium for it, too, the Steam Deck seems to offer the true next-gen handheld experience many gamers have been crying out for.

The Steam Deck is powered by a custom built APU, which is a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 powerhouse chipset, along with 16GB of RAM and up to a 512GB NVMe SSD under the hood. We're talking gaming power that is orders of magnitude greater than what the Nintendo Switch OLED is specced for.

The Steam Deck also comes with things like Bluetooth 5.0 support as well which, despite gamers begging Nintendo to introduce to Switch for years, it still hasn't. This means the Steam Deck supports wireless controllers, accessories and headphones, while the Nintendo Switch OLED will not.

And, while there is no doubting that the Nintendo Switch OLED will offer gamers access to the BigN's impressive Nintendo Switch games library, it is no where near as impressive as that offered by Steam, which is essentially every PC game (modern or retro) of note you can think of. For existing Steam users, the Steam Deck will suddenly mean they have a handheld console absolutely stuffed with quality games to play already, and for new gamers they'll have a simply incredible choice.

The power the Steam Deck delivers also means that AAA, graphically intensive games like GTA V, Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla will able to be played on the go and at a smooth frame rate, too. This is absolutely not something the Nintendo Switch OLED will be able to deliver, as it is still powered by the exact same hardware that the original Nintendo Switch was back in 2017.

The really scary thing for Nintendo, too, is that the Steam Deck in its base configuration is the exact same price as the Switch OLED. And for that price you get the exact same internal storage capacity as the Switch OLED and all of the vastly more powerful internal hardware as well.

Indeed, screen aside, with the Switch OLED delivering an OLED panel that on paper should be slightly better than the Steam Deck's LCD one, the Steam Deck looks right now like a Nintendo Switch OLED killer for many gamers – it's a console that offers a genuine next-gen gaming experience and takes the handheld console to an entirely new level of capability.

I'm not excited for Nintendo Switch OLED. But I am excited for Steam Deck. Roll on December this year.

Robert Jones
Robert Jones

Deputy Editor for T3.com, Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology and more for over 15 years. You can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket two favourites. Feel free to contact him with any related products, events, and announcements.