Valve has just unveiled the Steam Deck: the Nintendo Switch Pro you've been waiting for that plays zero Nintendo games. Available in three models, Valve is taking reservations for the portable PC-console hybrid tomorrow, with prices starting from $399/ £349 (approx. AU$538).
Steam Deck is making its debut this December and is a portable PC with a console-like interface thanks to the hew version of Steam OS that it runs out of the box. It's very much a PC though, with IGN's executive editor, Bo Moore, saying, "you can do pretty much anything on the Steam Deck that you can do with a regular PC". And that includes loading third party programs and game launchers, or even wiping Steam OS and sticking Windows on there.
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Moving onto the specs, Steam Deck houses a custom AMD APU with a quad-core Zen 2 CPU "with eight threads, and eight CUs of RDNA2 GPU," Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais tells IGN, which will reportedly allow it to run the latest triple A titles comfortably at 1280x800 resolution. There are three variants to choose from, with the only difference being the storage options. The form factor itself is the same across models, boasting a 7-inch 60hz LCD screen bookended by the controller inputs.
An thumbstick stick is nestled on either side of the screen, accompanied by a d-pad on the left-hand side, and action buttons on the right; but rather than being arranged in a staggered formation, the inputs sit in-line with one another. What's more, the full-sized thumbsticks are capacitive, meaning they can recognise when your thumbs are making contact.
The face is pretty busy, with a couple of track pads on either side of the screen for mouse inputs to boot. You'll also find shoulder buttons, triggers, and four pro controller-style back buttons on the rear which can be mapped to your preference. The display itself is a multi-input touchscreen to pile on even more options.
Another bonus is the Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you can whip out your best wireless headphones and sync up without any hassle. There's no LTE option, but the device supports WiFi. Steam Deck features two USB 2.0 ports, USB 3.1 for peripherals, HDMI, ethernet, and DisplayPort. Valve will be releasing an official dock, but any third-party USB-C dock will be compatible.
The cheapest option is the $399 / £349 (approx. AU$538) and ships with 64GB storage; the next model up comes in at $529 / £459 (approx. AU$713) and packs 256GB storage; the most expensive Steam Deck is priced at $649 / £569 (approx. AU$875), has 512GB storage, and features a bonus "premium anti-glare etched glass treatment on its screen." All three include a microSD slot for additional storage, and a battery capacity of 40W that can run anywhere between two to eight hours "depending on what you're doing."
Regarding the difference in performance between the models, Griffais says, "as we go higher, the read and write speeds are going to be faster." The cheapest model features eMMC storage, while the middle moves up to NVMe SSD storage, and the premium model packs high-speed NVME SSD storage.
Other features include the ability to suspend a game indefinitely like the Nintendo Switch, an ambient light sensor for auto brightness, and a gyroscope for motion controls.
To beat the scalpers, Valve is implementing a reservation system over on Steam that opens tomorrow, July 16, at 10AM PDT / 1PM EDT / 6PM BST. The hardware will begin shipping this December.