Valve Steam Deck: Everything You Should Know about the Switch Competitor


There’s still a lot to know about the Steam Deck.

Valve

After a two-month delay, Valve’s Steam Deck is set for a Feb. 25 launch. The Switch-like portable PC gaming device is a hot commodity: The day after Valve announced it in July, so many people were trying to access the reservation page that Valve’s servers went down for hours.

Ahead of the launch, here’s what we know about the upcoming Steam Deck. 

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Valve Steam Deck, explained

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When will Valve’s Steam Deck be released?

If you were quick, and your reservation was in the first batch of Steam Decks, you can expect the device in a week’s time. Valve said the Steam Deck will launch at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) on Feb. 25. Units will start shipping on Feb. 28, and more will go out on a weekly basis. 

The portable PC gaming console was originally expected to ship in December. But Valve sent an email to customers on Nov. 10, saying the device had been delayed two months.

Each preorder was given a release window based on when the reservation was placed. The Steam Deck page on the Steam store will display the window for those who already preordered.

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How long does the Steam Deck’s battery last? 

Valve says the Steam Deck’s battery will last for up to eight hours, depending on what games you play. More graphics-intensive games require more power, especially at a higher graphics setting.

The game Portal 2, for example, can be played on a Steam Deck for four hours at 60 frames per second. But if you drop the FPS down to 30, it’ll last for six hours, according to Valve. 

How long the battery will last for nongaming activities is still unknown.

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Valve’s Steam Deck is a portable, handheld PC

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Can I increase the storage of the Steam Deck? 

Yes. The Steam Deck has a microSD slot allowing for upgraded storage. What we don’t know yet is what kind of microSD cards are required. Some cards have faster read and write speeds than others. 

We’re also unsure if it will support the largest microSD cards out there, such as a 1TB card, which can cost almost $200. 

Will there be a way to jump from playing a game Steam Deck to playing it on PC?

Valve added a new feature to Steam in preparation for the launch of the Steam Deck called Dynamic Cloud Sync. This feature allows for a player to suspend their game on their Steam Deck and immediately pick up where they left off on their PC or laptop. Dynamic Cloud Sync, however, is only available on games where the developers implement it.

Can I use an Xbox or PlayStation controller with a Steam Deck?

Thanks to Bluetooth, a variety of devices can work with the Steam Deck, such as gaming controllers and earbuds. 

Does the Steam Deck output 4K to a TV? 

The Steam Deck can actually go up to 8K through its USB-C port. It supports 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz.

Can I use the Steam Deck as my desktop PC?

Sure. The Steam Deck is itself a portable PC. It uses Valve’s SteamOS, which is based on Linux, so if you’re familiar with that system you can jump right into using it as a PC. 

If you aren’t familiar with Linux, Valve says you can install Windows. But it’s not yet clear whether the Windows experience on a Steam Deck will be the same as it is on your desktop or laptop.

Should I risk buying Valve hardware?

This depends on whether you want to put your money behind a company that’s done amazing things with its software but has made some questionable decisions with its hardware. 

In 2014, Valve revealed it was getting into the hardware business with its Steam Machines. Excitement for the Steam-focused gaming devices was initially high but petered out when it became clear they would only come with SteamOS and not the typical Windows operating system, thus making the devices unable to play even the newest games because they weren’t compatible. 

With the Steam Machine came the Steam Controller, a customizable controller that could work with a variety of games, but it had a steep learning curve, making it unpopular among gamers. In 2019, Valve sold the Steam Controller for just $5 during one of its sales, seemingly to clear out its inventory. 

The Steam Link was another device from Valve that was designed to stream computer games to your TV. While it did work, a gaming PC still had to be part of the equation, and there was an issue with input lag. Valve eventually replaced the hardware with its Steam Link app, but it’s still not the smoothest experience. 

While Valve’s track record might not be ideal, portable gaming devices are of interest to hardware companies, thanks to the success of the Nintendo Switch. The Razer Edge and Nvidia Shield were the first attempts at this design back in 2013. Last year, Dell tried its hand with the Alienware Concept UFO prototype. 

Considering the Steam Deck reservation platform bogged down Valve’s site when it first went live, there is a clear demand for portable gaming devices to play PC games.



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