Valve is a surprising new challenger entering the handheld gaming space with the announcement of the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming PC coming out in December. This SteamOS device isn’t the first portable gaming PC (remember the GDP Win Max, SMACH Z, or Nvidia Shield?), But it’s the first to strike the balance between price and power that often has prevented portable gaming PCs from becoming mainstream. With this news, portable gaming PCs have gone from an expensive niche hardware to a device that I can potentially recommend to my brother rather than a Nintendo Switch.
An AMD APU with a Zen 2 processor and RDNA 2 GPU with 8 compute units powers the Steam Deck, placing it in the same territory as a PS4 or Xbox One. Comparing GPUs, we think the budget AMD RX550, released in 2019 for around $ 145 and is a popular card for low-cost 1080p gaming PCs, is the best comparison.
“For the total combined power of the APU, that’s about two teraflops,” Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais told IGN, “which should allow people to play the games they have in their library. without problems at 720p and provides a lot of power for this purpose. “
Valve has stated that the Steam Deck will have variable rate ray tracing and shading support. And since it’s basically a small gaming PC, you can go in and change the graphics settings just like you would any PC game.
The videos provided by Valve show us different types of games working quite well, including Death Stranding, Doom Eternal, and Jedi: Fallen Order. Bluetooth compatibility means you can pair your headphones wirelessly or even a wireless gamepad just in case you don’t vibrate with the trackpads or awkward button layout.
But like any wearable tech, if you try to have it all, you end up with some absurd Frankensteins that no one really wants. Valve cleverly eschews the design approach of everything except the kitchen sink while appearing as an upgrade from the market leader, the Nintendo Switch.
The cheapest model on the Steam Deck costs just $ 50 more than the just announced $ 350 Nintendo Switch OLED. It’s easy to compare that to Nintendo since the Steam Deck looks like the Switch Pro that most Nintendo fans always ask for. It already has a bunch of quality of life features you won’t find on the Switch, like Bluetooth support, SSD storage (NVMe on 256GB and 512GB models), and the ability to run your games on one. display without docking station, via USB-C. Even Gabe Newell himself admits that locking in the surprisingly low price was “painful.”
I recently said that laptop makers need to take a second and see what they can do to make their systems more competitive when Nintendo announced the Switch OLED model. Valve has shown us that it is possible to do just that by keeping things simple and affordable.