Steam Deck Is Valve's Answer To The Switch, Out In December

A new challenger enters the portable gaming market

Gif: Valve / Kotaku

Steam Deck is a new portable gaming device from Valve that basically looks and functions exactly like a Nintendo Switch. Models start at $400 and will release December 2021, Valve announced today over on Steam.

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“We partnered with AMD to create Steam Deck’s custom APU, optimized for handheld gaming. It is a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 powerhouse, delivering more than enough performance to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient power envelope,” the company writes. The Steam Deck thumbsticks are designed for “extended play sessions,” and the owner’s entire Steam library will be available when they log on. There’s even a dock (sold separately) to connect to TVs and computer monitors.

The device will sport a 7" screen, which puts it on par with Nintendo’s recently announced OLED Switch, and just ahead of the existing Switch and Switch Lite in terms of size. The controllers don’t appear to be detachable like the Joy-Cons, but maybe that means they won’t have any drift either.

A front-view blueprint of the Steam Deck.
Screenshot: Valve

Here are some tech specs which look at first glance like an iteration on what’s in the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5:

  • CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
  • GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
  • 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT/s)
  • 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio)
  • 7" optically bonded LCD
  • Bluetooth 5.0 (support for controllers, accessories and audio)
  • Wi-FiDual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

In an interview with IGN, Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais confirmed the Steam Deck will have a built-in mic for multiplayer and options to alter the graphics settings on games. As for battery life,It’s about 2-8 hours, depending on what you’re doing,” he said. “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.” Basically, the Steam Deck is trying to emulate a portable gaming PC. It runs the latest version of SteamOS, you’ll even be able to “install third party software and operating systems.”

Gif: Valve

And here are the current models:

  • $400 for 64GB internal storage
  • $530 for 256GB SSD storage and “exclusive Steam Community profile bundle”
  • $650 for 512 GB SSD storage and an “anti-glare etched glass” screen.

There’s one catch, however. To have an actual shot at getting one of these things when it releases you’ll need to pay Valve $5 to reserve a spot in line to pre-order. Reservations open Friday, July 16, at 1 p.m. ET.

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“The main reason for reservations is to ensure an orderly and fair ordering process for customers when Steam Deck inventory becomes available,” Valve writes in an FAQ. “The additional fee gives us a clearer signal of intent to purchase, which gives us better data to balance supply chain, inventory, and regional distribution leading up to launch.”

Fortunately, the reservation fee will go towards the total sale price of the hardware.

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The news that Valve was working on a Switch-like portable was first reported back in May by Ars Technica.

DISCUSSION

By
DumBeetle

I’ll hold judgement until I can test it, but for now I’ll say.

WTF is up with that button placement?