The Valve Steam Deck handheld gaming PC is set to begin shipping later this month, and ahead of that official launch, the first real-world reviews are starting to arrive. And for the most part, they’re good. Very good.
YouTuber’s The Phawx, Gamers Nexus, and Linus Tech Tips have been spending time with the Steam Deck, and they’re starting to share performance notes, impressions of the hardware, and some other key details — although there are a few things that they’re not talking about yet, because Valve is still tweaking the software.
For that reason, the video reviews don’t dig into the Steam Deck’s operating system, which is a custom Linux distribution called Steam OS. And Valve asked reviewers to only test 5 certain games which are known to run well (including some games that are Windows games running on Linux thanks to Valve’s Proton software).
Within those confines though, reviewers were able to look at things like real-world battery life (which seems to range from 90 minutes to 6 hours, depending on the game and graphics settings), game play, thermal performance, and hardware.
Compared with other recent handhelds like the ONEXPLAYER Mini (with an Intel Core i7-1195G7), GPD Win 3 (Intel Core i7-1165G7) and AYA Neo Next (AMD Ryzen 7 5825U processor), the Steam Deck appears to deliver on its promise of higher frame rates thanks to the higher-performance RDNA 2 GPU. It also gets longer battery life.
The display and controllers are said to be very good, but the Steam Deck is a pretty large device which could make it a little uncomfortable to reach some buttons. Haptic feedback, on the other hand, is said to be underwhelming at the moment (although Valve says that could be improved with software updates).
One of the things I’m most encouraged to see is that Valve’s promise that games would load nearly as quickly from a microSD card as they do from built-in storage, seems to be true (at least for the titles reviewers were aloud to test), which could be good news for folks who decided to opt for the entry-level $399 Steam Deck, which has just 64GB of eMMC storage (higher priced models have 256GB or 512GB PCIe NVMe SSDs).
Later this month we can probably expect to see more Steam Deck reviews after another embargo lifts and testers are allowed to talk about the software, test additional games, and maybe even install Windows or other software.
|Valve Steam Deck Specs|
|CPU||AMD Zen 2
|GPU||AMD RDNA 2
|Other buttons & switches||
|Battery & charging||
|Webcam & mic||Mic only|
|OS||Steam OS (Arch Linux with KDE Plasma)|
|Dimensions||298mm x 117mm x 49mm
11.7″ x 4.6″ x 1.9″