Steam Deck Review - Redefinition (2023)

Ever since the launch of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, the perception of what a handheld gaming device can be has changed. No longer are handhelds relegated to good hardware trapped by inherently technologically limited games. Instead, they're now capable of letting you take console-quality experiences on the go. There's been an explosion of similarly compact PC devices attempting to mimic the success of the Nintendo Switch by letting you take your PC games library with you anywhere, with some mixed results. While there are great devices out there now, such as the Aya Neo Pro, they're still limited by the capabilities of mobile hardware while also costing a lot more than its performance suggests. However, Valve's Steam Deck addresses both pitfalls entirely.

With cutting-edge hardware, thoughtfully designed ergonomics, a satisfying controller layout, and a software layer that simplifies PC gaming, the Steam Deck makes it a breeze to link to your Steam account and get started with your library on the go. Better yet, it comes in at a reasonable price, starting at $400 and reaching only $650 for its highest-tier model--essentially half the price of its closest competitors. While that alone is impressive, it's in how well the Steam Deck performs that it becomes clear that it doesn't have much competition at all. With its AMD Zen 2 and RDNA 2 APU, it's head-and-shoulders above the Intel XE and Radeon Vega-powered portable gaming devices that made it to market first, creating a situation where you shouldn't really be looking at an alternative if you can get your hands on a Steam Deck.

Steam Deck Review - Redefinition (1)

Physical attention to detail

It starts with the Steam Deck's design, which will catch you by surprise if you're transitioning from a Nintendo Switch. The Steam Deck is massive by comparison, with the entire device coming in wider, taller, and thicker than Nintendo's counterpart. It's also noticeably heavier, weighing in at 669g as opposed to 440g for the original Switch. This allows the Steam Deck to pack in a larger display, with the 1200x800 7-inch display most likely to be one of the first things you notice. It's big and bright, offering some vivid color reproduction while also giving you ample brightness control for gaming in numerous environments. The bezels are on the thick side, with the two on the left and right of the screen specifically wasteful of space, but it's a small price to pay for a display of this quality.

Flanking the display are two thumbsticks and two touchpads, with the former being one of the Steam Deck's strongest pieces of hardware. These thumbsticks feel remarkable, with a satisfying amount of resistance and a great size (both in width and stem length) for comfort and accuracy. The tops of the thumbsticks are also tiny touchpads, too, allowing for some fancy software controller configurations that can activate certain layers of control when your thumbs are resting on the thumbsticks as opposed to being off them. The ability to activate gyro-assisted aiming while your thumb is on the right stick, for example, is a small but immensely useful detail that I now miss on the Xbox Series and DualSense controllers.

The two touchpads beneath the sticks are less impressive but no less useful, letting you play games that require mouse input relatively easily (or play them without the thumbsticks entirely if you like). Their tactile vibration as you move your finger across them adds accuracy to your input, with software configuration letting you alter this response to help you better feel the ends of each pad with the force of the haptics rather than just feeling your finger slide off entirely.

Both the D-pad and the four face buttons are pushed out to the edges of the Steam Deck, which can look odd on first inspection. Both clusters of buttons are delightfully responsive in practice, with a good feel to each press. The overall sculpt of the Steam Deck also naturally places your hands close to each of them, meaning you likely won't be adjusting your grip or reaching out in uncomfortable ways to these buttons when holding the auspiciously large device. The additional thickness of the Steam Deck and its curved back mitigates a lot of its size and weight when you're holding it, avoiding the vice grip you need to comfortably hold other, thinner devices of this ilk. It's still a heavy device, and one that will quickly test your grip strength if you're not resting your arms on a surface to help support it, but its comfort is still one of the most surprising aspects of its design and a testament to how much thought was put into the overall shape of the Steam Deck.

Further driving that home is the intelligent routing of the Steam Deck's cooling, which never makes areas near your hands heat up during sessions. There's a single exhaust on the back of the Steam Deck and another on the top, both of which push out enough air to keep the Steam Deck cool under stressful loads. The heat pips inside have been structured in a way that avoids the left and right sides of the Steam Deck, preventing any sort of sweaty palms while you play. The fans are not too loud, but their pitch is quite high, which prevents them from disappearing into the background. You're going to hear the Steam Deck when using it, or at least bug someone nearby with your intense gaming, but it's still quiet enough to not be overly obnoxious.

Rounding out the inputs are the digital shoulder buttons and analog triggers, each of which features a satisfying little rumble at the end of each press. Four programmable grip buttons also sit inside an area where your index, middle, and ring fingers will naturally rest, making them easily accessible (more or less, depending on your hand size) and a nice feature for use in all your games. You can make use of the Steam Deck's Bluetooth capabilities to connect other wireless controllers, which will be required if you're playing while connected to an external monitor. It could also give you a break from holding the device if you simply want to prop it up and continue enjoying the Deck's great screen and surprisingly powerful front-facing speakers, both of which can get incredibly loud without losing much of their detail.

The only big miss in terms of hardware on the Steam Deck is the device's rumble, which lacks the fidelity required to really accentuate actions within your games. The vibration isn't refined enough to make distinguishing between left and right sides of the device well, is rather weak overall, and is certainly one facet that could be improved on if any future revisions of the Steam Deck are planned.

Steam Deck Review - Redefinition (2)

Slick SteamOS

The attention to detail doesn't stop in the Steam Deck's software, although that's mostly reserved for the stock SteamOS platform that you'll be introduced to first when booting up the device. SteamOS is a layer that sits on top of an install of Arch Linux, leveraging Proton to form a compatibility layer between it and native Windows applications. SteamOS is very similar to Steam's Big Picture mode on desktops, giving you a console-like experience when navigating through your Steam Library but offering certain customization options that remind you that you're ultimately still on a highly pliable PC.

Your entire existing Steam Library can be viewed on the Steam Deck, but not every game will be playable. SteamOS features a filter that lets you view games that have been "Deck Verified" by Valve to be compatible with the Steam Deck while also achieving various quality checks, including input support, the native resolution of the Steam Deck, Proton support, and seamless launching. Having this filter lets you quickly get going with a game that will show off the device in its best light, but it doesn't mean the rest of your library won't work. Some games miss out on some of the four quality checks, which puts them in a "Playable" but not necessarily fully supported category. Some games, such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, are categorized like this purely because of in-game text that might be too small on the native display, but otherwise runs just fine on the hardware.


Is the Steam Deck actually any good? ›

Still, the Steam Deck is a great piece of hardware, and one that's finding its stride more than a year after its launch. The handheld is powerful for its size and price, and despite being a Linux-based device, it runs many excellent Windows games extremely well.

What is optimal Steam Deck resolution? ›

What's the Steam Deck's resolution? The Steam Deck's native resolution is 1280×800 which is almost the same as 720p resolution. The 1280×800 resolution results in a non-standard 16:10 aspect ratio, compared to the more universal 16:9 in gaming.

Is Steam Deck production ramping up? ›

You may be able to get your hands on a Steam Deck earlier than expected. Valve has announced that it's ahead of schedule on Steam Deck production, speeding through reservations for the handheld PC gaming device.

Is there a performance difference between Steam Deck versions? ›

There are three versions of the Steam Deck that differentiate on price, storage capacity and type, anti-glare screen, and bonus goodies like a virtual keyboard theme. Storage aside, the hardware inside all three Steam Deck models is identical.

Is Steam Deck more powerful than switch? ›

Connected to a dock, you can even use the Deck as a full HTPC. The Nintendo Switch Lite cannot do any of that, so by technicality, the Steam Deck wins over the Switch simply because all its models/configurations can connect to your TV. But it also wins because it supports more than one video output and resolution.

Is Steam Deck a good PC replacement? ›

The Steam Deck is not a gaming desktop or gaming laptop replacement, but rather another way to play PC games on the go if you don't want to mess with cloud gaming. It's also not a direct competitor to the Nintendo Switch, even though there are many of the same games on both platforms.

What is the Steam Deck GPU equivalent to? ›

The Steam Deck's graphics processor isn't able to compete with modern GPUs. Its closest equivalent is the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost from Nvidia, which was released over a decade ago and is now discontinued.

Is 30 fps on Steam Deck good? ›

While 30 FPS is hardly the ideal in-game framerate, a strong stable 30 FPS like the implementation enabled by the Steam Deck FPS cap will still feel responsive, especially on a handheld screen.

How long does Steam Deck battery last? ›

Valve's initial claims are a vague 2-8 hours, but it's perfectly possible to drain it in less than two hours. The battery life will be worse on games that push the CPU and GPU hardest.

Should I invest in a Steam Deck? ›

If you're using it at home as a replacement for a high-quality PC to play games, then the Steam Deck is a no-brainer purchase. If you're attempting to use it as a travel device, however, it's important to consider its limitations, and how and when you'll be using it most.

Is there still a waitlist for Steam Deck? ›

Valve has announced that the Steam Deck no longer has a waiting list. Users can now buy one directly from the official Steam Deck website without having to place a reservation and wait until their place in the queue is reached.

Is Steam Deck future proof? ›

Valve is confident that its Steam Deck portable PC is future proof, despite its compact size and modest hardware specifications. However, the developer is not against the idea of creating future generations of Steam Deck hardware, and even hopes other companies will get involved.

Is Steam Deck more powerful than Xbox? ›

Steam Deck's APU has a 15W power limit, with full system power hitting a maximum of around 26W.
Steam Deck vs Xbox Series S - how future-proof is the Valve handheld?
Steam DeckXbox Series S
Memory/Bandwidth16GB LPDDR5 at 88 GB/s8GB GDDR6 at 224GB/s, 2GB GDDR6 at 56GB/s
Internal Storage512GB NVMe SSD256GB/512GB NVMe SSD
2 more rows
Jun 10, 2022

How powerful is Steam Deck compared to PS5? ›

Steam Deck vs PS5: Specs. Steam Deck vs PS5: Price. Steam Deck vs PS5: Supported Games. Steam Deck vs PS5: 0utlook.
Steam Deck vs PS5: Specs.
Steam DeckPS5
Memory16GB soldered LPDDR516GB GDDR6
ProcessorAMD APU with quad-core Zen 2 CPU, 8 compute-unit RDNA 2 GPU (4-15w)8x Cores 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2
5 more rows
Dec 14, 2022

Is the Steam Deck 512GB worth it? ›

The device streams so well it has become one of the reasons I recommend prospective buyers to pick up the cheaper models. The anti-glare GLASS screen is worth it on its own. Not to mention having a 512GB SSD from the manufacturer means little/no risk of you breaking it by doing the swap yourself, which is a good thing.

Is the Steam Deck good 2023? ›

While the “docked" experience has improved a lot, I hope 2023 sees it become more seamless. Right now it still has a very janky feel if you do it while in the middle of a game or unplug the system from the dock with a game running. Steam Deck is available now, without a reservation!

Which is better than Steam Deck? ›

Second, the Ayaneo 2 is absolutely more powerful than the Steam Deck. With an AMD Ryzen 6800U processor featuring Radeon 680M graphics, it's got nearly twice the raw teraflops of graphical performance as Valve's custom chip — and in practice, that means moving your games up a graphical tier or two.

Is there any handheld more powerful than Steam Deck? ›

Your Smartphone

As you can see, there are many alternatives to the Steam Deck, some even more powerful than Valve's handheld, while others serve a different need. The two devices we are personally looking forward to the most are the AYANEO 2 and the GPD WIN 4.

Can the Steam Deck do everything a PC can? ›

First, the Steam Deck's Desktop Mode does basic computing without worry. Email, IM, web browsing (watch the tab count though), playing music, watching videos, text editing…it's all here. One of the most immediate benefits of the Deck's Desktop Mode, however, is that it's a great opportunity to start using Linux.

Is the 64gb Steam Deck worth it? ›

For controls, it's even better than a PS5. The only way you will feel that this system is slow is directly comparing a game on one platform to the same game on the steam deck. The fact that the other platform will only play one game better really needs to be addressed. This system is absolutely worth the money.

Is Steam Deck better than gaming laptop? ›

If you are interested in playing your existing Steam library on the go and value easy portability more, Steam Deck might be the better choice. But a gaming laptop would be the better choice if you want a powerful gaming device that fits your budget.

Is Elden ring good on Steam Deck? ›

This brings me to the question that matters: Is Elden Ring worth playing on the Steam Deck? The answer is an easy yes. Sure, Elden Ring may not look or feel as great as its PC or console counterparts, but it's still an amazing game that's a joy to play in handheld mode.

Can Steam Deck run Cyberpunk 2077? ›

It's 2023 and Cyberpunk 2077 finally works… on the Steam Deck, I mean (it's worked elsewhere for a while now.) The open-world RPG has always been playable on the portable machine, but it's now Steam Deck verified - meaning Valve have tested it and used their almighty wisdom to determine it'll run without a hitch.

What is the highest FPS on Steam Deck? ›

The Steam Deck has a 40 FPS option; Here's how to activate it. The Steam Deck may look like a rival to the Nintendo Switch, but it's much more than that. It's designed for users to take their Steam library anywhere, but the available tools and flexibility are close to what's available on a PC.

How do I maximize my Steam Deck performance? ›

While Steam Deck users would want games to look their best, it is advisable to lower graphical settings for the best performance and battery life. Switching from High to Medium graphical settings can add minutes to the portable PC's battery life and increase performance.

What is the average FPS on Steam Deck? ›

The Steam Deck does technically average 30fps at native resolution, but it's tight. Superior GPUs in the other gaming laptops soared in comparison, but even the RTX 3060 in the MSI Katana machine scarcely maintained 60fps on these settings, so you can forgive the Steam Deck somewhat.

Is Steam Deck 2 coming out? ›

Considering the Steam Deck release date is February 25, 2022, so we shouldn't expect a Steam Deck 2 release date anytime soon.

Can you connect Steam Deck to TV? ›

With a USB-C to HDMI adapter, you can connect your Steam Deck to a TV or monitor, just as you would any other console.

Does turning off wifi save battery Steam Deck? ›

Disable wireless connectivity – The Deck's setting menu provides am easy toggle for Airplane mode, which disables Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and thus helps stretch out battery life a little.

Which Steam Deck to buy 2023? ›

However, our personal recommendation is to go for the 256GB one. If you're someone who isn't ready to take a screwdriver to the hardware, you'll still have plenty of storage for all the various Proton, cache files, and your games.

Can Steam Deck run high on life? ›

Yes, you can play High on Life on your Steam Deck.

What are the chances of winning a Steam Deck? ›

The Game Awards 2022 is expected to run for approximately two and a half hours, which means there are 150 chances to win your very own Steam Deck.

Can you sell a Steam Deck? ›

Swappa is the safest and easiest way to sell your Steam Deck online and get paid fast. Swappa lets you buy and sell directly with other users, so sellers make more and buyers save more. Get paid as soon as your Steam Deck sells, without waiting for your money!

Can you play Steam Deck while charging? ›

Yes, it is safe to play games on Steam Deck while it is charging. Once the battery is full, the Steam Deck stops charging the battery and runs on the power adapter. So, the battery health is preserved, and you can continue to game on for hours.

Is Steam giving away Steam decks every minute? ›

Valve is set to give away one Steam Deck every single minute of The Game Awards(Opens in a new window) to a random Steam user. Anyone in the US, Canada, UK, or EU can win a 512GB Steam Deck(Opens in a new window) as long as they qualify and follow a few simple rules.

Is Steam Deck more powerful than PS4 Pro? ›

Overall the Steam Deck is somewhere in between the PS4 and PS4 Pro, however, it supports more modern GPU features that will improve fidelity compared to the GCN architecture in PS4/Pro.

Is the Steam Deck a loss? ›

The SteamDeck is already aggressively priced and Valve pretty much makes no money with it. Your suggestion would make the SteamDeck a colossal money loss.

Can Steam Deck replace Xbox? ›

Together, the Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch have replaced traditional gaming PCs, as well as PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Long live high-powered handheld gaming!

Is Steam Deck powerful as PS4? ›

It's quite possibly the most powerful gaming PC ever sold for $400, with roughly the power of a PS4 under its 7-inch screen.

Can stream deck play AAA games? ›

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.

Is the Steam Deck faster than a PS4? ›

The Deck has the performance of the PS4, but at 800p instead of the usual 1080p on PS4.

What games can you not play on Steam Deck? ›

“Some functionality is not accessible when using the default controller configuration, requiring use of the touchscreen or virtual keyboard or a community configuration”
  • A Way Out.
  • Among Trees.
  • Black Skylands.
  • Crypt of the NecroDancer.
  • Dyson Sphere Program.
  • Factorio.
  • Inscryption.
  • Star Wars Battlefront II.
Jan 21, 2022

Does Steam Deck have ray tracing? ›

A new update for the Steam Deck has landed that brings ray tracing to Doom Eternal. We'll guide you through the process of how to use ray tracing on Steam Deck.

Is the 400 dollar Steam Deck worth it? ›

For most people, the $529 256GB model is the best match for functionality and price. If your budget can handle it, go for the $649 512GB Deck because it's undoubtedly the best. And unless you're cash strapped, avoid the $399 64GB model due to its slower run and boot speeds.

Is 1TB SD card worth it Steam Deck? ›

SanDisk Extreme microSDXC

In our opinion, the SanDisk Extreme 1TB Card is absolutely the best SD card for the Steam Deck. It's not exactly cheap, but you're paying for a premium product and that means you'll need to pay a little extra to get that solid performance.

Will Steam Deck go down in price? ›

Unfortunately, just like all premium and headline tech and gaming machines, we really don't see the Steam Deck itself coming down in price at all. It's too new, too high profile, and has only just levelled out in terms of its supply so there's no real way Valve would 'need' or want to lower that price.

Can the Steam Deck run Elden Ring? ›

This brings me to the question that matters: Is Elden Ring worth playing on the Steam Deck? The answer is an easy yes. Sure, Elden Ring may not look or feel as great as its PC or console counterparts, but it's still an amazing game that's a joy to play in handheld mode.

Are bots winning all the steam decks? ›

Bots are winning the Steam Deck giveaways at The Game Awards. I saw a bunch of decks being given away to accounts whose usernames are strings of numbers.

Are bots winning steam decks? ›

What is this? Multiple users noticed some strange things during the awarding of the winners of The Game Awards Steam Deck prize. Apparently, multiple clues indicated that some winning profiles were actually bots. If you're a bot watching the Game Awards on Steam, congrats on winning a new Steam Deck!

How many people entered the Steam Deck giveaway? ›

Special congrats to all of the Steam Deck giveaway winners (over 170 of you!)

Is Steam Deck more powerful than a laptop? ›

Which one is more powerful, a Steam Deck or a gaming laptop? A gaming laptop is typically more powerful than a Steam Deck, as it is designed for more demanding and professional gaming needs. It has more powerful hardware and advanced features such as overclocking and custom cooling systems.

Is Steam Deck 64GB worth it? ›

If you're someone with hundreds of Steam games, then storage is going to be the biggest consideration. If you're planning on only playing indie games or emulated games up to PS1, the 64GB is more than enough storage.

What games can't run on Steam Deck? ›

Games You Can't Play On Steam Deck
  • Apex Legends.
  • Black Desert Online.
  • DayZ.
  • Dead by Daylight.
  • Destiny 2.
  • Fall Guys.
  • Hunt: Showdown.
  • Paladins.
Jul 19, 2021


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