Steam Deck Review: Changing The Handheld Landscape

By Duane Beckett
Steam Deck Review
Credit: Steam

The Steam Deck from Valve is an impressive machine with an enticing slate of features that might just change the landscape of handheld gaming.

Amazingly, it can handle demanding AAA titles with ease, and even doubles as a handheld PC that doesn’t have horrible limitations.

However, is it worth the big money Steam wants for it? Let’s find out!

Smart Deck Review

Steam Deck

Starting At $399

Up To 512GB NVMe Storage
Anti-Glare Matte Screen
Up To 16 GB RAM
Radeon RX6000 GPU
Steam Library Compatibility
Gyroscopic Aiming For Multiplayer gaming

Performance

  • The Valve Steam Deck comes with a 16:9, 7-inch IPS touchscreen and 720p resolution, It also features a 60Hz refresh rate which makes it suitable for competitive multiplayer games.
  • Across the Steam library, many games are already compatible with the Steam Deck. These games work without any complicated customizations and run smoothly. More importantly, the number of Steam games compatible continues to grow.
  • However, some games that aren’t compatible yet will require time and effort to get running. Some may even require that you run a standard Linux distribution from the included KDE Plasma desktop environment.
  • When you first access your Steam library, games will start up more slowly than usual. This is because the Steam Deck needs to process files from your collection and from the game itself. After that, the initial boot time for most games is about the same as it would be on a Windows machine with an SSD hard disk.
  • One of our favorite features is the ability to turn the device into a full-fledged PC. A perfect opportunity for tinkerers as the Steam Deck allows them to leave the SteamOS environment and use a Linux desktop to do whatever they want without limits!
  • The Steam Deck’s storage is broken down into three different options, 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. The 64GB option has an eMMC storage card and the higher-capacity options have NVMe SSD. All of them will come with a complimentary carrying case for easy travel alongside your new device.
  • Aside from this, Valve claims the battery life is between two to eight hours, depending on what you are playing. We’ve found that the device lasts roughly 2-3 hours when playing AAA games.

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Controls

  • The Steam controller may feel quirky at first, but after a period of use, it becomes familiar.
  • The front of the Steam controller is home to two thumbsticks on each side, each fitted with capacitive touch sensors built-in.
  • The Steam Controller was built to fit your hands and hold up under the most rigorous gaming sessions. In fact, the main controls feel tactile, responsive, and accurate.
  • Below the thumbsticks are two square trackpads that offer mouse control for games where the user interface is best navigated like so. This can be fiddly if you are unfamiliar with laptop trackpads, however, it does work well and is accurate.

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Is It Worth Checking Out?

The Steam Deck is a novel piece of hardware that is much more than just a handheld gaming device.

The ability to access your Steam library on the go is nothing new, as laptops have been able to do it for decades. However, the Steam Deck does feel like a game-changer in the handheld market:

Not only can it play AAA games from any PC gaming library, including Steam, Xbox, Epic, etc. You can also switch to Linux and carry out productivity tasks between gaming sessions.

It is this flexibility that makes it stand out. And despite the fact it feels a bit bulkier than your average handheld, it’s comfortable to hold over long periods of time and has enough power to handle intensive games. Therefore, the Steam Deck is definitely Nerdable Recommended.

Pros:

  • An ever-expanding collection of compatible games
  • Surprisingly good performance on graphically intensive games
  • The controller inputs feel premium
  • The screen is vibrant and offers touchscreen inputs for navigation
  • Works well as a handheld PC

Cons:

  • Getting some games to work may require patience or experiment with settings.
  • The device feels bulky initially, more so than a Nintendo Switch.