The Steam Deck, Valve’s concept for a Switch portable gaming machine, is perhaps the most anticipated piece of portable hardware ever since the Nintendo Switch. Therefore, it is understandable that the tech press is trying to devour every detail about it, even long before its official release later this month. Pre-release units are finally finding their way through Valve clutches and into the hands of at least a few YouTube reviewers.
Although these preview videos are not allowed to go into every detail of the Steam Deck, they give us a fairly complete look at the final material and at least some clues to its performance in a selected range of popular PC games.
Given Valve’s stated goal of getting the relatively low price tag to run “the latest AAA games and run them very well”, it’s probably one of the biggest horrors for those wondering if they should buy one (or those who have has already pre-ordered). With some of the same AMD APU hardware running on modern laptops and closely integrated with the Steam platform and service, it’s easy to see how the Steam Deck can be ready to deliver.
Valve Allows LinusTechTips and Nexus Gamers to Bet and Promote the Steam Deck to Demonstrate This Power, Provided by AMD’s Custom Aerith APU System with Zen 2 Graphics Processor, Radeon-powered RDNA 2 Graphics and 16 GB of fast LPDDR5 RAM. Both testers found that the system could go through low-power 2D games such as high-end Dead cells without sweating, easily doubling (or tripling) the 60Hz limit of the material. Linus has gone so far as to call Steam Deck “arguably the most innovative gaming computer in 20 years or more.”
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Steam Deck game performance
The more intense AAA games had a lot more variables. Well-optimized games tended to perform quite well on the basic Linux-based SteamOS system (Windows would also be an option, but they were not available for testing). Devil May Cry 5with its relentless fighting action, it stood out, never falling below 60 frames per second for any of the controllers. Ghostrunnera similarly intense action game, it also performed well: The Gamers Nexus clocked it at 64 frames per second with ray detection off (40 frames per second connected to full 1080p display), while Linus reported that it sometimes jumped up to 90 frames per second.
Other games were less willing to play on portable hardware. Control will sink in the range of 30 FPS in areas and Forza Horizon 5 with its bright engine and open world it would show strange physics issues even when it was in its 60s. Even with Valve’s default toy collection, it is clear that some will work better than others and will probably benefit from some modifications. driver – the same situation that PC gamers have been in for decades when new games and / or graphics cards are released.
Steam Deck battery life
Of course, with a portable system the games themselves are only part of the equation. Battery life has always been a concern with what is essentially a tiny computer mounted on a controller housing. Valve claims that the Steam Deck can last from 2 to 8 hours offline, depending on the intensity of the games (or streaming applications) running. Of course, this is running games on the native Linux-based SteamOS installation, not Windows.
Nexus players found these predictions somewhat optimistic, never exceeding 6 hours of battery life, even with low-power, low-flow games. Triple-A games had just 90 minutes of player play, which required a full three-hour recharge period. “You will want V-Sync and limited frame rates while you have a battery, otherwise you will not get anywhere near the numbers that Valve has published in its specifications,” said GN editor Steve Burke. “It simply came to our notice then. you need to exchange a battery-powered device somewhere. “
Linus found an average of 3.3 to 8 hours of life, but this video does not indicate that continuous gaming input was tested. Between the two, it is clear that battery life will vary greatly depending on the game being played and intercontinental flights will only require a charger or extra power bank.
Ergonomics and gameplay
So this is the hardware side of the equation, at least until more people can compare Valve’s Linux-based home SteamOS and the heavier but more flexible (at least in gaming terms) Windows operating system. But how does the Steam Deck work as a portable gaming machine? The device is absolutely gigantic in these specific terms, much larger than the Nintendo Switch and even computer-based alternatives such as the Aya Neo or GPD Win 3.
Linus has almost nothing but praise for the physical design of Valve’s 7-inch gaming machine. The inputs consist of dual sticks plus D-pad, A / B / X / Y and double shoulder buttons, as would be expected of any modern gaming machine. But it also has four paddle buttons on the back, a la Xbox Elite Controller and similar premium designs, plus two small tactile trackpads inherited from Valve’s previous work on the Steam controller. Amidst all these varied inputs and Valve software that allows users to customize controls for everything from racing games to shooters to top-down strategy titles.
And for the most part, Linus says, it’s incredibly effective. He says the Steam Deck feel is “right up there with all my favorite console controls”, cleverly enhanced by Valve’s hardware design that keeps hot spots away from skin-to-skin contact points. (The toy Nexus found that the material gassed on its own to maintain internal temperatures of 90 degrees Celsius or below, calling the thermal design “impressive and extremely good for how small the device is.”) Linus noted that people with smaller arms may have trouble reaching for the shoulder or the A / B / X / Y buttons, depending on the grip, but this would not be a problem for most. It also praised the screen’s ability to become extremely dim indoors and the wide range of speaker fidelity (comparing them to those of the MacBook Pro).
The one downside? Tactile feedback. While console gamers and computer gamers alike are more or less waiting for the vibrations as a subtle way to improve immersion, Valve could not find the space or power on the Steam Deck to include conventional vibration motors, leaving only the corresponding ones. weak tactile feedback of touch surfaces (again, see Steam Controller). Linus says this is a remarkable low point in the design: “At the moment, the tactile on this device is a stain of poor quality on an otherwise crisp, white sheet.”
Three weeks left
We still have little knowledge of what SteamOS will look like on the Steam Deck, how it handles hundreds of PC game libraries, and how to sync progress on existing hardware and portable gaming, let alone how games that is not Steam, either on SteamOS or Windows. Just today Epic said it was not interested in creating a Linux version Fortnite for Steam Deck, despite the fact that we have been fighting for over a year to bring it back to mobile gaming stores.
Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average Steam Deck player, especially if they already have a huge Steam gaming library. Starting at just $ 399 – less than half of competing PC-based portable machines – it’s an incredibly compelling piece of hardware, especially for those who can use Steam streaming to enhance it for games that require just full power on the desktop.
We’ll have to wait until February 25, when the first round of the final Steam Deck hardware will reach consumers, for a truly complete look at this device. But initial glimpses indicate that Valve may simply be able to deliver on its big promises, at least in some cases and for some games.