Valve’s newest piece of hardware is the recently-announced Steam Deck. The device bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo’s smash-hit Switch system, bearing a similar form factor and a hybrid approach to console gaming.
Like the Switch, the Deck is made to be the best of both home and portable games on the same console. Valve will sell a dock for the system separately, allowing owners to play their Steam library on the go or from their TV.
The Steam Deck has a 7-inch LCD screen and a pair of speakers just under the left and right trackpads. It’s got a Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz CPU, while the GPU is an 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz. It also sports 16 GB LPDDR5 for RAM, making this a surprisingly beefy little handheld machine for its base price-point of $400. While that’s $100 more than the base Switch, you get a much more powerful system for your money.
There are other considerations when it comes to what you’re spending, though. If you want a dock, that’ll be extra. If you want more than 64GB of internal storage, you’ll need to spring for the $530 bundle for 256GB. For more than that, you’re looking at spending $650 for 512GB. Given that many AAA PC games are more than 100GB alone, that makes the bigger storage options seem like a good idea.
How to Get One
If you want one of these beefy PC gaming machines, then you’ll need to get in line. Valve’s not selling these the old-fashioned way: when pre-orders open, you’ll need to pay a fee to get in the queue. That fee will go toward the price of the model you end up buying, though. This is to cut down on the number of scalpers and resellers who will assuredly try to scoop the system up to flip on eBay.
The reservations open at 4 PM Eastern Time on Friday, July 16, so if you want one, get your wallet ready. It’s nearly time to get in line!
The Price Point
In an interview with IGN, Steam’s CEO Gabe Newell described the price of the Deck as “painful” for Valve. “Nobody has ever said, ‘Oh, we have a giant success where clearly there’s huge demand for this, but our margins are too thin.’ Right?” Newell tells reporters.
“And a lot of people have overpriced things and killed the opportunity, and sort of convince people that it’s an uninteresting category from the get-go. We’re doing this for the long haul. And there’s a lot of opportunity.”
Valve itself has had difficulty converting excitement about its hardware into sales. Their VR headset, the Index, is reportedly an excellent piece of gaming hardware—according to people who can afford its $1,000 price tag, at least.
The most common refrain for any highly-anticipated indie games that come to Steam is “when is it coming to Switch?” People love playing games on the go, and the Deck allowing PC gamers to take their titles with them is a promising concept. Some factors, like battery life and storage capacity, will be critical for the Deck to differentiate itself from the pack. However, assuming that Valve sticks the landing with the Deck, it could prove an interesting competitor for Nintendo’s hybrid console.
As for whether it will actually challenge the Switch’s sales, that remains to be seen. For one thing, you can’t play Pokemon on the Deck!