Steam Deck is a handheld gaming device that lets you play the Steam hits you bought to play on Switch. And beyond. First contact with this unexpected “GabeBoy” … or “GabeGear”.
It was a persistent rumour, it has just been made official by Valve: the Steam Deck should see the light of day in December 2021. Defined as an “all-in-one portable device for your PC games”, the nomadic device is strongly reminiscent of a certain Nintendo Switch. The machine is built around a 7-inch 60Hz LCD touchscreen (1280 x 800 pixels), with two symmetrical analogue sticks, a directional cross on the left, four ABXY buttons on the right, two trackpads on either side and the usual four triggers on the top. The machine also provides haptic feedback on its controllers and trackpads, with pressure sensitivity on both trackpads and the integration of a six-axis gyroscope.
With dimensions of 298 x 117 x 49 mm and 669 grams on the scale, the Steam Deck is still longer but less tall, and heavier, than the Switch (239 x 139 x 102, 398 g). In the first videos and illustrations that are circulating, we can see that the screen has smaller edges than those of the Switch, on its upper and lower sides, but that it leaves room for a wide range of controllers on the edges.
As for the technical specifications, the Steam Deck is based on an architecture that is very similar to that of the latest home consoles, with a custom APU from AMD that includes Zen 2 and RDNA2 chips. Valve assures us that the console “will provide sufficient performance to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient energy envelope”. More precisely, the CPU part will include 4 cores / 8 threads Zen 2 at 3.5 GHz, with a computing power announced at 448 Gflops FP32. On the graphics side, 8 RDNA2 cores will be clocked at 1 to 1.6 GHz, supporting up to 1.6 Tflops FP32 performance. The APU should remain under 15W TDP.
The main attraction of the console? Quite simply making your entire Steam library accessible, in this format. You’ll even be able to pick up your games where you left them on the PC, and vice versa. As an option, a dock will allow you to connect an external monitor, but also to take advantage of an Ethernet port or to connect other USB peripherals (2 USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.1 port, a DisplayPort 1.4 port, an HDMI 2.0 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a USB Type-C reserved for power supply, for dimensions of 117x29x50.5 mm and 120 grams). Its price has not yet been announced.
The console is available in three variants:
Steam Deck 64 GB (€419), with 64 GB of internal eMMC memory (in PCIe Gen 2 x1) and a carrying case;
Steam Deck 256GB (€549), where the storage is replaced by a 256GB NVMe SSD (in PCIe Gen 3 x4), for faster throughput. Valve also mentions an “exclusive Steam community profile bundle”, without specifying its nature;
Steam Deck 512GB (€679), this time with a 512GB NVMe SSD, and glass with a “premium” anti-glare treatment. As a reminder that loot boxes are still rife, you’ll also get an “exclusive virtual keyboard theme”.
“For us, it was a question of being very aggressive on the price positioning, we estimate that the quality/price ratio is one of the essential factors on this market, summarizes Gabe Newell to our colleagues of IGN. Performance and comfort were the most important and fundamental constraints. We believe that if we get it right, we will sell millions of units of the Steam Deck, which should create a new product category that we and other PC manufacturers can participate in over the long term.”
In any case, the ‘console’ includes a microSD memory card slot to expand its storage capacity. On the connectivity side, there is support for Bluetooth 5.0 (for adding other controllers, accessories or audio equipment, for example) as well as dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz and 5GHz, MIMO 2×2 Wi-Fi. The 40 Wh battery promises “between 2 and 8 hours of battery life”. The USB Type-C port on the top, which is used for power, also supports DisplayPort 1.4 monitors and promises output “up to 8K 60 Hz or 4K 120 Hz”.
Reservations will open on July 16 at 7 pm (French time) and Steam Decks will ship in December 2021. According to the official website’s FAQ, you’ll have to pay a booking fee if you put the console in your basket tomorrow – this is a deposit, however, and the initial fee will be deducted from the price of the console, which will be debited when you receive it. In addition, Valve seems to have anticipated the craze for its machine and especially for its resale: you will only be eligible to pre-book the Steam Deck, at least until Sunday 18 July, if you have made a purchase on Steam before June 2021. In other words, no new accounts are created in a hurry that could beat out buyers who really want it.
The Steam Deck will be bookable in the US, Canada, EU and UK initially. Pre-bookings are also limited to one copy per account. The final detail is that the console runs on SteamOS 3.0, based on the Arch Linux distribution, with a KDE Plasma GUI.
Source: The Verge