Valve has taken the wraps off of its long-rumored handheld. The Steam Deck will release in December 2021, starting at $399 for a version with 64GB of eMMC storage.
The handheld runs on a custom APU from Valve and AMD, with a 4 core/4 thread Zen 2 processor ranging from 2.4 – 3.5 GHz and RDNA 2 graphics (8 compute units, ranging from 1 – 1.6 GHz). The APU will run between 4 and 15W. Additionally, there’s 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and a microSD card slot.
The $399 base model will have 64GB EMMB storage. For $529, you’ll get a 256GB NVMe SSD, while the $649 version has a 512GB NVMe SSD as well as anti-glare glass on the display.
Valve’s design is reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch with, controls on either side of its 7-inch, 1280 x 800 touch display (that’s a 16:10 aspect ratio for those doing the math).
There will also be a dock, sold separately, with Ethernet, DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, and USB-A ports. Pricing for the dock is yet to be announced.
Steam claims that the 40 Whr battery will last between 2 – 8 hours when gaming, which isn’t much, but also isn’t shocking when you remember how long either the Switch (up to nine hours) or most gaming laptops last.
Until there is more hands-on experience, the button layout may be divisive. Sure, there’s a D-Pad, two thumbsticks, and ABXY buttons. But those are pushed way up on the device by twin trackpads, one on either side of the screen. There are also standard L1/L2 triggers and bumpers as well as R4. R5 buttons on the back.
Valve is using SteamOS 3.0, so don’t expect to be installing Windows programs here. But the company is promising that your existing PC Gaming library will already work with the Stream Deck.
Additionally, the Steam Store is accessible from the handheld, as well as Steam chat and other features from the launcher. You can also use a Remote Play feature to stream games from your home gaming PC.
That December 2021 launch date is for the US, Canada, UK and European Union. The company says more countries will be added sometime in 2022.
Pre-orders for the Steam Deck will begin on Friday, July 16 at 10 a.m. PT.There will be a separate reservation fee “to ensure an orderly and fair ordering process.”