Valve Announces The Steam Deck, A Powerful, Portable, Switch-like PC

The biggest name in PC gaming finally tries their hand on portable PC gaming, with a reasonable price point meant to compete with the Nintendo Switch.

As most console manufacturers besides Nintendo have all but abandoned the handheld gaming space, it fell to PC manufacturers to try and pick up the slack. So far, it has been Chinese manufacturer GPD that has been leading this charge, but early rumors ring that Valve, PC gaming’s biggest publisher, may be looking to get into the action as well.

Today, all those rumors came to light as Valve finally announced the Steam Deck, a portable, handheld gaming machine powered by AMD and their apparent answer to the ever-popular Nintendo Switch. The console’s pricing starts at $399, although higher-end models will apparently have the same internals as everything below it; only the storage capacity remains.

Decent specs under the hood

According to its spec page, the Steam Deck sports an AMD APU powered by the Zen 2 architecture, running four cores and eight threads at 2.4 to 3.5GHz. It also has 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, with the option to choose between 64GB eMMC, 256GB NVMe SSD or 512GB high-speed NVMe storage. All models also include a high-speed microSD slot for additional storage space.

As for the controls, it will have the standard ABXY layout with a D-pad and two analog sticks with built-in capacitive touch. Valve still has not yet given up on their Steam Controller experiment as well, as they implement its trackpads to the Steam Deck, promising 55% better latency for those who preferred using it over the sticks.

The display used is a touchscreen, with a resolution of 1280 x 800 for a 16:10 aspect ratio. The refresh rate is locked at 60Hz, which is the standard for these handheld gaming PCs. You can also use it with an official dock to circle back into a traditional PC gaming experience, transforming your Steam Deck into a mid-ranged PC with decent port selection including a single USB-A 3.1 port, 2 USB-A 2.0 ports, an ethernet port, DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0. The Steam Deck itself sports a USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support, as well as a USB 3.2 Gen 2.

The Steam Deck will start shipping this December to the United States, Canada, EU, and the UK. More regions are expected to be announced in 2022.

Kenneth Araullo
A writer specializing in video games, with two years of writing experience backed by a decade and a half of playing games. A PC Gamer and Dota 2 enthusiast at heart (will also take the occasional Switch title every now and then), he has reviewed multiple titles across many genres, and reported on many, many more.