Well, hot damn. That’s about all we muster say right off the bat after Valve just announced Steam Deck, its long-awaited first handheld gaming console, because gather ‘round, readers — it looks so friggin’ good. Okay, deep breath. Let’s get the need-to-know info out of the way:
The base 64GB model will retail for $399, with $529/256GB and $649/512GB editions also available. Under the hood, you’ll find an AMD APU including a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, with eMMC storage at 64GB, NVMe SSD at 256GB, and high-speed NVMe SSD at 512GB. Each model will also include a high-speed, microSD card slot for increased storage capacity. Valve is also offering a separate dock for the Steam Deck to allow players the ability to connect the device to external screens like TVs and monitors. Said dock supports 8K 60 out alongside a USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support, with up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port. Oh, did we also mention there’s native Bluetooth audio capability? Because there is. You hear that, Nintendo Switch?
Reservations for anyone who has made a purchase on Steam prior to June 2021 can put down a $5 deposit beginning Friday, July 16 at 1PM/ET; those who haven’t will need to wait until Sunday. That 5-bucks isn’t a pre-order, per se, but more of a reservation spot to pre-order once Steam Deck inventory starts rolling in. Sounds overly complex, but really, it should be a decent way to (hopefully) discourage reseller bots and scams.
The first Steam Decks are scheduled to ship this December — a healthy reminder to all that patience is a virtue. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive into some of the other details, shall we?
“Optimized for a handheld gaming experience” — According to Valve, the Steam Deck will run on a “new version of SteamOS, built with Steam Deck in mind and optimized for a handheld gaming experience.” Additionally, the system will include Proton, a compatibility layer requiring no porting work from game developers. And, as Valve reminds everyone, “it’s a Linux system, you know this.”
And just look at those trackpads — From a controller perspective, the Steam Deck looks like it will offer a markedly different, albeit still natural-feeling, controller experience. The Steam Deck’s two, full-size thumb pads are situated parallel to the D-pad and ABXY buttons, which could take some brief getting-used-to. In addition to the four standard bumper triggers, an addition four are located on the back of the Steam Deck, a choice that will certainly please the more hardcore gamers among us. And, finally, those trackpads... just look at ‘em. As Valve explains, both will take care of any mouse-cursor needs for PC gaming.
Head over to Valve’s official Steam Deck site for the full specs and pre-order information. We’re gonna go ahead and mark our calendars for this one.