December 5, 2021
A&E / News

Steam Deck: Exciting new competitor for Nintendo Switch

Valve’s Steam Deck, a direct competitor to the Nintendo Switch, is set to begin shipping in December, though an exact date is not currently known.

The cheapest of the three versions of the Steam Deck starts at $399 and comes with only 64 GB of Storage. The other versions of the Steam Deck include other storage types with higher speeds, as well as higher capacities. They sit at $529 for the 256 GB NVME SSD and $649 for the 512 GB NVME SSD respectively. 

Accessories you receive in the package include a carrying case for all three options, and an anti-glare etched glass LCD screen exclusively on the 512 GB variant.

However, to call the Steam Deck a direct competitor to the Nintendo Switch may be a tad misleading. The Steam Deck is currently looking to be much more of a handheld small-form-factor computer as opposed to exclusively a gaming device. 

It has the ability to run multiple operating systems (OS) and runs Valve’s own SteamOS by default. But you can install windows, or even Linux on it as well and choose which ones to boot off. 

It is currently unclear which games will be available to run on the Steam Deck at launch, but a few notable games include Stardew Valley, Factorio, RimWorld, Left 4 Dead 2, Valheim, and Hollow Knight just to name a few. 

The SteamOS can still run non-steam games as well. If you want to play anything from the Epic Store, GOG, or any other game that has its own launcher, you should be fully capable of doing so. 

Two players are enjoying a game of Stardew Valley on the Steam Deck. Photo courtesy of Valve.

As for the specs of the device, the screen just slightly outclasses the Nintendo Switch: the Steam Deck has a 7-inch LCD screen while the Nintendo Switch has only a 6.2-inch. Resolution is nearly identical to the Nintendo Switch both being right around 1280 x 800. 

They also both support microSD cards to further expand storage. If you like the weight of the Nintendo Switch, you will be disappointed to hear that the Steam Deck is nearly double the weight, but beta testers of the product have spoken about the positive aspects of the grip and feel of the Steam Deck. 

A docking station will be available in the future, but it has yet to be announced how much it will cost. It will provide DisplayPort, HDMI output, an ethernet adapter, and three USB inputs.

The internal specs of the Steam Deck system are very impressive. It has a four-core AMD Zen 2 accelerated processing Unit (APU) which has integrated graphics. 

An APU is meant to be a middle ground between a regular processor and a high-performance graphics card. 

It is still not as strong as a regular PC with its own dedicated graphics card, but it is still very competent on its own. 

The dev kit running Shadow of the Tomb Raider on High settings hits around 40 Frames Per Second (FPS), 60 FPS at medium settings in DOOM, and 30 FPS on high settings in Cyberpunk 2077. Though we should not expect these stats to be the same on the finished product, we know at minimum the Steam Deck can run at these frames. 

Steam has made it extremely clear that users have “every right to open it [Steam Deck] up and do what you want,” according to a Valve spokesperson. 

This is a very different approach compared to companies like Apple who voids warranties on your devices if they are opened by a non-Apple technician. 

Valve has already made a guide showing how to open the Steam Deck and how to replace components. They even have said replacement joy-cons will be available on day one, as this has been a major issue with the Nintendo Switch. Although they do not recommend customers do so without proper knowledge.

Visit https://www.steamdeck.com/en/ for more information.

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