Valve just announced the Steam Deck, its long-rumored Switch-like handheld gaming device. It will begin shipping in December and reservations open July 16th at 1PM ET. It starts at $399, and you can buy it in $529 and $649 models as well.
The device has an AMD APU containing a quad-core Zen 2 CPU with eight threads and 8 compute units’ worth of AMD RDNA 2 graphics, alongside 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. There are three different types of storage: 64GB eMMC storage, 256GB NVMe SSD storage, and 512GB of high-speed NVME SSD storage, according to Valve. You can also expand the available storage using the available high-speed microSD card slot.
A rear view of the devices showing off its four grip buttons, triggers, bumpers, vents and Switch-esque design.
The Steam Deck has a huge number of control options. There are two thumbsticks, two small trackpads beneath the thumbsticks, ABXY buttons, a D-pad, and a 7-inch touchscreen. The device also has a gyroscope for motion controls. Like the Switch, it has two shoulder triggers on each side, and there are four back buttons (two on each side) as well. Here’s a legend to all of the Deck’s ports and controls:
The Steam Deck’s external hardware features.
As for the battery, “Steam Deck’s onboard 40 watt-hour battery provides several hours of play time for most games,” Valve says. “For lighter use cases like game streaming, smaller 2D games, or web browsing, you can expect to get the maximum battery life of approximately 7-8 hours.”
On the software side of things, the Steam Deck runs what Valve is calling “a new version of SteamOS,” that its optimized for the handheld’s mobile form factor. But the actual OS is based on Linux, and will utilize Proton as a compatibility layer to allow Windows-based games to run without requiring that developers specifically port them for the Steam Deck.
Ultimately, though, the Steam Deck is still a full fledged Linux computer, meaning that more technical users will be able to jump out to the regular Linux desktop, too. Valve notes that you’ll be able to plug in a mouse, keyboard and monitor, and install other game stores, regular PC software, browse the web, and more.
Valve notes that the Steam Deck’s features are designed to emulate the regular Steam app on desktop, complete with chat, notifications, cloud save support, and all of your library, collections, and favorites all kept in sync. And if you want more power, you’ll be able to stream games to the Steam Deck directly from your gaming PC using Valve’s Remote Play feature.
When reservations for all three versions open on Friday afternoon, they’ll initially be available only to accounts with purchases on Steam before June 2021, in a bid to keep reseller bots at bay. There’s also a refundable reservation fee, and one reservation per person. Your reservation isn’t exactly a pre-order, but it does put you in line to pre-order the system once there’s inventory available.
In December, the first units will be available in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, with other areas following in 2022. The pre-order invitations are supposed to go out before December, and if you miss your window on the invite, your reservation fee will be refunded to your Steam Wallet.
IGN got an early, exclusive hands-on with the Steam Deck, which you can watch below: