Rumors began circulatingthat Valve was working on a handheld, Switch-like gaming console for portable PC gaming. Now, it’s official — dubbed the Steam Deck, the new $399 gaming device goes up for pre-sale tomorrow, July 16, with devices slated to ship out in December.
If you ever wished for a Nintendo Switch Pro for your PC games, this might be your chance.
The device sticks close to theplaybook, with full size controls and a separately-sold dock that lets you easily connect it with an external display. It features a 7-inch touchscreen, dual trackpads, built-in mics, network connectivity over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, a microSD card slot, a USB-C jack for charging, docking or connecting peripherals, and a headphone jack. The 40kWh battery promises several hours of gameplay in between charges. There’s also a suspend feature that lets you pause the action with a quick press of the power button, and then resume right where you left off later.
“We partnered with AMD to create Steam Deck’s custom APU, optimized for handheld gaming,” the device’s launch site reads. “It is a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 powerhouse, delivering more than enough performance to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient power envelope.”
Pre-orders begin at this link at 10 a.m. PST on Friday, July 16 in the US, the UK, Canada and the EU.
Will it be a perfect Switch for Steam?
The Steam Deck looks very Switch-like, no surprise, and its relatively low price ($399 and up based on storage) is directly aimed at console-buyers. Will it be the perfect handheld gaming PC? It’s hard to tell from a distance. It has its own custom AMD chip with a Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 graphics, along with 16GB of RAM and internal storage ranging from 64GB to 512GB, depending on what price you pay. But there’s also a MicroSD card slot. The 7-inch 1,280×800 LCD screen is the same size as the upcoming OLED Nintendo Switch, with nearly as many pixels.
Like a Switch, the Steam Deck can dock in front of a TV or monitor via USB-C, but according to Valve it also works with any powered USB-C adapter or dock. Which sounds promising.
This isn’t the first time someone’s tried to build a PC gaming handheld: Razer did it, and promised a similar idea last year.
The Steam Deck taps directly into Steam’s game store and library, making it a download-only handheld device. It’ll be interesting to see how many games it’s compatible with, but Valve promises it’ll work with many of its AAA titles.
There are controls galore, which sets the Steam Deck apart: dual analog sticks, shoulder and triggers, four buttons on one side, a d-pad on the other. But there are also dual trackpads on the front, and four extra control spots on the back.
It’s not all that lightweight, though: Valve lists it weighing in at 1.47 pounds, considerably bigger than the Nintendo Switch but lighter than almost any PC.