Recently, Valve revealed many details about its soon-to-be-released handheld gaming computer. A Steamworks Virtual Conference was held by the company and available via video steam to anyone who would like to see it. It covered many aspects of the forthcoming Steam Deck.
We already know quite a bit about Valve’s Switch doppelganger. We have a good idea of what kind of gaming performance to expect. We knew that the units would start at $400 USD and have looked at the specifications. However, they are already scheduled for a delayed launch. This in-depth look is welcome for anyone who knows how feasible PC gaming will be on a handheld device.
You can break down the virtual conference into several videos. These videos include a general overview of the hardware, deep dives into AMD’s custom APUs on the system, as well as helpful tips for developers and gamers.
The official name of AMD’s chip was the first significant news at the conference. The Aerith SoC has been given its official name, which must reference the Final Fantasy VII character. Aerith is an APU with a 4-core and 8-thread CPU whose lineage can be traced back to Zen2 microarchitecture. It has been teamed up with 8 AMD RDNA2 compute units. AMD and Valve have been closely working together to optimize Linux gaming, and it looks like this will work well. This chip does not aim for high clock speeds. It is about consistency, which was an essential aspect of the conference.
Valve has not placed any power restrictions on this chip but suggests that developers may want to set a limit on their own. It should work the same regardless of whether it is docked or un-docked. This is a great thing, but it does mean it will drain your battery faster than if there are no limits. The battery is 40 watts, and the game runs for about 7-8 hours. The Steam Deck’s heat management can cause it to throttle and lose performance. However, things such as download speeds will not be affected before gaming performance is compromised. Although we have known the basic specs for some time, this gives us a better idea of how gaming performance will likely be.
Developers can use additional tools to optimize the performance of their titles on Steam Deck. Developers will have the ability to upload texture packages for use with Steam Deck. They can also reduce download files by a lot, even if they optimize for a lower resolution screen.
This is an excellent option for those looking to buy the lowest USD 399 MSRP model, which only has 64GB eMMCPCIe Gen 2 storage. However, it can be expanded using a microSD. You can also get it in 256GB or 512GB versions with NVMe SSDs. These models will retail for $529 USD and $649 US, respectively. Although this is slightly more, Valve estimates that these will be 12-25% faster depending on the task.
The Steam Deck is a portable gaming device that can be used for casual gaming. The Steam Deck can support up to two 4k displays at 60hz. It also has a 45w charging cable that allows you to charge your device while gaming. The USB-C port will enable it to be used with all peripherals. You can use the Steam Deck’s official dock to access other ports, but you can also use a USB C powered hub. However, Valve also stated that it wasn’t designed for VR, so don’t assume it will run your Vive Pro 2.
Valve confirmed another major change that could affect Steam Deck customers. Deck UI, the Steam Deck interface, will be replaced by Big Picture Mode. This is a Steam interface that can be used with a controller and a TV. The change will be made alongside DeckUI being updated more often and maintaining a uniform presentation. This is great news for anyone who wants to use it as a console. It will also make it easier for people switching between machines.