Uncontested and unchallenged, the Nintendo Switch had been ruling the handheld gaming console market for close to 4 years now. So it’s only natural for the community to get excited over the announcement of a new contender, especially since they are already associated with the brand for close to two decades.
The announcement of Steam Deck on July 15, 2021, sent shivers down the spine of players with massive game libraries on the platform. After all, the company is claiming it to be a portable PC, capable of playing even AAA titles with ease. Is all of this true? Let’s find out!
Steam Deck- Under the hood
One of the greatest reasons why the Stem Deck became so popular is the specs. It packs a custom AMD APU – which contains both the AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 8 CUs and the quad-core / eight-thread Zen 2 CPU in a single unit. In terms of memory, the Steam Deck comes with 16GB LPDDR5 RAM.
The demand for Steam Deck surpassed the expectations of Valve by a sizable margin, mainly because the specs outrun Nintendo’s four-year-old Arm-based Nvidia Tegra X1 chipset. According to content creator Tyler McVicker, Valve is supposedly pivoting their interests into Steam Deck and subsequent games suited to the platform as they get ready for shipping the device in February 2022.
Will there be Steam exclusive games in the future?
Valve has confirmed that they are not interested in publishing Steam Deck-exclusive games, commenting “that doesn’t make much sense” in their Steamworks Steam Deck event F.A.Q. However, Valve is currently working on a new ‘Half-Life’ game, codenamed ‘Citadel,’ which is primarily an FPS with a touch of co-op mechanics and real-time strategy.
According to Tyler McVicker, the game supposedly will not be continuing Half-Life’s ongoing legacy in Citadel but focus on combining elements from Alien Swarm and Left 4 Dead to create a unique IP to “best showcase what the Steam deck is capable of.” Whether or not it will be playable on devices other than Steam Deck is still unknown.
What is the Steam Deck capable of?
According to Valve, the latest Gen 2 architecture on the Steam Deck’s CPU is capable of clock speeds between 2.4 – 3.5 GHz and the GPU between 1 – 1.6GHz. Although the GPU power (1.6 TFLOPS) is quite a bit lower compared to the new Xbox Series X/S and the PS5, we have to remind ourselves that it’s a handheld device.
Good news for gamers, though, as according to the reports from a user in China (through Tom’s Hardware) with access to a development kit, the Steam Deck delivered close to 60fps in quite a few games. Although the numbers don’t 100% represent the device’s final performance, it’s something to look forward to in the future. Here is a list of the games and their subsequent benchmarks:
Moreover, the Steam Deck is powered by a custom Linux OS (Arch Linux distribution with KDE Plasma 5), and thanks to Valve’s new Proton Tool, less than 15% of the Steam library can now run on SteamOS and Linux.
There’s no doubt that other games will follow suit eventually, but for those who can’t wait, Valve has announced that the “Steam Deck is a PC so you can install third-party software and operating system.” This means you can load up Ubisoft Connect, Epic Games, and GOG to access your libraries from those platforms as well.
Even the emulator community is all up and giddy because some of the most popular emulators, such as Dolphin, Higan, Citra, DuckStation, Yuzu, RPCS3, and PCSX2, have Linux versions. They believe that the hardware is quite compatible and powerful enough to run emulated games out of the box.
There is no denying the fact that Valve’s Steam Deck is the next stage in the portable gaming scenario. A handheld device that’s capable of running the likes of Cyberpunk 2077, Dota 2, Tomb Raider, and Doom still seems too good to be true. We’ll know soon enough next year when the device finally hits the market. Here is the price tag if you want to get your hands on one:
Are you excited about the Steam Deck? What games do you want to play on this handheld monstrosity? Let us know below.