Steam Deck Review : Valve Bursts Into The Console Landscape Like A Bull In A China Shop | Tech Review
Accustomed to hardware that, even in the most complex cases, most of the time requires a preparation that is limited to “plug and play” (and sometimes upgrade), Steam Deck brings a divergent proposal . In fact, the first question that assails the user, after a few minutes of use, is… am I facing a hybrid console or a portable PC? The answer is possibly neither: Steam Deck is its own beast, and perhaps that’s its main strength. It is an unclassifiable artifact.
Steam Deck Technical Specifications
|SIZE AND WEIGHT||298 mm x 117 mm x 49 mm
Approx. 669 grams
CPU: Zen 2 4 core/8 thread, 2.4-3.5 GHz (up to 448 GFLOPS FP32)
GPU: RDNA 2 with 8 compute units, 1.0-1.6 GHz (up to 1.6 TFLOPS FP32)
APU consumption: 4- 15W
|RAM||16 GB of integrated LPDDR5 RAM (four channels of 32 bits, 5500 MT/s)|
|STORAGE||Depending on the model (all include a slot for high-speed microSD cards):
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64GB eMMC (1 PCIe Gen 2)
ABXY Buttons D
-pad L and R Analog Triggers L and R Face
View and Menu
Buttons 4 Assignable Grip Buttons
2 full-size analog sticks with capacitive touch
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2 x 32.5mm square trackpads with haptic feedback
Gyroscope: 6-axis IMU
|SCREEN||1280 x 800 pixel IPS LCD (16:10 aspect ratio)
7″ de diagonal
400 nits (typical)
|CONNECTIVITY||Bluetooth 5.0 (compatible with controls, accessories and audio)
Radio wifi od double band, 2.4 GHz y 5 GHz, 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
|AUDIO||Stereo with integrated DSP for an immersive sound experience
Dual microphone array
3.5mm stereo headphone/headset jack
Multi-channel audio via DisplayPort over USB-C, standard USB-C, or Bluetooth 5.0
|POWER AND BATTERY||45W USB Type-C PD3.0 Power Supply
40Wh battery. 2-8 hours of play
|EXTERNAL CONNECTIVITY||USB-C compatible with alternative mode DisplayPort 1.4; hasta 8K a 60 Hz o 4K a 120 Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2|
|SOFTWARE||OS: SteamOS 3.0 (Arch-based)|
|PRICES||64 GB: 419€
256 GB: 549€
512 GB: 679€
First contact with the Steam Deck
The first sensation when grasping the gadget is that a console (hereinafter we will call the Steam Deck that way to speed it up, but we understand each other) could not be created more voluminous and cumbersome and that was more comfortable to touch and use. Overflowing with buttons on its back and on the triggers, on the front it resembles a portable console to use, like a Vita or a Switch: two sticks and two groups of four buttons – a control crosshead and the usual four buttons of action-.
But it is obvious that Valve has invested time and resources to ensure that a 7-inch screen, a total size of 298 mm x 117 mm x 49 mm and a weight of no less than 669 grams, is comfortable and does not exhaust the player after use. continued. It is so thanks to the appropriateness of its grips and that it has been praised, among other things, for its ease to adapt to small hands. Quite simply, it’s hard to imagine a bigger screen and such a variety of buttons, sticks and triggers without losing its portable status.
Finally, at this first glance, an overall impression: it is absolutely impressive how the machine moves demanding games, such as ‘God of War’ or the latest installments of ‘DOOM’, ‘Tomb Raider’ or ‘Resident Evil’, to give a few examples that we have tried. The APU that mounts a Zen 2 between 2.4-3.5 GHz and an RDNA 2 GPU with 8 calculation units takes us to more than 30 frames per second (in more specific cases it is close to 60). Naturally, on a screen of this size and resolution, that 30 fps is more than enough for a full gaming experience.
Games run smoothly and stutter-free, and it’s certainly remarkable how frenetic, effects-heavy titles like the aforementioned last two ‘DOOM’ installments don’t suffer the slightest hitch. However, to ensure that the games are going to take full advantage of the console’s features, it is advisable to review the games approved by Steam for use on the console. Between those and those that have shown only minor performance bugs, a truly flawless catalog unfolds .
Entering the Steam Deck: impressions after several days of play
After these great first impressions, we have continued to squeeze the console for a few days. The next point to highlight: the battery, which Valve already announced would be between 2 and 8 hours, depending on the performance that we demanded from the games and their characteristics. Once tested, it has lasted the same for us: just two hours in powerful games and exceeding eight if you dedicate yourself to games at the stroke of pixel and with few demands techniques.
Another aspect that we have been able to verify when we have played more thoroughly is that the controls are very well studied, and some that are apparently unnecessary, such as the four buttons on the back, are revealed as truly useful. It is interesting, to get the most out of them, to use games with templates that take advantage of them, such as ‘Portal’ , to check to what extent all the buttons and triggers can be useful. Although the size of the console prevents the button layout from having the ergonomics of a Playstation 5 or Xbox controller, the design resolves the ballot gracefully, and reaches a very notable minimum of comfort.
It is interesting, to fully squeeze the back buttons, that you try games with templates that take advantage of them, such as ‘Portal’
Beyond that, the two trackpads try to make up for the absence of a mouse, but I have not particularly managed to get hold of them in games where precise use of the mouse is required, such as a shooter . In my games of ‘DOOM: Eternal’ I have ended up going back to stick controls. But in games with less frantic mouse use, like strategy games, it’s a great alternative, and certainly (in conjunction with touch screen use), much more interesting than sticks. It’s that kind of thing you don’t fall for until you have the console in your hands: the Steam Deck offers a wonderful revitalization of the RTS genre -for example- thanks to the accessibility of its controls.
And there is more: the gyroscope or the capacitive surface of the sticks are there for those who want to take advantage of them . In my case, I have not been able to squeeze them because I have not found games in which they are especially justified (although Valve itself, how could it be otherwise, puts the gyroscope to good use in ‘Half-Life 2’). It is to be expected that the indie community will start developing non-exclusive games for the Steam Deck (which, after all, is a PC with stuff), but especially designed to be played on it. Maybe we’ll see a “Recommended for Steam Deck” stamp in the future?
The problems of an open console
Finally, it is inevitable to refer to the compatibility problems of the games and the handling of the console itself. It should be made clear that in a very short time of use, the user is clear that the Steam Deck is used to tinker with it, and that if he does not do so and simply uses access to Steam to play titles purchased there, he is possibly losing part of its possibilities. And yet, you won’t even have the accessibility of using a Switch , for example: without going any further, although it is possible to connect the console to a monitor, the console is not capable of reaching 4K resolution on a large screen.
Steam Deck doesn’t quite work under Windows ( only on Windows 10 , and there are issues with sound drivers), but it does under Linux, so forget about dual booting for now. However, the Steam Deck is relatively open, which is why Valve allows applications and games outside of Steam without any problem . It’s good news for emulators and indie game lovers, who can access thumbnails from platforms like itch.io, and it’s also an attractive solution for those who want to use Steam Deck as a small tablet, and browse and watch videos. in her.
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Steam Deck doesn’t work quite right under Windows (Windows 10 only, and there are issues with sound drivers)
As for the compatible games and those that are not, it is a matter of arming yourself with patience: there are playable titles but with small errors. There are others that appear in the official lists as having various errors, but we have not been able to find them, such as ‘Assassins’ Creed IV Black Flag’, the ‘IV’ and ‘V’ deliveries of ‘Battlefield’, the first two ‘ Fallout’ or ‘Final Fantasy V’ and ‘VII’. As for those that do not work, we are assured that work is being done so that they do so in the future: it is your decision to do without titles like ‘Just Cause 2’ or ‘For Honor’ (which do not start), among a handful more .
In general, however, the Steam Deck is a very stable console and it is obvious that there are still spaces to be outlined or directly developed, especially when Valve is clearly focused on fixing serious performance bugs and making as many games work as possible. possible. Later there will be time to get exquisite, but for now the impression is positive in terms of manageability and possibilities.
It is true that the price is not the most affordable on the market, but it is also the cheapest of all those offered by Steam, perfectly covering the needs of a player who does not need to carry dozens of games in the console’s memory (in addition, the storage with a microSD card it makes up for the lack of a hard drive perfectly). For the very coffee growers, the 512 GB of the 679-euro model will allow them to carry around thirty games.
Steam Deck: Fadvices opinion
The crisis with the supply of materials has not allowed the Steam Deck to have the impact that Valve would have wanted, but even with all the obstacles it is encountering in its path, the truth is that this console is a small wonder. Valve has applied to its product what it has been learning in hardware development in recent years ( controllers , VR devices ) and has resulted in its most ambitious product. One that, in addition, can boast of not arriving to compete with anyone, but of covering a gap that until now remained virgin.
That gap is access to a library of games as huge as that of Steam, that is to say, very possibly, as soon as you are a medium-level player, it is possible that you do not have to acquire new titles to start using it, or in any case, you can find very juicy titles at a very affordable price. A considerable temptation for a piece of hardware that has in this year and the next a vital time frame to establish itself definitively.