Valve’s Steam Deck is the first big name device to enter the burgeoning handheld PC gaming scene, and it’s made a big impact already. With its high-powered AMD hardware, Valve’s strong ergonomics, and a unique Linux operating system that promises responsive gaming and good battery life, it could be a killer device when it starts shipping later this year.
As great as the Steam deck is all by itself, though, it also has heaps of expandability, with the option to connect a variety of devices and accessories, as well as external displays to play your Steam games on any big screen, wherever you go. This is all facilitated through the Steam Deck USB-C dock and support for standalone USB-C dock peripherals, which have the option of a number of different connectors, making it extremely versatile, no matter what display or device you want to connect it to.
Whether you want to use an HDMI 2.0 cable, DisplayPort 1.4 cable, or just hook it up to wired internet with an Ethernet cable, the Steam Deck will give you all sorts of connectivity options.
When will the Steam Deck launch, and how much will it cost?
The Steam Deck release date is set for later this year, and it’s already available for pre-order. It’ll start shipping in December, but unfortunately, that’s just for the very early pre-order units. For anyone making an order right now, you won’t get it until Q2 2022 at the earliest, which means we’re a long, long way off you being able to buy one of these and it shows up at your door a few days later.
Valve has announced three tiers of Steam Deck specs, each with their own price tag. The base version is priced at $399 and comes with almost all of the same internal hardware, but with just 64GB of eMMC storage. That’s quite limited and will be the slowest storage option of the three, but it’s still the most affordable.
The $529 version comes with 256GB of NVMe SSD storage, which is both faster and much more expansive, giving buyers more space for more games and faster load times. It also includes an official carry case.
The most expensive option is $649, and has double the storage again – 512GB – but also upgrades the screen cover to one made of a premium anti-glare etched glass, for reduced reflections. It also comes with a couple of Steam-specific upgrades to the buyer’s profile and has a unique virtual keyboard theme.
The Steam Deck release date for each of these models is exactly the same – December for the lucky few who got in early, next year for everyone else.
Steam Deck Specs – What’s under the hood?
The Steam Deck specs made big news when they were first released, offering some of the best performing hardware among existing and announced handheld gaming PCs. It features a quad-core (eight thread) AMD Zen 2 processor and AMD RDNA2 GPU on a new custom APU, paired with 16GB of LPDDR5 memory. Storage options vary depending on the version you purchase, but the Steam deck specs remain the same for each of the different configurations.
They each have a seven-inch LCD touchscreen display, running at 1280 x 800 at 60Hz. There’s a 40 watt hour battery under the chassis, and a custom cooling solution to help keep the internal components cool and able to operate at maximum performance for as long as possible without throttling.
The Steam Deck specs don’t include a wide range of ports, but with a USB-C connection, the Steam Deck is super versatile. Along with connecting directly to USB-C drives, controllers, and accessories, it can connect to the Steam Deck USB-C dock, which offers HDMI DisplayPort and Ethernet connections.
While the Steam Deck USB-C dock has not been officially unveiled, you can connect it to any number of Cable Matters USB-C docks for even more options – including pass-through charging and faster networking.
USB-C Multiport Adapter with 8K HDMI
The Steam Deck USB-C dock lets you connect to a large screen TV for playing games on a much bigger screen. Just make sure you have the right HDMI or DisplayPort cable to connect it.
Steam Deck Games – What can you play?
If you consider the Steam Deck a games console, the Steam Deck games library is the most expansive of any console in history. It has theoretical access to thousands of games, many of which will work fantastically well on day one.
Valve’s Proton compatibility layer allows Windows games to play on its custom Linux operating system. Though the optimization won’t be perfect for all games – and some outright won’t work with it – there are a wide range of fantastic Steam Deck games you’ll be able to play right away, on the small screen or connected to a larger display.
Due to the Steam Deck specs being a little limited compared to big gaming PCs, older games and indie games will play best, but that’s not to say you can’t enjoy AAA titles too. The Witcher III should run well enough, as should Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Doom Eternal, or Divinity Original Sin: 2. Less demanding games like Stardew Valley, Valheim, or Minecraft would be great options too.
Valve’s own titles, like CS:GO, Half Life 2, and DotA 2, should be some of the best day-one Steam Deck games to play.