Playing your games on the move is something that every gamer wants. But what I’m talking about is “real” games, not Angry Birds on your phone.
Well, the good thing is there’s Valve’s Steam Deck! With this crossbreed between your home PC and a Nintendo Switch, you will be able to play serious games whenever and wherever.
But is it truly worth it? Let’s take a look at this new-ish console and what it offers.
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What is Valve’s Steam Deck?
Valve is no stranger to hardware, having created the Steam Controller and Steam Link video game streaming box.
However, they recently launched the most anticipated gaming technology since… well, forever.
With Steam Deck, a hand-held device that, in the looks, resembles Nintendo Switch so much, Valve, not so silently, stepped into the area of gaming “on the move”.
The possibility to take your ever-growing Steam library with you wherever you go, albeit in a bit bulky shape, is something truly alluring.
Now, Steam Deck is definitely not the first portable console with PC parts, but with relatively low price and light speed improvements in quality, we can safely say that this is a revolution in the gaming world.
Steam Deck Design and Size
Even though you would often hear Steam Deck being compared to Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck could eat the latter for breakfast, if nothing, then in size alone.
At about 11.7 x 4.6 x 1.9 inches, Steam Deck could fit Nintendo Switch between the grips.
In short, it is massive and very likely, it won’t fit into your pocket that easily.
And before you start complaining, let me just say this – we wanted a long battery life without overheating and sizable memory, right? Well, in simple words – the components have to fit somewhere.
Besides, it is made so you can easily fix it yourself if the need arises, and you wouldn’t want to be meddling with all the tiny parts on your own.
Without regard to its size though, it’s still surprisingly light and fits in your hands wonderfully.
Steam Deck Software
This powerful little-ish device runs on SteamOS 3.0, an Arch Linux-based operating system and features a KDE Plasma 5 desktop.
It uses Proton for running Windows games on a Linux operating system. This tool, or compatibility layer, if you will, was also developed and released by Valve Software and since the end of 2020, most Steam games can be played on Linux, no questions asked.
We should note that not every game is playable on Steam Deck, yet, but with the speed and frequency of improvements, we expect that more and more games will be playable with every new update.
As for the user interface, the Deck uses a version of Steam desktop client, altered a bit, so it works well with controller input.
If you’re already acquaintanced with Steam layout, then you will have no trouble finding your way around with Deck.
Furthermore, you will be able to access your notifications, library, store, friends list, and more.
Through the Quick Settings button, you will get to play around with the options such as frame rate, refresh rate, brightness, volume, thermal power limit, and similar.
Depending on your level of tech-savviness, this might seem like a little or like a lot but be assured that there’s something for everyone and that you can customize your console perfectly for your playing enjoyment.
Steam Deck Performance
As we mentioned, there is room for improvement, as always, but for a handheld device, Stem Deck works spectacularly.
But to be a bit more technical, here are some letters and numbers for you:
All three models of Steam Deck use APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), which is a hybrid of CPU and GPU, created by AMD (Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.).
Also, all three models have 16GB RAM, which definitely isn’t as strong as a gaming PC or a laptop, but it’s more than enough to play quite a few games optimized for Steam OS and at a befitting frame rate.
Again, you might not be able to run all of the games in your library, but the list of verified games isn’t that short either, and the list of playable games is even longer.
Steam Deck for Streaming
The first question is – CAN Steam Deck be used for streaming games?
However, to stream games from your Steam Deck, you will have to install Windows and then a streaming service of your choice.
Now, Steam Deck is made to run the Steam operating system for both software and interface, but you will be able to install Windows or other Oss on the device.
Moreover, you will even be allowed to install Epic Games, the competitor.
So to answer the main question – yes, you will be able to stream from your Steam Deck.
Now, you won’t essentially need any additional accessories, but you will need to install Windows.
And here’s where the problem lies.
Considering that this handheld was not designed for Windows, and without the hardware-software integration, you can, without a mistake, expect that the performance of your device will be poorer, to say it lightly.
Furthermore, you might even experience problems with overheating and battery life, especially while playing more demanding games.
So in short, Steam Deck isn’t the ideal device for streaming and we wouldn’t recommend it, either as a primary or a secondary streaming device, but if you’re intending to stream some fairly simple games that are not too demanding, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you’re always free to give it a try.
Steam Deck and Non-Steam Games
As a short addition and logical continuation to installing Windows, let’s just mention that there’s even a possibility to plan non-Steam games.
Well, the same way you can install Windows for streaming, you can install any other Linux-based game launchers.
And what this means for you is that, if there is a Linux version of the game you want to play on the Deck, that game will be playable on the device.
With Windows games, though, some problems might arise, and in our opinion, it is not worth the hassle.
When all is taken into consideration, Steam Deck is a truly revolutionary piece of handheld technology.
Playing your PC games wherever and whenever is a dream come true, and with fairly strong hardware and software, and the ever-growing list of supported games, the enjoyment of playing is immense!
Sadly, it is not the perfect piece of equipment for streaming, or not yet, but we’re eager to see the direction in which this (not so little) piece of wonder develops.