Don’t Buy a Steam Deck Until You Read This


Don’t Buy a Steam Deck Until You Read This

Since Valve was first founded in 1996, the iconic video game developer, publisher, and distributor has been at the center of the online gaming industry. From their development of gaming platform Steam to their role in the creation of such popular franchises as Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Portal, and beyond, Valve is undoubtedly one of the most important companies in gaming today. This fact was further bolstered by the release of the Steam Deck in 2022. However, we should warn you: You shouldn’t buy a Steam Deck until you read this guide.

Steam Deck: The Basics

Product TypeHandheld Video Game System
Release DateFebruary 25th, 2022
Price Range$399-$649
System-on-ChipSemi-custom AMD APU (codename “Aerith”)
Memory16GB (88 GB/s)
Size298mm x 117mm x 49mm

History of the Steam Deck

As any loyal follower of Valve will be able to tell you, the Steam Deck is not the company’s first foray into the handheld gaming industry. In 2015, the company released the Steam Machine: a product intended to bring PC gaming to the living room by offering a console-like experience with the power and flexibility of a full-fledged PC. First announced in 2013, the Steam Machine ran on SteamOS — a Linux-based operating system developed by Valve. The Steam Machine also featured a unique controller that bridged the gap between traditional console controllers and desktop setups.

Despite its innovation, the Steam Machine did not take off as expected. From a lack of exclusive games to difficult competition from established consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox to the sheer cost of the Steam Machine itself, the product failed to gain traction and was eventually discontinued in 2018. However, the lessons learned were not forgotten. Valve took the pros and cons of the Steam Machine and applied them to the Steam Deck, which functions not unlike the Nintendo Switch.

The Steam Deck runs on the same Linux-based SteamOS as the Steam Machine, but Valve made a number of key improvements to make it simpler and easier to use. The Steam Deck allows users to play Steam games while docked to a desktop PC or via handheld mode that can be used on the go. It’s a powerful little device, capable of running AAA games in handheld mode with ease, and it’s made all the better for its ability to dock to a computer or a television. That being said, there’s still more to know before you buy a Steam Deck.

steam deck
Similar to the Switch, users can play Steam games while docked to a desktop PC or via handheld mode on the go.


What’s Included When You Buy a Steam Deck

Let’s take a look at what’s included in a full-fledged Steam Deck setup. This includes both the hardware and the software behind the Steam Deck. What do you need to enjoy your Steam Deck? What comes in the box, and what will you need to pay extra for? Let’s dive in.

Steam Deck Hardware

Hardware Specifications
ProcessorAMD APU
APU power: 4-15W
CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz
GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz
Storage Options64 GB eMMC
512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD
Additional StorageMicroSD slot
ControlsA B X Y buttons
L & R analog triggers
L & R bumpers
View & Menu buttons
4 x assignable grip buttons
2 x full-size analog sticks with capacitive touch
2 x square trackpads with haptic feedback
Display Resolution1280px x 800px
Display Aspect Ratio16:10
Display TypeLCD Touchscreen
Display Size7 inches
Display Brightness400 nits
Display Refresh Rate60Hz
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0
Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
Battery40Whr battery (2-8 hours of play)
Size298mm x 117mm x 49mm

As you can clearly see, the Steam Deck is the most technologically advanced product that Valve has released to date. (It has to be this way if it wants to support AAA gaming on the go.) From its large screen to its fast storage and memory to its powerful processors and every other hardware spec in between, the Steam Deck is built to deliver an efficient handheld gaming computer that can keep up with the demands of the latest and greatest games on the market. Couple this with its ergonomic and comfortable controls, and it’s clear to see why someone would buy a Steam Deck.

Steam Deck Software

Software Specifications
Operating SystemSteamOS 3.0 (Arch-based)
DesktopKDE Plasma

Thanks to the development and release (and eventual discontinuation) of the Steam Machine, the Steam Deck had a head start on its software specs. Equipped with the Arch-based SteamOS 3.0 operating system and relying on KDE Plasma when docked to the computer, the Steam Deck’s OS is sleek and functional. You’ll have no problem browsing Steam, looking through your library of games, or seamlessly transitioning from device to device without interruption. It’s compatibility combined with ease of use — pretty much all a person could ask for from a handheld console such as this.

AYA NEO vs. Steam Deck
The Steam Deck has a 7-inch display with a 60Hz refresh rate.


The Steam Deck Docking Station

Docking Station Specifications
PeripheralsThree USB-A 3.1 Gen1 Ports
External Display SupportDisplayPort 1.4
HDMI 2.0
Size117mm x 29mm x 50.5mm

One thing you won’t find in the hardware or software when you buy a Steam Deck? The Steam Deck Docking Station. An integral part of the Steam Deck’s marketing, the Docking Station is nevertheless an add-on to your basic Steam Deck setup. You’re going to have to pay extra if you want to enjoy the advantages of a Docking Station. Available for an additional $89.00, the Steam Deck Docking Station supports your Steam Deck whenever it’s connected to an external display, a wired network, a USB device, or a power source. A Docking Station will definitely come in handy, even with its cost.

Steam Deck Extras

In addition to these hardware and software specs (plus the addition of the Steam Deck Docking Station), there are some other extras that come with the Steam Deck that have not been previously mentioned. Depending on the model you purchase — the 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB version — you can expect to open up the box and see some bonus items included inside.

For the 64GB model, this includes a carrying case. The 256GB model includes the case and an exclusive Steam Community profile bundle. For the 512GB model, this includes an exclusive carrying case, an exclusive Steam Community profile bundle, a stronger anti-glare etched glass screen, and an exclusive virtual keyboard theme.

Steam Deck Reviews

By now, it’s safe to say we have a solid understanding of what the Steam Deck is and what it entails. But what about its reviews? More than a year after its release date, what are people saying now that they’ve been able to play around with the Valve device for many months now? For starters, in the early hours after the Steam Deck’s announcement, the reception was mostly positive. People were excited at the prospect of a Nintendo Switch-esque device that could handle AAA games not available on the Switch. However, the tone changed slightly once the product dropped.

Battery Life

A vast majority of the product’s mixed or negative reviews have to do with its battery life. While Valve claims the battery can last from two to eight hours — which is right around what the Nintendo Switch battery has to offer, to be fair — players soon noticed the battery drained a lot faster than that with the brightness up and a newer game being played. Some were seeing their Steam Decks dying in as little as an hour. While this isn’t an issue when the device is docked, the handheld capabilities are still a core part of the device. As such, a bad battery is a valid concern.

Despite this big qualm, there’s plenty to love about the Steam Deck. It’s incredibly powerful, it runs enormous games with ease, it functions as a great game emulator, it connects to televisions and computers very easily, and it makes LAN file transfers simpler than ever. Still, that battery life — paired with its lone USB-C port and its somewhat bulky size — is something anyone looking to buy a Steam Deck should keep in mind. All in all, it’s a great product, but these concerns are enough to make you yearn for something even better.

Should You Buy A Steam Deck?

So, should you buy a Steam Deck? Or are you better off purchasing the more affordable and universally acclaimed Nintendo Switch (despite its lack of AAA PC games)? In the end, the choice is ultimately yours. If you have a gaming computer already, you probably won’t need a Steam Deck. All you’d be gaining is an hour or two of handheld gaming at most, which probably isn’t worth the price.

However, if you’re someone without a proper gaming computer who isn’t interested in the Nintendo Switch, then the Steam Deck could be a great investment for you — especially the more affordable 64 GB model in the $400 range. When all is said and done, the Steam Deck has plenty of loyal supporters (as does Valve). The Steam Deck is unlikely to let you down, even with that short battery life.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is the Steam Deck?

The price of the Steam Deck ranges from $399 to the 64 GB model all the way up to $649 for the 512 GB model. In addition to this up-front cost, it will also cost you an additional $89 for the Steam Deck Docking Station (which is not included in the price of the product). You can also expect to pay for games, as well. Thankfully, Steam tends to have some of the most affordable PC games around.

Does Valve sell replacement parts for the Steam Deck?

While there are replacement parts available to purchase for the Steam Deck, they are sold through iFixit, not Valve. All replacement parts and relevant guides for repairing a Steam Deck can be found on the iFixit website. The website also offers a number of helpful tutorial videos to walk you through the process of repairing some of the most common fixes for the Steam Deck.

Does the Steam Deck offer an offline mode?

There is an offline mode for the Steam Deck, but — just as you would with a PC — you need to make sure you download the games ahead of time. Additionally, you won’t be able to engage with online multiplayer games while in offline mode. Furthermore, some games require a constant internet connection in order to work. You won’t be able to play these games in offline mode, either.

Can you use the Steam Deck as a controller for PC gaming?

Yes, you can use the Steam Deck as a controller for playing games on your PC. All you’ll have to do is connect it via Remote Play, which should ten allow you to use the Steam Deck as nothing more than a glorified controller for your PC games. You can also dock the Steam Deck to your PC via the Docking Station.

Can you run both desktop apps and Steam games while docked?

Yes, you can run both desktop apps and Steam games when your Steam Deck is docked. All you have to do is hit the Steam button and go to your Home or Library screen while running a game or app. From here, you can launch a second application that will then appear in the menu on the lefthand side. This is how you’ll switch back and forth between applications.

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