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When it comes to gaming, the choice between a Steam Deck vs a gaming laptop can be a difficult one. Both options have pros and cons, and the best choice depends on your individual needs and preferences.

A Steam Deck is a dedicated gaming device specifically designed for gaming and is generally more affordable. In contrast, a gaming laptop is a portable computer that can be used for other tasks, such as browsing the internet or working on office documents, in addition to gaming, but it is typically more expensive.

In this guide, we will compare Steam Deck and gaming laptops in terms of performance, portability, and cost to help you determine which makes more sense for you.

Steam Deck vs. Gaming Laptop: Side-by-Side Comparison

Steam DeckGaming Laptop
What it isA Steam Deck is a small form factor gaming computer designed by Valve, the company behind the popular PC gaming platform, Steam. It is an all-in-one gaming system with a built-in monitor, keyboard, and mouse, making it a complete gaming solution. The Steam Deck runs on a customized version of the Linux operating system.A Gaming Laptop is a type of laptop that is specifically designed for playing video games. These laptops typically feature high-performance components such as powerful CPUs and GPUs, as well as fast memory and storage, to ensure smooth and responsive gameplay. They also often have specialized gaming features such as programmable keys, customizable lighting, and advanced cooling systems.
PriceMore Affordable (starts at $400)More Expensive (most good gaming laptops start at $1000)
PortabilityLightweight, small size allows for easy transportationIt can be bulky and not as easy to transport as Steam Deck
StorageLimited storage compared to gaming laptops.Generally more storage capacity than Steam Decks.
UsabilityDedicated GamingMulti-purpose
UpgradeabilityLimitedMore Flexible
Form FactorCompactLarger
Gaming PerformanceLower level performance compared to gaming laptops.Higher level performance.
UsabilityDesigned solely for gamingIt can be used for various tasks, such as browsing the internet and working on office documents

Steam Deck vs. Gaming Laptop: What’s the Difference?

The Steam Deck has quickly gained popularity in the gaming community for its compact size and versatility. Many users have even started using it as their primary computer, as it has the capability to meet the majority of their needs.

This rise in popularity has led to a new debate among gamers, as the Steam Deck is now being compared to the traditional gaming laptop. But before you ditch your gaming laptop for a Steam Deck, here are some key differences you need to know about.

Price

Price is one of the most significant differences between Steam Decks and gaming laptops. Steam Decks are generally more affordable than gaming laptops.

The Steam Deck is a compact, dedicated gaming device specifically designed for use with the Steam platform, allowing it to offer a lower price point compared to gaming laptops. Steam Decks usually cost in the range of $300 to $700.

Valve Steam Deck 64 GB
$444.00
  • Carrying case included
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On the other hand, gaming laptops are often more expensive, with prices ranging from $800 to $3000 and beyond, depending on the specs and features of the device. The main reason for this price difference is that gaming laptops are designed to be versatile and powerful, with the ability to run demanding games and perform other tasks such as video editing, 3D rendering, and more.

They also have more powerful hardware, such as dedicated graphics cards, high-end processors, and more RAM. So, if budget is a concern for you and you are looking for a more affordable option, a Steam Deck might be the better choice. But, a gaming laptop would be better if you require more power and versatility.

Portability

A Steam Deck offers much better portability due to its small size and weight compared to a laptop. The Steam Deck is the size of a game controller and is designed to be held in your hands while you play, making it a great option for gaming on the go. On the other hand, even though a gaming laptop is portable, it is often bulky and requires a power outlet.

Additionally, gaming laptops can become quite hot after extended use, meaning they cannot be used on your lap or in a tight space. While both devices provide a good gaming experience, the Steam Deck is much more suitable for gamers who want a lightweight device to go with them wherever they go.

Performance

When it comes to performance, both Steam Decks and gaming laptops have a lot to offer. Steam Decks are designed to be small and portable, so they have to make compromises on the hardware used. They typically have less powerful processors, graphics cards, and less RAM compared to gaming laptops.

This means they may be unable to handle games that require a lot of processing power, such as those with high-resolution graphics or complex AI. On the other hand, gaming laptops are designed to be powerful and able to handle demanding games.

They are equipped with high-end processors, graphics cards, and a large amount of RAM, making them capable of running games with high-resolution graphics and complex AI. They can also handle more demanding games and support VR experience.

Games Library

A Steam Deck is a dedicated gaming console, much like the Sony PlayStation or Microsoft Xbox, and therefore it comes preloaded with hundreds of games designed to play on the system. On the other hand, a gaming laptop can run any game that is available for its operating system.

So, if you’re looking for a specific game or type of game, your selection may be much more limited with a Steam Deck than with a gaming laptop. However, there are some advantages to using a Steam Deck over a gaming laptop.

For example, with a Steam Deck, you have access to Steam’s massive library of games, which includes more than 5,000 titles. This allows you to choose from a wide variety of games, including many that are not available on other platforms. Furthermore, Steam often has discounts and sales on games, which can help you save money while still getting a great gaming experience.

Battery

A Steam Deck is designed with an efficient hardware setup and an optimized operating system that helps it get better battery life compared to a gaming laptop. While a Steam Deck can last for hours, even with demanding games, a gaming laptop will require you to plug it in or limit your game settings to conserve battery life.

Types of Games

Steam Deck is ideal for playing indie games, such as 2D platformers and some 3D games, but it does not offer the best performance for AAA heavy-duty games. Gaming laptops, on the other hand, can handle more demanding titles. Ultimately, what type of game you plan to play should be a determining factor when deciding which device to buy.

For example, if you are looking for an affordable option to enjoy your favorite retro classics or some free-to-play battle royale titles, Steam Deck may be your best bet. If you are looking to experience AAA blockbusters at their fullest potential, then investing in a high-end gaming laptop is your only option.

Input / Controls

alienware x14
Gaming laptops enable gaming on the move and in spaces where you don’t have access to a desk.

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When it comes to playing games, the controls you use can make a huge difference in your gaming experience. With a Steam Deck, you get all the buttons and controls you’d find on a regular controller, along with two trackpads, four mappable buttons, and the ability to connect to a wireless keyboard and mouse.

On the other hand, with a gaming laptop, you are often stuck with an inferior keyboard and a trackpad for navigation. You also have to buy additional input devices like controllers and keyboards if you want something better.

This can add up to a lot of extra costs, as well as the added burden of having to carry all these devices around with you. In this sense, the Steam Deck provides a much more convenient and economical solution.

Ease of Use

A Steam Deck is an all-in-one gaming system. It is designed to be as simple as possible, with minimal setup required. The Steam controller offers precise control, and the steam interface makes navigation easy. In addition, games on Steam can be purchased directly from the store, making it easy to find the games you want.

On the other hand, gaming laptops require more setup before you can start playing. You must install the necessary drivers, connect other peripherals, and ensure your graphics card is properly configured.

This may require some technical knowledge, which can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with computers. Additionally, it can be difficult to find the games you want since you need to search through numerous online stores or download sites.

Steam Deck vs. Gaming Laptop: 10 Must-Know Facts

  1. Gaming laptops generally have more power and can handle more demanding games than Steam Decks.
  2. Steam Decks are much lighter than gaming laptops. Most Steam Decks weigh around 2-3 pounds, while gaming laptops typically range from 5-9 pounds or more.
  3. Gaming laptops are the superior choice in terms of performance. They come equipped with top-of-the-line hardware, including processors, graphics cards, RAM, and storage space, that deliver maximum performance for any gaming needs.
  4. Steam Deck is much more affordable than gaming laptops. Steam Decks are available for $400, while most gaming laptops start around $1000 and can cost upwards of several thousand dollars.
  5. Most gaming laptops come with higher-resolution displays and larger screen sizes, while Steam Decks usually have smaller displays and lower resolutions.
  6. While Steam Decks are great for gaming and streaming, they are not as versatile as laptops since they are designed specifically for gaming purposes. On the other hand, laptops can do more than just game, making them a better choice for people who need a multi-purpose device.
  7. Steam Deck runs on SteamOS or other Linux-based operating systems, while gaming laptops run on Windows or macOS.
  8. Some games may not be compatible with SteamOS and may not run on Steam Decks.
  9. Gaming laptops feature specialized gaming features such as programmable keys, customizable lighting, and advanced cooling systems.
  10. Gaming laptops usually have high-refresh-rate displays that provide smooth visuals, and some models also feature G-Sync or FreeSync technology to reduce screen tearing and stuttering.

Steam Deck vs. Gaming Laptop: Which One Makes More Sense?

Ultimately, the choice between a Steam Deck and a gaming laptop depends on your individual needs and preferences. A Steam Deck allows you to play games from your Steam library and stream content from other services.

On the other hand, gaming laptops offer higher-end specs and performance for more intense gaming. While both devices offer pros and cons, it’s important to consider which makes the most sense for your gaming needs.

The Steam Deck is ideal for those who want an easy-to-use gaming device that can fit in small spaces. It has a minimalistic design and offers access to your Steam as well as streaming options like Netflix and Hulu. 

While the Steam Deck may lack some graphical power compared to a gaming laptop, its simplicity and portability make it an excellent choice for casual gamers. On the other hand, gaming laptops are powerful enough to handle more intense gaming experiences while offering some portability. However, they’re more expensive and require more maintenance than the Steam Deck.

Steam Deck vs. Gaming Laptop: Which One Makes More Sense? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a Steam Deck?

A Steam Deck is a small form factor gaming computer designed by Valve, the company behind the popular PC gaming platform, Steam. It is an all-in-one gaming system with a built-in monitor, keyboard, and mouse, making it a complete gaming solution. The Steam Deck runs on a customized version of the Linux operating system.

What is a gaming laptop?

A gaming laptop is a portable computer that is designed for high-performance gaming. It typically has more powerful hardware than a standard laptop, such as a dedicated graphics card and high-performance processor. These laptops are preferred by gamers who want to play games while on the go or in places where desktops are not allowed.

Which one is more powerful, a Steam Deck or a gaming laptop?

A gaming laptop is typically more powerful than a Steam Deck, as it is designed for more demanding and professional gaming needs. It has more powerful hardware and advanced features such as overclocking and custom cooling systems.

Which one is easier to use, a Steam Deck or a gaming laptop?

A Steam Deck is generally considered easier to use as it is designed to be plug-and-play and comes with a user-friendly interface similar to that of a gaming console. Gaming laptops are often more complex and require more technical knowledge to set up and use.

Can I upgrade the components of a Steam Deck or a gaming laptop?

The Steam Deck has limited upgrade options, such as adding a MicroSD card for additional storage or replacing or upgrading the SSD. However, it is not recommended to upgrade the RAM. On the other hand, some gaming laptops have empty expandable slots for RAM and M.2 SSD that can be accessed by removing the bottom shell of the device.

However, both the Steam Deck and gaming laptops are limited in their ability to upgrade or change major components like the CPU and GPU.

Is Steam Deck worth it if you have a gaming PC?

If you already have a gaming PC, then the question of whether a Steam Deck is worth it really comes down to how portable and convenient you want your gaming experience to be. A Steam Deck can provide an incredibly portable gaming experience, allowing you to take your gaming on the go without any additional setup or hardware.

What is the price difference between a Steam Deck and a gaming laptop?

The price of a Steam Deck and a gaming laptop can vary depending on the specific model and features. However, gaming laptops generally tend to be more expensive than Steam Decks.

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