A new challenger has emerged in the gaming hardware category. Game distribution giant Valve today announced the launch of Steam Deck, a $399 gaming portable designed to take PC games on the go.
The handheld (which has echoes of several portable gaming rigs of years past) features a seven-inch screen and runs on a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, coupled with AMD RDNA 2 graphics and 16GB of RAM. Storage runs 64GB to 512GB, the latter of which bumps the price up to $649. The built-in storage can be augmented via microSD.
Naturally, the thing is custom built for Valve’s wildly popular Steam platform (it’s right there in the name, after all). Users log into their Steam account and their library — and friends list — are right there, ready to go. There’s even a dedicated Steam button.
The system has been rumored for some time now, but it enters the world during a rapidly evolving era for gaming. Essentially the company is hoping to outperform the admitted graphical limitations of Nintendo’s Switch (OLED or no), while filling in the gap as cloud-based gaming from companies like Microsoft are still working on a foothold as they deal with latency and other technical limitations. There’s also the Nvidia Shield Portable — though we’ve not heard much from that project, of late.
Flanking the 1280 x 800 touchscreen are a pair of trackpads and thumb sticks. A built-in gyroscope also uses movement to control the gaming experience. There’s a single USB-C port for charging, peripherals and connecting to a big screen, while a 40Wh battery promises between 7-8 hours of gameplay, by Valve’s numbers.
The system is up for preorder now and starts shipping this December, in time for the holidays.