Valve recently announced the Steam Deck, a portable gaming PC centered around the company’s own SteamOS. The console is likely to be a major competitor to the Nintendo Switch and as expected people are already comparing the two, but how does the new handheld gaming system perform and what will it be truly capable of? Before comparing them, let us take a closer look at both devices.
The Nintendo Switch has sold 84.5 million as of March of this year, proving it to be a huge success for Nintendo. The Switch is a less powerful console than the Xbox One and Playstation 4, yet the downgraded graphics and performance have not impacted Nintendo’s sales. Even with Sony’s and Microsoft’s current generation of consoles in the market, the Switch is performing extremely well with the new OLED version showing promise.
The Steam Deck is powered by a custom APU, consisting of the AMD Zen 2 CPU and the AMD RDNA 2 GPU, while also packing 16GB of RAM along with up to 512GB of SSD storage. It is obvious that the Steam Deck is using the latest architectures, and those specs are especially impressive for a handheld device. The specifications of the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch in comparison are as follows.
As you can see, the Steam Deck is a clear winner when it comes to power, but some of Valve’s claims have yet to be confirmed, such as its ability to output 4K.
Like the Switch, the Steam Deck has limited storage space, but you can use an external SD card to extend that space. However, unlike the Switch, the storage extension might be a commodity rather than a necessity. The Steam Deck will be available in the three variants of 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB, well above the 32GB of memory that you will find on the Switch.
The Steam Deck prices will vary at $399, $529, and $649 based on its memory storage variant consequently. With the Switch at the price of $299, the Steam Deck is the less economic option of the two (without taking into consideration the cheaper Switch Lite).
However, PC gamers who are looking to enjoy their large collection of games on the go may see the Steam Deck as an acceptable option.
Regardless of its power, the Steam Deck is not above the limitations to resolution when handheld. Similar to the Switch, the Steam Deck will be limited to a 720p resolution (1280 x 720 to be exact) through its 7-inch screen. While the Switch can get its resolution scaled to 1080p when docked, with the Steam Deck you will have to purchase the dock separately if you wish to dock it in the same way.
The performance of the Steam Deck is enabled by the SteamOS, but this is something that doesn’t yet reveal how games that are already available on your PC will run on the device. We can assume that almost any Steam game can be played on the Steam Deck without any problems.
With all certainty, the Steam Deck is in many ways more powerful than the Switch. Maybe this is what Valve needs to get itself outside its comfort zone and innovate beyond the Steam client. Especially with previously unsuccessful efforts such as the Steam controller and the Steam Machine, it is interesting to see how this device is expected when it hits the market.