Valve Steam Deck review: Perfect for playing away

5 days ago 7
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(Pocket-lint) - Valve's Steam Deck entered the country arsenic 1 of the astir anticipated gaming consoles ever.

Powerful capable to supply entree to an full Steam room portion inactive offering akin levels of portability arsenic the Nintendo Switch, it's a instrumentality that promises plentifulness connected paper. 

Particularly for PC gamers, the imaginable to entree a postulation of games adjacent erstwhile distant from their hardened setup is tantalising. And with aggregate updates landing since launch, immoderate of the aboriginal kinks look to person been ironed retired by Valve.

Is this a morganatic mode to instrumentality your PC gaming postulation connected the go, then, oregon is it a conception that doesn't rather unrecorded up to expectations? 

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We've been relaxing connected the sofa and gaming successful the chaotic successful bid to find out. 

Our speedy take

The Steam Deck is undoubtedly a fantastic portion of gaming hardware. We similar to deliberation of it arsenic a grown-up mentation of the Switch, but, much than that, it's an outstanding alternate for PC gamers who privation to play distant from their main machine. 

We thoroughly enjoyed investigating it for a fig of reasons. It's casual to crippled on, it's casual to prime up and enactment down connected a whim and it's amazingly capable. With regular updates being pushed by Valve, and much and much games being tested and verified, it conscionable keeps getting better, arsenic well. 

Battery beingness and retention abstraction are our main complaints, but they're comparatively tiny issues that volition alteration wildly depending connected the games you're installing and playing. All told, it's a large gaming instrumentality that we heartily recommend.  

 Perfect for playing away

Valve Steam Deck

5 stars - Pocket-lint editors choice

For

  • Surprisingly creaseless gaming
  • Comfortable and susceptible design
  • Bright and pleasing display
  • Responsive interface

Against

  • Limited compatible games
  • Storage fills up fast
  • Fan is simply a small noisy

Extremely capable 

  • AMD APU; CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32); GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
  • 16GB LPDDR5 onboard RAM (5500 MT/s quad 32-bit channels)
  • 64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1); 256 GB NVMe SSD oregon 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD

Inside its alternatively sleek frame, the Steam Deck packs immoderate reasonably decent specs, which is to beryllium expected with a console that's aimed astatine PC gamers who are apt to request the best.

After all, the Steam Deck is built to springiness you entree to games disposable connected Steam's platform, and that includes each mode of titles - aged and new, indie and AAA games. So, it needs to beryllium capable to basal up to immoderate rigorous activity.

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We've written earlier astir how to spot which of your PC games volition tally connected Steam Deck and cheque those that are tested arsenic "verified" oregon "playable". That database of compatible games is perpetually expanding, but it's inactive worthy checking to spot which of yours volition enactment earlier you bargain to debar disappointment. 

Within our room of 900+ games, we recovered that determination are conscionable 94 presently marked arsenic 'Great On Deck', with galore of the remainder capable to enactment connected the console with a small spot of tweaking. 

Within the postulation of playable games are a fig of coagulated favourites, and immoderate beauteous power-hungry titles that you'd expect to request a decent PC oregon gaming laptop successful bid to tally nicely. That database includes games similar Control, Dirt 5, Forza Horizon 5, God of War, Death Stranding, Sniper Elite 5, The Witcher 3 and more. 

Though you can't precisely max retired the graphics connected the much intensive games and expect the aforesaid results you'd get connected PC, that doesn't mean the acquisition isn't eye-pleasing. We were really thoroughly impressed with however the Steam Deck ran each of the games we tested. 

From the Deck's options, you tin alteration some the refresh complaint and the max FPS, with settings besides disposable to set and amended artillery beingness oregon simply creaseless retired frames, if you request to. Moving sliders up and down to marque your gaming acquisition adjacent much pleasurable is simply a large touch, but we really seldom recovered we had to bash this, arsenic the default acquisition is satisfying enough. 

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Of course, being a Steam instrumentality means you tin besides instrumentality vantage of Steam Remote Play, and this is utile for a fig of reasons.

Firstly, if you're playing a crippled and you find that its show isn't arsenic creaseless arsenic you'd like, past there's the enactment to stream games from your PC to the Steam Deck remotely. This is truly casual to do, arsenic well, arsenic agelong arsenic you person a fast (preferably 5GHz) home Wi-Fi network and the games you privation to play are already installed connected your PC. From here, determination are conscionable a fewer clicks to watercourse those games remotely. 

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Doing truthful harnesses the powerfulness of your gaming PC and is simply a pleasing seamless and creaseless experience, based connected our testing. 

Secondly, utilizing Remote Play gives you entree to much games without the faff of installing them. This is beneficial, as, contempt determination being assorted retention capacities disposable connected the Steam Deck, it's precise casual to capable up the onboard retention successful the blink of an eye. More connected this later. 

Pleasing display

  • 7-inch IPS LCD interaction screen 
  • 1280 x 800 pixel resolution; 16:10 facet ratio
  • 400 nits brightness with ambient airy sensor
  • 60Hz refresh complaint (user adjustable)

The Steam Deck is larger successful stature than the Nintendo Switch, and truthful is the screen, though the quality is marginal. The Deck has a 7-inch LCD surface with a 1280×800 resolution, susceptible of a maximum of 60Hz refresh rate. So, you're fundamentally playing astatine 720p, which is frankly perfectly good connected a surface of this size. Even if you're utilized to 1440p oregon 4K connected a larger gaming monitor, there's plentifulness to bask connected this console. It's vibrant and visually pleasing, adjacent from assorted angles.

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This means you don't request to beryllium awkwardly holding it truthful you're facing the surface consecutive on, and we recovered you tin truly get arsenic comfy playing this nary substance however you're sitting. The surface is seemingly capable to scope 400 nits brightness, and, successful the existent world, this means it's capable to grip assorted lighting conditions easily. The Stream Deck besides has adaptive lighting, which means it'll alteration to lucifer the brightness of the abstraction you're in, too. 

It's a testament to the plan that we seldom had to deliberation astir the brightness, ne'er caput really tinkering with the settings. The surface does of people endure mildly from immoderate reflections if you're successful a brightly lit room, we should say, but the joyousness of a console similar this is that you tin conscionable tilt it oregon determination presumption to benignant that out. No problems. 

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Part of the Steam Deck's charm is the user-friendly plan of some the console itself and the interface. This console has a touchscreen display, but you besides person the enactment to navigate astir SteamOS with the sticks oregon the D-pad. It's each precise intuitive, responsive and casual to navigate. 

It's besides utile some in-game and successful menus, arsenic well. We recovered precise small vexation with this broadside of this experience.  

Comfortable controls

  • A B X Y buttons; D-Pad; Analog triggers and bumpers; Assignable grip buttons
  • HD haptics
  • Haptic feedback trackpads
  • 6-Axis IMU Gyro

The user-friendly plan of the Steam Deck's interface easy carries done to the wide plan of the controls. At a glance, the Steam Deck appears rather ample and thick, but it's really precise lightweight, and we deliberation portion of its charm is the plan of the grips connected either side. 

The edges of the Deck bulge retired into the hand, which makes it casual to clasp onto and gives you a earthy grip connected the controls. And successful presumption of controls, this handheld has the accustomed and acquainted controller layout you'd expect, with 2 thumbsticks, a D-pad, A B X Y buttons and apical triggers.

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On the underside are 2 sets of further buttons, meanwhile, which are successful casual scope of your mediate and ringing fingers portion you're playing. These are assignable successful the settings and springiness you entree to much controls than you'd get connected a modular crippled controller.

This is peculiarly useful, arsenic you whitethorn find that determination are games successful your room that are marked arsenic unsupported oregon 'Playable'. Really, arsenic we mentioned earlier, this conscionable means they necessitate a small other programming successful bid to play nicely. 

One specified illustration is the tactical shooter Ready oregon Not, which requires rather a fewer keys erstwhile playing connected PC. On the Steam Deck, it's a spot clumsy arsenic standard, and you can't bash immoderate elemental things similar equip nighttime imaginativeness oregon thin your quality without tweaking other settings. It's large to person that option.

Aside from the different controls, the Steam Deck besides has 2 haptic feedback trackpads. These are fundamentally similar tiny laptop trackpads, giving you the anticipation of much infinitesimal power erstwhile needed. 

Thankfully, the Steam Deck has Bluetooth 5.0 capabilities, arsenic well, truthful you tin ever link an other controller oregon an audio device.

Connectivity and power

  • Bluetooth 5.0 for controllers and audio
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi radio; 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • 40Whr artillery with 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 powerfulness supply
  • USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; Up to 8K @ 60Hz oregon 4K @ 120Hz; USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • UHS-I supports SD, SDXC and SDHC

Based connected our acquisition with playing high-end PC games connected gaming laptops, we were beauteous definite we'd request to person the Steam Deck plugged successful during gaming sessions. We're blessed to report, though, that the Steam Deck is perfectly susceptible of gaming purely connected the 40Whr battery. 

There's besides seemingly nary quality successful presumption of show betwixt playing plugged successful oregon not. This is evidently ideal, arsenic it means you person the state to crippled wherever you privation but inactive person a large gaming experience. 

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Battery beingness does alteration wildly, however, and astir apt wherefore Valve claims you tin get betwixt 2 - 8 hours of gameplay retired of the Steam Deck. Like immoderate device, it depends connected a batch of factors - surface brightness, the games you're playing, talker volume, refresh complaint and more. This is wherefore it's adjuvant to person the enactment to tweak these things successful the Steam Deck's settings, though.

And doing truthful tin marque rather a difference, arsenic well. We recovered dropping the max FPS to 30, for example, tin adhd rather a spot to your playtime.

In testing, we recovered that astir of our gaming sessions lasted 1 oregon 2 hours earlier the Steam Deck was complaining astir its battery. It's besides casual capable to plug successful and transportation connected gaming, arsenic the USB-C larboard is located connected the top, but we did find that the included powerfulness cablegram isn't that long, truthful you mightiness privation to put successful thing with a spot much slack. 

Or, alternatively, fixed the USB-C larboard besides has DisplayPort 1.4 capabilities, you tin conscionable usage the Steam Deck connected a bigger display. 

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When it comes to storage, determination are 3 retention options for the Steam Deck - 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. We went for the mediate option, which, though it seemed sensible astatine the time, is thing we somewhat regret aft filling it up aft 4 downloads.

Again, similar artillery life, this volition alteration depending connected however you usage it, but it doesn't instrumentality overmuch to max retired your retention with modern crippled downloads. So, we'd accidental that bigger is really amended successful this case, though there's ever the enactment of upgrading with a ample capableness MicroSD card, too. We besides recovered that games installed connected a representation paper didn't look to instrumentality immoderate longer to load either, which is simply a bully bonus. 

To bring things backmost to a insignificant criticism, we should besides constituent retired that the Steam Deck instrumentality sound is simply a small loud. Things tin get beauteous whiny and obnoxious during gaming sessions, and adjacent erstwhile not nether load.

We did find, astatine least, that the speakers were capable to nicely drown this dependable retired - with the vents for the speakers located connected the bottommost near and close of the device, the dependable is ever firing towards you. To our surprise, those speakers are amazingly capable, too, which is fundamentally a bully summary of the Steam Deck arsenic a full - susceptible adjacent successful the areas you don't needfully expect. 

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For those who privation a much immersive dependable experience, determination is, of course, besides a 3.5mm jack and the quality to link to a brace of Bluetooth headphones.

One of the joys of the Steam Deck is the regular updates. Despite the comparatively aboriginal adopter presumption of the device, determination person been a fig of improvements since its launch. They've travel heavy and accelerated and person been a invited summation to the experience. One specified betterment was a alteration to the fans. An OS-controlled instrumentality curve was introduced precocious that eliminated our complaints astir the instrumentality sound and that's conscionable 1 illustration of however things get amended and better. 

To recap

The Steam Deck is simply a superb enactment for playing PC games connected the sofa, successful furniture oregon anyplace other the temper takes you. It's wonderfully susceptible with precise fewer problems, and, with aggregate updates since launch, it conscionable keeps getting better.

Writing by Adrian Willings. Editing by Conor Allison.

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