Steam Deck was supposed to be a revolution in handheld gaming, a mobile PC. Developed by Valve, it was released in February 2022 and the waiting line remains long, with many orders expected to arrive in Q3 or later. But if you ordered your Steam Deck just after the pre-orders went live in July 2021 AND were lucky, you may have already received it—like our Graphic Designer Karol, who’ll share his Steam Deck experience with you.
My Steam Deck is the 256GB, NVMe SSD version that comes with faster storage, a carrying case, and an exclusive Steam Community profile bundle (a background and an avatar frame). You can see its technical details on Steam or in many other reviews, and I’ll just focus on my gaming experience here.
I’ve been struggling to get invested in video games for a while, and Steam Deck actually made me come back to gaming and enjoy it. I came back to some older titles like BioShock™ Remastered or Portal to see how they work and the performance was really good, even for some unverified titles.
You may find the device expensive, but it’s worth what you get in return, considering the prices of PC components. And Steam Deck is a PC–it has the Steam OS with game mode and desktop mode, on the latter of which you can use Linux. I even ran Blender 3D on the device and it worked well enough to have some fun while traveling.
While Steam Deck is massive compared to Nintendo Switch, I liked it better. It did fit nicely into my hands and was more convenient to use. The handle is similar to a typical pad, so I can keep my thumb unbent. Analog sticks are large, which results in greater precision.
In addition, Steam Deck offers a lot of customization options, which helps to prolong battery life. You can adjust the power usage of your graphic card or the number of FPS in the system, or pause your game any time and put the device into sleep mode—although it uses more battery in this mode than Nintendo Switch, so you need to keep an eye on it. Valve has also added an option to set up a lock screen, so your “friends” won’t take advantage of an unattended device—it’s mine, my own, my precious.
Although support from Valve is brilliant, with major updates almost every week, Steam Deck has its problems. The biggest flaw is its short battery life. Luckily, it can be customized by locking up FPS, GPU power usage, etc., so you can extend your Cyberpunk 2077 session on default game settings from an hour and a half to 2-3 hours.
Downloading games requires the device to be awake, so you need to stay alert and not let it enter sleep mode, and software compatibility still needs lots of improvements. I had only 67 verified games as of May 2022 working great in my library, and some unsupported titles were enjoyable too, though sometimes with issues such as UI too tiny for Steam Deck. It’s worth noting that new titles are verified every month.
To sum up, Steam Deck is a great device and I believe that with proper support it’ll have a bright future, possibly for more than just gaming. The freedom of usage is amazing so far, but unless you plan to install Windows on your Steam Deck, I’d recommend the cheaper 64GB version—a good-quality micro SD memory card makes the games run just as well.
The review was prepared based on the experience of Karol, Graphic Designer at All in! Games.
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