The Steam Deck has a form factor similar to that of other handheld game consoles like the Nintendo Switch or the PlayStation Vita. On either side of the screen are analog sticks with the d-pad on the left and the ABXY keys on the right.
Unlike most other controllers, the Steam Deck places its keys in a unique arrangement, where the keys are on the same plane as the analog keys.
This freed up space below, which is now occupied by two capacitive trackpads. These allow you to control the mouse pointer in games not designed to be played with a controller but rather with a mouse.
The Steam Deck also has a 6-axis gyroscope, which can be used to control your movements in games.
Below the trackpad are two stereo speakers, which Valve claims have DSP and a wide soundstage. Of course, you can plug in your own headphones as well, and the Steam Deck also has two built-in microphones.
Four additional buttons for View, Menu, Steam and Quick Access complete the front panel.
At the top are the four analog triggers. The buttons are specially designed to be comfortable in racing games, which require pressing and holding the trigger buttons for long periods of time.
On the back of the console, Valve placed four additional buttons on the handle, two on each side. These are fully customizable and can be combined with any function of the game.
The display on the front is a 7-inch, 1280 × 800 resolution IPS LCD display with an aspect ratio of 16:10, maximum brightness of 400 nits and touch support. The touch screen can be used to interact with the user interface and also to use the onscreen keyboard. It can also be used in games by mapping dots on the screen to specific controls.
If you get the top-of-the-line model, the screen also has anti-glare etching for the glass, which should make it easier to see outside.
On the hardware side, the Steam Deck runs on a custom AMD APU. The processor is based on the Zen 2 architecture and features 4 cores and 8 threads with variable clock speed from 2.4 to 3.5 GHz. The GPU uses the latest RDNA2 architecture with 8 compute units. The APU has a power envelope of 4-15W.
For storage, Valve offers three different levels. The base model has 64GB of eMMC, which is also the slowest storage you can get on the Steam Deck. The middle variant gets 256GB of faster NVMe SSD storage while the high-end variant gets an even faster 512GB NVMe SSD.
Besides the built-in storage, users will also be able to use microSD cards to increase their storage. All models will receive 16 GB of LPDDR5 RAM.
The Steam Deck runs on Valve’s SteamOS 3.0. This is primarily based on Arch Linux and uses the Proton Compatibility Layer to run games designed for Windows. Valve claims you can run all of your games on Steam Deck, not just those made for Linux.
The Steam Deck has a personalized version of the Steam store that just lets you log in and go directly to your Steam library. You can also browse and buy games here, just like you would on a PC. Steam Deck also supports Steam Cloud saves, so you can stop playing on your PC and continue where you left off on Steam Deck.
Under the custom software, Steam Deck is a standard Linux PC and can be used as such. Using a USB docking station, you can connect the Steam Deck to your monitor, keyboard, and mouse and use it as a standard Linux computer. You can even install other game stores, at least the ones that are available on Linux.
But what if you don’t want to use Linux? Well it turns out you can just erase it and install Windows. Steam Deck is essentially a compact PC and can be used as such if needed.
Connectivity wise, Steam Deck supports dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0.
It also has a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, which can be used for power, data, display, and audio. It can be treated like the USB-C port on a PC and you can connect all your accessories as well as a desktop monitor through this port. It supports up to 8K at 60Hz or 4K at 120Hz via Alt DisplayPort 1.4 mode.
Finally, the Steam Deck has a 40Wh battery. Valve claims it can run for up to 8 hours when used lightly or for basic 2D games. However, the battery life can drop down to 2 hours during demanding 3D games. You get a 45W USB-C PD charger in the box.
The Steam Deck is available in three variations. The 64GB model is priced at $ 399 and comes with a carrying case. The 256GB model costs $ 529 and adds an exclusive set of Steam Community profiles. Finally, the 512GB model will set you back $ 649 and has an exclusive carrying case, an exclusive Steam Community profile set, and an exclusive virtual keyboard theme. It also features the aforementioned anti-glare etched glass.
Steam Deck will be available for purchase in December 2021 in the United States, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom. If you live in those regions, you can now add it to your wishlist on Steam.