There have been rumours for some time now that Valve has been working on a handheld gaming PC, and they have proven to be accurate with the company now revealing it to be a device called the Steam Deck. Unfortunately for us here in South Africa, and many other countries, the Steam Deck will not be made available.
According to the FAQ available on the Steam Deck page, the handheld will only be for sale in selected regions: the US, UK, EU and Canada. Information about availability in other countries will apparently be released “soon”, but the rest of the world will miss out on the December 2021 initial release.
More regions are promised to be included in 2022.
South Africa and the rest of the world is missing out on what looks to be one of the best, if not the best, handheld gaming PCs created so far. The main specs of the Steam Deck are:
• Processor: AMD APU
• CPU: Zen 2 | 4 core / 8 thread | 2.4-3.5GHz
• GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CU | 1.0-1.6GHz
• Screen: 7” | 1280 X 800 | 16:10 aspect ratio | 60 Hz | Touch enabled
• RAM: 16GB LPDDR5
• Battery: 40Whr | Estimated 2 to 8 hours of use
• Size: 298 X 117 X 49 millimetres | 669 grams
• Storage: 64 GB | 256 GB | 512 GB
• Price: $399 | $529 | $649
The three price points here related to the storage options, but as you spend more, you also get extra items on top of the higher capacity variants offering faster storage.
The 256 GB models changes the memory from eMMC storage to a NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4) and it includes a carrying case plus a bundle of cosmetics for your Steam profile.
The 512 GB model upgrades the storage again this time to a PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSD. On top of the carrying case and cosmetics this adds in “premium anti-glare etched glass” and an exclusive theme for the on-screen keyboard.
Like the Nintendo Switch the Steam Deck will also have a dock allowing users to a larger external display and use it as a regular PC. Unfortunately the dock is only going to be revealed at a later stage and there’s no word right now as to whether the dock will launch along with the Steam Deck itself at the end of this year.
All three versions have a microSD card slot so none of the models are limited to the storage size it ships with.
All of the internal hardware is packed into something of a unique form factor. While there’s no sliding or transforming elements such as the recent GPD Win 3 handheld PC, there is a unique element here in the haptic trackpads under each joystick.
Valve used this same tech with its Steam Controller, a now discontinued product that was also never made available in South Africa. Many people sang the Steam Controller’s praises when it was still being made so they will be happy to see parts of it returning here.
Each of the trackpads are 32.5 millimetre squares that Valve claims offer 55 percent better accuracy compared to the Steam Controller.
Unfortunately the presence of these pads have forced the rest of the controls to be a bit squashed. Early reactions to the Steam Deck offer up concerns that the main face buttons and joysticks may be hard to reach in their current position.
From our side we’re not too concerned by this. When we’re using the Nintendo Switch our thumbs naturally go towards the extreme top corners and we’re often uncomfortably bending them downwards to each buttons. The Steam Deck looks look it solves this problem with this layout, but we obviously won’t know until we have one in our hands, if it ever comes to this country.
Those who want to see more of the device can find the official site here and the dedicated section on the Steam store here. Over this weekend those in the supported regions can pay for reservations on Steam Decks if they’re serious about buying.