What to expect: Steam Deck is making it the most exciting portable console in years, although many of you may not be able to use it until next year. Valve says the 800p 30Hz experience is aimed at modern AAA titles, but according to a preliminary developer group review, depending on how much flavor you're willing to sacrifice, you should be able to extract more from it.
Valve began shipping its first Steam Deck developer kit earlier this month, and things have been relatively quiet since then. However, thanks to an avid Chinese developer (via Tom's Hardware), we now have access to our first look at the hardware and software that made Steam Deck such an attractive product. Of course the commercial version will be more polished, so there will be differences compared to the development kit, especially in terms of performance.
Steam Deck by a custom AMD APU with Zen 2 processor with RDNA 2 graphics for a low-power system on the chip. The CPU has four cores and eight threads running at a clock speed of 2.4GHz and can be boosted up to 3.5GHz if allowed to heat up. The GPU contains eight compute units (512 stream processors) that operate at 1 GHz and can be scaled up to 1.6 GHz if needed. The APU is backed by 16GB of LPDDR5-5500 RAM, which is enough for even the most popular AAA titles.
Valve has decided to supply the new portable model with a 7-inch LCD screen. 16:10 aspect ratio and 1280 x 800 pixels resolution. This screen is limited to 60Hz, but in theory you can take pictures when connected to a 4K 120Hz or 8kHz 60Hz image.
DOTA 2 easily has the lowest batch demand, running at the highest preset rate with an average frame rate of 47 fps. The developer says that by lowering the remote control to the default level, it produces more than 80 frames per second, so with a small change you should be able to enjoy good images at 60 frames per second.
The developer says that the Steam Deck is slightly roasting under load conditions and the temperature at the back of the device reaches over 42°C. The knobs stay relatively cool and have a maximum registered temperature of 29 degrees.
After spending about three hours playing on Steam Deck, the 40W battery charge went from 100% to just 46%. However, this is unlikely to show what you'll get from the commercial version, as Valve and AMD are already making good progress with their Linux driver, which will dramatically improve performance per watt.
In general, these performance results are consistent with reports from other developers. For example, Mike Rose of No More Robots says the downhill bike game Descenders runs at maximum graphics settings at 50 to 60 frames per second. Microsoft Xbox CEO Phil Spencer said last month that he was testing Steam Deck with xCloud, describing the great experience for Xbox Game Pass fans. This is a second shock to no one; Valve clearly wasn't a good fit for VR. The third shock that no one gets: understanding what capabilities are and how to improve them takes time. This is about the potential future, not the present. pic.twitter.com/AYOzN93c3r- Danny Unger CloudheadGames (DennyCloudhead) September 24, 2021
There are still many unknowns at this point, but Valve has confirmed that Steam Deck can also function as a PC console. The company also says that the portable console works with VR headsets, though it doesn't go into more detail beyond breaking unreasonable expectations for virtual reality-like computer experiences.
However, Steam Deck appears to be a powerful first-generation device. If all goes well, ship a portable console in December at $399 for the original version with 64GB of EMMC-designed storage starting. If you want more space, Valve will charge $529 for a Steam Deck with 256GB of NVMe storage and $649 for double.
Initial Steam Deck test shows that you will receive 60fps gameplay in AAA titles with good visual fidelity