Valve is back on the Steam Deck design train, and the latest version of its handheld console is getting more than a new coat of paint. The studio’s newly revealed refreshed Steam Deck isn’t promising any better in-game performance, but the new deck is lighter, prettier, and more efficient thanks to a brand new OLED display.
Closing on two years since the Steam Deck’s original February 2022 release, Valve has reengineered the Steam Deck to house a bigger screen and a new 1 TB SSD. All the OLED versions of the Deck now sport a larger 7.4-inch display (compared to the last-gen 7-inch LCD). The more expensive decks also get a big bump in picture quality with an HDR OLED screen. It’s a vastly improved display, at least based on stats, with a new 90Hz refresh rate up from the previous deck’s 60 and a bump in peak brightness up to 1,000 nits (though some SDR content might limit that to 600).
OLED screens have far sharper colours than LCD but are also slightly more power efficient. Steam Decks are known for having short battery life when running more intense games, but Valve promised gamers the new 50Whr battery and more efficient AMD APU should improve battery life by 30 to 50%.
All that, and Valve says the new Deck is slightly lighter than it was before. The company told Gizmodo this was due to the thinner OLED screens and updated thermals, though the new Deck will be a bare 1 MM taller thanks to the new redesigned joysticks. Yeah, that’s right; Valve said the thumbsticks and trackpads have been redesigned to offer better control, plus the device should be easier to repair thanks to an overall reduction in screws throughout the system. It’s a lot of minor, though welcome improvements. Hell, new Decks also come with a longer power cord.
The slightly redesigned shell necessitates a new case, but for those who shell out for the 1 TB models, the newest case includes a removable, hard plastic shell far smaller than the full case. This means that if your regular Deck case won’t fit in your backpack, you may have a thinner option for taking the handheld console on the go.
For those who recently bought a Steam Deck, now is your time to join in the collective sigh of regret. There are no preorders, but the newest Decks go on sale Nov. 16 around 1 p.m. ET. The limited edition transparent plastic version is restricted to the U.S. and Canada.
That said, this isn’t a full sequel to the Steam Deck. The refresh doesn’t explicitly promise better performance, which means developers don’t have to change anything to receive that glorified Steam Deck-Vertified sticker. It’s still running on the same Zen2 processor, RDNA 2 GPU, and 16 GB of DDR5 RAM. Still, Valve said players can expect faster download speeds thanks to Wi-Fi 6E and access to the 6 GHz spectrum.
All the older LCD models are dropping in price effective immediately, including the smallest, 64 GB version that now costs $US349. The 256 GB Steam Deck with LCD had gone down to $US399, even cheaper than the previous refurbished models. Everything else has been switched to OLED, including the 512 GB Steam Deck and the all-new 1 TB option. Even with the new and improved screen, the 512 GB version is now $US100 cheaper at $US549 than the previous version. The 1 TB Deck with OLED costs $US649, but the real star of the show, the limited clear plastic version, sits at $US679.
While the regular Deck maintains the matte black externals, the translucent plastic version is the obvious clear (pun intended) winner in the looks category. Orange is now the “in” color at Valve, and it couldn’t look better on Steam Deck. However, I can imagine those selling relatively fast.
Valve is pushing some very competitive prices compared to competitors. The 512 GB ROG Ally, which ostensibly has some better internal specs than the Deck, starts at $US600. The Lenovo Legion Go, with its bigger screen removable controllers and base 1 TB SSD, starts at $US700. The only other device in this category with OLED is the more recent Nintendo Switch. Valve’s latest move makes this year’s Christmas list all the more confusing. Our review of the new and improved Steam Deck is available here. Peruse the following slides to get a better sense of what’s in store with Valve’s hardware update.
The Special Edition Steam Deck OLED Has a Nice, Rough Texture
The Clear Plastic Deck Also Sports an Orange Grill and Power Button
Valve Said it Redesigned the Thumbsticks and Track Pad
Nothing Truly Beats Translucent Plastic for that Old GameBoy Look
Comparing the Bezel Size of Old Steam Deck on the Left to the New on the Right
The New OLED Screen Should Support Up to 1,000 Nits of Brightness
Same Matte Black Colour, but With a New Finish
The Limited Edition Steam Deck Also Comes With a Special Case
Closeup on the New Limited Edition Case
This Case Insert Should make Traveling with a Steam Deck a Bit Easier
Valve Isn’t Promising Any Big Framerate Improvements, but Games Should Download Faster
The New OLED Screens Promise Sharper Overall Colours
HDR looks incredible on the new Steam Deck OLED
The Steam Deck OLED is Noticeably Brighter Than the Steam Deck LCD.
Not that we care, ’cause it ain’t coming here…..