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Steam Deck Evolves: Valve’s Portable Gaming PC, One Year Later

The Steam Deck has developed into a portable gaming system that is worthwhile purchasing due to a consistent stream of software updates and strong support from game developers.

The Steam Deck practically screams first-generation hardware in every way. It occasionally even creaks and is a little clumsy and awkward. Because of the large bezel, the screen appears small when compared to the bulky body. The button layout may use some ergonomic improvement. It sometimes took wrangling the system into submission, employing upgrades, modifications, and hacks to get software functioning passably, especially in the early months.

Despite this, I kept returning to this portable gaming PC from Valve after writing my initial review.

Initially, I stated that it was most suitable for devoted PC players who were accustomed to the tinkering and trial-and-error process of getting games to operate on various sorts of computer hardware.

The Steam Deck is now a very different animal after a year of consistent feature upgrades to its Steam OS software, a number of add-ons that fill in some of the hardware gaps, and greatly expanded out-of-the-box compatibility for big game releases. Even gamers accustomed to the plug-and-play simplicity of a Nintendo Switch might be able to utilize it now, in my opinion.

Steady evolution

The functionality of the Steam Deck has been improved or added since its initial release in February of last year. These improvements include better overall performance, intelligent cooling and fan speed options, increased compatibility with a huge variety of Steam games, better control and sorting of your game library, numerous UI improvements, midgame suspension for quick shutdowns, significant improvements to control customization, and better support for expanded microSD storage.

With accessories, both Valve and other businesses have increased the Steam Deck’s functionality. They include a variety of skins, cases, and kickstands as well as docking stations for connecting the system to a TV or monitor.

With two increased storage configurations priced at $529 and $649, the Steam Deck now feels like a respectably finished PC gaming tool, which is amazing considering it starts at $399 (£349). The new Razer Edge and other items have a similar price but perform less well. much less.

Making the games the star

The main selling factor isn’t the actual hardware, which is, to be honest, a little weak for a cheap gaming Computer. Playing PC games, from popular new releases to cult independent titles, is now possible with the comfort of a mobile device.

I’ve recently been playing Marvel’s Midnight Suns, which took a few months to get properly patched for Steam Deck, and Hogwarts Legacy on the Steam Deck, where it performs well (and better than a predicted eventual Nintendo Switch version ever could). Hard West 2, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, and Baldur’s Gate 3 are some games that have worked incredibly well for me. Elden Ring, No Man’s Sky (despite a problem that erased my saved progress), Vampire Survivors, and The Witcher 3 are further games that naturally fit the Steam Deck format.

A lot of community suggestions go beyond the official “excellent for Steam Deck” tag, and Valve has gotten better at identifying which titles would perform well on the Steam Deck and making that information available to gamers.

More work to do

This does not imply that the Steam Deck is an error-free gadget. After all, since the hardware itself is stagnant, there is only so much that software updates can accomplish. Battery life is still a problem; graphically demanding games can only be played for about two hours before requiring a plug-in.

Also, not every Steam game runs or runs properly. Making a new game playable frequently requires lowering the visual settings or making frame rate concessions. Several games are playable on the Steam Deck because of its low screen resolution of 1,280×800 pixels.

Playing using a dock or USB-C to HDMI connection is never going to be ideal because you’ll frequently be playing at resolutions that are either higher than the device can support or lower than what your 4K screen can handle. An Xbox or PS5 will provide you with a superior overall experience in those situations.

Accessing games that are not part of the Steam ecosystem, such as cloud streaming games, is still difficult because you have to install Microsoft Edge using the Linux-based desktop mode and take further steps after that. Adding titles from other PC gaming portals like GOG and the Epic Game Shop works the same way. Although this is a Steam-based product, PC gamers rightfully anticipate being able to play games from many sources.

The Steam Deck’s AMD CPU and GPU aren’t getting any younger, which is its biggest challenge. Everyone wants a Steam Deck 2 to have more powerful components, as well as better design and ergonomics, a better screen, and longer battery life. Although it’s unclear when that might occur, the Steam Deck is such a success that a new edition is all but certain.

Since I lack any concrete knowledge, I believe it will be at least a year away. Therefore it’s a good bet to invest now without too much upgrade anxiety if you’re interested in purchasing a Steam Deck for approximately $500 — I recommend the middle model with 256GB and adding your own microSD card for additional storage.

The Steam Machine and Steam Controller, two of Valve’s earlier hardware projects, never truly took off. The company now has a true hardware hit in the form of the Steam Deck. Even better, it has rekindled my enthusiasm for the expansive world of PC gaming for me (and I believe many other people as well).