Is the Valve Steam Deck the Best Handheld Gaming PC?

Ever since the Gameboy hit the market all the way back in 1989, portable gaming consoles have held a special place in the hearts of many gamers. In 2017, Nintendo rekindled the magic that the Gameboy started by releasing the Nintendo Switch. Now, Valve — a company most well-known for producing products on the software side of gaming — is hoping to bring life to the portable gaming market once more with the release of the Valve Steam Deck. To help you decide if the Steam Deck is the best choice for your portable gaming needs, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this new handheld gaming PC.

What We Know so Far About the Valve Steam Deck

For the past several months, there have been rumors circulating of a new handheld gaming device from Valve. On July 15, Valve confirmed these rumors when they officially announced the all-new Steam Deck handheld gaming PC. The Steam Deck is on schedule to begin shipping out in December 2021, so no one has been able to get their hands on one yet to try it out. However, Valve made the specs for the Steam Deck public, allowing us to get a glimpse at what this new device has to offer.

Design and Graphics

Starting with the design of the Steam Deck, first impressions of the images show that the Steam Deck’s design bears quite a bit of resemblance to the Nintendo Switch. Under the hood, though, the two devices have a number of key differences. The Steam Deck comes equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen display that is able to produce graphics in 800p.
While this may not sound all that impressive in today’s world where 4K UHD devices are more than plentiful, it’s not bad for a handheld gaming device. Consider the fact that the Nintendo Switch — the Steam Deck’s most modern competitor — only offers 720p resolution, and it’s a little easier to appreciate the graphics quality of the Steam Deck. Like the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck can also be connected to an external monitor and is theoretically capable of producing up to 8K resolution in this configuration.


Powering the Steam Deck is an AMD APU Zen 2 CPU that features four cores and eight threads — a processor that is a notable improvement over the CPU found in the Nintendo Switch. The Steam Deck also offers double the RAM of a Nintendo Switch, providing 16GB of RAM compared to the Switch’s 8GB of RAM.


However, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the extra resolution and the processing power offered by the Steam Deck do come at a cost. For one, the Steam Deck is more than twice the weight of the Nintendo Switch. At just 1.47lbs, the Steam Deck is certainly portable enough, but it isn’t as lightweight and portable as the .71lb Nintendo Switch.

Battery Life and Cost

The Steam Deck’s improved performance also comes at the cost of battery life, with the Steam Deck providing 2-8 hours of use on a single charge compared to the 4.5-9 hours of use offered by the Nintendo Switch. Lastly, the Steam Deck is a little pricier than the Nintendo Switch as well. The Steam Deck is expected to be made available in three different models – a 64GB model, a 128GB model, and a 256GB model – with prices ranging from $399 to $649. Meanwhile, the Nintendo Switch only comes available with 64GB of storage and costs around $350.

Valve Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch: Which is Better?

In most of the ways that count, the Steam Deck is an obvious upgrade over the Nintendo Switch. While you sacrifice some battery life, portability, and affordability with the Steam Deck, the Steam Deck’s improved processing power, storage, and graphics compensate for the drawbacks.
Today, most new video games are simply too intensive to be played on the Nintendo Switch. With the Steam Deck, though, this shouldn’t be as much of a problem. If you value better performance over battery life and size (and you don’t mind paying a little extra), then the Valve Steam Deck is a better choice than the Nintendo Switch.

Protecting Your Valve Steam Deck With an Extended Warranty From Upsie

With prices as high as $649, the Valve Steam Deck is not a cheap investment. Unfortunately, portable devices, such as handheld gaming consoles and smartphones, are more prone to damage than stationary devices, such as TVs and desktops.
The good news, though, is that Upsie allows you to fully protect your handheld gaming device with an extended console warranty. Their plans are much more comprehensive and affordable than the extended warranty offered by the retailers who will sell the device. By cutting out the middleman, Upsie is able to offer more complete coverage at a lower price.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.