Valve’s Steam Deck created a lot of excitement among many gamers when the legendary gaming company revealed the handheld console back in July. With launch scheduled for late 2021, hopes of an on-time launch were dashed when Valve announced the console would be delayed. This week Valve announced that the console will ship this February (in the year 2022), but hasn’t gone on to specify the day this launch will commence.
Very similar to the Nintendo Switch, Valve Steam Deck offers a much more open gaming environment. While this device will ship with Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS 3.0, users can install another Linux distro or either Windows 10 or 11. When hooked up to a monitor via a dock (sold separately), in addition to being able to play games, users will be able to also use the Steam Deck as a more traditional desktop PC.
Like nearly every vendor who is relying on semiconductors to power their hardware, Valve has been hit by the global chip shortage. This chip shortage is reportedly what impacted the initial planned launch. The company does caution that ongoing issues connected to the pandemic including shipping could still change the launch window, but a February launch remains the target.
The Steam Deck Verified program
Accompanying the revised launch announcement, Valve also highlighted the other work that has been going on in the background to help make for a seamless launch. In particular, Valve has been working on its Steam Deck Verified program which necessitates its team reviewing the entire Steam catalog.
Following the review, each game is categorized by its compatibility with the handheld. Each categorization will be visible to gamers viewing their Steam library or when shopping for games. Developers are also fine tuning existing games or developing all-new titles with this console in mind, and Valve suggested this week that they’ve already shipped out developer kits in the hundreds.
The Steam Deck is powered by an AMD Zen 2 quad-core CPU mated to an RDNA 2 GPU with 8 compute units along with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM. In total, it delivers 1.6 teraflops of processing power which puts it slightly ahead of an Xbox One S in raw performance. Valve says it is targeting around 30fps for recent AAA titles, which seems plausible as the Steam Deck’s 7-inch IPS LCD display has a relatively modest resolution of 1200 x 800 pixels. Its 40-watt hour battery is rated for between 2 to 8 hours of gaming, depending on how performance hungry a title is.
Storage options range from 64GB ($399), 256GB ($529) and 512GB ($649), with the latter offering the fastest SSD. Currently, the Valve Steam Deck is only launching in the US, Canada, the UK and the EU.