Valve finally announces its handheld gaming system, Steam Deck

Reservations open up Friday. December seems so far away.

Well, hot damn. That’s about all we muster say right off the bat after Valve just announced Steam Deck, its long-awaited first handheld gaming console, because gather ‘round, readers — it looks so friggin’ good. Okay, deep breath. Let’s get the need-to-know info out of the way:

The base 64GB model will retail for $399, with $529/256GB and $649/512GB editions also available. Under the hood, you’ll find an AMD APU including a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, with eMMC storage at 64GB, NVMe SSD at 256GB, and high-speed NVMe SSD at 512GB. Each model will also include a high-speed, microSD card slot for increased storage capacity. Valve is also offering a separate dock for the Steam Deck to allow players the ability to connect the device to external screens like TVs and monitors. Said dock supports 8K 60 out alongside a USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support, with up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 port. Oh, did we also mention there’s native Bluetooth audio capability? Because there is. You hear that, Nintendo Switch?

Reservations for anyone who has made a purchase on Steam prior to June 2021 can put down a $5 deposit beginning Friday, July 16 at 1PM/ET; those who haven’t will need to wait until Sunday. That 5-bucks isn’t a pre-order, per se, but more of a reservation spot to pre-order once Steam Deck inventory starts rolling in. Sounds overly complex, but really, it should be a decent way to (hopefully) discourage reseller bots and scams.

The first Steam Decks are scheduled to ship this December — a healthy reminder to all that patience is a virtue. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s dive into some of the other details, shall we?

“Optimized for a handheld gaming experience” — According to Valve, the Steam Deck will run on a “new version of SteamOS, built with Steam Deck in mind and optimized for a handheld gaming experience.” Additionally, the system will include Proton, a compatibility layer requiring no porting work from game developers. And, as Valve reminds everyone, “it’s a Linux system, you know this.”

And just look at those trackpads — From a controller perspective, the Steam Deck looks like it will offer a markedly different, albeit still natural-feeling, controller experience. The Steam Deck’s two, full-size thumb pads are situated parallel to the D-pad and ABXY buttons, which could take some brief getting-used-to. In addition to the four standard bumper triggers, an addition four are located on the back of the Steam Deck, a choice that will certainly please the more hardcore gamers among us. And, finally, those trackpads... just look at ‘em. As Valve explains, both will take care of any mouse-cursor needs for PC gaming.

Head over to Valve’s official Steam Deck site for the full specs and pre-order information. We’re gonna go ahead and mark our calendars for this one.