back to article All hands on Steam Deck: Fancy a handheld Linux PC that runs Windows apps, sports a custom AMD Zen APU and a touch screen?

Gaming house Steam has just revealed a rather intriguing portable PC. The "Steam Deck" boasts an AMD "accelerated processing unit" (APU) that incorporates four Zen cores that run at between 2.4GHz and 3.5GHz, plus an AMD RDNA 2 GPU and a substantial 16GB of RAM. An RJ45 Ethernet socket, single USB-C and USB-A connectors, …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Nintendo Clone?

    Looks like they trying to break into Nintendo's hand-held market.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nintendo Clone?

      "Looks like they trying to break into Nintendo's hand-held market."

      I also think it's telling with the release timing alongside the new Switch OLED model.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Nintendo Clone?

      And the Switch was basically a clone of the Nvidia Shield, which was itself far from the first effort at something similar. When lots of people all have a try at a very obvious idea, it's not really fair to call the latest one a clone just because one of the other later ones happened to be more successful than most.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nintendo Clone?

        Yeah, it's just GameBoy clone :-)))

  2. ShadowSystems

    Sounds interesting...

    As I can't enjoy the pictures & the article doesn't mention, does it include a headphone jack so I can plug in headphones & not annoy those around me when I fire up a particularly ear wormy game of Lemmings?

    I first heard about this from an article in a different RSS feed, but they were more interested in the fact that you could install a different *nix to it, could wipe it & install Windows if you wanted to (but nobody wanted to), and asking if it could run Crysis.

    I just think it sounds like an interesting way of carrying around a computer with more potential (and fewer security issues than) a typical smartphone. It would need a keyboard (because entering text on a D-pad might take far too long), but otherwise I envision this as a potentially useful device for activities other than (and including) games.

    1. Nursing A Semi

      Re: Sounds interesting...

      Yup, headphone jack on front next to a pair of volume buttons.

    2. NetBlackOps

      Re: Sounds interesting...

      Already using Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for the tablets, so that's covered. It's the other contollers and displays that have definite appeal. Serious appeal as those alone are a significant chunk of change right there. Drones, IoT, ...

    3. WonkoTheSane

      Re: Sounds interesting...

      From what I've seen on other reviews, the display is a touchscreen, so an onscreen keyboard is provided.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Sounds interesting...

      "and asking if it could run Crysis"

      How unimaginative. Much better to ask if it can run anything else.

    5. matjaggard

      Re: Sounds interesting...

      I'd expect it to have more security issues than a phone. You can do more with it and generally that means a bigger attack surface. I guess there are fewer people trying to target this device?

  3. MrMerrymaker

    Valve hardware and a bad track record

    The battery life sounds a big hurdle here, but I think a bigger issue is the poor track record Valve have with abandoning their hardware efforts.

    Remember Steam Machines being touted?

    And the Steam Link devices... I had one. Pretty good. But no longer made or supported.

    The Steam Controller too, a decent pad... Abandoned.

    Buyer beware. Their corporate structure, being so... fluid... Doesn't make me think they have a dedicated hardware division.

    1. Dabooka Silver badge

      Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

      I was logging inn to say this, it's got 'Abandonware' written all over it.

      However at least in this instance you would still have a half decent device that could be put to a plethora of other tasks should you have the need and know how. I'm guessing a lot of gamers wouldn't so this could make a tempting used buy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

        All PCs and all game consoles have abandonware written all over them but historically that didn't mean much in the case of the the PC because whilst the hardware still works so does your software.

        If steam did drop support then you still have a PC and whilst upgrading may be as hard as on a laptop,if there is money in it then someone else will offer hardware support.

        The fact is the steam offering is a AMD zen2 PC and whilst the screen the screen may be lower rez and tech it supports video out via USB3.

        Given the current problems with the electronics pipeline I would be more worried about delivery in time for Xmas than the likelihood of steam dropping support being any more of an impact than for all the other walk away proprietary PC builders.

      2. quxinot

        Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

        Nothing wrong with abandonware.

        That will make them dirt cheap on ebay in awhile... there's a possibility for some neat and useful hacks at that point (I'm also assuming that someone will figure out how to stick a normal OS on it, blah blah blah).

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

          Nothing wrong with abandonware."

          Absolutely! I'm still using a NookHD tablet, flashed with Cyanogen. It makes a great Kodi remote, or for looking up stuff on IMDB, or just general browsing. Or games. or, or, or...

          I think it cost me under a £100, possibly much less, I've forgotten now, in The Great Nook Fire-sale.

      3. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

        Re: 'Abandonware' written all over it.

        If it's abandonware that runs a linux (Arch), then at least it could be quite easily repurposed. Even, perhaps, to run a later Arch version than the Steam-chosen Arch, and then that with Steam installed on it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'Abandonware' written all over it.

          At least depending on how locked down the hardware is. I'm rooting for not at all, but we can wait for the iFixit and other teardowns.

          I don't know if this will fly or not as Valve intends it to. The kinect and the PsP both come to mind, clever devices that geeks did cool stuff with, but Steam will need to succeed on IT's plans well enough to keep up making them.

          But I'm still playing emulator games on the 1.0 firmware of my PsP 15 years later. As long as the memory stick holds up I'll keep doing it.

          But I wouldn't mind adding another useful and interesting oddball to my toy collection.

          1. pip25

            Re: 'Abandonware' written all over it.

            They claim you can replace the Steam OS with Windows if you really want to, so it can't be TOO locked down.

            1. morningtea

              Re: 'Abandonware' written all over it.

              But who would want that?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

      "The battery life sounds a big hurdle here, "

      Really? I wonder how many gamers would spend more than a "several hours" playing games on the go with no option to plug in and re-charge? I suspect that might more of an edge case than normal run-of-the-mill users. Not to mention that the "several hours" is playing high spec games constantly, with 7-8 hours quoted for lighter games or other uses, all on a 7" screen.

    3. Jason Hindle

      Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

      “ The battery life sounds a big hurdle here”

      Former Gamegear owner here. I forget whether that had four or six AAs but, good grief, it was the great destroyer of Duracells and needed to be used plugged in at any opportunity.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

        This former Game Gear owner can tell you it was six AA's, and yet it still got you only a good two hours. But I liked it on a plane because you didn't need the overhead light to play it.

        1. brakepad

          Re: Valve hardware and a bad track record

          Somewhat late with the tip, but a 7.2v nicad from an RC car worked a treat with the GameGear to extend its running time when out and about, and a fast charger could fill it up in about 20 mins. Much kudos to my old man for showing me this sort of stuff!

  4. Eguro
    Thumb Up

    I am intrigued

    My biggest caution is the controller part of it, the triggers and sticks.

    I've had my fair share of controllers, and a sizeable chunk tend to develop issues with these components. Some after little use and some after mild use (that is to say playing excessive amounts of Rocket League). On a controller it's not too much of a hurdle. I feel alright opening that up to give some required maintenance of whatever sort I have laying around, but with a more expensive and advanced machine I'm not sure I'd feel quite so eager to engage in home-repair.

    I could see myself forking over the cash, but I hope to see some information on replacement ease for these wear and tear parts. The machine won't last forever, but from my experience the computer bits won't be outdated before the controller bits will break - and that would suck.

    For a Switch the controllers are separate entities - that doesn't seem to be the case with the Deck.

    Also a note on the reservation fee - that fee counts towards the purchase price, so it's mostly there to ensure that you're serious about it and discourage fake reservations, as per the Deck FAQ:

    "Does the reservation fee count towards my Steam Deck purchase price?

    Yes."

    1. gotes

      Re: I am intrigued

      Also a note on the reservation fee - that fee counts towards the purchase price

      I think "deposit" would be a less confusing term.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I am intrigued

        Fails on two grounds: only one word and not enough letters.

        "Reservation fee" is only marginal. "Advance monetary securement arrangement" would be better as it's not only longer more impressive and includes a word that's not even in the spell checker.

    2. naive

      Re: I am intrigued

      It is an intriguing concept. Suppose one day there would be an Android phone maker innovative enough to start making a phone that can be used as a Chromebook in a dock. Technology is no obstacle anymore to make such a device. Companies could save considerable expenses in IT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am intrigued

        Samsung have offered their "Dex" concept for a while. I don't know how many people use it.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I am intrigued

        Already done. WPS Office is quite usable according to a friend who went that route. His light computer use meant he dumped the laptop and reverted to doing everything on his phone. It'd not work for me, but there's already a product and market out there.

      3. RockBurner

        Re: I am intrigued

        Asus have done a couple of phone-into-tablet docking devices.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonder if I can expense one of these...?

    USB to serial converter or AirConsole + Putty + wireles keyboard.

    Will make DC upgrades FAR less boring...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wonder if I can expense one of these...?

      @"Will make DC upgrades FAR less boring..."

      ah you mean the Zack Snider technique?

      1. Chris Clawson

        Re: Wonder if I can expense one of these...?

        Which coat is yours, sir?

  6. Ali Dodd

    No mention of those this is copying like the Aya Neo

    Steam are the biggest to enter this market and do this type of form factor but hardly the first, there have been several of these over the years from different companies, this is just the latest

    https://www.ayaneo.com/

    A full PC running windows... that is a portable as a switch. More expensive now not a kickstarter but a friend of mine bought one and loves it.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: No mention of those this is copying like the Aya Neo

      Hope https://www.ayaneo.com/ hardware is better than their software skills - I will never know as web page shows zilch for me when visiting (as its an unknown site so enter with most JS disabled by default).

      Always code your site based on non JS browsers (lots of screen readers struggle with JS heavy sites too, its not just us malware averse cautious people). It's not difficult - by all means use JS to "improve" (opinions vary on whether its a real improvement) your site, but render content & allow navigation if JS is disabled

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: No mention of those this is copying like the Aya Neo

        > use JS to "improve" [...] your site

        I guess it's actually rather "to impress the people paying for it, so they think they got their money's worth"...

        I remember the time where mouseover GIF changes were the absolute height of web technology and the sign of a cutting edge website design, and frankly, I don't feel like modern websites are any better than back then. They just weigh several hundred MB more.

        1. matjaggard

          Re: No mention of those this is copying like the Aya Neo

          Clearly JavaScript is needed, we're not living in the 20th century grandad.

          I was more concerned by the language issues "Taxes does not included in the price of products"

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: No mention of those this is copying like the Aya Neo

            > Clearly JavaScript is needed, we're not living in the 20th century

            Sorry, can't decide if this is meant to be ironic or not.

            If you mean this ironically, I fully agree, it's a sad statement that the biggest technological advancement in web site design has been to add liberal GBs of tracking scripts...

            If you really mean it, see above paragraph.

  7. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

    My wallet is worried

    If I can find confirmation it'll run Portal, Portal II & KSP my wallet needs to be more than worried. I've been looking for a portable way to play those for years.

    1. Lee D

      Re: My wallet is worried

      The Portals - guaranteed. They've had SteamOS/Linux versions forever and its way within this device's power.

      KSP - I really couldn't see any reason why not.

      Deffo worth putting down the reservation fee, I think, especially as if you don't buy the console when it's released, you get the fee back into your Steam wallet anyway.

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: My wallet is worried

      For Science. You Monster.

    3. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: My wallet is worried

      According to protondb.com KSP is Native under Linux/SteamOS, so it should run.

    4. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: My wallet is worried

      Yeah... I mustn't want one. Tempted though...

  8. DarkwavePunk

    Looks like...

    Reminds me of the Atari Lynx from the early 90s. Got a bit nostalgic for a moment there.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Looks like...

      Reminds me of the Tapwave Zodiac.

      Got quite a few of them when the company went under.

  9. TimMaher Silver badge
    Happy

    Does it have a SIM slot?

    If it does, my wallet may go into hiding.

    (See previous commentard regarding wallet)

    1. WonkoTheSane

      Re: Does it have a SIM slot?

      Your wallet is probably safe.

      Connectivity listed as WiFi & Bluetooth only. The optional dock has ethernet though.

      1. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: Does it have a SIM slot?

        can always connect to your Mobile's hotspot though.....

  10. Plest Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sega GameGear if they're not careful

    The Sega GameGear came out around the same time as the Nintendo Gameboy. The GameGear was a superb console, stunning crisp colour graphics, comfortable unit to use. What killed the GameGear was the awful battery life, 90mins on 6 AA batteries on the one I owned. Nintendo Gameboy could run for hours on a set of AA batteries as it prized battery life and surrendered the graphics and CPU speed to give a playable experience.

    If they don't get the Steam Deck up to around 4-5 hours play minimum it will be dead within 18 months as 2 hours is awful battery life.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Sega GameGear if they're not careful

      "What killed the GameGear was the awful battery life, 90mins on 6 AA batteries on the one I owned. Nintendo Gameboy could run for hours on a set of AA batteries as it prized battery life and surrendered the graphics and CPU speed to give a playable experience."

      AND the backlight. This also killed the Atari Lynx, which was similarly specced. A color portable was simply was too far ahead of its time, as shown by the state of the art in portable televisions (did you know Sega made a TV adapter for the Game Gear?). Color LCD tech and backlights then simply drew too much power. Nintendo finally added backlighting with the Game Boy Advance, as only by that point did the battery and display and lighting tech make sense.

      1. Piro Silver badge

        Re: Sega GameGear if they're not careful

        The original GBA had no light. That arrived first with the GBA SP, and it was frontlit, not backlit.

        Pedantry, I know, but I remember it well, having a GBA SP myself back in the day

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sega GameGear if they're not careful

      It says in the article "several" hours of full on intense Steam usage, which to me implies at least 3, probably more hours of use. 7-8 hours of lighter use, eg 2D games, browsing etc.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Sega GameGear if they're not careful

        ... FWIW, on my switch, I get about 2.5 - 3 hours of usable gameplay out of the on-board battery, irregardless of what game I'm playing (animal crossing, Hades, The Outer Worlds, Diablo III, etc.)

        there's a reason why I have a second power brick and recently bought a co-branded battery bank designed for it.

  11. DJV Silver badge

    lighter use cases

    I wonder how long the battery would last playing the only 2 PC games I ever play - Solitaire and Spider*.

    * The versions that came with Windows XP, of course, not those dire, skanky, memory hogging Vista/7 versions.

  12. Nursing A Semi

    So

    For 50% of the cost of a half decent gaming PC you get a half decent gaming PC that can be used handheld, whats not to like? Suspect Microsoft will have xbox games running on this pretty quickly adding plenty to the proposition.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: So

      As Microsoft games are already available directly on Steam, I think the point here is moot. And this way, Microsoft doesn't have to plunk down additional for hardware R&D.

      1. Nursing A Semi

        Re: So

        Like everything Microsoft they want gamers paying a monthly subscription though, won't take much porting as already available on Windows PCs.

    2. Jay 2

      Re: So

      I've just taken a punt on a 256GB. Should help bridge the gap between having a Mac and PS4 (eventually I'll get a PS5 I'm sure...) and all those games like Starfield that I'd like to play. I don't really want a full-on gaming rig and I'd even vaguely looked at mini PC type things. But this looks like it might be useful for such things either handheld or docked. Also might mean I can be super lazy and use it to remote into work when on the sofa...

  13. Grunchy Bronze badge

    Just because I love it, doesn’t mean I’m gonna marry it.

    Get real, guys.

    1. Nursing A Semi

      Ahh but, bet you want to fiddle with it under the blankets though!

  14. Jonjonz

    So You Think Microsoft Will Let This Slide?

    If this actually starts cutting into Xbox sales, Windows is sure to slipstream a few "updates" that break this flavor of emulation.

    1. Nursing A Semi

      Re: So You Think Microsoft Will Let This Slide?

      "Hey Microsoft how would you like a couple of million new customers who will each pay you £8 a month plus offer themselvs up for other revenue earning opportunities". "Emn no thanks, we will break their ability to use our services instead". Hmmm doesn't look right to me somehow.

  15. Bitsminer Bronze badge

    The dock is extra

    Any guess as to how much?

    Apple pricing?

  16. Chris Clawson

    I know I'm not alone in this

    The thing I want to know is whether the eMMC model can upgraded with an NVMe SSD. Reports so far are inconclusive.

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