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Revolutionary Console: Steam Deck Review

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How does the Steam Deck, Valve’s first portable game console, revolutionize PC gaming? We review it extensively.

A console and a mini PC with highly customizable software, which solves one of the biggest drawbacks of Steam Deck game consoles – expensive gaming. Steam Deck isn’t Valve’s first console effort, it’s the Sage Steam Machine. The small form factors of the devices known as the Steam Machine were off-the-shelf systems no different from other computers. It came with Linux-based Steam and S as the default operating system, and you could dual-boot Windows if you wanted, even allowing hardware-up requests. are

Unfortunately, the steam engine didn’t catch on. The main reason for this was that there are very few games with Steam library inline support.

Valve realized that software was just as important as hardware to transform the company’s console industry, where it was most needed. As of OS Steam 3.0, he began linking to the Debian Linux distribution’s ArcLinks, as well as starting work on a production called Proton.

What is a proton?

Proton is actually a development branch of the compatibility layer called Wine, which we often hear in the Linux community. For those who don’t know, what Wine does is run Windows applications under Linux. Steam took this app and optimized it for games. With alcohol, some games were working, some were not working at all, the employees were running poorly or there were occasional bugs.

And we can say that Proton made the biggest contribution to the existence of the Steam Deck game console, which we reviewed in this video.

Steam Deck Hardware Features

Steam Deck includes AMD’s custom-designed APU codenamed Earth. This APU has a 4 core and 8 thread processor using Zen 2 architecture. If you remember, Zen2 is also used on Xbox series consoles, PlayStation 5 and AMD’s 3000 series processors.

The RDNA 2 architecture, also used in the Xbox series and PlayStation 5, was preferred as the GPU architecture, and is the architecture used in the Radeon 6000 series of graphics cards. There is construction you can buy today. We can say that the GPU used is at GTX 1050 setting.

The memory capacity is 16 GB, which, as you can imagine, cannot be changed because the memory chip is soldered to the motherboard. It is shared by 16 GB CPU and GPU. Another interesting detail about the memory is the use of LPDDR5 type modules. The Steam Deck is the first AMD/APU to use this type of memory.

Capacity options

When we look at the storage, we see that the Steam Deck is divided into 3 models, and the only difference between these models is the storage type and capacity. The cheapest model priced at $400 comes with 64 GB of EMMC type storage. Its read speed is 500MB/s, so we can say that it performs more or less like a SATA SSD. But considering today’s games, 64 GB is really low. The other $530 model comes with 256GB of NVMe/SSD storage and has a read speed of 4GB/s.

The third and top-of-the-line model also retails for $650 and has 512/MB NVME/SSD storage.

MicroSD support

All three models have microSD card slots at the bottom and even support 1TB microSD cards available in the market. However, microSD/cards are slightly slower than eMMC and NVMe/SSDs. In other words, it makes more sense to use it for game backup than to play games directly.

TDP

AMD worked closely with Valve when designing the Earth APU. When designing this chip, whose thermal design power varies between 4-15W, the goal was high performance consistency. In other words, you get the same FPS when plugged in, on battery, running cold or running hot.

Speaking of power, one of the most important issues in a mobile game console, battery capacity and game times should not be mentioned. The 40 watt/hour lithium-ion battery offers 1.5 hours to 4 hours of performance, although this varies from game to game. In games like Alden Ring, Forza Horizon 5 and Horizon Zero Dawn that use system resources, your battery may drain in 1.5 hours if you are not careful. However, in games like CS:GO and Portal 2, you can easily watch 4 hours.

How to Save Battery with Steam Deck

For this, you can press the three-dot button on the right side of the screen and go to the tab with the battery icon to bring the FPS restriction to the games.

You can reduce the FPS of any game from 60 to 30, reduce the screen brightness and change the screen refresh rate between 40 and 60/Hz, the GPU clock frequency. can reduce or reduce the TDP of the APU.

Finally, you can turn off wireless features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. As you can see, Valve has given us a lot of options when it comes to battery saving, and when you implement them, you can play a game for up to 2 hours, which you can play for up to 1.5 hours.

Noise and operating temperature

In current games with impressive graphics, such as Steam Deck’s Alden Ring, I’ve seen the CPU and GPU go as high as 90 degrees. When the console reaches these temperatures, the fan can be heard, but you don’t hear the sound of a vacuum cleaner like in a thin gaming laptop with an RTX/3080. The fan inside the console draws air through the vents you can see on the back. And I must say, his positioning was also clever. When you use it, you don’t cover it in your hand in any way. This is the upper part where it blows hot air.

Although the temperature goes up to 90 degrees in places, it doesn’t transfer that heat to its body like some gaming laptops. You can easily hold it without burning your hand.

Steam Deck Display Features

The Steam Deck uses a 7-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 1280×800, meaning an aspect ratio of 16:10. An important detail is that this screen is a touch screen, we will talk about its importance soon when we talk about games. The screen’s refresh rate is limited to 60/Hz and its maximum brightness is 400 nits.

Outdoor play is possible with a steam deck.

Another detail you need to know about the screen is that the top 512/GB model comes with a special anti-reflective coating. This coating has a slightly matte finish, but not quite. I’d say it’s somewhere between matte and glossy screen. Is it played in daylight? It’s definitely playable, I personally took the console and tested it in sunlight and found that 400 nits of brightness was plenty.

Keys and gamepad

The Steam Deck is a very rich console in terms of keys and inputs. Quad directional pad, 2 analog thumbsticks, 2 trackpads with haptic feedback, 4 dedicated X, Y, A, B console keys, start and back keys. Right and left trigger and bumper keys.

The trigger keys are very satisfying and feel solid, my only complaint is that the analog thumbsticks don’t have enough dents in the middle. So my fingers slip after a while. So I touch the thumbs where the rough texture is on the edge and move them left and right.

Apart from all these, there are 4 buttons on the bottom left and right side of the console, where you can assign additional functions yourself.

However, pressing them correctly is a bit difficult. In fact, I often found myself accidentally pressing these keys while holding the console. Fortunately, they have no function by default.

Steam deck is heavier than other consoles.

The Steam Deck differs from the traditional and accepted mobile game console form factor in both its dimensions and weight. When you first open the box, you can’t believe how big it is. It is as heavy as it is big. The Nintendo Switch OLED/ weighs 422 grams, while the Steam Deck weighs 670 grams.

When you play while lying on the couch or bed, you realize that holding the console in the air after a while hurts your arm and you immediately stick it to your stomach.

Wireless

Another important point in this console is the wireless network performance as you can download and install your games from the internet. At this point, let’s say that the console has Wi-Fi 6 support. If you have high-speed internet, you can see all the advantages in multiplayer games on deck.

Docking station

Another piece of hardware that Valve is planning to release for the deck and that excites me is the docking station.

This piece, which we can also call the stand, will provide various connection and slot possibilities for your deck, while also allowing it to be charged. The docking station will have an Ethernet port for wired networking, an HDMI 2.1 port for connecting to your monitor or TV, and several USB ports.

Steam Deck Audio Performance

Another thing I liked was the sound, the speaker quality was used more accurately. One of the reasons we get quality sound from the Steam Deck is because of the high stereo effect. This is because the console is too wide, which increases the physical distance between the speakers. This allows the sounds to have a truly atmospheric feel.

Speaking of audio, the console has a 3.5mm analog audio jack as well as Bluetooth support, so you can connect your wireless Bluetooth headphones. When I tried it with a Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, I found that the Bluetooth connection was established without any problems. Just next to the analog audio jack, we see the volume keys. Being able to control the volume with the physical keys is a feature I’ve always been looking for and I welcomed it. It works on both analog headsets and Bluetooth headsets.

Input/output slots

At the top of the slot, right next to the power button, we find the USB Type-C slot. The device is charged from here and if a device needs to be connected, it is also connected here. Another feature that makes the device really attractive is that you can connect a USB/hub with HDMI/video output here and connect a keyboard, mouse and monitor to the Steam Deck and connect it to a computer. can be used as Actually, the “like” here is a bit much since the Steam Deck is already pretending to be a computer, not just a game console.

Desktop mode

When you use Steam Deck in desktop mode, you better understand that the device is actually a portable computer.

You can browse the internet and watch videos on YouTube with the Chrome browser. Video viewing performance is quite good. It can also play K/4-P/60 videos on YouTube quite smoothly. But a little more variety in application support wouldn’t hurt. You can find some guides when you search on the internet, but I think the S team can optionally offer some multimedia applications, such as the Chrome browser, which can be installed with one click. . For example, VLC Media Player wouldn’t be bad.

Advantage in game

Coming to the slow games, as I said at the beginning of the video, the biggest advantage of the Steam Deck is that you can use your Steam game library on the console, which you’ve slowly built up over the years. is extended. You can buy your favorite games once and play them on the go, on vacation, at work, on both your desktop computer and your Steam deck. Additionally, since saved games are uploaded to the Steam cloud, you can play on desktop and pick up where you left off on Steam Deck.

Compatibility issues

It has its pros and cons, even though the pros outweigh the cons, I still want to talk about the cons. First, these games are games designed to be played on large screens and mostly with a keyboard and mouse. So, you can see them in the interface design. For example, some texts may be too short. And when the controls are adapted to a gamepad, trackpad or touchscreen, the game can’t be less fun.

Valve tried to minimize these flaws as much as possible. For example, when you press the S-Team + L1 keys, the screen is zoomed in so you can see hard-to-read text. You cannot navigate with the gamepad in the launchers’ interface that appears at the start of some games. For example, we saw it in Cyberpunk 2077, in the Rockstar Games Social Club at the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2, and in the launcher published at the launch of Skyrim. So I can say that touch screen saves life here.

SteamDeck lets you modify each game’s control scheme individually. The control scheme acts as a separate layer regardless of the game, allowing you to use any key instead of the one you want on the Steam deck. This makes playing games designed for keyboard and mouse on the gamepad a little easier.

Library interface

Of course, the game library isn’t the same as we know it on Steam. Here, the games are classified according to the playability of the deck. This classification is divided into 4. All games including 1) approved, 2) approved and playable but require additional effort to communicate and set up, 3) approved and playable but not yet tested, and 4) Steam Not running on deck.

We ran our tests on Apex Legends, CS:GO, Control, Elden Ring, Dirt Rally 2.0, Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, Red Dead Redemption 2, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Cyberpunk 2077, Below, Age of Empires II HD Edition. Some of them had a great gaming experience, while others were not so great.

About our test settings

It should be noted that we performed our camera tests in 16:9 aspect ratio, i.e. 1280×720 resolution, so that screen recording can be displayed without black gaps at the top and bottom and without cropping of images. Because the cameras we reviewed also record in a 16:9 aspect ratio. By default, the Steam Deck screen runs at 1280×800, or 16:10 aspect ratio.

Steam Deck Gaming Performance

We have tested Steam Deck with various games and will continue to do so. Here are the games we included in the first review and the performance values ​​we got.

Apex Legends

If we start with Apex Legends, as you can see, we saw most of them between 50-60 FPS with high quality graphics settings. CPU and GPU temperature is hovering between 85-90. Apex Legends wasn’t compatible with Steam Deck until a while ago. The reason was that the anti-cheat plugin Easy Anti-Cheat installed with the game did not work on Linux. Valve overcame this issue and added Apex Legends to the list of games that run smoothly on Steam Deck. The controls are great as Apex Legends is a game that has gamepad support by default. As you’ll always notice in the rest of our tests, if the game has gamepad support, you’ll have a smoother experience with the Steam deck. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for PUBG. At the time of this review, PUBG was not working on Steam Deck.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 was a disappointing game in terms of graphics quality, but we already know that this game does not play well with weaker systems. There is a default option called Steam Deck in the game’s graphics settings. The game fixes itself at 30 frames per second when you pick it up and play. This is good for people who don’t like constant FPS change and want to play with a stable frame/second. I think this game is not an enjoyable game at 30 FPS. So I went into the settings and removed the fps restriction and saw that the fps went up to 45, but obviously, you go back to the 30s in intense scenes. When I ran the benchmark in the game, I saw a minimum of 20 FPS, an average of 40 and a maximum of 73 FPS.

Dirt Rally 2.0

Dirt Rally 2.0, one of my favorite racing simulations, became another test game. Graphics settings were on High and 8x anisotropic filtering and CMAA was selected as the anti-aliasing option. In a race we ran at these settings, FPS was between 45-55. If you want to play at 60 FPS all the time, just turn the graphics settings in between. Like the previous games, the controls were flawless.

Alden Ring

Alden Ring is a game that relies heavily on CPU performance, and we’ve experienced firsthand that this is a bottleneck on Steam decks. Whether we set the graphics settings to low, medium or high, the FPS didn’t change, staying around 30.

option

We had to lower the graphics settings to get a stable 60 FPS in the controls. However, if desired, it can be run at medium settings with a fluidity of around 40 FPS. In the meantime, we can go into the menus of the two games that run smoothly on both the Elden ring and the control gamepad, and we can give all the commands without any problems.

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3 is a game we definitely recommend if you’ve bought a Steam deck. Since the game has gamepad support, the controls work perfectly and you see an almost constant 60FPS at medium graphics settings.

Skyrim The Elder Scrolls V

Now let’s take a look at Skyrim Elder Scrolls V, a game that is a bit older but still popular. When you set it to medium settings and set anti-aliasing to FXAA, Skyrim was a game where we could get 60fps all the time. However, one thing I noticed is that it can be hard to see some details on the 7-inch screen. For this reason, you find yourself using the zoom feature.

Red Red Redemption 2

Another game on Steam Deck that offered both smooth performance and beautiful graphics was Red Dead Redemption 2. In our in-game tests on medium settings, we saw a minimum FPS of 24, an average of 48, and a maximum of 68 FPS.

CS: J.O

CS:GO, FPS 60 is usually above 80 and you can save battery very comfortably with lock. In this game, we also tried the gyroscope control mechanism of the console, but I can say that this feature is more suitable for racing games. Not very accurate in FPS.

Age of Empires II: HD Edition

We also tested Age of Empires II HD Edition. The control scheme for this game is provided by the Steam community. In other words, it’s a schema that a user creates and uploads to Steam, and it’s validated by Steam. To be honest the game works flawlessly and even though all the functions are displayed on the Steam controller, you can’t get the performance with the controller and I can say I didn’t enjoy it at all. Definitely a game that should be played with a keyboard and mouse.

below

The last game I tested was Below, which is little known but I really liked it because of its atmosphere. The hero in this game is purposely modeled small, and I had no problem playing it on the Xbox’s big screen, but on the deck’s 7-inch screen, my character looked so small it was almost wired. . For example, I definitely wouldn’t play this game on the deck for this reason.

Steam friends and contacts

The last point I would like to mention is that the deck makes it easy to communicate with your Steam friends. Just like the desktop Steam application, you can start text and voice chats and set up groups. To access your Steam friend list, all you have to do is press the three dots button on the left side of the screen and select the Friends tab from there. By pressing the Steam key and X, you can easily open the on-screen keyboard and write a message.

Result

ہاں، سٹیم ڈیک سستا نہیں ہے۔ اگر آپ اسے خریدنے جا رہے ہیں، تو ہم 512GB ماڈل کی تجویز کرتے ہیں۔ تاہم، یہ ماڈل Xbox سیریز X سے بھی زیادہ مہنگا ہے، جس میں بہت زیادہ طاقتور ہارڈ ویئر ہے۔ پھر بھی، سٹیم ڈیک گیم کی قیمتوں پر طویل مدت میں آپ کے بجٹ کو کم کر سکتا ہے۔ چونکہ سٹیم سٹور میں گیم کی قیمتیں کنسول سٹورز کے مقابلے میں بہت زیادہ سستی ہیں، اس لیے ایک پلیئر فرینڈلی ریٹرن پالیسی ہے، اور آپ بڑی رعایتوں پر بڑی تعداد میں خرید کر پیسے بچا سکتے ہیں جسے Steam تقریباً ہر سیزن میں ترتیب دیتا ہے۔

The question of whether this steam deck is worth buying depends on the games you like and I’d say you need to make a game-by-game decision. It’s important to do preliminary research because some games still don’t work on decks. If the games in your Steam library are compatible with the Deck, or if you want to experience them on the go, the Deck is a versatile console that brings a different flavor to gaming.