video games

HDR Steam Deck OLED Announced for November 16th with 6nm APU

Valve just announced a Steam Deck OLED coming on November 16th at 10AM Pacific time for $550 with the 512GB model and 650 for a new 1TB model. The upgraded Linux or “SteamOS” handheld has a new 90hz OLED screen that gives you a better picture that supports HDR, a slightly larger 7.4 inch (versus 7.0 on the older LCD models) screen size with smaller bezels, 50 watt-hour battery (versus 40 on the LCD) which Valve claims nets you anywhere from 1 to 4 more hours of battery life, 45 watt power supply with a 2.5 meter cable (1 more meter than the LCD deck), WiFi 6E (WiFi 5 on the LCD), and the last key feature is a slightly shrunk down 6 nanometer APU (combination CPU and GPU) versus the 7 nanometer APU on the LCD decks. The 1TB OLED model also has a second limited edition version for $30 extra with a slightly different colorway.

Reviewers have had it for a little while and report that newer APU nets slight performance boosts and keeps the deck cooler. They’ve also said the system’s fan is larger so the fan can turn slower to move the same amount of air. There’s also a small 5% weight decrease that I’m looking forward to.

Here’s Digital Foundry’s Rich Leadbetter reviewing the OLED model:

James Archer reviewed the whole OLED Steam Deck can of beans for RPS:

Personally, if I were a prospective shopper of fine SteamOS handhelds, I’d go for the new one in a blink. The Steam Deck OLED not only directs its focus to the two biggest shortcomings of the original, but takes the time to polish up design details and build quality to the point where you can literally feel its superiority. If Valve are right in that a Steam Deck with truly next-gen performance is still several years away – and in hindsight, they’ve been very particular with mentioning the performance bit – then I’m more than happy to pass the time on this OLED version.

The Steam Deck’s new store page has discounted LCD models, the 64GB model has been dropped to $350, the 512GB to $450. After those Steam Decks are sold out, they’ll be gone, leaving the last LCD model as the 256GB LCD for $400.

Crucially, this isn’t a Steam Deck 2. It’s kind of wild that in the face of new challengers with faster APUs, Valve has released this new handheld without a huge APU upgrade, but the OLED upgrade still seems like a substantial improvement for new or heavily addicted Steam Deck users like me. The other handheld gaming computers from ASUS, Lenovo, and so on, are also stuck on Windows and reviewers and users have enormous software complaints because there’s only so much the hardware developers can do to customize the handheld Windows gaming experience. Similarly, getting a highly customized SteamOS version of Linux to run Windows games may produce a better experience where any individual game might not run well or lack needed features like anti-cheat software compatibility, but the OS isn’t as awful until you want to run a game from anywhere but Steam’s store and find the tools to run games from Epic, gog, or other stores are often frustrating to use.

All of that makes me wonder if Valve’s lack of effort and their lip service to making a version of SteamOS widely available for users and device makers might be a strategic choice instead of a failure.

Eurogamer’s EIC Tom Phillips spoke with Valve’s Yazan Aldehayyat about what’s missing to make the OLED a true 2.0 model

“Obviously we’d love to get even more performance in the same power envelope, but that technology doesn’t exist yet,” Aldehayyat said. “That’s what I think we’d call a Steam Deck 2.0.

“The first Steam Deck was the first moment in time where we felt like there was enough GPU performance in a portable form factor that lets you play all your Steam games. We would love for the trend of perf-per-watt to progress rapidly to do that, but it’s not quite there yet.”

video games

Digital Foundry’s Perspective on the Steam Deck’s Performance

Richard Leadbetter at Digital Foundry has put together his thoughts on the Steam Deck‘s performance, and compares it to the Xbox Series S, the lower performance version of the new generation of Xbox consoles:

But really, the most interesting elements of Steam Deck are the semi-custom AMD processor and the background operating system – and we’ll start with the first. Valve, via IGN, describes the chip as being next-gen in nature using the latest architectures – which is true, but only if we consider the consoles as the defining factor of what a generation actually is. You can effectively consider Steam Deck’s chip as being most similar in nature to Xbox Series S, with significant reductions in all dimensions. The eight-core, 16-thread AMD Zen 2 chip is cut down by half, while the fixed 3.6GHz clock adjusts to a variable 2.4GHz to 3.5GHz. Series S’s 20 RDNA 2 compute units drop down to just eight and again, a fixed clock on the Microsoft machine (1565MHz) shifts to a variable 1.0GHz to 1.6GHz on Steam Deck, meaning a range of 1TF to 1.6TF of GPU compute against the locked 4TF on Series S. Bearing in mind that we’ve measured Series S as drawing up to 82.5W of power, we need to keep expectations in check about the performance of Steam Deck.

video games

Super NES Classic Edition Stuff

SNES Box image via Nintendo

The Super NES Classic Edition is out for $80, Chris Scullion has a review of the Brit version which looks a little different externally and in the menu, but is functionally identical, to the US version:

The only main problem I have with the SNES Mini is how important the Reset button on the console is. Any time you want to change a game, save your state, load a state or rewind you have press the physical Reset button on the SNES Mini.


A button combo would’ve been a better way of doing this. It could be a complex one to avoid accidental restarts: most Game Boy games back in the day could be reset by pressing A + B + Start + Select, there’s no reason why that shouldn’t have been possible here.

That niggle aside, I’m happy with the way each game is handled here. They look great – even though it only outputs at 720p, on my 4K TV they still look crisp – they sound great, and they play great.

I think it is odd that in some places Nintendo have decided to straight out call it a “mini,” as Chris’ box shows:

Well at least we get our more hideous miniaturized console with buttons that lack colour.

Eurogamer’s John Linneman confirms that the tech inside is exactly the same as the NES Classic Edition:

The fact that the SNES mini runs on the same hardware as its predecessor has a number of implications. Among them, we can expect hackers to be looking to exploit the system in short order to add new games – exactly what happened with the NES mini. And secondly, the use of what is essentially the same technology makes it much easier for Nintendo to resume NES mini production.

The only game exclusive to the Super Nintendo Classic Edition is Star Fox 2, Christian Donlan has a review:

Star Fox 2 is an unusual game, an astonishingly inventive sequel that built on the combat and visual thrills of the first Star Fox but wasn’t afraid to experiment with the structure. Rather than starting you at one end of a space map and asking you to pick your route to the far side, choosing from missions that can eventually be all but committed to memory through sheer repetition, you’re suddenly protecting Corneria, your home world, from an ongoing attack from big villain Andross and the attack pretty much plays out in real time. Andross builds bases on nearby planets, and he has cruisers headed for you and IPBMs launching every few minutes. Your job is still to get across the map to take out Andross directly, but you have to respond to other things as they happen. Those cruisers! Those missiles! These are all problems that compete for your time and there’s a panicky thrill in knowing that if you head for a planet to take on an entrenched baddy, there will be missiles still snaking through space towards Corneria, launched from other points. Throughout this wonderfully breathless game, you are asked to think on the fly, and to dash headlong between danger zones, constantly prioritising threats.

The hackers are working on updating hakchi2 for the SNES Classic Edition so that you can load your own ROMs on to the system. Legally backed-up from your own cartridges or downloaded and deleted within 24 hours, of course.

I’m waiting for delivery of SNES Mini now, it will be delivered tomorrow. Seems like hakchi and hakchi2 will require some minor changes to work with SNES Mini. So please wait little more.

They might also be able to fix it so we don’t need to get off the couch to reset the console and access save states. Here’s hoping.

But if you’re going to go that far you almost might as well just listen to Seth Macy with his hilarious article titled “Why Spend $80 on an SNES Classic When You Can Install Emulators on a Raspberry Pi and Never Shut the Fuck Up About It?”:

Nintendo’s highly coveted SNES Classic Mini system comes out today and is certain to be a hot item. A word of advice to gamers who aren’t able to land an SNES Classic: did you know you can just buy a Raspberry Pi and remind people at every opportunity how much fucking better you are for it?

After the NES Classic Edition was announced and became immediately  impossible to find I attempted to do exactly what Macy is joking about by setting up a Raspberry Pi with emulators and it is indeed still a pain in the ass. It’s great that these classic NES and SNES consoles have embedded Linux at their core, but Nintendo have done so much work to obscure that core from their users and make things easy.

That hard work is exactly what has always been missing from any Linux distribution on a single board computer like the Raspberry Pi or desktops and laptops. I have the patience to use this software and fix it when it breaks but this is never as easy as using a Classic Edition. Hopefully Nintendo lives up to their promise and produces enough to go around.