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.”