Steam Deck: Ars Technica’s Comprehensive Review

Zoom / Steam Deck has arrived.

Sam Machkovich

The Steam Deck, Valve’s new $399 Switch-like PC, sometimes looks like the most impressive portable gaming system ever. But it’s also not over.

Like other hot electronics in 2022, Valve’s first PC launch – which looks like a massive Game Gear but is at its core a Linux PC – is limited by a strained supply chain and persistent chip shortages. But if you want to feel better about missing out on the first wave of deck pre-orders, or seeing them Late Shipping Estimate “Q2 2022” and beyond for new ordersThis review is for you.

Produced by Sean Dacanai. Click here for a copy.

When the Steam Deck works as intended, it is easily the best Nintendo Switch-like PC on the market. Processing power, build quality, software flexibility, and Linux to Windows processors can breathe new life into (some) PC games’ catalog. The Deck outperforms all other PC and Android options in this niche. The right game, running smoothly at 30fps with visible bells and whistles enabled (or 60fps if possible), may convince you to put your key in storage.

As a first-generation piece of hardware, the Steam Deck looks good, feels durable, and performs well (especially considering its $399 base price). But the software side of the deck is currently rough.

Deck bugs, quirks, and outright failures stand in stark contrast to the Switch. In many “Nintendo Switch only works” situations, you may find yourself saying to the Deck, “Just work, please!”

Windows and Linux support

Zoom in more tightly on Steam Deck.
Zoom / Zoom in more tightly on Steam Deck.

Sam Machkovich

One of the biggest caveats in this review is that the deck currently lacks one potential selling point: compatibility with Windows 10. After supplying Ars Technica with review hardware, Valve confirmed that some Windows drivers for the Steam Deck weren’t ready. This remained the case as I finished this review.

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While I had the option to dual-boot Windows 10 and Linux during the review period, it wouldn’t be fair to do without full OS-level support for things like CPU, GPU, and audio playback. We’ll take a closer look at trying out Steam Deck for Windows 10 once the drivers are ready, but based on what I’ve found with the device’s built-in Linux fork, I’m not confident that using Windows 10 will be an easy experience.

Speaking of Linux, I ported my testing of the Deck version of Arch Linux to separate article. Can you go to the command line and install whatever you want? Can you get Linux apps into SteamOS? Do you like Flatpak? click here To dive into those things.

A primer on history: Why is Valve releasing a Linux PC?

Valve provided this image of several Steam Deck models that have been created over the years at skunkworks labs.
Zoom / Valve provided this image of several Steam Deck models that have been created over the years at skunkworks labs.

valve

Steam Deck is Valve’s first stab at creating its own PC form factor. which separates the deck fromsteam machinesFor example, the gaming desktops that Valve consulted but did not produce. Both concepts arose from the same premise: to make Steam’s massive gaming ecosystem run on non-Windows devices — and without the need for Steam game developers patch or update current code.

In 2012, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell has criticized Microsoft’s increasingly tough approach to installing software on Windows. At the time, Microsoft’s public statements and development efforts suggested that a “closed garden” might come to Windows — which, among other things, would threaten Valve’s ability to freely sell games on millions of PCs.

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Fast forward a decade, and Valve A warmer relationship with Microsoft’s gaming division. (At press time, Microsoft has committed to releasing Steam simul for most of Microsoft’s major Xbox games. Last year, Valve had a problem Xbox boss Phil Spencer sent his Steam Deck beta.) However, Valve still loves the idea of ​​gaming PCs that can run games from the Steam storefront without the need for Windows.

Maybe it boils down to the money. Valve has already put years of work and tons of cash into its Steam Proton initiative, which combines the Wine compatibility layer with the right drivers to run Windows games inside Linux. If Valve . can be obtained Most popular Steam deck games Without paying a per-device Windows license fee, the company can make it look like a bandit — or at least, keep Deck’s launch prices low.

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