The first full reviews of Steam Deck finally started coming out. With a promising future, Valve’s portable PC pleased most sites that could test the device. There are, however, optimization issues and system bugs noticed by all technology-specialized portals. Apparently, Valve’s idea is good, but the company still needs to improve its creation.
In most of the analysis published on Friday (25), Steam Deck impressed by the ability to run heavy games in good quality, with stable frame rates per second, on a portable body. According to Eurogamer, Valve’s portable PC performs “at the PS4 level at the same resolution as the Nintendo Switch or even higher.”
Eurogamer also says that right after taking the device out of the box, it is possible to run Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War at 30 FPS in native resolution in portable mode. For a first-generation product, Steam Deck delivers amazing performance across multiple games.
Steam Deck suffers with limited compatibility
There is, however, a common problem when playing on PCs: compatibility. Despite having a giant library of titles, not all Steam games are compatible with SteamOS — Valve’s proprietary Linux-based system. In addition, you can only run programs that are not in the Steam catalog if the applications are installed on Windows or steam deck desktop mode, which runs the KDE Plasma system.
As much as Valve allows Windows to be installed, the company confirmed to ArsTechnica that “certain Windows drivers are not ready.” Meanwhile, to Tom’s Hardware, one of the developers of Steam Deck, Pierre-Loup Griffais explained the following:
“Most of the things that are making games not work well now are usually things that we have to fix on Proton, in the graphics driver, or in SteamOS itself, to take the game to the same point where, you know, it would be executable on a normal Windows PC.”
Pierre-Loup Griffais, ao Tom’s Hardware.
Even with some limitations, The Verge pointed out that Proton —a compatibility layer that makes Windows games run on Linux—works great. “I’ve only seen rare flaws like strange effects with flashing lights in Max Payne 3 and cut scenes in Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II from 1997, and I wouldn’t be surprised to know that this happened in windows versions as well,” the site said.
Steam Deck is comfortable despite the size
About building Steam Deck, some content producers had already shared their first impressions in early February. At the time, youtubers The Phawx, Linus Tech Tips and Gamers Nexus liked the design and ergonomics of the portable PC. They even highlighted the comfort by holding the device in their hands, despite the seemingly large size.
In full reviews, the conclusion is the same: Steam Deck is, yes, comfortable to use. In Polygon analysis, for example, the site says the following:
“High joysticks, for example, are not inconvenient, because the ergonomics of the handles allow my thumbs to rest comfortably where they need to be. And that may surprise you, but I don’t have much time to lift weights these days. Even so, a few hours at Elden Ring caused zero muscle fatigue. In addition, the bulky size means more screen space, along with buttons that look like a legitimate joystick, not a laptop.”
Because it’s not all flowers, all sites that tested Steam Deck have noticed a serious problem in common—battery life. This had also been highlighted in the first impressions of the device, but was more evident in the complete analyses.
In The Verge tests, for example, Steam Deck’s 40 Wh battery held two hours of Control play at 60 FPS, with screen brightness at 60%. By limiting the frame rate per second to 30 FPS, the portal was able to keep the device on for four hours.
Steam Deck looks promising but needs to evolve
Considering the reviews published, it is possible to state that Steam Deck is a promising bet, but still has to improve in some respects. The upside is that most compatibility issues can be resolved with updates on SteamOS. However, the same cannot be said of battery life, which should only improve in a possible revised version.
For those who have money left over and can import a Steam Deck, it should be a great experience to play hundreds of games from the Steam library wherever you want. We still don’t know if Valve’s portable PC will officially arrive in Brazil one day, but hope is the last one to die.