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Steam Deck Review: PC Gaming in Your Palm, at Last

by Eulalia Wunderly (2022-03-07)

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Dan Ackerman/CNET

The Steam Deck is the latest high-profile attempt to do the near-impossible - make a great handheld gaming PC. The device looks a lot like a Nintendo Switch, the current king of portable gaming, but it's a very different beast: more powerful, more expensive and . For the uninitiated, this is an AMD-powered handheld gaming PC with a 7-inch 1,280x800 display and either 64GB, 256GB or 512GB of storage.

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Steam Deck Mostly Nails Handheld PC Gaming


Valve's portable device is also difficult to definitively review, as the platform and the list of compatible games is rapidly evolving. OS updates are adding and changing important features, so some parts of the user experience may be different by the time you read this. For example, Valve just added the ability to easily install the Chrome web browser directly from the SteamOS interface. The full scope of feature-enhancing tweaks and hacks (or bugs and limitations) won't be apparent until the Steam Deck gets into more hands. So consider this a living review that will evolve over time. Since this review was first published, I've also been able to install some games from the Epic Games Store, one of Steam's biggest competitors. It's not exactly easy, but enterprising gamers are already working on simpler methods and helper apps. The steps to do this are detailed below in the section on the Steam Deck's desktop mode. 

Valve Steam Deck

LikePlays a wide variety of PC gamesMany customizable control optionsEasily expandable storageDecent performance from such a small deviceDesktop mode for installing non-Steam software

Don't LikeStorage gets eaten up quicklyBattery life is short when playing certain gamesBig and heavy for a handheld deviceLow-resolution display

The TL;DR version is, if you're the type of PC gamer who jumped online to