The Steam Deck is the best budget gaming PC you can buy *
You can’t even buy a decent graphics card for the price of a Stream Deck. This is the state of PC gaming in 2022, a hobby with such a costly entry requirement right now that those with no high disposable income should not apply. Even if you could find a PC for the same price as Valve’s new PDA, I can guarantee it won’t come with a discrete GPU today, and I can also guarantee you’ll be very frustrated trying to play any game. From this side. 2006.
But Steam Deck will even play Elden Ring decently as well anything I can play that stuttering PC port right now – and I’ve got impressive gaming performance in just about every game I’ve run. Of course, you have to be a bit frugal with your graphics settings, maybe set a framerate cap on it if you want something like playable battery life from it, and it only runs at 1280 x 800, but this is a gaming PC . which can play and be yours for only $529.
If you’re willing to wait, that is.
Yes, the hard problem with any Steam Deck praise is that availability is pretty limited and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. None of the PC Gamer team who booked on the first day had the slightest hint that they were close to getting their hands on the micromachine.
Gabe himself told us that he doesn’t know when players will be able to want a deck, click Buy, and have it within a few days or a week. Although there is some good news in that Valve designer Lawrence Young has gone on record saying that he believes Steam Deck production will increase rapidly and reach hundreds of thousands by the second month of sale. Fingers crossed, this means that Valve will deal with these pre-orders pretty quickly.
But aside from these hopefully temporary issues, the hardware itself does so much good. It’s potential as a budget gaming PC is huge, more than some low-end cheap laptop with integrated graphics that will probably cost more than a mid-range Steam Deck anyway And forget about trying to put together a desktop PC with vaguely capable gaming capabilities at a price close to that of a deck. Especially since the highest-end integrated graphics from AMD or Intel are constantly tied to more expensive processors.
With Stream Deck, you can play on your PC on the go, in the garden, at the bar, on the couch, or at your desk by connecting a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. It’s incredibly versatile, portable, and amazingly powerful; A PC that can be anything to anyone. And you can get all of this for just over $500. Less if you opt for the 64GB version and fill it with micro SD cards.
There are, of course, limitations. The Linux operating system is incredibly accessible, whether it’s a simple, portable-oriented Deck user interface or a desktop computer, but it is still Linux, and it has a little learning curve. And while Proton does a fantastic job of running Windows-only games on the Deck operating system, some of them don’t work, and some are intentionally unsupported.
We already know that two of the most popular games, Fortnite and Destiny 2, are not supported by SteamOS, so you’ll need Windows (or GeForce Now streaming) to play any of them on the deck. And right now, AMD is still fiddling with the Windows drivers for the Van Gogh-based Aerith APUs at the heart of the device, so you can’t install Microsoft OS there just yet.
Although this is not a decisive factor, especially in terms of PC games at such an aggressive price.
At a time when the barrier to entry to PC gaming is sky-high—when graphics card prices are still at frankly offensive levels and almost everything else is a demand-driven price premium—the Steam Deck is coming. As such, a value proposition actually seems almost anachronistic.
But that was always part of the deck plan.
“We always thought the price was one of the big things,” Gabe tells us. “So, I mean, pretty early on, we were driven by a number of ergonomic, performance, and price considerations.”
Although that in itself was not easy.
“One of the main issues that we thought we would have to solve with this generation was the price,” says Gabe. “The price of $399 was carved in stone. [minimum order commitments]and other things to reach the volumes that would allow us to reach these price categories.”
However, the fact that most early adopters reserved the top 512GB version took Valve by surprise.
“I think we were a bit surprised that instead of the entry-level SKU, the most popular,” says Gabe, “was the high-end SKU, which ended up being the most popular SKU.”
“Many of us, myself included,” repeats designer Greg Coomer, “didn’t foresee this as we finalized the process and got ready to announce the Steam Deck. We predicted otherwise.”
However, these are those reservists on the reservation. As the system becomes more accessible and parents buy big birthday and Christmas gifts, you can bet the lower tier deck will start to come into its own. It’s the kind of situation we’ve seen where the Xbox Series X is a big seller, and the Series S comes to the fore later on.
And despite only having 64GB of eMMC storage, the cheapest steam deck still retains all other features and characteristics of its older siblings. Okay, you might be missing the top-tier etched glass of the screen, but you get 16GB LPDDR5 and an APU capable of smashing God of War at exceptionally playable frame rates.
During my testing, when I ran into a small bug or performance that made me stop, I always reverted to the price. The Steam Deck costs a third of the cost of many other gaming laptops and is much cheaper than most gaming laptops. And that’s why the price was such a big factor for Valve and why you shouldn’t even think about spending more chances on anyone’s second eBay listing, no matter how badly you want it.
It’s basically a budget gaming PC and a brilliant one at that.