The Steam Deck’s most impressive feature is its price tag, so don’t spend thousands on one

Once released, Valve’s Steam Deck will sell for thousands of dollars on eBay. This I know for sure. If I’ve learned anything about supply and demand over the past two years, it’s that new and exciting hardware that only a few get their hands on at launch is a recipe for resale.

Steam Deck is no doubt in demand by PC gamers, and this is perhaps exacerbated by the fact that you had to subscribe to one last summer for a chance to buy it in the next 24 hours. If you’ve registered your interest with Valve now, you might have to wait a long time – it’s unlikely you’ll get a Steam deck until next year if the global chip shortage doesn’t clear up before then (which may be a bit).

In fact, for a long time, almost the entire development process, we thought that price would matter.

Greg Kramer, designer

So those who booked tickets for the first quarter of 2022 are kids with golden tickets to Gabe Newell’s chocolate factory, although that sounds pretty weird. However, some of them are definitely real Slugworths.

When I say I’m sure the Steam deck will sell for tons of money on eBay, it’s partly because it’s already out there. You can already find Steam Deck Q1 reservations on more than 2000 dollars on eBay with bets on them. Whether these rates are genuine remains to be seen – graphics card resellers outbid users with no intention of actually paying an inflated price for the card, for the sole purpose of making resellers hassle to re-list their wares and try again.

These reservations cannot even guarantee that they are part of the first wave of Steam deck reservations to be made, only that they will be able to provide one sometime in the first quarter of 2022. And that’s just a caveat: just wait for some users to actually confirm their orders and be the first to get a real Steam deck, or better yet, actually have one in their hands.

Whether you’re paying $1,000, $2,000, or $10,000 for a Steam deck, that’s way too much money. 

Steam Deck is a smart combination of the details and silicon of modern PC gaming, with a healthy dose of Linux magic thrown in. The APU that powers it all, Aerith, is a chip designed by AMD and manufactured by TSMC built on the Zen 2 CPU architecture and the RDNA 2 GPU architecture. The Zen 2 architecture is the same as the old Ryzen 3000 series CPUs and RDNA 2 in Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards.

Now, this isn’t a reworking of the Steam Deck spec sheet: it does a lot with the soft GPU at its core to deliver frame rates that a PC gamer can appreciate, but it also doesn’t cost more than $1,000.

It costs $649 for the 512GB model. Then $529 for the 256GB model and $399 for the 64GB model. Valve has absolutely nailed the price of this device, and that’s what makes it so attractive. Even the extraordinary measures that Valve and AMD are going to optimize for Linux and drivers to extract every ounce of Steam Deck performance should go above and beyond what you would expect from such a diminutive device.

Once you add another $400 or more to the price tag, that performance/value proposition is gone.

“In fact, we thought for a long time, almost the entire development process, that price would matter,” Greg Kumar, Steam Deck designer, tells us. “We didn’t really let ourselves think about it until the end of the cycle, but we always knew it was important to get it right.”

“In the last part of the development cycle, we focused mainly on the lower end price, which we really wanted to keep in order to make the device as affordable as possible for as many people as possible.”

The concept of pocket gaming PCs is also not new. There used to be a lot of devices like Onexplayer, Aya Neo, and GPD Win 3. What these portable devices can’t do and what Steam Deck can do is offer so much for so little. Each costs around $1,000 or more. For the money, you could buy a decent gaming laptop capable of delivering discrete graphics power in a compact package. Of course, it’s not a laptop and doesn’t run SteamOS 3.0 out of the box, but it will deliver higher frame rates and higher resolutions, and you can install Linux on it if you want. Indeed to want.

My goal is not to humiliate the steam deck. On the contrary, in fact. I can see the appeal of why a lot of people might want to get their hands on one of these, and it’s only reinforced by my own time with the deck running Horizon Zero Dawn. But its power comes not from its list of features but from the price you pay for it. At over $1,000, it loses what makes it the most exciting experience for PC gamers. 

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