steam deck proton ever since the launch of the Nintendo switch in 2017 the perception of what a handheld gaming device can be has changed there’s been an explosion of similarly compact PC devices released lately each with mixed results while there are great devices out there now such as their neo-pro they’re still limited by the capabilities of mobile hardware while also costing a lot more than its performance suggests, however, valve’s steam deck addresses both pitfalls entirely with cutting-edge hardware thoughtfully designed ergonomics a satisfying controller layout and a software layer that simplifies pc gaming the steam deck makes it a breeze to link to your steam account and get started with your library on the go better yet it comes in at a reasonable price.
starting at 400 and reaching only 650 for its highest-tier model essentially half the price of its closest competitors the steam deck’s design is as impressive as it is massive with the entire device coming in wider taller and thicker than the Nintendo switch this allows the steam deck to pack in a larger display with 1200 by an 807-inch display which offers vivid color reproduction while also giving you ample brightness control for gaming in numerous environments the bezels are on the thick side with the two on the left and right of the screen specifically.
wasteful of space but it’s a small price to pay for a display of this quality flanking the display are two thumbsticks and two touchpads with the former being one of the steam deck’s strongest pieces of hardware these thumbsticks feel remarkable while also being comfortable and accurate the tops of the thumbsticks are also tiny touchpads too allowing for some fancy software controller configurations the ability to activate gyro assisted aiming while your thumb is on the right stick, for example, is a small but immensely useful detail the two touchpads beneath the sticks are less impressive but no less useful letting you play games.
that require mouse input relatively easily their tactile vibration as you move your finger across them adds accuracy to your input with software configuration letting you alter this response to help you better feel the ends of each pad with the force of the haptics rather than just feeling your finger slide off entirely both the d-pad and the four face buttons are pushed out to the edges of the steam.
the deck which can look odd on first inspection the overall sculpt of the steam deck also naturally places your hands close to each of them however meaning you likely won’t be adjusting your grip or reaching out in uncomfortable ways to hold these buttons when holding the auspiciously large device the thickness of the steam deck and its curved back mitigates a lot of its size and weight when you’re holding it avoiding the vice grip you need to comfortably hold other thinner devices of this ilk the steam deck’s cooling is also exceptional there’s a single exhaust on the back of the steam deck and another on the top both of which push out enough air to keep the steam.
deck cool under stressful loads the fans are not too loud but their pitch is quite high which prevents them from disappearing into the background rounding out the inputs are the digital shoulder buttons and analog triggers each of which features a satisfying little rumble at the end of each press four programmable grip buttons also sit inside an area where your index middle and ring fingers will naturally rest making them easily accessible you can make use of the steam deck’s Bluetooth capabilities to connect other wireless controllers which might be required if you’re playing while connected to an external monitor it could also give you a break from holding the device if you simply want to prop it up and continue enjoying the deck’s great screen and surprisingly powerful front-facing speakers both of which can get incredibly loud without losing much of their detail
the only big miss in terms of hardware on the steam deck is the device’s rumble which lacks the fidelity required to really accentuate actions within your games the vibration isn’t refined enough to make distinguishing between left and right sides of the device well it’s rather weak overall and is certainly one facet that could be improved on if any future revisions of the steam deck are planned the attention to detail doesn’t stop in the steam deck software steams which sits on top of Linux is very similar to steam’s big picture mode on desktops giving you a console-like an experience when navigating through your steam library but offering certain customization options that remind you that you’re ultimately still on a highly pliable PC.
your entire existing steam library can be viewed on the steam deck but not every game will be playable steam os features a filter that lets you view games that have been deck verified by valve to be compatible with the steam deck while also achieving various quality checks having this filter lets you quickly get going with a game that will show off the device in its best light but it doesn’t mean the rest of your library won’t work
some games miss out on some of the quality checks which put them in a playable but not necessarily fully supported category some games such as the witcher 3 wild hunt are categorized like this purely because of in-game text that might be too small on the native display but otherwise runs just fine on the hardware. in addition to these two categories valve also labels games it hasn’t tested yet as unknown which may or may not work as well as unsupported for games that do not run on the steam deck every vr game falls under this category but numerous multiplayer titles do too especially those with easy anti-cheat support that is still being regularly updated to support proton games such as apex legends rust and pubg are all unplayable
because of this so your mileage for multiplayer gaming on the steam deck will vary at launch steams features a handful of system-level tools to help you optimize your balance of performance and battery life depending on the games you’re playing there are options that let you lock the frame rate to 30 frames per second reduce the total trip that the steam deck can operate at and set a maximum GPU clock speed a performance overlay is also available to let you monitor CPU and GPU usage power draw frame rates and frame times and more giving you a bit of insight into how your games are running in real-time.
if you’re making use of the steam de MicroSD slot to expand your storage you can set either of the steam deck’s internal memory or the MicroSD card as a default install location as well as easily move games between the two I ended up repurposing an sd card previously used in a Nintendo switch and found there to be noticeable.
what difference in loading times ?
the difference in loading times between the two for some games and near negligible differences for others moving games between the internal SSD and MicroSD card was also a slow process lasting anywhere between 20 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the game perhaps one of the biggest incentives for regular pc gamers.
Steam Deck Proton resolution
the steam deck is the ability to seamlessly take your game from one platform to another with steam having supported cloud saves for years now it’s no surprise that this feature works pretty well when moving between another pc and the steam deck this comes in handy if you’re wanting to take your game over to another display without moving your entire pc but the performance of the steam deck is less impressive when moving away from its native resolution even at 1080p the steam deck struggles to cope with the increased demand on most modern titles which should be evident based on how they perform natively the one benefit is that connecting to an external display is easy with the USB hub even without valve’s first-party dock.
many games such as do maternal and fallout 4 feature massive installation sizes in part due to their high-resolution assets taking up precious space do maternal takes up nearly 100 gigabytes alone for example another omission is the ability to continue downloading games while the steam deck is suspended once put to sleep the steam deck terminates its internet connection pausing any downloads you might have had going after confirming with valve this is expected behavior meaning you’ll need to have the steam deck screen on and the device’s fans going even if you’re just downloading new games to play.