STEAM Deck OLED Review

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In the realm of portable gaming, the options keep getting better, and 2023 has certainly been a noteworthy year for gamers on the go. First, there was the Asus Rog Ally, a device that garnered attention and underwent scrutiny in our comprehensive review.

Following that, the Lenovo Legion Go, particularly the larger variant with detachable controllers, made waves in the gaming handheld scene. Now, the spotlight turns to Steam, the pioneer in this domain. Steam Deck, their initial foray, faced initial challenges but eventually found its footing. Building on that foundation, they’ve now introduced the Steam Deck OLED, which we’re delving into.


The standout feature of the Steam Deck OLED is undoubtedly its display—a 7.4-inch OLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate. This marks a significant improvement over its predecessor and brings a heightened level of visual fidelity to gaming experiences.

The 1280 by 800 resolution maintains a 16:10 aspect ratio, offering an immersive and well-proportioned display. The transition from a 7-nanometer to a more efficient 6-nanometer AMD Zen2 APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) contributes to enhanced efficiency and reduced heat generation. This is a notable tweak that aligns with the evolving demands of handheld gaming.

The battery life of the Steam Deck OLED has seen improvements, featuring a 250-watt-hour battery. As handheld gaming devices rely heavily on battery life, any enhancement in this aspect is a welcome development. The display, a focal point of the device, is not only OLED but also boasts a touch-friendly interface.


The magic of OLED, particularly in dark environments where deep blacks matter, contributes to an enriched gaming experience. When compared to competitors like the Rog Ally or the Legion Go, the Steam Deck OLED sets itself apart with its OLED technology, showcasing the prowess of Valve’s commitment to cutting-edge displays.

Storage options have expanded, starting at a substantial 512GB, with the option to upgrade to a generous one terabyte. Additionally, a limited edition featuring an ET display has been introduced, aimed at reducing glossiness while maintaining touchscreen functionality.


The glossy screen, with HDR bright mode reaching 1000 nits and SDR mode at 600 nits, contributes to the visual appeal of the device. Despite its Linux foundation (Steam OS), the Steam Deck OLED has demonstrated its ability to offer a user-friendly experience. Valve’s dedication to optimizing settings for Steam games is evident, providing a TurnKey solution for users who primarily engage with Steam’s extensive gaming library.

Dispelling any notion of Linux complexity, Steam OS has evolved into a user-friendly platform, making the Steam Deck OLED accessible to a broad audience. The interface is touch-friendly, and Valve’s ongoing efforts to verify and optimize game settings contribute to a seamless gaming experience. While it may not match the sheer performance of competitors running on the newer Zen three platform, the Steam Deck OLED compensates with a commendable performance, especially when unplugged—a crucial factor for handheld gaming enthusiasts.

The handheld gaming market is not solely about raw power; it’s about the balance between performance, portability, and the ability to enjoy gaming on the move. The Steam Deck OLED, despite not featuring the absolute top-tier hardware, manages to provide a satisfying gaming experience in a portable form factor. This aligns with the essence of handheld gaming devices—an emphasis on mobility and versatility.

For those seeking top-tier performance and are willing to remain plugged in, the Windows alternatives with their newer CPUs might be more appealing. However, for the handheld aficionado who values mobility and diverse gaming experiences, the Steam Deck OLED presents an attractive option.

The presence of 16GB of low-power DDR5 RAM contributes to the device’s capability to handle a range of gaming scenarios. It’s worth noting that Steam continues to offer the formerly higher-end LCD models at a more budget-friendly price, providing users with choices based on their preferences and priorities. The Steam Deck OLED starts at a competitive $550 for the 512GB model, making it an enticing proposition in the handheld gaming landscape.

In conclusion, the Steam Deck OLED represents a culmination of advancements and refinements in the handheld gaming space. Valve’s commitment to improving upon the initial Steam Deck, coupled with the introduction of OLED technology, positions this device as an appealing option for gamers seeking a balance between performance, display quality, and mobility. As the landscape of handheld gaming continues to evolve, the Steam Deck OLED stands out as a testament to the ongoing innovation and dedication to delivering a compelling gaming experience on the go.

Let’s delve into the additional features and functionalities that contribute to the overall appeal of the Steam Deck OLED. The device incorporates upgraded Wi-Fi capabilities, supporting Wi-Fi 6C along with Bluetooth 5.3. In the realm of audio, the Steam Deck OLED boasts stereo speakers, falling somewhere between the Legion Go and the Ally in terms of quality.

While the Legion Go’s speakers are deemed acceptable and the Ally’s speakers are praised as exceptional, the Steam Deck OLED offers a satisfactory audio experience. Additionally, a headphone jack is included, offering users the flexibility to choose between built-in speakers, headphones, or wireless Bluetooth devices for audio output.

Turning our attention to the ergonomics of the Steam Deck OLED, Valve has evidently prioritized user comfort. The design is tailored to offer a comfortable grip, catering to extended gaming sessions. The contoured bottom sections where the palms rest contribute to a snug and ergonomic feel.

The placement of rear trigger buttons is well-considered, being wrapped around and recessed enough to prevent inadvertent triggers—a common concern with some competitors. Valve, being a gaming-centric company, has evidently invested in ensuring that the Steam Deck OLED aligns with the expectations of gamers in terms of ergonomics.

For those contemplating the purchase of a handheld gaming console and weighing the available options, it’s worth noting that the Steam Deck OLED stands out for its ergonomic design. The comfort it provides during use, coupled with Valve’s expertise in the gaming industry, positions it as a compelling choice in the market.

While it may be slightly larger than the Rog Ally, it still maintains a slim profile. In comparison, it is considerably smaller and lighter than the Legion Go, which, despite its heft, attempts to balance the equation with detachable controllers.

Another notable advantage of the Steam Deck OLED lies in its user-friendly approach to suspension. Much like traditional gaming consoles, users can simply suspend the device by pressing the power button when taking a break. This eliminates the need to locate a save point, a convenience that sets it apart, especially when compared to Windows devices.

Windows devices, known for occasional flakiness with sleep, resume, and hibernate functions, may present challenges in achieving a seamless gaming experience. The Steam Deck OLED, by adopting a console-like ease of use, caters to users who prioritize simplicity and convenience.

Shifting our focus to the gaming performance of the Steam Deck OLED, it has delivered positive surprises. The year 2024 has witnessed a revelation in the capabilities of devices powered by AMD CPUs and integrated graphics. The compact size of handheld screens allows for a resolution of 1280 by 800, a setting that might seem suboptimal on traditional laptops but appears impressive on these smaller screens.

Even with low settings on some AAA titles, the visual output remains compelling due to the reduced screen size. In real-world testing, playing Cyberpunk at 1280 by 800 resolution and low settings yielded a commendable 45 frames per second, all achieved without being tethered to a power outlet—an impressive feat that underscores the device’s portability.

Games like Fallout: New Vegas, while not officially Steam-certified, function seamlessly on the Steam Deck OLED. The device excels in maximizing the potential of its 90Hz display, as evidenced by the smooth gaming experience in titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, notwithstanding the inherent challenges of running the game on handheld devices. The performance and versatility exhibited by the Steam Deck OLED extend beyond Steam-certified games, highlighting its compatibility and adaptability within the gaming ecosystem.

An interesting aspect to consider is the device’s operating system, Steam OS, which is essentially Linux underneath. Despite potential apprehensions about Linux, Valve has streamlined the user experience with Steam OS, making it remarkably user-friendly. The interface is touch-friendly, and the platform’s emphasis on Steam game optimization contributes to a hassle-free gaming experience.

The absence of interruptions caused by Windows updates and the dedicated focus on gaming functionalities enhance the overall usability of the Steam Deck OLED. While Windows remains a robust operating system, its origins in the laptop and desktop domain occasionally present challenges when adapted to handheld devices. The Steam Deck OLED, designed with handheld gaming in mind, offers a more streamlined and user-centric experience.

The Steam Deck OLED stands out as a versatile and user-friendly handheld gaming console. Its combination of upgraded features, including Wi-Fi 6C, Bluetooth 5.3, stereo speakers, and ergonomic design, contributes to a well-rounded gaming experience. The device’s performance, leveraging AMD CPUs and integrated graphics, showcases the advancements in portable gaming technology.

The user-friendly suspension feature, akin to traditional gaming consoles, adds a layer of convenience for uninterrupted gaming sessions. Despite running on Steam OS (Linux), the device excels in providing a seamless and optimized gaming experience, distinguishing itself from Windows-based alternatives.

With a starting price of $550 for the 512GB model, the Steam Deck OLED presents a compelling option for gaming enthusiasts seeking a balance between performance, portability, and user-friendly functionality. As the handheld gaming landscape evolves, the Steam Deck OLED stands as a testament to Valve’s commitment to innovation and delivering an immersive gaming experience on the go.

Dive into the expansive capabilities and versatility of the Steam Deck with an OLED display, exploring beyond the realm of Steam games and uncovering the extensive functionalities that cater to diverse gaming preferences. What if your gaming library extends beyond Steam? The Steam Deck has a solution for that too. Delve into the seamless integration of non-Steam games, such as Cyberpunk obtained from GOG (Good Old Games).

The process is straightforward – the installer can be added to the KDE Plasma desktop via a repository, making games from alternative platforms easily accessible. Heroic, an application designed for simplicity and efficiency, facilitates the installation of GOG and Epic Game launchers with minimal effort. By logging in, users can access their library, akin to the experience of using dedicated launchers, allowing for a streamlined gaming experience.

For those with a penchant for EA games, the solution is readily available. A simple online search provides the necessary guidance to install the EA client, ensuring compatibility with your favorite titles. However, when it comes to Xbox Games Pass, a notable hurdle emerges. While Xbox Game Stream is a feasible option, running Game Pass games directly on the Steam Deck proves challenging.

The intricacies of the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) utilized by Windows and Xbox clients, complete with encryption measures, create compatibility issues. The Steam Deck, operating on Steam OS, isn’t equipped to handle Xbox Game Pass games without resorting to the separate installation of Windows 11 in a dual-boot configuration—an endeavor better suited for dedicated Windows handhelds.

Yet, the Steam Deck remains a versatile choice for gaming enthusiasts. Emulation enthusiasts will find a friend in the Steam Deck, as it accommodates emulators like DuckStation seamlessly. This TurnKey solution simplifies the emulation process, requiring users only to supply the game ROMs. The Steam Deck caters to those who envision using it as a Linux PC, analogous to the Legion Go or the Ally’s role as a Windows tablet PC.

The device boasts a USB-C 3.2 port, facilitating connections to peripherals like a mouse or keyboard, and supports DisplayPort 1.4 output for external monitor usage. While the SSD is the primary upgradable component, the Steam Deck also features a Micro SD card slot (UHS Type One), providing an avenue for expanding storage for emulator ROMs and other data.

Regarding battery life, the Steam Deck incorporates a 50-watt-hour battery accompanied by a 45-watt USB-C charger. Valve estimates battery life to range from 3 to 12 hours, contingent on the specific game being played. Titles with lower demands, such as Dark Cloud 2 via PS2 emulation, can potentially yield extended play sessions, while more resource-intensive games like Red Dead 2 or Cyberpunk may result in shorter battery life.

Real-world testing indicates that, on average, the Steam Deck delivers approximately 4 to 5 hours of unplugged gameplay, showcasing its efficiency in low-power scenarios. This stands in contrast to Windows-based competitors, which may excel when connected to power sources but may not optimize performance as effectively on battery power.

In essence, the Steam Deck with an OLED display, as of 2023, proves to be more than just a gaming device – it’s an immersive and user-friendly platform that extends beyond the Steam ecosystem. The extensive support for non-Steam games, straightforward emulation capabilities, and potential use as a Linux PC underscore its versatility.

The convenient TurnKey nature of the Steam Deck minimizes tinkering, enabling users to simply enjoy their gaming experience without getting bogged down by technical nuances. The device’s ergonomic design, akin to a Switch for adults, enhances the comfort of gameplay, making it a compelling choice for those seeking a handheld gaming device that seamlessly balances usability, fun, and accessibility to a diverse range of gaming libraries.

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