Steam Deck features: How are Nintendo Switch and Valve’s handheld gaming PC similar or different?

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Steam Deck features: How are Nintendo Switch and Valve's handheld gaming PC similar or different?

After a long period of rumors and speculation, Valve is getting into the hardware business again. But this time it’s a target handheld console PC other than virtual reality glasses or a controller: Steam Deck starts at $399.

At first glance, the design bears similarities to the Nintendo Switch, whose third generation is on the way. But despite having a similar concept—a hand-held console that can be connected to a TV or monitor—the two devices have serious differences, both in hardware and external format.

So that you have a better idea of ​​what to expect from these two devices and which device would be a better investment for you, let’s take a look at the specs of the Nintendo Switch and the Steam Deck and talk about their key differences:

Display and resolution

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: In handheld mode, neither the Steam Deck nor the Switch offer 1080p resolution. The screen resolution of the Steam Deck is 800p, while that of the Switch is 720p. When you connect both devices to the dock with the USB-C connection cable, the resolution increases. Both devices have LAN ports on their docks, so you can provide a wired connection (This feature is only available in the latest version of the Switch dock).

The Steam Deck will be an official docking station that increases the connection ports, but it will not come with the device and will not be ready at launch. However, the company has some flexibility in this regard, as you will be able to use other USB docking stations with the Steam Deck and connect your device to your TV or monitor, just like a PC or laptop.

Nintendo Switch has an official docking station that comes with every product sold, but you can purchase this product separately if you wish. There are also plenty of third-party docks available that are much more affordable than what Nintendo offers. However, some of these docks can break Switch consoles.. Also related to the original Switch dock causing scratches on the corner of the screen There have been problems in the past.

However, when both devices are connected to compatible docking stations, the resolution increases. Valve’s handheld gaming PC can theoretically support resolutions up to 8K 60Hz, while delivering 120Hz performance at 4K. Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, offers a screen refresh rate of 60 Hz at 1080p.

Let’s also compare the displays of the top versions of the two products: All Steam Deck models feature an LCD screen, but the $649 flagship model of the Steam Deck features “premium” anti-glare treated glass, meaning players can concentrate on their game on the screen instead of reflections coming from behind the screen. means.

Switch’in yeni OLED model differs from the other two Switch models. This OLED display instead of LCD in the new model there is. This means higher contrast, deeper blacks and increased screen brightness.


Steam Deck is pretty simple: it’s an affordable gaming PC at a time when it’s hard to upgrade or buy a PC due to the expensive next-gen GPU problem triggered by the global chip crisis. A modified version of SteamOS, which is built on Proton, a Linux version that can run Windows and Linux applications and games, is installed, but as we mentioned in the review news we received, you can do a fresh Windows installation if that’s your preference. On the contrary, Nintendo Switch has a special operating system and it is console-specific, and change is not possible.


Three configuration options for Steam Deck available; each offers a different storage solution, but all other internal features are the same. The entry-level $399 model gives you a 64GB internal MultiMediaCard. [eMMC] storage, the other two models come with NVMe storage. There is a 256GB version for $529 and the flagship comes with 512GB of storage. Considering this, it can be predicted that the loading times and game installation times of the entry-level console will be longer. However, Valve says performance for all three devices will not be affected and will be similar.

The standard Nintendo Swtich and Switch Lite models have 32GB of eMMC internal storage, and the OLED version has 64GB of eMMC internal storage. This is just the same as the entry-level Steam Deck. Nintendo Switch does not have a configuration option beyond 64 GB.

On the other hand, both Steam Deck and Switch support MicroSD cards for additional storage capacity. It can be said that this feature will be very useful in the entry-level Steam Deck, otherwise you will be alone with 64 GB of storage and the games you will try to install.

Size and weight

While we can’t make a direct size comparison for now, the dimensions given give us the information we need: The Steam Deck is noticeably larger and wider than the Switch. The deck is about 5.5 centimeters taller than the Switch’s OLED model and 0.5 centimeters taller when standing. The Steam Deck’s display has a thicker glass than most electronics in 2021, including OLED. Also, the outer frame of the Steam Deck is wider than the latest Switch model.

At 666 grams, the Steam Deck is heavier than the Nintendo Switch’s OLED model with Joy-Cons attached, which weighs 422 grams. While 666 grams isn’t too heavy, that means it’s heavier than any Nintendo Switch model, which could mean hand fatigue could be an issue for Steam Deck owners.

Internal hardware

If we take a closer look at the parts inside the Steam Deck, we can say that it is much more capable than the Switch. First, the processor is a quad-core AMD APU. In addition to the Ryzen 3000 desktop processors, it uses the Zen 2 architecture (This architecture is also available on Xbox Series X/S and PS5). The Steam Deck features the same graphics architecture powered by AMD RDNA 2 on ninth generation consoles. This means it will support hardware-based ray tracing.

Due to the Steam deck being portable as its primary and foremost feature, desktop memory is not available. Instead, it has 16GB of LPDDR memory. This consumes less power and is mostly used in mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and even mobile phones.

It’s important to stress that some hardware on the Steam Deck is more similar to PS4 and Xbox One compared to Series X/S and PS5. Especially if we consider that the SSDs in the two expensive models are NVMe Gen 3 SSDs… Because the fourth generation of these SSDs is included in the new generation gaming hardware.

Steam Deck’s use of AMD architecture means it will support FidelityFX Super Resolution. If you remember from our news, this technology includes AMD’s open source supersampling technology and four options that allow you to get higher FPS or prefer visual richness.

since 2017, Nintendo Switch features remained stable, this includes the upcoming Switch OLED. All of these devices have the Nvidia Tegra X1 mobile chipset. The Tegra processor is ARM-based, while the graphics come with Maxwell architecture. This architecture was also used in Nvidia’s Geforce 900 series graphics cards on the desktop. If we look at the CPU and GPU used by the Switch, we can see that the Switch does not have the greatest graphics power. We can understand this from the AAA games transferred to the console.

On the other hand, it was often the case that the Switch versions of the games did not come out at the same time as the other versions of the games. Doom Eternal is an example.. In fact, Control and Hitman 3, one of the biggest games of recent years, were playable on Switch, but did not work directly on the console and were played by streaming from cloud-based systems to overcome hardware limitations.


A Joy-Con controller comes with every Nintendo Switch. This has its own advantages. Firstly, they can be disassembled and turned into a separate dual controller. When you play in rip and hold mode, you can throw the hull back and play without the control and screen together. But Joy-Con scroll since debut a common problem and Nintendo still hasn’t had a definitive solution to this problem. Nintendo Switch also supports other controllers. For example its own Pro controller, GameCube controller or a range of wired and wireless third party controllers.

In terms of internal controller hardware, Steam Deck has a lot more going on. The lack of its own detachable controls or body severely limits the handheld experience. But there is much more freedom to make your gaming experience your own. Besides the traditional binary analogues, the Steam Deck has two separate trackpads and they function like a mouse. There are even four back buttons that you can assign any keys or combinations to them. It could be called SCUF or Xbox Elite controllers… Steam Deck also supports external controllers, including Xbox Series X/S controllers, DualSense and even the Switch Pro controller. The device has Bluetooth capability, so it can be connected to any Bluetooth controller via wireless or USB cable.

Multiplayer gameplay

Both consoles support online play: Switch requires Nintendo Switch Online membership. It costs between $4 per month and $60 per year. The advantage is that you can store your save files in the cloud and access NES and SNES games and promotional offers. Although the price scale is accessible, expectations about cloud recording supported games are not fully met because it is in the Nintendo Switch library. there are only 130 games that support this feature.

Even if you don’t buy a Switch Online subscription, local multiplayer is still possible. The Switch connects to other consoles and offers a LAN party experience. You can also pair and play up to 8 Joy-Cons and multiple controllers with a single Switch.

As you’d expect, Steam Deck offers similar support. It has built-in Wi-Fi, so you can play online or play local multiplayer, and most importantly, no online subscription is required to play multiplayer. Some games, such as Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft, require online registration, but in general, Steam Deck offers free online play for most games.

battery life

Switch has better battery life than Steam Deck. You can play for 4.5 to 9 hours on a single charge, 2 to 8 hours for the Steam Deck. Nintendo says its base Switch and OLED models can run for 5.5 hours on a single charge. For Lite, this time is 4 hours. Valve also says that you can play Portal 2 at 720p 60 FPS for 4 hours. It is thought that the battery life may vary considerably, thanks to the Steam Deck’s support of a wide range of games in the Steam library. It is also worth mentioning that both consoles use different batteries. The Switch has a 4310mAh lithium-ion battery while the Steam Deck uses a 40 Whr lithium-ion battery.

Steam Deck is expected to be released around December 2021. You can find more information about Steam Deck in our news about the price of Gabe Newell, our news where we took the device in our hands and shared our experience, and the question and answer event we held with the developers of Steam Deck. For more Steam Deck news, stay tuned this month.

Taylor Lyles is tech editor at MRT.

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