Once Valve introduced the brand new 7-inch Steam Deck handheld, the comparisons have been quick: What’s higher, the Deck or Nintendo’s immensely in style Switch? Will the Switch lastly have some severe cell console competitors? Will PC gamers be keen to jump over to a handheld they’ll match of their backpack?
However, at a better look, there are a lot of important variations that basically set these two handhelds aside, making them appropriate for very completely different audiences. We’re going over all the small print so you’ll be able to determine which can be greatest for you.
Note: You may additionally wish to examine Nintendo’s newest OLED model of the Switch with the Steam Deck. While just like the Switch, the OLED Switch does have some updates value noting if you wish to cowl all of your choices before you purchase.
Specs and efficiency
A fast rundown of the specs reveals how completely different the Deck’s objectives are from the Nintendo Switch. The Deck needs sufficient energy and velocity to deal with a wide selection of PC video games the best way a gaming laptop computer might, whereas the Switch is extra involved with being a extremely transportable console for Nintendo’s titles, that are typically much less demanding and don’t require the identical efficiency. In our spec record under, observe the upper RAM and larger space for storing the Deck offers, whereas the Switch has extra output choices and higher battery life.
10 by 4.2 by .55 inches
11.7 by 4.6 by 1.9 inches
0.66 kilos with out controllers, 0.88 kilos with controllers
Nvidia custom-made Tegra/Tegra X1+
AMD-customized APU Zen 2
32GB of flash storage, expandable via microSD
64GB to 512GB of flash storage, expandable via microSD
One USB-C, USB 3.0, USB 2.o x2
One USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 alt mode
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Joy-Con or Pro Controller
Built into system
Screen dimension and backbone
6.2 inches, 720p
7 inches, 1280 x 800 decision
Up to 6.5 hours for outdated mannequin, 9 hours for brand new mannequin
2 to 8 hours
Available December 2021 or later
$399 to $549
At first look, the Switch and the Deck have very comparable designs. They each use joystick controls on both facet of the display, each have a 7-inch show, and each use a charging dock that may be linked to a bigger display for those who favor (neither handheld helps 4K decision when outputting). Plus, they’re each across the identical weight.
There are, nonetheless, some notable variations. First, the Deck’s controls can’t be eliminated or mixed, just like the Nintendo Switch’s can. They are there to remain. Second, management placement is a bit completely different, with the joysticks situated on the higher corners as a substitute of being staggered just like the Switch controls, and buttons are typically smaller to make room for extra management choices, which we’ll focus on under.
Nintendo’s controls depend on the considerably notorious Joy-Cons, which supply two thumb-friendly joysticks, two units of 4 clustered buttons that can be utilized for quite a lot of management choices, and two shoulder buttons. The Joy-Cons might be indifferent and mixed right into a extra conventional controller, which makes switching to a bigger display or extra comfy place a lot simpler.
Valve’s Steam Deck, in the meantime, doesn’t have the detachment choices, however it does go all-in on management inputs with a remarkably wide range. There are as soon as once more two thumbsticks right here, one four-cluster of buttons, and a D-Pad, but additionally way more. On the left and proper sides are two small thumb trackpads for touch-sensitive alternate options when controlling your sport. On the highest, you can find 4 shoulder buttons, two entrance and two again. And on the again of the hand-held, your fingers will relaxation towards 4 again buttons that may be programmed for all types of extra selections.
The Deck’s many choices present an unbelievable quantity of versatility in how one can management a sport, however additionally they contain extra of a studying curve than the Switch, which anybody can sit down and play instantly.
Both handhelds supply compatibly for extra management choices like mouse and keyboard, however they do it in very alternative ways, and the Steam Deck is a transparent winner right here.
The Nintendo Switch can assist equipment like a keyboard, however provided that you plug them into the USB-C port or the dock’s USB port. While the Nintendo Switch does have Bluetooth, it’s the restricted model that solely works with sure designated merchandise, and issues like a mouse or keyboard aren’t included. There are a variety of handheld controls that may join with the Switch, however they don’t present a lot of a bonus besides being extra comfy than the mixed Joy-Cons.
The Steam Deck, in the meantime, has the open sort of Bluetooth that enables for connections with all types of peripherals, together with many mice and keyboards. If you’d like a couple of concepts, you’ll be able to peruse our wi-fi mouse and wi-fi keyboard guides to get an thought of what’s accessible. If you’d actually relatively avoid wi-fi equipment, the Deck’s dock gives USB-A 3.1 and USB-A 2.0 ports for wired connections.
Supported video games
One of the Steam Deck’s acclaimed benefits is which you can entry your complete Steam library on it, and with cloud saving, you retain all of your progress irrespective of the place you’re enjoying. In addition to this, Valve has made it clear that different sport shops may also be appropriate, reminiscent of Epic Games Store and uPlay — and even the potential to play Xbox Cloud Gaming on it, though that can want extra analysis. Basically, for those who can play it on PC, there’s a very good probability which you can play it on the Deck.
Of course, there are limitations. Developers that don’t have their video games on Steam will make it just a little more durable to get their titles. You’ll want sufficient storage to deal with bigger video games, which most likely means counting on an SD card. While the Deck’s specs are spectacular, essentially the most demanding video games might wrestle on the hand-held. We’ve additionally seen some bugs crop up with issues like anti-cheat coding, though Valve is working to repair these points.
On the Switch, in the meantime, you’ll be able to solely purchase video games on the Nintendo Game Store (or their bodily variations). Of course, you aren’t restricted to Nintendo-only titles on the Switch — loads of AAA video games have made their method to the Switch, typically even earlier than consoles like PlayStation or Xbox (you may as well jailbreak the machine, though we don’t actually recommend this, because it invitations different issues). But the main focus is actually on Nintendo’s personal video games and franchises, which aren’t accessible on platforms like Steam.
This creates a stark selection: What video games are extra necessary to you? Do you desire a handheld that may deal with Skyward Sword and Super Smash Bros.? Or are you wanting ahead to enjoying Factorio or Destiny 2 on the go?
Pricing and availability
Buy the Nintendo Switch right here.
Pre-order the Steam Deck right here.
One ultimate distinction between the Switch and Deck: The Switch is considerably cheaper, beginning at $299 for the usual mannequin. The Steam Deck begins at $399 for its base mannequin and goes all the best way as much as $649. Given the specs, this isn’t precisely stunning, however it’s clear that the Switch is best for saving, and the Steam Deck works higher when you’ve got extra money to work with.
As for availability, the Nintendo Switch is broadly accessible (except you need the OLED model, which ships in October), however the Steam Deck begins delivery in December, with staggered shipments all through the months afterward, relying in your location and whenever you reserved the Deck. In different phrases, performing shortly will provide help to get a Deck sooner in 2022.
While it’s just a little too early to inform — we want to spend some extra time one-on-one with the Steam Deck to essentially take a look at all its options — the power to play your Steam library on the go is actually thrilling and will encourage many severe players to think about handhelds even when they weren’t within the Switch. The Switch, in the meantime, continues to be one of the best and solely choice if you wish to play Nintendo’s newest titles on a console.