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My Steam Deck Review thread

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Steam Deck Review: A great product with incredible potential



Well boys, after a long wait, I finally got my Steam Deck.  Now that I've had just about 2 weeks with it and the chance to put it through its paces, it's time to make a long winded pointless review about it that nobody here outside of maybe 1 or 2 will care about or even read :blessed: 

(note I did not type this all at once lmfao)


Going to break it up into Pros/Cons of the various aspects of the hardware/software, and then ramble on about some other thoughts then give my score.


Design and controls:


  • Love the design
  • Solid build quality with a good weight
  • Button/Analog placement feels good
  • Best Analog Sticks on a portable gaming device
  • Track pads work great and serve their purpose well, very accurate with the right sensitivity


  • The "Steam" and "···" buttons are too low and flush to the body, They made them intentionally hard to accidentally press. It's not really a big deal since you're not pressing them for games anyway since they're meant to handle system level options/notifications
  • The "Steam" and "···" buttons as well as the "Start/Select" buttons have their labels just printed onto the button, will probably rub off after enough time, unlike the ABXY buttons which have their letters inside the button and will never wear off
  • The L4/L5 and R4/R5 back buttons aren't the best feeling.  They work well enough but don't feel satisfying to press. They're basically there if you need them though

Processing Power and Technology:


  • Easily handles current games at its native resolution
  • Indie games are incredible on it.. there's no better indie gaming device in existence than the Steam Deck
  • AAA games run beautifully as well (I've tested Gears 5, God of War, Horizon: ZD, Cyberpunk, FH5, RE2Remake, RE8, DMC5, and Elden Ring) all can run at good settings at 30fps locked
  • Loading times are excellent.  Really quick even for very big games, even from the MicroSD cards


  • Standard LCD screen which is nothing special, it gets the job done.. but would be disappointing to anyone coming off OLED mobile/Switch displays
  • Only 4C/8T CPU.  6C/12T would have been ideal for future-proofing. Right now this isn't much of an issue, at least in the games I've been playing, but it will eventually hold the Deck back in the future
  • File sizes for games is an issue, since most games aren't hand tuned and designed around the Deck's graphics capabilities
  • Battery life sucks.  There's no way around it.  If you're playing graphically demanding games like the AAA games above with higher settings, you're getting ~2 hours if you tune it right

OS Software and Features:


  • The Steam Deck Gaming mode UI is awesome IMO.  I love it.  It's a perfect blend between ease of use, and offering far more powerful features than typical consoles
  • All the features you could ever want (System info, GPU/CPU usage, frametimes, power usage, RAM/VRAM usage ect) all instantly accessible
  • They've added a ton of useful features for power management
  • The absolute best controller options ever.  Extremely powerful configuration options with complete control over all buttons and analog sticks, gyro, everything can absolutely be tuned to perfection.  (Macros for button combinations and shortcuts)
  • Supports any controller you'd want to attach to it, including arcade sticks and yes even racing wheels
  • Hot swappable MicroSD cards means you can treat them like game carts.  I had a 256GB MicroSD card lying around (plan on getting a 512/1TB card since space is at a premium on my 256GB model) and tried the AAA games on it, all worked perfectly from it.. with no appreciable difference in loading times outside of one game (House of the Dead Remake) which took abnormally long
  • The Desktop mode of SteamOS is essentially just like Windows and is very easy to use.  If you've used Windows, you can find your way around this easily
  • All of the non-Steam games I've added to Steam on my PC, were automatically added to the Deck when I logged in as games that I could stream from my PC... that's fucking sick.  I didn't have to do anything.  Games from GOG, Epic, Ubisoft, EA, and emulated games were all there, ready to stream instantly


  • Can still be a bit buggy at times.  I had a freeze when taking a screenshot once, but went into the Steam menu and then back out and it fixed itself without losing any progress
  • Some elements of the UI I feel need some tweaking/arranging.  I'd like the "Storage" tab in the settings menu to have it's own category in the Steam menu



So that sums up my thought so far on the hardware, UI, and design.  As you can see I'm pretty happy with it.  I'd almost say it already works as a device far better than it has any right to... and yet the speed at which they are improving it is incredible.  But what about the magic that makes it happen?  I'd like to mention some of the deeper stuff Valve are doing to make this device a reality, since it's pretty special.


SteamOS and Proton/VKD3D/Fossilize:
Ok I want to talk a bit about this stuff, because it's kinda crazy.  SteamOS is absolutely a possible gamechanger.  The thing really just works.  Now of course Valve are working on verifying games constantly for the Deck, but that's only one aspect.  Verified games are one thing, but the reality is that far more games are completely and fully playable than those that are solely verified.  The only thing differentiating them is that "playable" games might require you to use the touch screen to press a button to get past a launcher or whatever.  Nothing to do with the actual game, which works perfectly.  And Valve have literally thought of everything to make it as easy as humanly possible.  So when considering the amount of "Playable" games which work perfectly fine... that number jumps up massively.  Over 450 of my 1100 games are playable and essentially verified to work.  So already compatibility is extremely good.  When SteamOS releases fully for Desktop, all of these "playable" games, suddenly become "verified" in the context of the Desktop.. so compatibility is already incredible and progress is increasing rapidly.


Now here's the cool shit.  Proton and VKD3D/DXVK are really something special.  It's quite simply amazing what they are doing.. and even better is what it allows them to do for games.  Now we've all known for a while that Steam on Windows and Linux can redistribute and download shader caches for Vulkan games.  It's had that feature for a while, but they've been improving on it and making it better.  If you play some Vulkan games on Windows, Steam will download and pre-cache some shaders when you download the game.  That's fine, but on Windows not many games use Vulkan in comparison to DirectX.  On Linux and Proton though... literally every game uses it.  That's kind of important..


Proton runs with VKD3D/DXVK which are translation layers which map DirectX APIs to Vulkan.  Aside from that, Steam does uses a custom built library/layer called Fossilize, which allows all of this to happen.  Now for the longest time, I thought that the shader caches that Steam redistributes were "already compiled" shaders.  Basically your PC would compile the shaders as you played, and then when you were done, Steam would upload that compiled shader data to their servers and then redistribute it to other players who had the same GPU/driver as you.  This would essentially crowdsource compiled shaders for specific driver versions and then Steam would detect your GPU/driver and download the appropriate shader cache for you.. But I was reading up more on Fossilize and what it actually does.. it's FAR better than that.  Fossilize actually takes and captures blobs of the game's pipeline state (PSOs) and the shaders that reference it, in their GPU independent IR (DXIL,SPIR-V) it then "fossilizes" that data, and allows it to be collected, and redistributed.  After it's downloaded your CPU and driver compiles the code for your GPU.  The beauty is that the game doesn't need to be installed or even downloaded.  Steam downloads the "shader pre-caching" update FIRST before the game data.. and then compiles the shaders while the actual game is downloading!  Which means no need to wait for shader compilation processes. 


That is fucking cool.. and the beauty of it all, is that since it's all GPU independent, everyone contributes to the same cache.  It's not driver/GPU specific.  So on Linux, the shaders are generated while your game downloads by your CPU... but with the Steam Deck, since it's a fixed platform, all the games Valve has verified, will actually have their specific shader code already pre-compiled by Valve on their servers (probably to save batter power so your Deck's CPU doesn't have to do it while it downloads.  You basically just download the package and go.  The thing is... even as Steam Deck users play games, they're generating updated shader/pipeline state code, which gets uploaded to Valves servers.  Essentially Steam Deck users are contributing to a giant PSO/Shader repository which will benefit all Linux/SteamOS users.  And it will actually benefit Windows users for games that use Vulkan too.

Valve are so fucking smart.. they've figured out a way to crowdsource and provide GPU independent shader/pipeline state to everyone which can be compiled for your specific PC as you download the games..  That's a fucking game changer. 


Other quick thoughts:

I'm really happy that I seem to have gotten one of the Decks with the quieter fan that doesn't whine when it ramps up.  Fan noise is actually only really noticeable when it speeds up when downloading shit.  I've noticed that when maxing out my connection (which the Deck easily does) the CPU temps jump up. The new fan curve they updated the Deck with allows for higher temps to reduce noise, so between that and the better fan, it has been no issue at all.  When playing games I wouldn't even notice the fan, unless the game's audio goes completely quiet.


As I said before, file sizes for games is an issue.  This product mostly doesn't have the benefit of games being specifically tailored around the graphical capabilities and limitations of the device like the Switch does... so that means bloated PC file sizes.  However, it's nice to see some developers already optimizing their games for the Deck and reducing download/storage sizes.  I know of a few games which the developers have updated for massive reductions in file size on the Deck.  This is something I hope Valve pushes more developers to consider optimizing for.  Games on Deck don't need full 4K massive textures for everything.  Offering a "Smart Delivery" type download with reduced texture sizes for the Deck is a perfect way for developers to "optimize" the game without really having to do much work.  Steam can simply prompt you if you want to download the full thing, or the reduced file size version. 


Microsoft in general is one of the worst offenders... All of their games are like 100GB+.  Gears 5 is 120GB, FH5 is 100GB... Flight Sim pretty much the same.  Devs reducing file sizes by even just a few GBs helps, because of course there's also the shader caches to download.  They're mostly only a few hundred MBs, but I've seen one that was like 1.3GB, and they get updated every so often as well.  So if you have a data limit from your provider, you might want to turn off automatic updating.


Steam Deck is fucking awesome.  It's an awesome machine, with an incredible amount of potential.  This is truly a device that can do everything.  Handheld, Docked Console, and Desktop PC all in one.  I'm stunned with how well this thing all works.  Valve is on the precipice of something truly incredible here.  This is their ace in the hole, for if/when MS fucks things up on Windows.  They're putting everything into this.  The Steam Deck is but a vehicle to help service their overall ambitions.  If you ask me, it's the right product.

For me, and people like me, this is an amazing device... however, do I think that just anyone should run out and get it at this point?  No.  It only really makes sense to people deep in the Steam ecosystem at this point.  Some games still aren't supported, some need tweaks to work, and there's plenty of things for them to work out.. but it absolutely will get there.  This is very much still a "let's build this thing together" type of thing.  But it's clear as day that they will reach that point.

And really... Valve have time.  There's nothing that's going away here.  There's an entire open source community backing them up and working on all of this stuff and contributing.  This iteration of the Steam Deck is to facilitate that progress.  It gives the people a tangible platform to work with and build against.  I'd say when they're ready to release the Deck 2.0... that's when Valve can hit the mass market with this device and you can really recommend people to get in on it.







Some Pics taken from games running on the Deck: (Spoiler'd because there's lots of them)


Protip - if you click one of them and then "ctrl+Mouse wheel down" to zoom out to 50%, that's what they look like on the Steam Deck's screen, then press left or right to cycle through them. 🙂 




Gears 5




Elden Ring



God of War




Persona 4 Golden




Psychonauts 2




Death Stranding




Resident Evil 2 Remake










I've taken more but I figure that's enough for now.  It's incredible how good these games look on the handheld itself, it can't be understated!  I dunno, maybe the Sheep can download the images and display them on their Switch to get a taste of what Nintendo's next console will offer? :hehe: 

This machine is badass and will only get better :smoke: 



Edited by Remij
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  • Remij changed the title to My Steam Deck Review thread

Still can't play Bloodborne. 0/10













Steamdeck looks awesome, if I was into the PC ecosystem it would be an insta buy and even without being in the ecosystem it is clearly the best handheld around. True successor to the vita :blessed:

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9 hours ago, Remij said:


Microsoft in general is one of the worst offenders... All of their games are like 100GB+.

Thankfully most of their games are entirely skippable :danylol:



But really ms is trash and I'm glad you're coming around to this. Want to know which games are a bitch to get working? All those GFWL games that Microsoft abandoned when they killed the platform because they realized hermits weren't dumb enough to pay $50 a year for it like the lemmings were. A generation that will always have compatibility issues due to Microsoft's bullshit. We got lucky that UWP never really took off or we would lose out on many more games.


RE5 is pretty easy though, you just grab the fanmade .exe that has all the GFWL trash stripped out :juggle:

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1 hour ago, -GD-X said:

That was an awesome review! Great work and nice screen grabs! :wow2:

Thanks breh.


As the Steam Deck evolves and I learn more shit about it and what it can do (especially Linux, since I've got very little experience with it overall) I'm going come back to this thread and post about it.


I haven't even dug into all the emulation stuff that you can do yet.  This thing is a beast :smoke: 

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8 hours ago, madmaltese said:

Still can't play Bloodborne. 0/10













Steamdeck looks awesome, if I was into the PC ecosystem it would be an insta buy and even without being in the ecosystem it is clearly the best handheld around. True successor to the vita :blessed:

It would be a great way to enter the Steam ecosystem if you could actually buy one.

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21 hours ago, Hot Sauce said:

I haven't even touched one and I know it's an 11/10 and way better than Switch.

you just demonstrated the main reason, and possibly the only reason, for buying a Steam Deck :drake: bravo.

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