The Steam Deck is Incomplete
On the one hand, i want to be optimistic. The kind of zeal with which valve is tackling this project is like nothing. Ive ever witnessed in all my time, covering technology theyre on a mission to change the industry, come hell or high water and its no secret that im rooting for them. Every major player in the console gaming space im, looking at you, nintendo, microsoft and sony, has made enough blatantly anti consumer moves over the years that i cant help but cheer for a disrupter. On the other hand, i cant review the hypothetical steam deck of tomorrow, one with windows, drivers and improved ui and better game compatibility if its shipping, as is, i have to evaluate it as is and im going to be doing it a little differently than you might Expect see this thing: has the capability to be treated like a science, fair project you can tweak it break it reformat it start over and valve is embracing that good guy valve, but most people arent going to do any of that. So today, im going to be focusing on the out of box, console experience so ready or not valve. Here i come this video is brought to you by dbrand the most trustworthy criminals on the internet. Over the past few weeks, weve been testing out dbrand screen protectors for the steam deck, as it turns out. The thickness of ordinary tempered glass inhibits touch sensitivity, dont believe everything you see on amazon, dbrands, tempered glass screen protectors for the steam deck are guaranteed to be super, precise and work on your display check them out below now i could have spent the last couple of Weeks laser focused on running countless benchmarks on the steam deck, but really the bottom line is this: at its starting price of 400 us dollars, the hardware in the steam deck is literally impossible.
The internals of this thing put in the same performance class as ultrabooks that cost twice or even up to three times as much and if its a title in steams game library, the deck is almost certainly capable of running it at 60fps. If youre willing to turn down the details and that colossal back catalog is both its greatest strength and its biggest question mark im getting ahead of myself a little bit, though firing up the steam debt cold takes just a few seconds now lets get logged into a Steam account youll need to be online for this obviously, and take a tour of the interface at launch. All the basics are pretty well covered, and i was surprised at how self explanatory just about every menu was home here contains your recently launched games news and recommended picks from your library, based on the taste of gamers, with a similar profile. One surprisingly jarring feature for me on this page was the friends tab. I mean its a pretty simple feat of games that your friends are playing and recent events you can see mine is empty because i dont have any friends and you can chat with them to play together or view a game that you dont already own in the Store thats just pretty normal stuff right, but what it serves to highlight is the steam decks online first design, and i couldnt help feeling looking at this, like the switch is suddenly this relic of a different gaming era.
The rest of the main menu is accessed using the steam button. You can hold it by the way for a comprehensive list of useful shortcuts or chords. Then from here you can use any of the four methods of navigation, joystick d pad touchpad or touch screen to arrive at your destination and wherever that destination is theres, a pretty good chance that youre gon na find some lets, call them growing paints. All right, then, lets pretend im a brand new customer who doesnt own any steam games, and i head straight for the store: no, not that store, although they do have excellent water bottles in those pads there two valves credit. This has already improved a lot. In fact, it was part of a big long list of improvements that valve sent me just minutes before we sat down to film this video, but unfortunately i caught this one already. I had this whole thing written up about how the closest thing to a steam deck verified page in the store was the steamos slash linux heading under the categories tab. That, frankly, reminds me of the reasons that nintendo introduced their seal of quality program back in the 80s. Like honestly, climb fall human guys. Really, i wonder if its a fall guys rip off one of the new and trending games was like uh, elf wives. Cheat to ride my meat, fortunately, that mess has been papered over with a proper great on deck header that allows you to browse titles that are verified to run flawlessly by category popularity.
Ratings discounts all the usual fare, and this is hugely important because for those who havent been closely following steam deck news, it runs a modified version of arch linux called steamos and game compatibility relies either on the developer to build a linux native version of their game Or this super cool compatibility layer called proton or steamplay, so this is great but theres. A bit of a navigation problem here valve where on earth is the comprehensive list of deck verified games. Youve got this wonderful page on your website outlining the four different tiers of compatibility, verified, playable with tweaks or workarounds, unsupported and unknown, but nowhere on the official site or, more importantly, in the store, can i just browse a comprehensive list of every game that works on The deck and whatever the reason is for this obfuscation, i dont care its a terrible user experience. My first google hit for a workaround was this list on digital trends from a few days ago, which led me down a rabbit, hole to steamdeckverified.avery.cafe a totally credible sounding site that scrapes the steamdb database for verified status flags and then makes them easily searchable big props. To the community maintainers of both of these projects, but my gratitude towards them, doesnt change the fact that neither of them should be necessary if valve is on top of these things. Im sure theyre going to get this sorted out in time, but considering that valves, core competency is supposedly selling games through a digital storefront.
It just struck me as a little ironic that i encountered everything from slow page loading to titles, not highlighting as i was scrolling making it so that i had to navigate out of the store and come back to it and figure out where i left off. To this confusing compatibility error message that i got while trying to download the demo of a steam deck verified game, i mean, given the importance of selling games, to balance out valves, aggressive hardware pricing. I hope that the plan is to get this in order as soon as possible, or maybe the plan is just to allow me to buy additional copies of games that i already own while im at it. By the way. One more gripe is that, while i dont mind the store reloading, if i havent looked at it in a while, if im quickly, switching back and forth between my library, it would be really nice if it remembered what page i was on its just really frustrating heading Into the library things take a turn for the better. I installed a one terabyte microsd card and found that while i didnt always get a prompt for which storage device i wanted to use, it is super simple to transfer games to the internal ssd and vice versa, and depending on the game, i saw download speeds over Wi fi of anywhere from 30 to 40 megabytes per second and closer to 60 to 70, with spikes to 100, using a usb type c, dongle thats, those zen 2 cores going to work, love it and the game library inspired by steam.
Big picture is delightful, mostly in here, well find a mishmash of games that i bought years ago, ones that i picked up more recently to enjoy on the deck and pretty much every other unknown status game that i tried was a big fat negatory. The good news is that, according to the third party resources, the number of verified games has been absolutely skyrocketing, including many games that i would actually want to play. While i wait for some of my favorites to arrive and more good news, every verified game, i tried, with the exception of fez, which i had some crashing issues with, was a smooth enough experience that i would simply never even know that i wasnt on windows smoother. Actually, in some cases lets talk about some really cool stuff: the steam deck does better than a windows. Handheld say im on the bus, gaming away and boom were at my stop. Look at that sleep speed now, im walking down the street ready to continue and bam. Xbox sure, but id like to see a windows pc, do that how about sleep battery drain? In our rough estimation, it appears that the steam deck loses about 10 percent of battery every 24 hours in sleep, its not quite apple level. I mean what is but its miles better than most windows laptops: okay, so now im in my game here, right im, just farming, some wild boars or something – and i want to hang out in voice chat without going through the hassle of installing discord and desktop mode Or whatever steam menu, friends, voice, chat and man, let me put it this way.
I accidentally gave linus a call in the middle of the night while playing around with this menu, and we were both blown away by the progress valve has made with audio compression in recent years and adding icing to the cake. He described the mic quality on the steam deck as mid tier, which is high praise indeed, for a microphone on a 400 handheld thats a couple of feet from your face: heres, a quick sample of the steam dex microphone through steam, voice, chat and heres. A quick recording of the steam decks microphone through discord. The one challenge we ran into was during intense scenes. The games audio could break through valves attempts at canceling it out, but the solution to this was as simple as either boosting the call volume or lowering the game volume resulting in a really excellent social experience, all without nintendo gold, xbox gold, ps. Whatever. Thank you very much valve honestly, though, as a friendless person, its the quick access menu over here, these three dots that impresses me the most whether youre in a menu or mid game, the quick settings menu is full of all kinds of goodies. You got your notifications yeah. Nothing really that interesting there a way to more quickly access your friends and youve got your quick settings in here. You can adjust screen brightness and you will want to do it this way, not a huge fan of valves, auto brightness. I think it needs some work.
You can adjust your rumble and haptics which, by the way, are still unamazing because they dont have dedicated hardware for it, but both of them are greatly improved through updates. Since our hardware review – and you can prioritize your connected controllers – toggle, your wireless radios – all that good stuff bluetooth audio by the way for those who are bitter about years of nintendo apathy – was completely painless. With both my lg tone, free fp8 and my airpods pros – and i didnt try much else – then theres the boring tab, the battery tab. That sorry did, i say, boring. I meant the opposite of that. This is the coolest one, and it is time for the rest of the console industry to sit up and take notes that right there is an integrated performance monitor based on mango hut and its time for a bit of a side story. You could argue that microsoft has good coverage of the consumer spectrum windows for enthusiasts and tinkerers and xbox os for normie gamers, but what they dont do. A good job of is bridging this gap and when i contacted them asking for a temperature readout for the xbox series x, for example, they acted like i was from the moon, an fps counter. Why would you want that more like? What are you trying to hide? This is in stark contrast to valves approach here, which appears to be well. I dont know man, i mean its your thermal diode.
I assume you want the value its outputting right. Damn straight, i mean why pretend that a performance issue isnt real, creating confusion among consumers when you could just give the enthusiast the tools that they need to diagnose it for you and better yet probably solve. I mean its beyond the scope of the video today, but the fox is a wizard when it comes to tuning fps, thermal and power limits in these handhelds to optimize performance and battery life, to the point where he was actually able to beat valves estimates. So if you want to learn more about why this tab is so cool, you can go check out his shiz all right. The dumbest part of this traditional console opacity is that enthusiast grade diagnostics are such an obviously powerful business tool and when steam deck 2 comes out, its going to be trivially simple for gamers to compare performance, which is a powerful upsell mechanism that it is baffling to Me that everybody else doesnt want to leverage. So this is the proof that you can build something for the hardcores under the hood and also keep it clean for the normies that never want to look at any of that stuff. I actually get a lot of bmw vibes to be honest, great hardware, fantastic out of box experience, definitely some quirks, but also a ton of thought that goes into weird edge cases. For example, i ran an update and while the deck was rebooting, i went out of network range, so it got a little confused for a few seconds when it turned back on.
Then it kind of went. Oh okay, i guess we dont have network just dumped me in the profile selection screen. I clicked on it and boom. I was on the home page i mean valve, has had a much better offline experience than many other platforms for years and that work is paying off in spades here. One of the biggest challenges that they face with the steam deck is handling cloud saves with a portable device. So to address this, they introduced a technology that allows seamless saving across devices, and that sounds great for the future. Got ta run to the can. Take your deck with you all done pick up where you left off on your desktop. For the moment, though, things are a little more fudgy to demonstrate, lets abruptly suspend a game session here. The deck goes to sleep. We go to launch that same game on desktop and oops. We get a prompt warning us that we could lose progress if we continue waking. The deck closing the game and putting it back to sleep resolves the issue, but its not particularly elegant for the moment, and there are still quite a few rough edges here – are a couple of navigation annoyances, for example, the keyboard doesnt roll over horizontally. Oh and my precious quick access menu, this one drives me absolutely crazy, as you are scrolling through the sub menus here. Okay, if you go all the way down, it doesnt go into the next parent menu, obviously because that would be stupid.
But if you go up, it just carries all the way through some consistency would be nice here, but im sure valve is going to see this and fix everything that ive talked about before any customer actually gets the device in their hands, which leads us perfectly into A huge discussion point weve, almost completely glossed over. Some massive elephants in the room, weve hardly even touched on game compatibility, especially with third party launchers, and anti cheat schemes and thats for good reason. We just dont feel like it should be our focus today. Its not perfect today, no dont, much of both of our steam libraries are either entirely incompatible or have issues, but the steam deck needs to be evaluated for what it is not what we wish. It could be its a console, which means its compatible with the games. Its compatible with, but, unlike any other console in history, its fluid using a compatibility tool like lutrus means its entirely conceivable that a gamer could flip over to desktop mode on the steam deck and fire up. Anno 1800 using the touchpads. But unless theyre willing to put in the work and maybe tolerate some inconveniences, like the fact that multiplayer doesnt seem to work at all, despite a gold rating on proton db, its just not going to be the kind of experience that most gamers are after, which is Why we feel that most people should probably look at valves, verified list or somebody elses and make their own decision its an easy one for us were in if youre on the fence, but have a gaming pc fear not because for games that dont yet run natively Or through proton steam remote play on the deck is probably the best most responsive game streaming.
Setup ive ever used its straight up outstanding and we dont say that a lot but well also be looking at some of the more hacky use cases in more detail. In the future, once valves had a little bit more time to not complete the steam deck. Ah, yes were back to that. What might surprise you about our its incomplete take is that valve agrees. Obviously, theyve been hard at work, refining the experience in the lead up to the consumer launch. Nobody wants to embarrass themselves, but they also have no intention whatsoever of stopping here its frustrating because it means consumers are expected to take whatever valve offers today and trust that someday ill live up to the vision, but its also encouraging, because it means that looking at It like a console once weve worked through the generous 400. Some odd game launch titles theres hope that its going to be better for years to come and honestly im hopeful, and with that in mind, i want to immerse myself in the steam deck experience and im going to be switching to it. As my only computer for a month starting today, during that time, i hope to explore the desktop experience, browser games. Apparently, controller support is coming to a chrome update which sounds super cool third party game stores. Uh gog, for example, as outright said, were not going to support it, but maybe there could be workarounds for non validated games. I want to look at the windows experience.
Actually, windows might end up being a separate video. I dont know about that. So its incomplete, but im not complaining, i mean i spent my whole life as a gamer asking for someone to take the guard rails off my console and let me do whatever i want with it understanding that there might be some hiccups along the way and someone. Finally, did it so if youre like me, you can see that valve took the rougher path here, but damn it thats our path and i couldnt be happier so keep your pre orders. Ladies and gentlemen, because youre going to absolutely love this thing like youll love our sponsor linode. This video is sponsored by lenode, a powerful linux based cloud computing service, thats, affordable and easy to use. They have a large marketplace with one click apps to quickly deploy servers for website development file, hosting database management, video hosting or even video game servers, and you can even go diy. If you want a full custom setup, they offer affordable pricing with no hidden fees that try to sneak onto your monthly bill and best of all. Linoad has worldwide data centers and 100 human 24, 7 365 customer service, thats, reachable by phone email or social media. With all this, its easy to see why theyre the top rated infrastructure as a service provider on g2 – and you can set up your own server today and get a 100 60 day credit on your new account at leno.
com linus. If you guys enjoyed this video, maybe go check out some of our early steam deck coverage.