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Steam Deck Specifications: How the Nintendo Switch compares to Valve’s handheld gaming PC

Following rumors and speculation, Valve is once again dipping its toes into the hardware market. But instead of a virtual reality headset or controller, Valve is releasing Steam Deck – a handheld gaming PC starting at $ 399.

At first glance, the design is somewhat similar to the Nintendo Switch, a handheld home console that currently has a third model update on the way. Although you share a similar concept – a handheld device that also lets you connect a TV or monitor – the two devices have drastic differences both inside and out.

To gain a better understanding of what to expect from both of these gadgets, and perhaps find out for someone which device is the best investment for you, let̵

7;s take a look at the specifications and go through some prominent differences between today’s flagship Switch- model and Steam Deck:

Screen and resolution

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: When in handheld mode, both Steam Deck and Switch have touch screens that do not provide a 1080p resolution. Steam Deck has an 800p touchscreen, while Nintendo Switch has a 720p screen. The resolution of both consoles increases when connected to their individual docks using a USB-C. Both docking stations also include a LAN port that allows you to establish a wired internet connection (even if this is only present on the latest version of the Switch dock).

Steam Deck will have an official dock, but it will not be included with the handheld, and it will not be available at launch. However, there is some flexibility, as you can use any standard USB-C hub to connect the Steam Deck to a TV or monitor to mimic more of a traditional gaming PC or laptop.

The Nintendo Switch has an official docking station that comes with each new device purchased, but you can also purchase the docking station separately, and there are many third-party docking stations that are more portable and less expensive than Nintendo’s offer – provided, however, that some of these docks can draw switch consoles. There has also been a problem with the original Switch docking station, which may cause the console to do so receive scratches on the corner of the screen.

However, when both are docked to a compatible docking station, the resolution increases. Handheld valves can theoretically produce up to 8K resolutions at 60Hz or 4K at up to 120Hz. By comparison, the Nintendo Switch produces up to 1080p at 60Hz.

Let’s compare the screens on the flagship models for both Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch: all Steam Deck models have an LCD screen, but the flagship $ 649 model includes a “premium” anti-reflective etched glass, which means players can focus on what displayed on the screen and not what is reflected from the screen, such as a fingerprint.

Switch OLED, on the other hand, differs from the other two Switch models, replacing the LCD screen with an OLED screen, which means that it will have better contrast, deeper blacks and increased brightness than its predecessors.

Operating system

Steam Deck is simple: it’s an affordable gaming PC at a time when it’s expensive to build or upgrade PC parts due to expensive modern GPUs, a problem exacerbated by the ongoing global chip shortage. It runs a modified version of SteamOS built on Proton, a version of Linux that is capable of running Windows and Linux apps and games – but as we mentioned in hands-on, you can do a new installation of Windows if that’s your preference. In contrast, the Nintendo Switch has a custom operating system that is used exclusively for the console, without adaptability.

Close-ups of Valves Steam Deck


There are three configurations available for Steam Deck; each offers different storage solutions, but all other internal components remain the same. The starting level of $ 399 gives you 64 GB of built-in MultiMediaCard [eMMC] storage, while the other two include non-volatile memory express [NVMe] storage: one priced at $ 529 with 246 GB and the flagship, which includes 512 GB. With that in mind, there is a possibility that loading times and game installations will probably be slower on the entry-level model, but Valve claims that the performance of all three models will not be affected, regardless of which configuration you chose to buy.

Standard Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite models include 32 GB of internal eMMC storage, and the OLED model includes 64 GB of internal eMMC storage, just like the entry-level Steam Deck. Without other internal storage configurations beyond 64 GB currently available on the Nintendo console.

Steam Deck and Switch also support MicroSD cards for extra storage. This is especially welcome on the base Steam Deck model, which is otherwise stuck and supports PC games with only 64 GB of memory.

Size and weight

While we can not yet make a direct size comparison, the dimensions tell both of us what we need to know: Steam Deck is noticeably larger and wider than the switch, 2.2 inches longer than the OLED model and 0.2 inches taller than the upcoming hardware update. Steam Deck has thicker frames than most electronics in 2021, including OLED, and Steam Deck has a larger exterior frame compared to the latest Switch model.

Weighing in at 1.47 kg, Steam Deck weighs more than the Nintendo Switch, with the Switch OLED model weighing 0.93 pounds with Joy-Cons attached to the screen. While 1.47 kg is not extremely heavy, it is noticeably heavier than any Nintendo Switch model, and hand fatigue can be a bigger issue for Steam Deck owners.

Internal components

If we take a closer look at the parts found in Steam Deck, it is much more capable than the switch. First, the CPU is an AMD APU with four cores and eight threads; it uses the Zen 2 architecture (used by the Xbox Series X / S and PS5), as well as the Ryzen 3000 desktop processors. Steam Deck also includes the same graphical architecture as the ninth generation game consoles, powered by an AMD RDNA 2, which means it will support hardware-based beam tracking.

Because Steam Deck is primarily a portable device, it does not use desktop memory. Instead, it has 16 GB of LPDDR, which uses less power and is aimed at mobile data devices, such as laptops, tablets or even mobile phones.

It’s important to note that some of the hardware in Steam Deck is more similar to PS4 and Xbox One than Series X / S and PS5 – especially when you consider that SSDs in the two more expensive models use NVMe Gen 3 SSDs instead. of Gen 4 found in game generation for new generation.

Using AMD architecture also means that Steam Deck supports FidelityFX Super Resolution, AMD’s open source supersampling technology. This makes it possible to offer four different settings that prioritize either performance or visual fidelity.

Since 2017, the Nintendo Switch specifications have been the same, including the upcoming Switch OLED, which all have Nvidia Tegra X1 mobile chipsets. The custom Tegra processor is ARM-based while the graphics use the Maxwell architecture, which was used mostly in Nvidia desktop GPUs such as GeForce 900 cards. If we look closely at the CPU and GPU that Switch uses, it is clear that Switch is not the largest graphics powerhouse, and it is clearly shown in AAA games that are ported to the console.

There have also been cases where Switch ports do not always start with other versions of the game, such as Doom Eternal. Even some of the biggest games in recent years like Control and Hitman 3, while they can be played on the Switch, can not be run on the console and instead streamed through the cloud to meet the hardware limitations.


Included with each Nintendo Switch are a pair of Joy-Con controllers. These have some advantages – first, they can be detached and used as a pair or as two individual controllers. When detached and played in handheld mode, you can also support the kickstand back and play without the controller and screen tied together. However, Joy-Con operation has been a problem since its launch, a widespread problem that Nintendo has not yet addressed directly. The Nintendo Switch supports other controllers, such as its own Pro controller, the GameCube controller, as well as several wired and wireless third-party controllers.

When it comes to built-in controller hardware, Steam Deck has a lot more going on. Although it does not have detachable controllers or a kickstand – which makes it a little more limited in how you can enjoy your handheld game – there is much more freedom given to the owners when it comes to how to make your gaming experience take care of you. In addition to the traditional double thumb, Steam Deck has two trackpieces that promise a more mouse-like experience. There are even four rear buttons – similar to something like the SCUF or Xbox Elite controllers. These paddles can be reshaped to give a more personal touch to handheld control setups. Steam Deck also supports external controllers, including the Xbox Series X / S controller, DualSense, and even the Switch Pro controller. It also has Bluetooth so it can connect some The Bluetooth controller wirelessly or via a USB cable.


Both consoles support online gaming: Switch requires a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online, which can cost anywhere between $ 4 a month and $ 60 for an entire year. This has extra incentives such as cloud storage and access to NES and SNES games and promotional offers. Although affordable, cloud-saving games leave a lot to be desired only 130 games in the Nintendo Switch library supports the function.

Even if you do not purchase a Switch Online subscription, it is still a local multiplayer. Switch can connect to other consoles to provide a LAN party experience. You can also connect multiple controllers and Joy-Cons with a single switch, which supports up to eight Joy-Con controllers.

As you’d expect, Steam Deck offers similar support. It has built-in Wi-Fi, which means you can play online or locally multiplayer, and it does not include an online subscription to play games online. Some games like Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft require an online subscription to play, but in general most games that Steam Deck can support are free to play online.

Battery life

The switch has better battery life than Steam Deck, which varies anywhere between 4.5-9 hours on a single charge compared to Steam Deck’s 2-8 hours. Nintendo says that the base switch and OLED models can last about 5.5 hours on a single charge, while Lite can last for 4 hours to play the same game. Valve says you can expect 4 hours of Portal 2 running at a resolution of 720p at 60FPS. Of course, with Steam Deck supporting a large selection of games throughout the Steam library, battery life will vary wildly. It is important to note that both consoles use completely different batteries – Steam Deck uses a 40Whr lithium-ion battery while the switch uses a 4310mAh lithium-ion battery.

Steam Deck is scheduled to launch sometime in December. You can check out more information on Steam Deck, such as Gabe Newell who elaborates on the prices for Steam Deck, our handy preview with the handheld, as well as a FAQ with the developers. To learn more about Steam Deck, check back the rest of the month.

Taylor is the Associate Tech Editor at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.

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