A Steam Deck has a gaming computer at its heart. It is a powerful piece of hardware that puts your Steam library in the palm of your hand, allowing you to play your PC games regardless of where you happen to be. If you’ve been looking to purchase a Steam Deck, you’ve probably seen that there are many variants available. So how do you decide which one to purchase?
In this post, we will discuss the differences between the three versions of Steam Deck and provide recommendations about which would be most suitable for you.
So, let’s get right into it!
How Many Versions of Steam Deck Are There?
There are 3 versions of the Steam Deck. All of them are listed below:
64GB eMMC Steam Deck
Fans concerned about acquiring technology at a high price point will be relieved to learn that they can purchase one version of the Steam Deck for just $399. This price is only $100 more than a Nintendo Switch purchased at retail. The staff at Valve refer to this Steam Deck as “entry-level,” not high-end.
This Steam Deck, which provides just 64 gigabytes of storage space, is the only one of the three that you can purchase at a discounted price range. To put that into perspective, the game Hitman 2 alone is 149 gigabytes (GB). This low storage capacity might be a barrier for gamers interested in tackling games with very large file sizes.
In addition, the processing of data and storage on this model is much slower than on the other models. This Steam Deck’s transfer rate is limited to 500 MB per second since it uses an eMMC drive. Despite this, it is still a fantastic option for some players, particularly those just starting in the gaming world or prefer more indie-focused games like Stardew Valley or Terraria.
256GB NVMe SSD Steam Deck
The enhanced storage space and SSD in the middle-tier Steam Deck make it possible to store more data and do processing tasks quickly. However, at $529, it is much more expensive than the model considered to be entry-level. Therefore, it is essential to remember that this model quadruples the storage capacity. This factor is something to keep in mind even though the price difference between the two versions of the same console is a significant $130.
You can purchase this Steam Deck variant for a price comparable to consoles like PS4 and Xbox One. However, even at the middle-tier level, the fact that the Steam Deck can work as a personal computer and be portable may justify the increased price. This model comes with a special Steam community profile package, which will most likely contain cosmetics for a player’s Steam profile page.
512GB NVMe SSD Steam Deck
The Steam Deck’s top-of-the-line model costs $649 to purchase at retail outlets. In exchange for the higher cost, it offers twice as much storage as its middle-tier variant (which is already eight times more than the capacity of the most basic model). Moreover, this variant offers the same level of high-speed storage, which can reach a maximum of 4 GB per second.
In addition, this model comes with a screen constructed of anti-glare etched glass, designed to have a better appearance, be of higher quality, and be much more durable over time. Its functionality as a personal computer places it in a different league than other gaming consoles currently available. Its price point is negligible compared to most gaming computers currently on the market.
Every gamer has a unique wish list for their hardware and software and has various options on the Steam Deck, whether they choose a cheaper price point or vast storage space as their first goal.
Things to Consider When Getting a Steam Deck
Here are the things to consider when getting a Steam Deck:
Do You Need More Storage Capacity?
The amount of storage available varies greatly between each of the three variations of the Steam Deck. However, before we compare the different Steam Deck models, it’s important to note that although all models allow expanded storage by microSD or USB 3.0 storage devices, internal storage is where your games will always run the most effectively.
Three distinct storage options are available across all three models: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. Your selection will get influenced by the games you play and how many you desire to have installed all at once.
You won’t often need much storage space if you mostly play games like visual novels, puzzle games, or platformers. However, if you prefer AAA games, you should be aware that these games often need a large amount of storage space. For instance, Red Dead Redemption 2 requires 150 GB, which means that it will not fit on the internal storage of the basic model of the Steam Deck.
You should also consider the number of games that you will store on your Steam Deck at any moment. You can certainly download and (re-)install the program as needed, but what happens if you don’t have access to the internet? If having a large selection of games readily accessible is important to you, 64GB won’t be enough storage space for you.
Second, the models each make use of a unique kind of storage technology. eMMC is used for storage in the 64GB variant, while the 256GB and 512GB editions have NVMe SSD. The latter technology is the one with the quicker speed. Compared to the 512GB NVMe SSD, the 64GB eMMC loads games at a rate that is 12.5 percent slower.
This information comes from Valve. The 64 GB variant has about 25 percent slower boot time than the other variants. Additionally, the way NVMe scales, the 512GB model is speedier than the 256GB.
The end user doesn’t need to replace the internal storage. Hence, you will not be able to update it quickly like you would for a regular PC. So, think carefully about the option you’ve chosen. Get the 512GB Deck if you play demanding games and want to maximize the number of titles you can load at once. Besides that, the 256GB model will be sufficient for most users.
Do You Need An Anti-Glare Screen?
Each variant of the Steam Deck has the same display hardware, which includes:
- Panel: Optically bonded IPS LCD
- Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels (16:10 aspect ratio)
- Size: 7 inches diagonal
- Brightness: 400 nits
- Refresh rate: 60Hz
You should find the screen of the Steam Deck to be clear, bright, and full of vivid colors, whatever model you decide to purchase. While it can’t compare to the bright display of the OLED Nintendo Switch, it’s still a respectable product overall.
The anti-glare etched glass included on the screen of the Steam Deck variant that costs $649 sets it apart from the cheaper models. This pricing and screen indicate that it should be simpler to see in bright situations, such as when one engages in outdoor activities on a sunny day. The Steam Deck’s screen on the top variant is really impressive.
Even with the Steam Deck turned up to its maximum brightness and the sun shining directly on it, it is still possible to determine what is on the screen. However, the screen has difficulty functioning properly if you play a dark game outside.
Ultimately, the environment in which you want to use your Steam Deck will determine the answer. For example, suppose the model that costs $649 will have a nicer screen. In that case, even if you’re playing the game largely indoors, you won’t notice much of a gain from it. Consider purchasing an update, however, if you live in an area with much sunshine and want to play games outside.
Do You Need The Exclusive Carrying Case?
The Steam Deck comes at three price points, including a carrying case. However, the model that costs $649 includes what Valve refers to as an “exclusive” carrying case. The unique case is similar to the others in terms of functionality. However, it has a few cosmetic changes and comes with two extra small accessories.
The bag closes with a zipper, has a handle for carrying it, and the inside has to cushion for protection. The rear of the case has a storage compartment and an elastic retention band to keep its contents in place.
The carrying case unique to the model that costs $649 is pretty slick. In addition, the zipper pulls and the fabric on the inside of the bag is of a different color from the outside logo. In addition, it has a separate drawstring bag for the power cable and a cleaning cloth made of microfiber.
Having a bag for the power cable is unnecessary, especially considering how simple and inexpensive it is to get microfiber cleaning cloths. In addition, the differences in appearance are essentially superficial; you could even find that you like the all-black appearance of the basic casing. So when considering everything, there is no need to base your choice to acquire a Steam Deck on the carrying case.
Do You Need The Steam Deck’s Virtual Benefits?
You may personalize your Steam profile in various ways, including adding a background and an avatar border, both of which are available for purchase in the Steam Points Shop. The Steam Deck versions that cost $529 and $649 come with an exclusive Steam Community profile bundle. This bundle is exclusively available for purchase via the Steam Deck itself.
The Deck comes with the profile package and an exclusive virtual keyboard theme. It gives the appearance of a traditional mechanical keyboard when used on the on-screen keyboard of the Steam Deck.
These delightful virtual goods are a small perk, but they are nevertheless enjoyable. It’s quite probable that they won’t have a role in your choice to make the buy. In addition, Steam already provides many possibilities for customizing user profiles, and the Steam Deck includes a selection of other keyboard layouts from which users may choose.
Which Steam Deck Is Best?
The storage capacity is the most important aspect when comparing the three different Steam Deck types. The anti-glare screen, the better carrying cover, and the virtual goods are all pleasant additions, but they are not necessary.
You must have adequate storage capacity to install all video games you like. The 256GB model that costs $529 will be the best option for most individuals who want a balanced device.
However, the $649 512GB Deck is the most powerful option available; thus, you should acquire it if your budget allows it. Also, unless you are tight on funds, you should steer clear of the $399 64GB variant since it has slower run and boot times.
You will probably have a good time with whatever Steam Deck you purchase. Valve has developed an incredibly new product.
Is the Steam Deck Better Than a Laptop?
The Steam Deck isn’t as powerful as most laptops. 720p at 30 fps is the standard for most recent AAA games on the Steam Deck, but 60 fps is available for older titles and indies. However, it falls well short of even the MSI GT66 Stealth‘s ability to play games on its 1440p display at more than 120 frames per second.
But with the Steam Deck, we can grab and go. So to play games, we don’t have to fiddle with graphical settings or the Xbox controller and don’t have to tie ourselves to a huge power brick.
Even if the GPU isn’t telling the whole picture, the performance will persuade you that any gaming laptop can handle the most demanding games at the highest resolutions. However, even if you’re playing on an MSI GE76 Raider, the truth is rather different when it comes to gaming laptops.
Extremely loud fan noise and excessive heat are the realities of gaming laptops, which you can find in models from all major manufacturers. Even with greater frame rates and more demanding graphical settings, using a gaming laptop still seems like a grind sometimes. Laptops are first, with gaming gadgets coming in a distant second. The Steam Deck reverses that.
There are times when much power is not required, but for us, we don’t need it. On the Steam Deck, we have a large collection of classic platformers that operate at 60 fps. Gaming on the go is all about making compromises. The Steam Deck provides targeted sacrifices that gaming laptops cannot deliver.
The 256GB Steam Deck is the best buy since it provides fast storage that you can expand with external MicroSD cards. Regarding outdoor enthusiasts and those planning to travel, the 512GB model’s anti-glare etched glass might be a lifesaver. The reason is that it could affect how well the Steam Deck functions in the sunshine.
However, it’s hard to conceive that future versions would return to the 400-nit brightness of the first-generation Game Boy, which had no backlight.
This article was just our POV, but in the end, it depends on your taste and preference.
Also, if you’re planning on buying a Steam Deck, chances are that you may not be able to get your hands on it. So, here are the Best Steam Deck Alternatives in 2023.