There have been other devices that allow you to play your PC games on the go, like the NVIDIA Shield, but those mostly used cloud streaming. Well, you’ll be able to play your PC games offline in the future with the new Steam Deck handheld gaming device.

Credit: Valve

Looking like a bulkier Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck is a handheld tablet that Valve claims is essentially a PC. You get an AMD Zen 2 CPU, 16GB of RAM and three storage SKUs for 64GB of eMMC flash storage, as well as 256GB and 516GB of NVMe SSD storage. You get expandable storage in the form of a microSD card slot, so no worries if your games are all 200GB monsters like COD.

The tablet comes with a 7-inch 720p touch-enabled screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio. The 512GB model has a premium anti-glare etched glass treatment on the screen. Valve claims you’ll be able to get anywhere from two to eight hours of battery life on the tablet, depending on what you’re doing and how your games are running. Limiting Portal 2 to 30fps will net around 5-6 hours of playtime.

If you’re interested in using the device with a big screen though, there will be a dock that’s available for purchase separately that allows users to plug in peripherals, connect to external displays, use wired networking as well as charge the device.

steam deck trackpad
Credit: Valve

Under the thumbsticks, there are two trackpads on either side that could be used for browsing on the web. Oh, we didn’t mention? Because it’s running on SteamOS, which is built on Linux, the entire tablet can be used as a proper PC. This means you can download and install a browser, or basically do anything that you can do on a Linux-based PC. Besides that, you won’t even be restricted to just Steam games. Users will be able to download the Epic Game Store on the tablet if so desired.

A great advantage the Steam Deck has over the Nintendo Switch is that there’s Bluetooth capability built-in, so you don’t even need to purchase an external Bluetooth adapter if you want to use your wireless earbuds or headphones with the tablet.

steam deck
Credit: Valve

If you purchase the 256GB or 512GB models, they will come with either a carrying case or exclusive carrying case respectively, as well as a bunch of digital goodies like exclusive Steam Community profile bundles.

Want one? Well, the Steam Deck is available for reservation now, with a release in December 2021. The catch, though, is that there are two requirements. Only Steam users who have their account region set to the US, Canada, European Union and the UK will be eligible to place a reservation right now, and these accounts must have made a purchase on Steam before June 2021. There’s also a reservation deposit of US$5 that will be offset against the price of the console, or refunded should a user decide not to proceed with the purchase.

steam deck shared library
Credit: Valve

Unfortunately, there’s no news on when Valve will be opening up reservations to people outside the list of eligible countries, but personally, once Singapore gets on that list, I’ll definitely be signing up to purchase a unit. Offline Crusader Kings 3, here I come.

Written by Cheryl Tan