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Pros and Cons of Opting for the Steam Deck Compared to Other Gaming Consoles

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The Steam Deck by Valve offers a unique gaming option. But how does it compare to traditional consoles like the PlayStation 5 or the ever-popular Nintendo Switch?

Pros and Cons of Opting for the Steam Deck Compared to Other Gaming Consoles

What is a Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is a portable gaming device created by Valve, the company behind the popular Steam gaming platform. Unlike traditional consoles like the PlayStation 5 or Nintendo Switch, the Deck bridges the gap between handheld and PC gaming. 

Let’s explore the pros and cons of the Deck to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

pros of the Steam Deck

Pros of the Steam Deck:

Vast Game Library:

Due to the Deck’s built-in compatibility with the Steam store, it rivals only PCs in its game offerings. The store boasts tens of thousands of games, some entirely free, surpassing other consoles, even when considering backward compatibility and multi-platform titles.

Valve has also endeavored to make more games on the store compatible with the Deck’s Linux operating system, expanding its library further.

Since the Deck operates on Linux, it accesses a broader library of titles than is officially available. In addition to Linux-specific apps for running programs that typically function only on Windows, the

The Steam Deck’s user community has supplied numerous tools for running classic console emulators on it. Players can fill their Steam Deck with countless old games, potentially overwhelming the experience.

However, users should note that emulation may not perfectly replicate the original experience. While most emulated titles released before 2007 will likely function well, users should not expect newer titles to run without issues.

PC Power on the Go

The Steam Deck emphasizes portability, surpassing even the Nintendo Switch. Notably, it features trackpads and custom button shortcuts, enabling users to perform computer tasks without additional peripherals.

In-game, players can adjust frame rates and monitor battery performance instantly, optimizing energy usage and device longevity. Switch-like features include a sleep mode accessible via the power button and built-in volume controls.

Furthermore, the Steam Deck’s focus on portability extends to its packaging. Even the most affordable options include a sturdy carrying case for secure travel. The premium version offers a removable liner in its case for additional on-the-go storage options.

The system also supports hot-swapping microSD cards, allowing users to carry more games. When considering both the software and the included case, the Deck stands out as nearly unmatched as a portable console.

Customization Galore

 Customization Galore

While all consoles can technically be customized with the right tools and setup, the Steam Deck is one of the few that officially allows it. Thanks to its user-friendly platform and active community, the device can be modified in numerous ways.

Custom apps can enhance the Steam Deck experience, altering its UI and boot animations. Tech-savvy users can even make these changes without additional downloads.

Valve provides official guides demonstrating how to open the Deck for parts-swapping and more straightforward physical repairs for those interested in hardware modifications.

Moreover, if Linux’s limitations become too burdensome, Valve goes a step further by allowing Windows installation on the Deck, providing Windows drivers, and promising dual-boot support in the future. Recovery options are also available for users who accidentally delete essential files or experience device failure. 

This level of freedom surpasses what is offered by Xbox, PlayStation, or Switch devices.

 Openness and Value:

Unlike consoles, the Deck isn’t limited to a single storefront. You can access games from GOG, Epic Games, and even emulators for retro titles.

The Steam Deck’s price varies; the top-tier 1TB OLED model is $649, while the entry-level 256GB LCD model costs $399. This places it in a similar range as the digital-only PS5 and between the Xbox Series S and X prices. 

Although more expensive than the Switch, with its cheapest Lite model at around $200, the Steam Deck’s higher cost ensures smooth game performance.

As a portable console, the Deck efficiently handles modern games at its default 1280 x 800 resolution. While slowdowns may occur when connected to high-resolution displays, the smaller handheld screen size maintains visual fidelity.

Overall, games on the Deck look and run better than on the Switch, especially poorly ported titles like Mortal Kombat 1.

While not an unstoppable powerhouse, the Steam Deck can run many intensive titles with impressive results despite potentially lagging behind future game requirements. With its vast library, Valve’s portable console remains a strong competitor in the console market, though it pales in price compared to a gaming PC.

Cons of the Steam Deck

Cons of the Steam Deck:

Bulkier and Heavier

While the Deck offers portability, it can feel unwieldy due to its weight, surpassing 1.4 pounds, nearly double that of a Switch, even with Joy-Cons attached. This heaviness becomes noticeable during gameplay, compounded by the device’s substantial size.

While it doesn’t match the bulk of a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, it’s notably heavier than either console’s controller. Furthermore, its built-in screen contributes to its size, making it one of the most extensive first-party controllers, potentially challenging for users with smaller hands.

Given its size and weight, the Deck’s portability may be compromised. It’s not pocket-sized, and younger users may struggle to hold it comfortably for extended periods. Although this issue isn’t universal, it’s essential to consider the user’s comfort when selecting who will use the Deck.

Sparse Included Accessories

Buyers may notice its minimal array of additional items upon unboxing the Steam Deck. Apart from the carrying case and USB-C charger, no extra cables for peripheral connections, no stand for upright positioning, and only the built-in controller are provided.

Unlike the bundled docks with non-lite Switch models, those desiring an official dock must purchase it separately. This accentuates the Deck’s focus on portability rather than hybrid functionality.

The Steam Deck’s lack of included peripherals mirrors the packaging of other consoles to some extent. However, the absence of extra cables or accessories may make it appear notably bare in comparison.

Additional purchases are necessary to fully utilize the Deck’s capabilities, such as connecting to other displays or USB-A drives. Even with the OLED Steam Deck, the upgraded model doesn’t introduce more accessories beyond the removable carrying case liner at its highest price.

Unrefined Hardware and Software

The Steam Deck is constantly developing, receiving software updates almost weekly. However, its distinctive operating system, combined with its portable nature, challenges launching certain games smoothly. Numerous titles on Steam’s store are marked as verified, playable, or unsupported, indicating that not all games are compatible with the Deck. Compatible games may require additional adjustments or a different operating system, as they may not be designed for environments outside of Windows.

Moreover, battery life poses a significant concern for the Steam Deck, particularly with more demanding games draining it quickly despite being verified. Some users have encountered issues with Deck-verified games, such as crashes and reboots, with Death Stranding being a notable example. While the Deck boasts an extensive library, players should not expect optimal stability when pushing the console’s limits. Additionally, it’s advisable to remain near a power outlet for extended gaming sessions.

Limited Digital Storage Space

Despite its vast game library, storage space is a significant obstacle for players aiming to access numerous titles on the Steam Deck.

The base model offers 256GB of storage while obtaining a full terabyte requires a substantial investment of $649. In comparison, the most expensive versions of the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles are approximately $150 cheaper and include 1TB storage as standard. Storage expansion is reliant on costly microSD cards at higher capacities.

While the Deck appears to surpass the Switch with its 32GB storage, it’s essential to consider optimization differences in texture capabilities and file size.

The Steam Deck relies on a shader cache to enhance game performance, which consumes drive space during gameplay. Turning off this caching feature may lead to further performance issues.

Poor Third-Party Game/Software Support

While the Deck may lack support in some software areas, it’s equally imperative for software to support the Deck. Unfortunately, it’s not a priority for many developers, as most Steam users operate on Windows.

Games employing specific anti-cheat programs may never be compatible with the Deck, and updates tailored for Windows may affect game performance.

The online distribution of digital games introduces a potential complication, where updates may inadvertently render previously verified games unplayable on the Steam Deck. This uncommon issue underscores a significant difference between the Deck and other consoles, such as PlayStation, Xbox, or 

Switch consoles offer a more straightforward gaming experience. Although the Deck provides extensive customization options, it also presents inherent risks. While adept users may easily navigate these risks, casual players and newcomers may find alternative options more accessible, emphasizing a steeper learning curve.

Who Should Choose Which

Who Should Choose Which?

Steam Deck: Ideal for PC gamers who crave a portable experience with a vast library and customization options.

Consoles are better for those who prioritize long battery life, a curated library of polished games, a simpler user experience, and potentially strong exclusive titles.

Final Thoughts: Steam Deck or Console?

The Steam Deck caters to a specific audience. The Deck is a compelling choice if you crave a portable PC gaming experience with an immense library and customization options. However, a traditional console might be better if you prioritize long battery life, a curated library of polished console games, and a more straightforward user experience.


Q. What is the Steam Deck, and how does it compare to traditional gaming consoles?

A. The Steam Deck is a portable handheld device developed by Valve that functions as a gaming console. It offers a portable gaming experience similar to the Nintendo Switch but with the power of being a gaming PC. Unlike other consoles like the PS5 or Xbox Series X, the Steam Deck runs on a custom Linux operating system and is designed to let users access their Steam library of games.

Q. What are the main advantages of choosing the Steam Deck over other gaming consoles?

A. The Steam Deck offers the flexibility of a portable gaming console with the functionality of a gaming device. It gives gamers access to a vast library of games on the Steam Deck’s hardware and custom operating system, which provides a unique gaming experience. Constant updates from Valve push new features and optimizations.

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