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Valve Announces Steam Deck, a Portable Gaming PC

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Put a Nintendo sticker on it, and it’s the Switch Pro you’ve been wanting.

The idea of dedicated “Steam Machines,” small computers designed to run Valve’s proprietary SteamOS with the express purpose of playing games and nothing else, has been kicked around a bit for a few years, but nobody’s quite been able to make the idea stick. The sheer computing power such a device would need to not only cleanly run SteamOS, but the seemingly infinite number of games in Steam’s catalog, often makes such devices prohibitively expensive, at least compared to just getting a regular game console. However, Valve in once again taking a shot at the console market, and this time, they’ve got some surprising muscle under the hood.

Yesterday, Valve officially announced the Steam Deck, a portable gaming console. Much like the previous Steam Machines, it runs SteamOS and can connect to a Steam account to play installed games. They’re not going half-baked on the hardware this time, though; the Steam Deck is packing a 3.5 GHz AMD Zen 2 microprocessor, eight RDNA 2 units acting as a 1.6 teraflop GPU, and 16 GB of RAM. All that is packed into a 7-inch, 1280×800 touchscreen with a full bevy of controls, plus two trackpads. As for how much storage you can get (not including a microSD card), the base $399 model has 64 GB of eMMC storage, the $529 model has a 256 GB PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD, and the $649 model has a 512 GB NVMe SSD. The console even comes with a dock you can use to plug it into an external HDMI display.

If you think the base model is surprisingly cheap for something with so much muscle, that’s because, according to Gabe Newell, these things will be manufactured at a loss for Valve. “I want to pick this up and say, oh, it all works. It’s all fast. It’s all… and then price point was secondary and painful. But that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it,” Newell said in an interview with IGN. “So our view is, if we’re doing this right, then we’re going to be selling these millions of units.”

Reservations for the device will open today. If you have an active Steam account, you can reserve yours for $5. Units are expected to begin shipping this holiday season.