Steam Deck

Has anyone managed to lay their hands on one yet?

I have the 512gb on reserve, no date yet for actual release. I figured it would fill a bit of a gaming void that I have, as currently only own a PS4 and a 27” iMac and this will hopefully allow me to play many of my old Windows PC games, fingers crossed, and by the look things a whole bunch of new ones.

Having a heavy job and a family for me isn’t particularly compatible with sitting at a desk PC gaming for extended periods of time, so I figured the Steam Deck may just tick the box for me.


Are we the same person? :slight_smile:

I just checked my reservation on the 512gb Steam Deck. It still just says Q2, which I guess technically we’ve entered now. I read this article Steam Deck production will be in the "hundreds of thousands" by next month | GamesRadar+ that says they’ll be ramping up production quite a bit here in the next month. Here’s hoping they get to start shipping them soon!

I’ve heard nothing but good things about it so far.


I’ve heard nothing but good things too! Which is a relief, as I had a few nerves thinking should I have just sunk some money into a windows laptop instead? (but I know I would have spent a huge amount more on a windows laptop and barely used it).

It’s performance at 720p / 800p is on par with a PS4 @ 1080p, which is fine by me as you’re on a 7 inch screen. The 512gb with its anti-glare screen is also supposed to look really nice.


I received my Steam Deck on Wednesday!

Happy to answer any questions about it. I love it so far, but it isn’t for everyone.


My only question is can I have your steam deck? :slight_smile:

Why do you say it isn’t for everyone?


It’s mine, mine I say!!

I say it’s not for everyone because it is very much a PC, and that’s good and bad.

On the one hand, I am completely overwhelmed by what I can play on this thing… I can’t ever remember buying a console before and having this many choices immediately at my disposal, especially not on a handheld.

On the other hand, it suffers from a lot of the same foibles that PCs do. If you’ve had a gaming PC before, you know that sometimes there will be a game in your library that’s 20 years old and runs like a dream, but then there are games that are somehow still for sale even though everyone in the forums says they’re broken and fans are left to their own devices to get them working again. That’s kind of the trade-off: The openness and flexibility gives you untold options, but it also means it’s kind of the wild west out there.

Here’s an example: The Batman Arkham games are some of my all-time faves, and I own them on Steam. When I got my Steam Deck, I went to install them… but Valve had them listed as “unplayable,” meaning they were tested on Steam Deck and didn’t work at all. I was a bit surprised and disappointed, but I moved on… until I saw folks in Reddit playing those games. It turns out that Valve’s version of Proton doesn’t always use the latest version of Wine, and sometimes there are weird rights issues around including certain Windows drivers. So I had to switch to “desktop mode” on the Steam Deck (plugging in a keyboard and mouse via a USB-C hub just to make things easier for myself), install an app called “ProtonUp,” which let me install something called “GE Proton,” which I guess is a fan-maintained version. Then, I could install the Arkham games (skipping Valve’s warning), go into compatibility settings, select the special version of Proton I installed, and now I’m several hours in and the game’s working flawlessly.

As someone who enjoys tinkering with PC stuff, I didn’t mind that process. In fact, I find it kind of fun to be like “Oh really, Valve, this is ‘unplayable?’ We’ll see about that!” But I can imagine there are some folks out there who aren’t particularly interested in tinkering but who see this as a potential entry point to PC gaming, and I think that will only work if the games you’re interested in happen to be in the 2% that Valve’s tested and verified so far.


My reservation is Q2 but no email yet. I’m still on the fence for myself but it does seem like a promising system.


Rami Ismail of Vlambeer tweets about his Deck a lot. Destiney won’t play because of the whole anti-cheat software situation, but that’s a game he wanted to play. So he got it working. Yes, it’s because he installed Windows. And yes he’s a dev so not representative of the average user. But I’m encouraged because if it won’t play on Proton it really is possible to switch to Windows.

Also the emulation support seems phenomenal already.

Lastly Microsoft worked with Valve to get Game Pass streaming up and running via Edge on the Steam Deck and I suspect that will make it the best hand-held Game Pass device. It basically sidesteps my pipe dream that Nintendo would allow Game Pass streaming on the Switch (lmao!)

I still think I might skip it because it’s really pricey in Canada. I wish it were a tad less expensive because it would be a no brainer if I was in the States.


All good points. That said, it’s still early days so there are some caveats right now.

When it comes to Windows, the device’s boot times and battery life take a hit, and there’s no dual boot support yet. So you either have to go all-in on Windows, or install it to a MicroSD (which shortens the life of the card, since Windows isn’t optimized for devices with limited read/write lifespans).

And when it comes to emulators, many aren’t well-optimized for the device quite yet. The ones I’ve tried that work really well so far are Dolphin, PCSX2 and ScummVM. But Redream didn’t work, Flycast works but it’s a much worse emulator with tons of visual bugs, m64p works but has performance issues (which is silly), and Retroarch doesn’t like to start from the launcher for me for some reason. (I have heard that Switch and Wii U emulation work well, but I haven’t tried those.)

I’m confident that a lot of those issues will get ironed out, they’re just more reasons that I don’t think it’s a solid device for newcomers just yet.


Thanks for the information. What makes me slightly nervous…

I used to really enjoy the tinkering aspect when I had loads of time on my hands, but as you get older time becomes scarce (work, family, kids etc) and tinkering with PC’s in general becomes unrewarding (well for me anyway), which is one of the reasons I jumped ship to Mac many years back.

I now find that I want to spend as little time as possible tinkering. I didn’t mind running stuff through Wine on my iMac (as long as I was using a good GUI) or Bootcamping into windows, but those options are no longer available with the new Mac M1 processors, hence me thinking ahh… Steamdeck!!!

My PS4 (and PS5) will take care of any AAA / demanding titles, I was just hoping the Steamdeck could fill that niche of playing a selection of older and some newer steam games in my wishlist that are more WindowsPC specific, without having to get a Windows laptop. And I love the portability aspect of the Steamdeck (I think 90% of the time I’ll be using it on the couch).

So I’m a bit 50/50 at the moment. As long as it’ll run with minimal effort, using the built in support (ie either SteamOS Native or Platinum / Gold rating through Proton) i’ll be really happy, but I don’t really want to start installing and tinkering with different Proton builds and modifying files etc, to see what works (unfortunately that’s just time that doesn’t exist for me now!!!).

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In that case, I think there’s a chance you might feel a little frustrated by it, at least in its current state.

Of the 234 games I have in my Steam library (not counting hidden ones I had no interest in from bundles and stuff), there are 38 that are Steam Deck verified (meaning they should work just fine with zero configuration). Of those Steam Deck verified titles, there are only eight that I couldn’t easily play on modern consoles (PS4/PS5 or Switch). Some of the games with the lower “playable” rating aren’t working for me: The original Psychonauts won’t respond to some buttons or the right analog stick and the cut scene audio is out of sync. (I wish there were some easy way for users to report compatibility status and suggestions, as ProtonDB results don’t seem to be reliable.)

I am optimistic for the future. Valve has been releasing updates very quickly. Several titles in my library went from “untested” to “verified” in the last couple of days. And sometimes, the Proton compatibility layer can work in a game’s favor… I gave up trying to run Soul Reaver 2 on my Windows PC a couple of years back, but I installed it last night out of curiosity and it seems to be running fine (I had to update the resolution in the game’s “settings” menu and the cut scenes display smaller than the main game, but those seem like minor issues).

Since I’ve been focusing on the negative points, I thought I’d also highlight some of the stuff I really like:

  • The “gaming mode” front-end is the nicest PC gaming UI I’ve ever interacted with. It’s really readable and very snappy, and it’s so nice to be able to pause a game, put the console to sleep, come back and not have the battery drained.
  • I was expecting it to be unwieldy based on media coverage. While it’s easily the largest handheld I’ve ever owned, I can’t help but feel that folks made too big a deal out of this. It’s comparable in size to a Nintendo Switch with the Hori Switch Pad Pro, a combination I prefer when playing that console in handheld mode. It’s also way more ergonomic than the Switch, and its screen is larger. I dig the form factor.
  • The media mentioned the fan noise, and it’s true that the fan is on more often than it isn’t. But a lot of reviews mentioned a “high-pitch whine” and a grating noise to the fan. Maybe my ears aren’t sensitive enough or maybe I’m not trying to run games on “high” settings or something, but it just sounds like a fan to me. My years-old Switch’s fan has started to make a “buzzing” sound sometimes, so this sounds quiet by comparison. And the vents point up, so it never blows hot air on you or gets warm in your hand (unlike some laptops I’ve tried).
  • I mentioned the need to configure stuff in “desktop mode” as a negative, but it’s genuinely cool to plug in a USB-C hub and just… have a PC. It’s really impressive to be using a keyboard and mouse and a larger monitor, then unplugging it and going back into “gaming mode” without missing a beat. I’ve seen some folks on Reddit who are building their own custom docking solutions and just kind of using it as a day to day PC, which is fun.
  • I’ve spent a couple evenings now laying back on the couch with a documentary or cheesy sitcom on my TV, alternating between hunting down some red rings in Sonic Generations, replaying Arkham Asylum and checking in on villagers in the original GameCube Animal Crossing. Once I’m done tinkering with everything, I do find myself easily disappearing into whatever I’m playing. I consider that a win!

From my perspective this still worries me. I know many dislike ergonomics of the Switch but the Hori d-pads are simply too large for me. The Nintendo joy-cons are preferable to me and in my ideal world the Switch could do with being a touch smaller overall. So while I’m sure concerns about size are overblown for the majority of people, I think that in my case there’s a good chance I’d find the Steam Deck bigger than I’d like.


Totally: If you dislike the size of the Switch with the Hori Split Pads, it’s a good bet that you won’t like this. I think the Steam Deck’s a bit more comfortable than that since the weight is distributed more evenly (the split pads are pretty light in comparison to the center unit), but it’s a really good point of comparison in terms of size.

The Hori Split Pad Pro was a godsend for me on Switch for intense games like Metroid Dread (which really hurt my wrists with the usual joy-cons), so for me this feels unquestionably better. But everyone’s got different hands/wrists/arms/etc.

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Thanks for all the info, it’s really useful to have a real world opinion. Please do keep us updated how you get on with it.



Also, one addendum to my Dreamcast emulation woes: I usually play on real hardware, so apparently what I’m seeing is a problem with all Dreamcast emulators relating to emulating the console’s order-independent transparency. The issue’s well documented on this page and it looks like this (note the clipping in and around Sonic’s eyes):

So I take back my comments about the Steam Deck being worse at emulating Dreamcast than any other platform, that was my own inexperience talking.

I’m also going to be trying a different method for N64 and RetroArch emulation. The early guides recommended using a standalone emulator and/or installing RetroArch outside of Steam, but according to newer forum posts people seem to have better luck installing Steam RetroArch and the mupen64 core there.


My significant need is a d-pad as opposed to larger grips which led me to the Hori d-pad joy-con, and more recently to custom joy-con shells.

On that note, what is your assessment of button placement and general feel of the buttons on the Steam Deck?


I’m going to be honest, as a designer, I saw pictures of the button placement and thought “WTF are they thinking?” The buttons look so close to the corner, I couldn’t imagine that they felt comfortable. But what you can’t really tell on sight is that the side grips guide your hand into a certain position where the placement feels natural overall. The left stick felt a little far inward to me at first, but I got used to it very quickly… sort of like when I switch back and forth between the asymmetrical sticks of an Xbox gamepad to the symmetrical sticks of a DualShock controller, there was just a few minutes of dissonance before I settled in.

I have not played a lot of 2-D games yet, but the D-pad is almost identical in size and texture to an Xbox One controller, but it feels very different to press… it isn’t clicky like the Xbox One, more like an old-school D-pad. The face buttons are smaller than an Xbox controller’s but they aren’t low profile… they are raised and rounded quite a bit, so they feel a bit larger and easier to find. The triggers feel fine to me, the trackpads are nice to have but I don’t have much of an opinion about them yet since the games I play don’t really use them. The analog sticks are very similar in terms of size to the Switch, but they don’t feel exactly the same and its hard to explain why. I think they have a stronger spring back to their center position? Plus the tops feel different, but I assume that’s because they’re touch sensitive.


The tops of the analogue sticks are touch sensitive? They register input from contact as opposed or in addition to a push or click in?


Indeed! In addition to the L3/R3 click inward, they can detect touch input.

The only game I’ve used this in so far is Aperture Desk Job. Leaving your thumb resting on the right stick enables gyro controls.

There are also L4/L5 and R4/R5 buttons on the back of the grips which I have yet to use.


I was aware of the back paddles but had no idea it had touch sensitive sticks. I suspect we won’t see many games that use them l but it opens up interesting possibilities if there’s a chance you can map actions to them.

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