News Steam Deck Hardware Analysis: A Potent Handheld for 720p Gaming

cknobman

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I think you are being overly pessimistic in regards to the performance this little machine will be capable of.
Think of the Xbox One and PS4 and what they were capable of.
This little handheld has over twice the processing power and more graphics power than either of those machines.
Plus its targeting a lower resolution.

I think this little machine will do wonders for serious handheld gamers and give us the capability to game on the go with a lot of PC games.
I do agree the storage is concerning but hopefully Steam/Valve does implement some kind of smart distribution that gets rid of all the high res texture packs that would take up space and never be used.

I preordered a 256gb version.
I dont think there is a game currently in my Steam library (except maybe Breakpoint??) that this little handheld wont play just fine.
 

husker

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User interface matters. It matters a lot. It's one of those things that, if it is done right, gamers won't even notice -- but if done poorly is a total disaster. Since PC games are not designed for a handheld device, I think no matter how good the hardware is, the user experience will just feel sub-par. Devices like the Switch have games designed for the Switch so even if Steam Deck's FPS and resolution and storage space are superior, that all fades into the background if the overall user interface feels forced.
 
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User interface matters. It matters a lot. It's one of those things that, if it is done right, gamers won't even notice -- but if done poorly is a total disaster. Since PC games are not designed for a handheld device, I think no matter how good the hardware is, the user experience with just feel sub-par. Devices like the Switch have games designed for the Switch so even if Steam Deck's FPS and resolution and storage space are superior, that all fades into the background if the overall user interface feels forced.
Steam already has Big Screen Mode which delivers the so-called 10-foot UI experience. The screencaps of what they showed look like a more tailored version of that. The games themselves are of course hit or miss, but a lot of games I've played that were released in the past 5+ years have excellent support for controllers and Steam itself is compatible with basically every controller from the major players. Plus the Deck has a touchscreen, which anything that uses point and click works just fine with (though precision is going to be lacking).
 
I think Microsoft will be looking at this experiment from Valve reaaaaally close.

And I do agree with most of the points in the article, except that RDNA2 is going to leave Vega in the dust. I'm pretty sure it will be a step up, but I wouldn't say it's going to leap-frog it as you're thinking. There's a reason why AMD is still using Vega in the current APUs. I do find strange not using Zen3 though, but given the real performance difference in the mobile APUs and CPU components, for this environment, I think it's fine to go with Zen2; it was probably cheaper as well, so they could leverage RDNA2 and DDR5 as well. And I have a hunch this could be using TSMC's 7nm node, but I wish they're testing 6nm with it.

Cautiously Optimistic indeed.

Regards.
 
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JarredWaltonGPU

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I think you are being overly pessimistic in regards to the performance this little machine will be capable of.
Think of the Xbox One and PS4 and what they were capable of.
This little handheld has over twice the processing power and more graphics power than either of those machines.
Plus its targeting a lower resolution.

I think this little machine will do wonders for serious handheld gamers and give us the capability to game on the go with a lot of PC games.
I do agree the storage is concerning but hopefully Steam/Valve does implement some kind of smart distribution that gets rid of all the high res texture packs that would take up space and never be used.

I preordered a 256gb version.
I dont think there is a game currently in my Steam library (except maybe Breakpoint??) that this little handheld wont play just fine.
I'm not sure you're reading our thoughts properly.

From the intro: "As such, the hardware might not feel nearly as fast as we'd like. Or at least, that was our initial concern, but after poking around at some lesser GPUs and APUs, we're confident that the Steam Deck will be able to handle just about any game at its native 1280x800 resolution."
The subtitle: "The Steam Deck’s GPU should do at least 30 fps at 720p on almost any title."
The conclusion: "The point is that even with some very demanding games, slower-than-Steam Deck hardware did quite well at 720p, and a faster AMD APU will do even better."

Compared to a desktop, yeah, it will feel slow. Slower storage, slower CPU, slower GPU, all constrained by the 15W TDP. But for a handheld? It will be plenty fast for properly designed games. So, games targeting hardware that looks like the PS4 or Xbox One, with a faster CPU? Yeah, they'll run great. Games like Cyberpunk 2077 that have a lot of NPCs and tend to hit CPU and GPU harder than most other games? They'll land closer to 30 fps. Future games that go after extreme desktop PC performance might have issues. But the vast majority of games should run just fine.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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I think Microsoft will be looking at this experiment from Valve reaaaaally close.

And I do agree with most of the points in the article, except that RDNA2 is going to leave Vega in the dust. I'm pretty sure it will be a step up, but I wouldn't say it's going to leap-frog it as you're thinking. There's a reason why AMD is still using Vega in the current APUs. I do find strange not using Zen3 though, but given the real performance difference in the mobile APUs and CPU components, for this environment, I think it's fine to go with Zen2; it was probably cheaper as well, so they could leverage RDNA2 and DDR5 as well. And I have a hunch this could be using TSMC's 7nm node, but I wish they're testing 6nm with it.

Cautiously Optimistic indeed.

Regards.
We've tweaked some of the CPU and GPU discussions, but you have to remember that Vega 8 is generally limited to DDR4-3200 memory speeds, plus it's an older and less efficienct architecture. Putting a 16 CU Vega chip into an APU just wouldn't make sense without more memory bandwidth, and the 8 CU RDNA2 architecture could end up with similar requirements. Except, with LPDDR5-5500, that's 72% more memory bandwidth (though probably worse latency). Anyway, my rough seat-of-the-pants math says each RDNA2 CU should be 50–75% faster than a Vega CU. Adding in 72% more memory bandwidth would go right along with that increase in comput performance. If a 50% or more increase in relative performance is "leapfrogging," then I think RDNA2 can do that. But the 15W TDP will likely still limit the improvement, which I probably should have made clearer.

As for Zen 3 vs. Zen 2, I think that's far less of a concern. The big changes with Zen 3 revolve around using a unified 8-core CCX and 32MB L3 cache. This chip will only have a 4-core CCX and probably 8MB L3 or something (it might be 16MB). So, that kills off most of the Zen 3 advantage. Plus it's a monolithic design with integrated graphics, which means it needed more space for the GPU and video stuff. The LPDDR5 interface might have also increased relative die size over a DDR4 interface.

Overall, though, it still looks impressive. It should easily beat any of the other current generation handhelds mentioned in the article, like Aya Neo and GPD Win3. It will also inevitably have much higher volumes than those handhelds, and hopefully better design elements, plus even the 512GB model costs about half as much as the base model Win3. And yet, it's also still double the price of a Switch, more or less. Success is by no means guaranteed, but it could be good. Maybe. LOL
 
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If putting windows on the system won't increase the use of resources, such as ram and even storage?
 

AtrociKitty

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I won't deny this is nice hardware for the price, but I can't stand everyone acting as though this is some sort of new form-factor.

Has no one seen the GPD Win 3 or GPD Win Max before?
 
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Remember that as a portable, battery life is a big factor. Using 1280x720 and 30fps is a way to stretch battery life, which has a stated range of 2-8 hours. That also begs the question if why you wouldn't buy a full size laptop? It will be very interesting if TomsHardware did a review of the 512GB model vs a similarly priced laptop.

https://www.ign.com/articles/steam-deck-valve-faq-big-questions-answered
 
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I don't see any mainstream demographics buying this to play AAA third party games at 720p 30fps on low settings. Especially for the asking price.
Beware - today's Valve fanboys are worst than Heaven's Gate. I think it'll get a lot of use for piracy and emulators, but ultimately fails to reach outside the cult demographic.
 
I think you are being overly pessimistic in regards to the performance this little machine will be capable of.
Think of the Xbox One and PS4 and what they were capable of.
They did a lot of dynamic resolution and where dropping below 30 quite often in demanding titles.
(Talking about the original versions not the pro/s/x )
This is going to be stronger and will play most things adequatly.
Is this insanity?

A 'gaming' hand-held... 720p and 30fps. Repeat that last little bit... 30fps. Gaming. 30fps.

Nah.
Pah, your weakness disgust me.
Back in my days getting 12 FPS with some games was a god tier gaming PC.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

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Is this insanity?

A 'gaming' hand-held... 720p and 30fps. Repeat that last little bit... 30fps. Gaming. 30fps.

Nah.
I don't see any mainstream demographics buying this to play AAA third party games at 720p 30fps on low settings. Especially for the asking price.
That's the minimum expected performance. As noted elsewhere, plenty of games will run at well above 30 fps. Just like on consoles. But stuff like Cyberpunk, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and other 'heavy' titles will probably land a lot closer to 30 fps than 60 fps, even at 1280x800 and low/minimum quality settings. Just because some games will prove a bit too much for the Steam Deck doesn't mean it's bad or that no games will run smoothly.
 
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That's the minimum expected performance. As noted elsewhere, plenty of games will run at well above 30 fps. Just like on consoles. But stuff like Cyberpunk, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and other 'heavy' titles will probably land a lot closer to 30 fps than 60 fps, even at 1280x800 and low/minimum quality settings. Just because some games will prove a bit too much for the Steam Deck doesn't mean it's bad or that no games will run smoothly.
People who don't care about performance care about games. Valve doesn't have the brand power to push this device out side it's cult demographic and even with our entire Steam library we aren't getting anything new.
 

waltc3

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"Potent 720P gameplay" I had to laugh when I read that ; ) But...different strokes for different folks, I guess. Here's another sort-of-console for the mobile market that people will argue over endlessly, discussing tiny ramifications & product points like monks arguing over how many angels sit on the head of a pin. Really, though, in this shortage of decent, MSRP-priced 3d hardware, little things like this are inevitable. Won't it be wonderful when hardware manufacturing has returned to normal? Speaking of that--wonder how current shortages will affect the supply of these things. It'll be great, won't it, when we can actually discuss among ourselves products other than vaporware?....;)

The things I want out of gaming are 4k resolutions, 60 fps (I'll take less if it's stutter-free), great wide-Gamut SDR color, great HDR, great earphone sonics, and of course a game that keeps me interested from start to finish. Tall order? Seems to be. So a lot of my preferences necessarily depend on performance; but I don't seek the highest frame-rates, what trips my trigger is the highest IQ I can manage, I guess--I'm very flexible when it comes to frame rates--I just want enough to avoid the occasional stutter, and I'm good...;)

Obviously, then, the Steam Deck is not for me--just as Gabe's past hardware has not been for me, either. But I don't do consoles, either. Never did like "boom boxes," either, come to think of it, when I was much younger...so long ago, in another galaxy...!
 
I don't see any mainstream demographics buying this to play AAA third party games at 720p 30fps on low settings. Especially for the asking price.
Of course they won't. They'll buy it to play other, less demanding games that are still fun on the go. If there wasn't a market for this, why does GPD and others who make handheld portable PCs continue to push out a product?

People who don't care about performance care about games. Valve doesn't have the brand power to push this device out side it's cult demographic and even with our entire Steam library we aren't getting anything new.
I see a lot of people who are interested in this that don't seem to be a part of this "cult demographic" you speak of.

Did GabeN ruin your life or something? You seem to have a vendetta against Valve for no apparent reason.
 
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Of course they won't. They'll buy it to play other, less demanding games that are still fun on the go. If there wasn't a market for this, why does GPD and others who make handheld portable PCs continue to push out a product?


I see a lot of people who are interested in this that don't seem to be a part of this "cult demographic" you speak of.

Did GabeN ruin your life or something? You seem to have a vendetta against Valve for no apparent reason.
We're all adults here I think we can comfortably admit the Valve community is a cult.

Valve should create their own Game Pass service and include 12 months with purchase of Steam Deck. We shouldn't praise Valve for being mediocre. They need content we can't get anywhere else. Until than it's just a glorified Nvidia shield no one needs.
 
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watzupken

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I think you are being overly pessimistic in regards to the performance this little machine will be capable of.
Think of the Xbox One and PS4 and what they were capable of.
This little handheld has over twice the processing power and more graphics power than either of those machines.
Plus its targeting a lower resolution.

I think this little machine will do wonders for serious handheld gamers and give us the capability to game on the go with a lot of PC games.
I do agree the storage is concerning but hopefully Steam/Valve does implement some kind of smart distribution that gets rid of all the high res texture packs that would take up space and never be used.

I preordered a 256gb version.
I dont think there is a game currently in my Steam library (except maybe Breakpoint??) that this little handheld wont play just fine.
I don’t always agree with the reviewers here, but in this case, I feel while the system have a decent spec, it may not be up to some people’s expectations. This is especially so if you are one looking at shiny high end graphics setting. Even with RDNA2 iGPU, the low power limit is going to limit clockspeed for both the CPU and GPU which will hurt performance.

There is no point comparing this with last gen Xbox or Playstation console. While the pair are badly CPU limited, games that appear on it generally works (though it may run sub 30 FPS from time to time) because game developers will need to make it work. On the PC side of things, this is usually not the case. Developers provide a minimal specs, and in every case, iGPU tend to fall quite a fair bit below. So some modern games may not run well or even run at all for iGPU.

Conceptually I like the mobility with Steam deck just like how I enjoy using the Nintendo Switch. But the reason for PC gaming is really to push the graphics envelop or run at a high framerate from my point of view. Both reasons are unlikely to be met by the Steam deck unfortunately. This will most likely work very well for people running emulators or for playing light/ older games.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY