A month with Steam Deck, Valve’s portable bet: is it really worth it?

Steam Deck has overcome the barrier of its first month on the market. The initial shipments of the laptop have already been distributed among customers with a reservation prior to the second quarter of 2022. At FreeGameTips we have had the opportunity to spend this period with it. How has it developed in practice? Worth? We tell you our impressions after a month of use.

From the box to the game: more shadows than lights

There is no doubt that the potential of Steam Deck is present in this first model. Valve is clear about the concepts it wants to bring to this market niche, but in practice there are still many issues to resolve. The first and most obvious is to improve the experience out of the box, How do you say in english. At least in the state of launch, it’s not a laptop that’s aimed at the general public. The enthusiastic player profile, used to overcoming software obstacles, fits better in this phase of the machine.

We are forceful in this sense due to the difficulties and rough edges that we have encountered along the way. At the software level it is not yet ready; conveys the feeling of requiring at least half a year of updates to reach an optimal point. Unexpected closures, delays when performing actions in the menus, or loss of WiFi connection when browsing the store are constant. There have been many times that when redeeming a code we are shown an error screen, among other common actions.

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When it comes time to launch a game, the experience is split based on the title and its status within the verification system. if it counts with the green signal, the highest value tag in its ranking, you will be able to play without fumbling between adjustments. The problems come when we are presented with the so-called ‘playable’, yellow.

With the first installment of reboot de Hitmanfor example, we have not been able to get to the mission selection menu (and this one is verified). Planet Zoo crashes every two times three when loading a saved game. Grand Theft Auto V He suffers from crashes during the start of Social Club, which is solved by starting the game from the experimental version of Proton. Many of the boot problems we have solved this way, using a beta version of the operating system.

Who tells you? Inside the console, nobody. You must consult external pages of the style Protondb to learn more about the state of the games. That, or try yourself with Proton builds, tweaks, or workarounds you find online. Fortunately, choosing to run in a specific version is done at the click of a button. Trial and error until you hit the key.

It’s a shame that the release was done so prematurely. When it works, Steam Deck gives you an excellent experience. Games like Euro Truck Simulator 2 or Prey render with native support. You can take desktop titles anywhere with a more than decent visual quality. And all this adjustable in case you want to prioritize performance or battery life. At FreeGameTips we shared the performance of a varied selection of titles.

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Portable… to what extent?

There’s no question about it: size matters when it comes to portable rigs. Head-to-head with other rivals further highlights the dimensions of the Steam Deck. On paper the numbers are clear. 298 mm x 117 mm x 49 mm with an approximate weight of 669 grams. In practice? Yes, it’s big, but it’s also very comfortable.

A person with small hands should not be afraid to hold it for hours. Both ends of the chassis have a mango shape that grips the hand naturally. The stop of the middle and ring fingers sits right on the two back buttons of each lake, which provides a good feel. It seems more comfortable to us than the solution adopted on Nintendo Switch.

Something that is uncomfortable for us is the fan. It stays in the background during your session, mixed with the sound of the game in turn. Get unfocused, it is impossible for it to go unnoticed. It is also true that the volume varies according to the needs to dissipate the heat of the game that you use at that moment. The most demanding are usually those 3D that point to 60 images per second. With The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt it flies.

But the fan is not the only thing that flies when controlling Geralt of Rivia. We refer to the battery, one of the critical points of Steam Deck. At medium to high settings at 800p resolutionthe laptop can’t stand a Madrid-London round trip In the same day. About an hour and a half it takes to consume the full capacity with him running.

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We have a comfortable laptop at the controls, touch premium and good screen, which however falters in an essential element to take it out of the house. The company offers some adjustments to be able to extend the battery, such as the possibility of limiting the thermal power, manually controlling the frequency of the GPU or selecting the scaling filter. All of them options that are a plus for those who want to maximize the options case by case, game by game. But they are options that require knowledge in the field. Browsing through forums until someone shares the right fit is another option.

Conclusions

It is up to Valve to adopt the necessary solutions to stabilize the experience at the user level. Currently it is difficult to recommend its purchase within the general market. Steam Deck is a portable capable of offering the best and the worst of a new product on the market. When it works, it’s a real blast. It allows you to extend the use of your Steam library beyond your desktop. When not, you find too many obstacles in your way. There is no doubt that they have the opportunity to fill a gap in the market with potential. The feeling right now, unfortunately, is to be at the controls of a trial balloon starting at 419 euros.