Is the Steam Deck the true Alternative to the Nintendo Switch or just a one-off?

Many people have their eye on the Steam Deck when it comes to gaming technology. This portable gaming console has impressive power in a profile that rivals the Nintendo Switch. But before you drop nearly $400 for the most basic model, take into consideration that it may not be the Switch-killer some think it to be.

What Does Steam Deck Offer?

The Steam Deck offers several fascinating developments for PC gaming by utilizing high-end consumer technology and a Nintendo-like design profile. However, unlike Nintendo’s current offering, the Steam Deck is undoubtedly more versatile in function, even working as a desktop computer when needed.

The Steam Deck comes at three price points that range from low-end to high-end PC gaming. These price points will offer different levels of performance for gamers worldwide and provide those with the money to spend, something that feels like a more premium product. 

As far as practical developments go, the internal memory of the baseline $399 model is decent enough but does not compare to NVMe internal storage of the higher tier models at $529 and $649, respectively, especially for game performance.

The Nintendo Difference

The biggest reason for the Nintendo Switch’s success is not hardware but access to first-party Nintendo games. That works against the Steam Deck as a Switch competitor. The Switch is the only way to play Mario, Zelda, and Splatoon. However, many significant games in similar genres are available in the massive Steam interface.

Another consideration for the mass-market appeal of the Switch, when they can be found, is that the system is more affordable than the Steam Deck. Even the most premium version of the Nintendo Switch, the newer OLED model, is still around $50 less than even the basic Steam Deck.

While the hardware isn’t as powerful as the Steam Deck, it sometimes comes to having enough to buy a game to go with the new system. At $299 for a standard Nintendo Switch and $199 for a Switch Lite, the value proposition is quite the incentive, but don’t underestimate Steam sales for great games Valve has some work to do from the first party game standpoint, but the library is vast, and Steam Deck owners would essentially have access to that and then some.

Can Steam Deck Be Upgraded?

One thing to note in favor of the Steam Deck is that it will be relatively painless to repair and replace parts. Despite the portable profile, the Steam Deck has a lot in common with PC gaming tech.

So much so that Valve has partnered with gaming tech company IFixit to provide necessary components as needed for end-users. Repairing a Switch or upgrading it is certainly not as easy.

The most significant downside for the Steam Deck compared to a gaming PC is that users cannot upgrade the Steam Deck as it currently stands. While the tech has been licensed to other companies, it may be a while before upgradable alternatives hit the market.

Steam Deck: Futureproof?

The primary question is if the Steam Deck will be a gaming device that will continue into future iterations or go in the direction of the Steam Link. We’ll get a good sense of that soon enough as this latest batch of Valve gaming tech arrives this month for the first of those who pre-ordered it.

David D. | Feb. 02/21/2022 | 1:38AM

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