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Valve’s mid-cycle refresh, the Steam Deck OLED, stands as a testament to technological finesse, reminiscent of the Switch OLED upgrade. This portable PC powerhouse brings a host of enhancements, from HDR and increased storage to improved thermals, promising an elevated gaming experience.
Visual Marvel: OLED Screen Takes Center Stage
The star of the show is the OLED screen, replacing the original LCD. This upgrade not only brings native HDR support but also boasts faster frame rates. The 7.4-inch display, with smaller bezels, enhances the overall visual experience, providing pure blacks and a peak brightness of 1,000 nits, a significant leap from the original’s 400 nits. The absence of variable refresh rates is compensated by a smooth 90Hz capability, a notable improvement over the previous 60Hz limit.
Extended Gameplay: Battery Life and Efficiency
Addressing a historic concern, Valve claims the Steam Deck OLED’s battery life sees an impressive 30 to 50 percent boost, with faster charging. The die-shrunk custom AMD APU contributes to improved efficiency, maintaining performance targets without the need for developers to adapt to new hardware. Despite retaining the original’s size, subtle adjustments, like a larger fan and increased battery size, make the device feel more balanced and manageable.
Quality of Life Improvements
The OLED model excels in gameplay, offering sharper visuals, more responsive controls, and enhanced haptic feedback. Battery life improvements are evident in real-world testing, with the OLED lasting significantly longer than its predecessor, even under stress tests with graphics-intensive titles like Elden Ring. Notably, heat management is upgraded, providing a more comfortable gaming experience.
Connectivity and Speed: Wi-Fi 6E and Improved Antennas
The inclusion of a new Wi-Fi 6E module and improved antennas enhances download speeds, promising faster connectivity for users with compatible routers. The Steam Deck OLED incorporates Bluetooth 5.3 with a dedicated antenna, ensuring seamless functionality when using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth simultaneously.
The Future of Portable PC Gaming
While the Steam Deck OLED remains sizable, it asserts itself as a leading choice for in-home portable gaming. The device comes bundled with an extra-long charging cable, emphasizing its couch-friendly design. Valve’s commitment to software updates and game optimization for the handheld reflects its dedication to advancing portable PC gaming.
Availability and Pricing
Valve announces the Steam Deck OLED’s availability on November 16th at 1pm ET, with units ready to ship on the same day. The company has adjusted prices for the LCD lineup, offering the 256GB model at a reduced price of $400. The OLED variants include a 512GB model priced at $550 and a 1TB model at $650. Additionally, a limited edition 1TB OLED version, featuring a special carrying case and unique aesthetics, is available for $680.
The Verdict: A Definitive Upgrade
According to Valve developers, the HDR OLED model represents the definitive version of the Steam Deck. This mid-cycle refresh, while not the Steam Deck 2, introduces substantial improvements, making it a noteworthy upgrade for gaming enthusiasts. The Steam Deck OLED is a polished, enhanced version that reaffirms Valve’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of portable PC gaming, setting the stage for potential future innovations.
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