Do not Name It a Steam Deck 2

One of the best ways to explain Valve’s new Steam Deck OLED is that it’s the Steam Deck you’ve at all times wished. It’s acquired a greater show, a greater battery, and, hell, a greater every part. After spending a while with a brand new, up to date handheld gaming console, I discovered it exhausting to return to gaming on the smaller, dimmer display of the unique Steam Deck, which Valve is now referring to because the Steam Deck LCD.

This newest iteration introduces a ton of quality-of-life enhancements, successfully addressing practically all of the criticisms I had of the unique Steam Deck. Essentially the most notable upgrades embrace a vibrant HDR OLED show, prolonged battery life, and a lighter design.

Steam Deck OLED Design

Don’t name it a Steam Deck 2

Curiously, the Steam Deck OLED seems nearly equivalent to the unique LCD mannequin launched final 12 months. Valve determined to stay with the identical type issue; apart from the orange energy button, new all-black textured thumbsticks, and a barely bigger display, so much has stayed the identical.

Due to the thinner profile of an OLED panel in comparison with an LCD, Valve managed to suit a bigger 50Whr battery into the brand new mannequin, upgrading from the earlier 40Whr, whereas additionally decreasing the load by practically 30 grams to roughly 640 grams. A 30-gram distinction won’t appear substantial, however contemplating how heavy the Steam Deck LCD was, you could possibly really feel the distinction after utilizing it for some time.

Steam Deck OLED (high) Steam Deck LCD (backside)
Photograph: Artem Golub / Gizmodo

Throughout my go to to Seattle for a primary take a look at the OLED, Valve was adamant that this not be known as the “Steam Deck 2.” Valve’s Lawrence Yang, who labored on the brand new Deck, considers it the “definitive first-generation Steam Deck.” If Valve had been to launch the Steam Deck another time, this model can be it.

Oh, and I can’t neglect to say the brand new carrying case that now has a detachable velcro inside liner that acts as a smaller carry case, so it suits higher in a bag if you journey, taking over a lot much less house. As a frequent flyer who takes the Steam Deck on planes, the inconvenience of the case occupying half the house in a backpack was actually a ache.

Don’t Name it a Steam Deck 2 | Gizmodo Evaluation

Don’t Name it a Steam Deck 2 | Gizmodo Evaluation

Steam Deck OLED Show

It is among the greatest handheld shows round.

The HDR OLED contact show is not any joke. Image high quality however can also be noticeably brighter, boasting a peak brightness of 1000 nits. Furthermore, the OLED panel advantages from the next refresh charge of 90Hz, up from the earlier 60Hz. The diminished bezel measurement means you get extra display space with out growing the general measurement of the Deck.

Whereas taking part in Cult of the Lamb, the colours actually pop in a approach that the Steam Deck LCD can’t match. Blacks seem deep and wealthy, which is attribute of OLED expertise—that is because of the pixels being turned off to attain true black. Whenever you evaluate the identical sport on the OLED and LCD variations of the Steam Deck, the distinction is stark, like night time and day. It’s additionally fairly wild to have HDR help on a handheld gaming console.

Cyberpunk 2077 running on the Steam Deck OLED

The Steam Deck OLED will get about 25% to 40% higher battery life.
Photograph: Artem Golub / Gizmodo

I’ve spent fairly a while taking part in Cyberpunk 2077 with HDR enabled, which appears to be like improbable. Valve has indicated that video games with native HDR help will run on the Steam Deck OLED seamlessly, requiring no further effort from builders.

The brighter display makes out of doors play extra viable. I’ve loved just a few rounds of Mercenaries mode in Resident Evil 4 whereas out on the patio on a heat November afternoon with the solar shining, with out squinting in any respect in that notoriously darkish sport.

Steam Deck OLED Efficiency

Video games run the identical, however it’s a cooler, extra quiet expertise.

There isn’t a lot to say in regards to the Steam Deck OLED’s efficiency. Regardless of quite a few inner upgrades to the AMD APU that impression thermals and battery life, video games ought to run comparably to how they do on the Steam Deck LCD. A notable enchancment is that the brand new Steam Deck doesn’t overheat as a lot when dealing with demanding video games.

Launching video games and navigating by way of SteamOS is faster, providing a extra responsive person expertise. The trackpad has been refined and now presents much less finicky actions. Moreover, there’s an upgraded Bluetooth module with a devoted antenna, which considerably enhances connectivity with Bluetooth units like a headset—a welcome repair to a difficulty prevalent with the unique Steam Deck LCD (or no less than mine).

Cyberpunk 2077 running on the Steam Deck OLED.

Cyberpunk 2077 with HDR on.
Photograph: Jorge Jimenez / Gizmodo

Whereas there’s an extended record of minor enhancements within the Steam Deck OLED that I received’t element right here, it’s clear that Valve meticulously addressed each aspect of the Deck, enhancing every part from the audio system’ quantity to the texture of the joysticks.

Steam Deck Battery

The Steam Deck is lastly as moveable because it was meant to be.

Essentially the most vital improve, subsequent to the hanging OLED show, is the battery life. Valve claims that, relying on the sport, customers might even see a 30 to 50% enchancment in battery longevity. Our exams counsel a extra modest improve of about 25 to 40%; nevertheless, we performed these exams with video games working at full brightness, which aligns extra carefully with typical utilization or no less than how I like to make use of it.

Cyberpunk 2077, essentially the most resource-intensive sport I examined on the Steam Deck OLED, acquired roughly 2 hours of playtime over a number of classes. This marks a median enchancment of 30-45 minutes over the Steam Deck LCD.

Playing Armored Core VI on the Steam Deck OLED

The Steam Deck OLED runs at 90Hz.
Photograph: Artem Golub / Gizmodo

The indie hack and slasher Hades lasted round 6 hours, about 90 minutes longer than on the LCD model. The mecha motion sport Armored Core V: Fires of Rubicon” managed about two and a half hours of playtime, about 35 minutes higher than the unique {hardware}.

What I admire most in regards to the enhanced battery life is the flexibility to take pleasure in a number of gaming classes along with your favourite cozy like Stardew Valley (which lasted about six and a half hours with a 23% cost remaining) with out the fixed want to achieve for the ability cable.

Ought to I Purchase a Steam Deck OLED?

Now’s one of the best time to purchase a Steam Deck.

Whereas I’m fairly keen on the Steam Deck OLED, a part of me nonetheless yearns for a extra streamlined or mini model of the hand held. It’s nice that it’s lighter, however for many who discovered the unique mannequin cumbersome and heavy. You’ll have the identical complaints.

For present Steam Deck homeowners, the concept of shelling out one other $549+ for a brand new mannequin simply over a 12 months after the unique’s launch—regardless of the numerous enhancements—is perhaps a troublesome capsule to swallow. As I discussed earlier, if you see the brand new OLED show do its factor, it doesn’t wish to make the improve.

The Steam Deck OLED is one of the best handheld gaming system subsequent to the Nintendo Change OLED. The show is beautiful, making video games look higher than ever, and the prolonged battery life actually permits for extra time spent truly having fun with these video games.

It is probably not the Steam Deck 2 many hoped for, however it’s a powerful Steam Deck 1.5.

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