Steam Deck Review 2024 – Forbes

I’m obsessed with the Steam Deck. Not just because I can play through my untouched gaming back catalogue and not because it’s the hot new portable gaming device—but because it has created time for me to play games. The hours of free time in my teens and twenties disappeared a long time ago. The Steam Deck however has found a place in my schedule. A spare 45 minutes while dinner is in the oven? Deck. Lunch break? Deck. Creative block as I type this article? A quick run on Nex Machina.
The Steam Deck allows you to take your Steam account—and all its games—with you on the go.
After stalking the Steam Deck subreddit for months parents and other time-poor folks are also seeing a revitalization of their dormant gaming habits because of Valve’s console. Whatever demographic I occupy, I have spent the last four months playing, tinkering, worrying and generally enjoying this device. So here are my long-term thoughts on the Steam Deck.
Price: Between $400 and $900 (Amazon pricing) | Processor: AMD APU | Display: 7-inch, 1280 x 800 IPS LCD, 60Hz refresh rate| Battery: 40Whr | Dimensions: 298mm x 117mm x 49mm | Weight: 669g | Storage: 256GB, 512GB and 1TB

The Steam Deck, to be blunt, is a hefty beast. Recently, I spotted someone playing a Switch Lite on the train and mistook it as a mid-sized phone with a Bluetooth controller attached. In contrast, the Deck offers a vastly more bulky design than other handheld gaming devices. There’s good reason for this, as it runs the latest AAA games, which necessitates its girth.
Valve has done a good job of minimizing the Deck’s size by making it as ergonomic as possible. The handles curve to your grip, while the trigger buttons are well placed—no need to stretch any fingers to reach them. The only awkwardly-placed buttons are the rear grips, which are too stiff and require hand realignment to press.
The Steam Deck’s design features an ergonomic grip.
The matte finish makes the Deck feel premium and sturdy against accidental bumps and scrapes, though it feels a little heavy at 1.5 pounds. It’s a fair trade-off; all of this combined feels like you got your money’s worth.
The trackpads are responsive and textured.
The device also has a few customization hallmarks of a PC gaming machine, including expandable storage. If you’re feeling brave, you can add your own NVMe SSD, although Valve warns any tinkering voids the warranty. Also included are a headphone jack port and a USB-C connection. In a true tinkerer’s heaven, I bought a right angle USB-C adaptor to put less strain on the port when charging and playing. I’ve also seen people 3D print all sorts of stands and cases for their Decks over at r/SteamDeck. The customization options are wide and ambitious, you will be able to tailor your experience to the finest detail.
The 7-inch screen feels immersive and appropriately large for the bulky chassis. Games look excellent, too. It’s a benefit of handheld devices; you don’t need a high resolution panel because the screen is smaller, and therefore has a comparatively high pixel density. So the Deck’s 720p resolution may sound low, but it doesn’t matter on a display of this size.
I was surprised at how detailed and sharp all games looked on the console, particularly more modern games. There’s a sweet spot of graphic quality and performance that applies to games released three or four years ago. Games like Metro Exodus, or one of the GTA 5 remasters, look fantastic. The graphics experience gets better if you decide to stream games from your PC, Xbox or PlayStation 5—more on that later.
Horizon Zero Dawn on the Deck looks incredible.
Colors are vibrant too, although at higher brightness levels it can look a bit washed out. The maximum brightness does a solid job in almost all scenarios, except for bright direct sunlight. I played Horizon Zero Dawn on a long train journey on a sunny day and even with brightness at full, I couldn’t see enough of the action to enjoy the game. There’s also the double whammy of high brightness settings tanking the battery life when at full blast. In the Deck’s defense, even the most absurdly bright smartphones struggle in these environments.
What I would have liked to see is an OLED panel for deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. A lot of the darker horror games, like Alien Isolation, would really benefit from an OLED screeen—all games would. I suspect Valve will make an OLED model of the Deck in the near future, or make an OLED option for the Deck 2. But for now, this is the screen we get, and it’s just okay.
SteamOS is the perfect interface for the Deck, as you’d expect. It’s clean and simple to use, presenting your games in big blocks when you boot the console up. In game sub-menus, you can tweak settings, see game information, browse community content and more.
The library is well organized too. Steam has sections for your installed games, your games that work best on Deck and non-steam games you have sideloaded onto the device. The list of verified titles is growing too, currently sitting at over 5,000 with more being added regularly.
The Steam Deck’s library is well organised and simple to use.
In terms of how the Steam Deck handles performance, the short answer is: outstanding. I have a real range of games that test the console in different ways. Older, less intensive, games like Alien Isolation run perfectly—even on the highest settings. The same goes for less intensive games. I downloaded and played Hades, Shredder’s Revenge and Nex Machina with maximum settings without problems.
GTA V runs smoothly at high graphics settings with the frame rate and refresh rate boosted to maximum. I get a consistent 60 frames per second and it looks excellent. It performs so well, at times I’m in disbelief that the games run so smoothly on a portable console.
I really wanted to test the Deck, though. So I downloaded Horizon Zero Dawn—the former PlayStation exclusive about killing robot dinosaurs with wooden spears. But that isn’t the least believable thing about the game; it’s the fact that it works so well on the Steam Deck. You will have to tinker with settings here, though. I have graphics set to just above medium, favoring performance instead of quality with the refresh rate set to 45Hz. This seems to produce the most solid and stable performance while still looking great. But it took me some time to get here because I spent the first few playing hours finding this balance, which may not be for everyone. PC gamers, however, will know this process all too well.
With some high-end RPGs successfully under my best, I booted up Red Alert 3. This isn’t a verified game, but considered “playable” by Steam, which means it will take some additional tinkering to run on the console. Aside from adjusting the resolution and graphics settings to the maximum, it worked very well, and I played for some time without any crashes.
For games that aren’t fully compatible with the Steam Deck, you may run into a learning curve with the controls because Red Alert 3 is supposed to be played with a mouse and keyboard. I kept referring to the Deck’s controller layout to find what replaced the Shift key, for example. But once I had the hang of it, it was a lot of fun.
The Steam Deck’s vent blasts out heat.
While my gaming was generally positive, I noticed some significant performance issues during testing. When the device wakes from sleep, game performance gets impacted. With Horizon Zero Dawn, I had serious framerate crashes and stuttering when playing after the console had been asleep. I had to restart the console to fix it, which is an issue if you’re playing a roguelike game. It doesn’t happen every time, but it does happen frequently enough to be annoying.
Another minor issue: You also can’t download games while the device is in sleep mode. It has to be awake with the screen on, which seems a bit backwards. Hopefully Valve can push out an update in the near future to solve this.
There are some nice touches all throughout the device. For example, I use wired headphones for when I’m playing online because of the superior mic quality. If you want to see the best possible graphics on the Deck, streaming games from your PS5, PC or Xbox Series X is a good route to go down. You’ll need to be on the same network and download some software to make it work (although Steam’s built-in Steam Link feature works automatically with your PC), but it’s absolutely worth it. This opens up your wider gaming library to the Steam Deck and means you can continue your big screen games anywhere in the house.
Battery life is not good. You will need to be near a charger if you want to play for any extended time, particularly if you want to play graphics-intensive games. Elden Ring, Uncharted and Horizon Zero Dawn last for less than two hours—and that’s if you’re economical about power management. It’s not really a surprise that these games, which were not designed for portable consoles, don’t last for very long, but that doesn’t change the fact that their portability is severely limited.
There is better news for games like Hades and Shredder’s Revenge, which will get closer to four hours. I find that on longer trips away from a power socket I tended to favor the less intensive games to get the most out of the machine. Ironic, since it’s supposed to be able to handle the AAA titles for an extended period of time.
That being said, this was Valve’s first portable console, and based on its popularity—when it launched, the waitlist was quarters out into the next year—I expect we will get a new iteration of this model in the future. One that, if Valve is listening, will have an improved battery life for these heavier titles.
The Steam Deck has revived my love gaming because it burrowed its way into my busy, boring adult schedule. I love my PS5, but it feels like a significant time commitment is needed to boot it up and play. I’m doing so less often and when I do, I always think ‘why did I leave it for so long’. Bills, housework and responsibilities are the answer. In-between those things the Steam Deck has a place because I can play it anywhere.
The Steam Deck is a gaming monster.
The battery life, however, is a concern. Even with the least intensive games you will struggle to get more than four hours of play time out of the console. A portable power pack is a solution, but it just means another heavy thing to carry.
Valve has done an excellent job of catering to different levels of technical skill, too. For those who want to dive into desktop mode tinkering, that option is there. For people who want to pick up and play, you can do that too. Valve has smartly identified which games work well on the Deck with its verified program, so users aren’t left in the wilderness trying to make a random game work properly.
For now though, just make sure you’re near a power outlet.
I’m a London-based freelance journalist who has been writing for Forbes for over nine years. I specialize in all aspects of technology including reviews, investigations, commentary and news.
For over a decade, I’ve reviewed consumer technology for several major publications including The Guardian, BBC, Independent, TechRadar and more. I’m also the co-host of Audible’s The Squid Scam: Hunting the NFT Con Artists.
I have played the Steam Deck every place conceivable. On long haul flights, on a lot of train rides and all over my house. I’ve streamed games from my PC, plugged in a mouse and keyboard to tinker in desktop mode and tested almost everything this device can do. I’ve also played tens of indie and AAA games. I know the Steam Deck inside out.
Yes. Valve has a good a repair policy should you break the console, but you don’t want to be in that position in the first place. It’s a big piece of kit, so there’s a good chance it will slip from your hands. There’s also a fun accessories community of people 3D printing cases and stands for the Steam Deck—most of which you can find on Etsy.
If you purchase the Steam Deck through Amazon, the case comes with your purchase, as an FYI.
There are some oddities. You can’t download games while the device is in sleep mode, and I’ve noticed some small bugs here and there. But Valve is also releasing regular updates to fix most of them. Some users have reported inconsistent performance, which they have subsequently had to send back to Valve for a fix.
Keep an eye on the Steam Deck community on Reddit if you’re Deck starts glitching, and see if anyone is having similar issues.
Yes, many. The handheld PC gaming space has grown competitive in the last few years. You’ll find some excellent devices out there that comfortably rival the Steam Deck, like the Asus ROG Ally portable gaming console. The problem is that whereas the Steam Deck tells you exactly what you can play, the ROG Ally doesn’t share compatibility, and you’re left playing a guessing game.
And of course, there’s always the Nintendo Switch, and while it now offers an OLED screen and improved battery life, you’ll find the that offerings will be more limited (no Tomb Raider franchise, as just example). It really comes down to your personal preference on what you choose as your portable gaming device.
Forbes Vetted regularly covers all types of consumer electronics and then reviews and recommends the best products in specific categories. If you decide to invest in the Asus ROG Ally, here are some other articles you might enjoy reading to upgrade your gaming experience:


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