Is the Steam Deck Worth It in 2023? Our Experience So Far 

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Valve’s Steam Deck (starting at $399) is arguably the finest handheld console ever made. That isn’t to say it’s perfect, but tech-wise, it blows away machines like the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita. The fact that such a small machine can run Steam games is akin to magic. Valve has created a technological m

The Steam Deck from Valve, which retails for $399, is arguably the best handheld console ever produced. This is not to say that it is perfect, but in terms of technology, it is superior to devices like the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Switch. It’s like magic that a small computer can run Steam games. A technological marvel has been created by Valve.

Steam Deck is a good game, but it’s still a work in progress. The touch-based controls aren’t as precise as I had hoped they would be, and you can’t play every game in your Steam library. The battery life also falls short of expectations. In future updates, Valve may (and probably will) address some of these issues. In point of fact, Valve even made the admission that it has been quietly implementing a few minor hardware upgrades as issues are discovered. However, this handheld is precisely what I wanted, even in its current state.

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It was interesting to test the Steam Deck using our usual methods because we could only use verified Steam Deck titles. We might have tried games that hadn’t been verified (more on that below), but those probably wouldn’t have been accurate.

On Steam Deck, we ran a few of the standard benchmarks to see what we could test. On High (the default setting), Assassin’s Creed Odyssey ran at an average of 38 frames per second, but on Ultra High, it ran at 23 frames per second. On medium, DiRT 5 achieved an average frame rate of 23 fps.

Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk 2077 both feature a “Steam Deck” graphical mode that optimizes handheld games. Unexpectedly, Cyberpunk 2077 achieved 29 frames per second in Ultra and Steam Deck mode. On Ultra settings, it would probably perform worse. We don’t know what causes these numbers to be similar. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the well-optimized Doom Eternal runs smoothly at 60 frames per second across the board.

Is Steam Deck Really Worth it?

The Steam Deck has four cores of AMD’s Zen 2 microarchitecture and an AMD RDNA 2 GPU, giving it a combined APU power of approximately 1.6 teraflops. The Steam Deck’s capabilities are roughly comparable to those of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for ease of comparison. Despite this, the Steam Deck should perform slightly better in practice than the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One due to its lower 720p resolution. It is also important to note that none of the price points differ in terms of performance; instead, the price includes an anti-glare etched glass screen at the highest point, faster storage between models, and more.


comfortable to hold,
large 7-inch screen,
Sturdy and light,
extensive Steam games library, and
user-friendly SteamOS 3.0 interface

Does not work with all Steam games.
A bit bulky

Photo by Petar Vukobrat on Unsplash

There is a significant aspect of the Steam Deck that must be taken into consideration. Even though Steam has more than 50,000 games in its library, none of those games were actually made with the Steam Deck in mind. It will still work well for the majority of PC games that are designed to be played with controllers or that generally require less precision than a mouse and keyboard.

However, the most popular games that currently dominate Steam’s top most-played list are eliminated by that criteria alone. Currently, CS: Dota 2, PUBG, Rust, and Apex Legends are the following most popular games on Steam. Unless they choose to use the Steam Deck like a PC and connect a mouse and keyboard, Rust appears to be the only game on that list where an on-the-go player can compete. Clearly, there is not much of a reason to purchase a desktop PC at that point.

Last but not least, potential owners of Steam Deck should keep one final thing in mind. The official Steam Deck dock is not included in the current prices, so the total cost might start to get out of hand, especially at the higher end. Again, the Steam Deck appears to be worth it from nearly every angle. However, the official dock, peripherals like a mouse, keyboard, and headset like the Razer Barracuda X, as well as the 512 GB version with a significant MicroSD card to increase storage, continue to cost significantly more than the $649 starting price.