Is Steam Deck Still The Best Handheld You Can Get?

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The only handheld you need?

Story Highlight
  • The Steam Deck is far from the best-performing Handheld gaming console you can currently buy; however, its benefits are evident.
  • Steam Deck’s OS receives constant updates and fixes from Valve, offering an intuitive experience.
  • While not a PC replacement, the Steam Deck manages to offer the best out-of-the-box experience out of all of the handhelds.

The Steam Deck has had to go up against a lot of competition ever since its release. Despite that, I am constantly surprised by how well it has kept up with the competition. This got me thinking: is it still the best handheld you can purchase, or have newer products surpassed it?

Keeps Up In Terms Of Performance

Although newer handhelds such as the ROG Ally and the Legion Go outperform the Steam Deck in terms of performance, it can certainly hold its own against these newer rivals.

Steam Deck Performance
Steam Deck Performance (Image Via Gamers Nexus)

This becomes especially obvious when looking at low-wattage scenarios, where the Steam Deck goes toe-to-toe with most other devices.

Interestingly, the Steam deck is the cheapest among all of the newly released handhelds, which means you’ll undeniably be getting the best price-to-performance when going with the Steam deck.

A Flawless User Experience

Steam Deck's OS
Steam OS (Image Via Valve)

While the Steam deck might lag behind the competition when it comes to performance, it makes up for the performance gap with its well-designed OS. I found the Steam OS to be extremely simple and intuitive. In addition to that, Valve also pushes out dedicated updates for the OS as well as proton patches for games to ensure the system’s longevity.

The verified games list also allows users to get a seamless experience, with the Steam Deck launching into most games without any hiccups. That simply does not hold true for any other Windows-based handheld in the market, which might require some kind of tweaking before you can actually launch the game.

Don’t get me wrong; you can also get a flawless experience on other handhelds; however, your experience can vary depending on the game. The battery life is also a huge advantage for those who don’t want to remain plugged in for every gaming session.

Steam Deck's Battery Life
Steam Deck’s Battery Life (Image Via Gamers Nexus)

In comparison with the ASUS ROG Ally, we can see the Steam deck outlasts it by a decent margin. The longer battery life is something I personally look for on portable devices such as these ones.

The Best Ergonomics

In my opinion, Steam Deck’s ergonomics from a portability perspective are simply unmatched. Sure, you might get a detachable joystick on something like the Nintendo Switch or Lenovo Legion Go, but no other handheld nails the comfort as well as the Steam deck.

The Steam Deck essentially solves all those problems, providing easier-to-reach keys, an ergonomic design that feels good in the hand, and several keys on the back that can be customized to your liking.

Additionally, the trackpad can be a game-changer, especially in games where a cursor is required for navigation. Even something as simple as navigating the OS is made so much easier with the simple inclusion of a trackpad.

Not A PC Replacement

While the Steam deck does make sense as a secondary gaming device for anyone who already owns a capable machine, it doesn’t necessarily function as the best “PC Replacement”.

I mean, sure, you can watch videos, browse the internet, and even get some work done through the desktop mode; however, the lack of Windows as the operating system certainly limits a lot you can do with the device.

If I were looking for a full-blown laptop or PC replacement, I would be better off with a handheld like the ASUS ROG All or the Lenovo Legion Go, both of which come with Windows 11 preinstalled.

Windows 11 On Steam Deck
Windows 11 On Steam Deck (Image By LinusTechTips)

Unsurprisingly, installing Windows 11 on the Steam Deck isn’t the fix either. Since the Steam Deck is specifically designed for the Steam OS, installing Windows on it can result in a substantial performance decrease.

Steam Deck Rules!

Unlike other handheld manufacturers, Valve seems to have remained consistent with software updates and patches, and their plans to continue this signals a promising future for the device. Essentially, the steam deck compensates for its lack of raw performance with the software side of things.

Combine that with the recently released OLED variant that comes with extended battery life, and the Steam deck becomes a solid option. As long as you aren’t planning on replacing your desktop setup with the Steam Deck, I’d say that the Steam Deck still remains the best handheld in the market.

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