Steam Deck Vs. Nintendo Switch: All the major differences between both handheld gaming devices

Steam Deck Vs. Nintendo Switch: All the major differences between both handheld gaming devices

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Ever since it first released back in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has proven that players are still hungry for a way to enjoy their favourite games portably. Its success has led Nintendo to release various different SKUs and Switch models, with some people even calling for Sony to re-enter the handheld gaming space via the introduction of a so-called “PlayStation Vita 2”. Wouldn’t that be nice? Well, seemingly out of nowhere, Valve will soon try to lay a claim with the launch of the Steam Deck on December 1st later this year.

What is the Steam Deck? It’s essentially a handheld gaming PC that you can take with anywhere with you on the go. That’s why people – including us – have swiftly taken to comparing it to the Nintendo Switch, even though the Steam Deck isn’t strictly a console. Both are handheld gaming devices for sure. The Steam Deck may actually fulfil what many people wanted from a so-called ‘Switch Pro’, but we’re here to break down how Valve’s newly unveiled hardware compares to the standard Nintendo Switch model. Here’s all you need to know…

Steam Deck Vs. Nintendo Switch: Appearance

Upon first glance the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch look uncannily similar. Both feature a sizeable screen sandwiched between two grips featuring an analogue sticks and button controls, for instance, but there are a few key aesthetic differences worth noting. The first is that whereas the Nintendo Switch enables players to break off Joy-Cons for instant co-operative play, the Steam Deck’s button inputs are all purposefully built in. You cannot detach them until you just have the screen itself. Then there’s the fact that the analogue stick sit parallel from one another on Valve’s device. They are of course offset on the Nintendo Switch.

The most major aesthetic difference does actually relate to the controls, though, as in addition to sticks and buttons the Steam Deck also includes two mouse trackpads underneath on either side. It’s an ingenious touch that Valve hopes will make the Steam Deck ideal for playing PC games like Civilisation, XCOM and Tropico, where mouse-and-keyboard controls are typically preferred. Aside from that the Steam Deck appears much bulker than the standard Switch model. Expected given the extra oomph in hardware.

Steam Deck Vs. Nintendo Switch: Tech Specs

The Steam Deck has been purposefully built to run Triple-A blockbusters like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Control and others. It’s essentially a portable PC, of course! This unsurprisingly means that Valve’s device is running on tech that is significantly more powerful than what players have come to expect from the Nintendo Switch. But how do they compare in terms of specific specs? That’s what we’ve rounded up below:

Specs Steam Deck Nintendo Switch

Processor (CPU) 4-core 3.5GHz AMD Zen 2 4-core 1.02 GHz ARM 4
Size 11.7" x 4.6" x 1.8" 9.5" x 4" x 0.55"
Weight 1.47 pounds 0.88 pounds
Screen 7" 1280x800 60Hz LCD 6.2" 1280x720 60Hz LCD
Storage 64GB eMMC up to 512GB NVMe SSD 32GB (OLED Model, 64GB)
Battery Life 2-8 hours estimated 2.5-7 hours estimated
Docked output Up to 4K 120Hz 1080p
Audio 3.5mm Stereo Jack 3.5mm Stereo Jack

Steam Deck Vs. Nintendo Switch: Games

Games are where things get really interesting between the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch. Because while the latter has done a great job so far at providing an eclectic mix of indie and first-party titles, it’s no secret Nintendo’s hybrid console can’t handle those that are too graphically demanding. This is exactly the problem the Steam Deck is looking to solve, able to access the same Steam library on PC in all it’s entirety. If anything, the number of games that will be made available on the Steam Deck is almost too intimidating.

Of course, the one area where the Steam Deck won’t be able to compete with Nintendo Switch is in exclusive software. Because sure, while some games tend to launch as PC-only at first, they eventually spread to other platforms given enough success. And you’ll never see Nintendo first-party titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey come to the Steam Deck. Only on the Switch (and future Nintendo hardware) will you be able to play all the House of Mario’s biggest franchises. In this regard, both handheld systems have their perks.

Steam Deck Vs. Nintendo Switch: Price

When the Nintendo Switch launched on March 3rd, 2017, it launched at a price of £279.99. Well over four years on the hybrid console has held firm at this initial RRP, which many players would say still represents great value given the level of flexibility it affords you. The good news about Valve’s Steam Deck is that it won’t cost you much more than that – even when PC Gaming is widely considered to be the most expensive way to play games. Purchasing necessary components like graphics cards, monitors and others simply all adds up. However, the Steam Deck’s entry-level SKU retails in the UK for £349.

Notice how we said “entry-level”. Because while the £349 version will net you 64GB of onboard storage, Valve will be release two other options that should also improve the Steam Deck’s general performance. The price of the Steam Deck is largely influenced by the amount of storage you’re seeking. Here’s a break down for all three Steam Deck SKUs:

  • Steam Deck 64 GB eMMC- £349
  • Steam Deck 256 GB NVMe SSD – £459
  • Steam Deck 512 GB NVMe SSD – £569

All of the different models mentioned above also feature the ability to expand storage via a MicroSD card. Just be aware that the size of PC games tends to be much larger than those on Nintendo Switch. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on Steam, for instance, will take up 35GB on its own.

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