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Well today is the big day. Valve has now formally revealed the Steam Deck, a portable handheld gaming console powered by a new version of their Linux-based SteamOS operating system.

"We think Steam Deck gives people another way to play the games they love on a high-performance device at a great price," says Valve founder Gabe Newell. "As a gamer, this is a product I've always wanted. And as a game developer, it's the mobile device I've always wanted for our partners."

Since it's based on Linux, we now know a big reason why Valve has been investing in Linux gaming with the likes of Steam Play Proton. It will play your Linux native titles, with support boosted by Proton. Not only that, Valve said "we're vastly improving Proton's game compatibility and support for anti-cheat solutions by working directly with the vendors". This is pretty amazing, as anti-cheat was the big missing piece. In their FAQ, they make it clear that they are working directly with BattlEye and EAC to get support for Proton.

Anti-cheat support is coming too! That's huge!

The new SteamOS has been optimized for handheld and touchscreen gaming, while it will also have a desktop mode for those who want it. SteamOS 3.0 is also being based upon Arch Linux, with the desktop mode being powered by KDE Plasma.

We also know why Valve has been heavily investing in AMD GPU drivers for Linux too now then. It's a custom APU they partnered with AMD on for Zen 2 + RDNA 2.

Quick specs:

  • Powerful, custom APU developed with AMD
  • Optimized for hand-held gaming
  • Full-sized controls
  • 7" touchscreen
  • WiFi and Bluetooth ready
  • USB-C port for accessories
  • microSD slot for storage expansion
  • 3 different storage options available

The Steam Deck will also have a dock, much like you see with the Nintendo Switch with more ports to play with like USB, wired networking and enabling external displays. More tech info can be seen here.

It's an open system too, since it's basically a PC in your hands. Valve said "you can install third party software and operating systems".

Valve also did a session with IGN where they answered some questions. IGN also has hands-on video to give a better look at the device.

Steam Deck starts at $399, with increased storage options available for $529 and $649. The two higher models have bigger storage space, plus the two higher models actually use an NVMe drive for faster loading time and the top end has an anti-glare screen too.

Reservations open July 16th at 10 AM PDT; shipping is slated to start in December 2021. Currently it's limited to United States, Canada, European Union, and the United Kingdom with more regions becoming available in 2022.

For developers, Valve put up a video overview:

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See more on the Steam Deck website and the Steam Deck store page.

Is this the holy grail of Linux gaming? Could be.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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scratchi Jul 15, 2021
This looks great! But if they don't sell it through retail channels like Gamespot, ebworld, Bestbuy, etc., it won't turn the tide against consoles and Windows. Hopefully if online sales directly from Valve are successful, they'll sell these in brick and mortar stores too.
CatKiller Jul 15, 2021
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You should definitely see if they'll send you one to review.
Liam Dawe Jul 15, 2021
Quoting: CatKillerYou should definitely see if they'll send you one to review.
Have emailed to ask about one.
x_wing Jul 15, 2021
I have the feeling that ac fix for proton is around the corner... I mean, at least it feels like is a required feature for this console to succeed.
Raaben Jul 15, 2021
Proton generally works well, but they must have some big updates (other than that anticheat news) and faith to be marketing it as taking your entire library on the go. I know I can put up with some minor work or glitches when using it but the general public who just want handheld Steam? And the games that still flat out don't work? Will be interesting to see what happens.

Really hoping this works out for the best as it could be a nice win for compatibility.
sub Jul 15, 2021
We can only profit from it
as long it's not failing like Steam Machines.
x_wing Jul 15, 2021
BTW, didn't know that SteamOS 3.0 was based on Arch Linux. When did that happen?
Mohandevir Jul 15, 2021
Got my answer... Arch!
sub Jul 15, 2021
Quoting: x_wingBTW, didn't know that SteamOS 3.0 was based on Arch Linux. When did that happen?

O'rly? Good choice.
x_wing Jul 15, 2021
Quoting: sub
Quoting: x_wingBTW, didn't know that SteamOS 3.0 was based on Arch Linux. When did that happen?

O'rly? Good choice.

Check it out:

They also give some hope for the ac on proton. In fact, the guide to "test your product on SteamOS" mentions that proton will work with most ac as long as they aren't kernel based. Not sure if this is hype but it seems that the ac are coming home :P

Last edited by x_wing on 15 July 2021 at 5:31 pm UTC
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