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Valve doesn't need much to make a Steam Deck 2 a huge success

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With the Steam Deck recently having a first anniversary, no doubt many are thinking on what's next — I certainly am. Valve don't exactly need much to make a Steam Deck 2 a success either.

As a gaming device, the Steam Deck clearly isn't perfect. Nothing is. However, it's clearly popular and overall it does the job quite nicely of making the PC as a platform more accessible to a wider audience. And putting Linux in the hands of many who previously didn't care about Linux. We already know Valve are looking to the future for more Steam Decks too, as they said it's a "multi-generational product line".

Valve need to be careful on the timing of the announcement and the release. We are after all, only one year since the original's release. They need to ensure people feel like their purchase and personal investment into it was worth it, and not do any announcement too soon. How soon is too soon though? Two years? Three years? By three is it too late?

They need to make the upgrade worth it too. Is it just enough to have perhaps a better battery and screen? The more I think on it, I don't believe it is. Don't get me wrong, you can pry my Steam Deck from my cold dead hands but I do want more power in my hands too. Really though, it very much depends on what type of games you're playing for what you'll settle for. People will argue both ends from just wanting a better battery to play longer, to wanting more power to keep those troublesome AAAs at at least a solid 30FPS (or better).

Valve doesn't need much to make the Steam Deck 2 a success, clearly. A little wait for AMD to come out with a fresh APU that's a decent step up, a better screen and battery and job done right?

Hold on, this is going the exactly opposite way to what I thought…

I'm not asking for much. Well, clearly I am. The Steam Deck 2 is not exactly an easy task. A better higher resolution screen would need more computing power, so a newer APU would end up essential if they ran a higher resolution and then you may not see such a big performance increase (and likely a higher power draw too) — but then you would get better and clearer looking games, a better battery would make it heavier and it can already be uncomfortable for playing longer periods. There's actually ups and downs to anything they could upgrade, then you have to take into account the pricing on it too (even if they stuck with the same resolution, but just had a better looking screen cost is a problem).

That's without even thinking about storage, gosh, the problems continue. The 64GB model is so often just too small, especially with the shader pre-cache system, every single day there's support questions on people confused as to why their 64GB is full. Valve need to go bigger. Games are getting fatter all the time too, have you seen how laughably massive some games now are? This problem will only get worse over time.

Given how clearly people are wanting to play some of the latest games, as well as plenty of older titles, I don't think they could just settle without putting in a new more powerful AMD APU. I just don't think it would make a whole lot of sense.

It's a very tricky balancing act, so it really doesn't surprise me when Valve's Gabe Newell said the pricing on the current Steam Deck was "painful" in an interview with IGN.

One thing we can at least count on, even with the original model, is continued improvements to compatibility thanks to their continued work on Proton (or Native Linux ports if the market share became big enough to make it truly worth it), GPU drivers and much more.

So actually, Valve have one heck of a job to improve on what is already a good product. Can they do it? What do you think? What exactly do you want from a Steam Deck 2?

Check out my recent Steam Deck news round-up video below if you missed it and be sure to follow me on YouTube.

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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.
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mr-victory Mar 2, 2023
Xbox & Playstation release a new console every 6-7 years with usually one hardware refresh in between. These refreshes do not increase performance but usually make the console smaller and decrease power draw by using smaller nm chips. We could see a "Steam Deck Slim" with same horsepower and chassis but longer battery life.
damarrin Mar 2, 2023
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Quoting: mr-victoryXbox & Playstation release a new console every 6-7 years with usually one hardware refresh in between. These refreshes do not increase performance but usually make the console smaller and decrease power draw by using smaller nm chips. We could see a "Steam Deck Slim" with same horsepower and chassis but longer battery life.

Last console gen had a performance-increasing hardware refresh. I wasn't happy about this development, I hope this gen doesn't continue the trend. PS3 had 3 versions, each mostly smaller and more power efficient than the last, but no speed improvements. Now even the Switch had a small performance/battery life improvement with the OLED version.

Better screen (same res)/longer battery life on the Steam Deck is definitely what should happen as early as late this year. Then everyone can make the decision whether to upgrade or not.

Ideally, Valve have enough clout in the PC game market to convince game makers they need to make their new releases run fine (40 fps, please) on the SD for at least a couple of years. Either way, I'll be fine getting an SD2 with significant improvements come late 2024/2025.

If the screen is bigger, 1200p can make sense provided the hardware is good enough to run current (current current, not necessarily when SD2 comes out current) games mostly at native res. If the screen is the same size, 800p will be fine (though Youtube will explode with rage and Valve probably need to take it into account). Perhaps something like 1600x1000 can be a middle ground for a slightly bigger screen?

Going for more power without ensuring at least a little better battery life is a no-no, so that's definitely a requirement.
drjoms Mar 2, 2023
Thery can minimize reputation hit by releasing device early, if all or most 3rd party bells and whistles like memory cards, cases etc, are cross compatible between gen 1 and gen 2 devices.
Klaas Mar 2, 2023
Quoting: CAVR- Put an additional USB-C port on the bottom;
- Instead of using that weird "L" shaped battery, add another layer (on the previously imagined thicker body), and make it squared, with less glue to attach it to the case to also make it easier to replace;
- Replace the self-tapping screws with metal threaded insert ones, so people don't have to be worried about wearing out the plastic threads when opening the device multiple times;
- Manufacture the USB-C ports as daughterboards that can be detached from the motherboard for easier repair;
- Make the AC power adapter cable detachable;
Those are my top improvement wishes.

Last edited by Klaas on 2 March 2023 at 4:25 pm UTC
LlakalA Mar 2, 2023
I personally would love to see a Steam Deck 1.5 prior to a Steam Deck 2. The 1.5 version could focus on topics such as battery and screen, while keeping the performance the same to allow for the single performance target. This matches what Valve has said they want to do, while also allowing for some pain points to be fixed. Obviously the main changes would be to screen and battery (I don't think OLED is needed as more power draw is a terrible idea, but just a higher quality LCD screen instead.) There could be some potential upgrades to spots like haptics (although I do think that less is more here, and it's better to focus on the main flaws rather than changing everything). Something I do feel strongly about, however, is stick drift. The 1.5 version could perhaps include a partnership with Gulikit so that Valve could officially sell Hall Effect sticks with the 1.5 version, and perhaps have them be purchasable separately for both joystick versions so that Deck 1.0 users could upgrade to them. I also think that trade-in could be huge if they gave the 1.0 Deck an excellent trade-in value. Sending your 1.0 deck in, paying an extra 100-200 dollars, and getting the 1.5 version back would be amazing. Ny absolute number one feature for a 1.5 version is probably not realistic, but it'd be keeping the chassis the same to allow for drop-in upgrades. This would mean that more experienced users could purchase the parts that had changed since the original Deck and just swap them out, while less experienced users could pay a bit more money for the trade-in option. However, I do see an issue with the drop-in mentality, as it would make it quite difficult to improve aspects like battery while having to keep all the sizes the same. But even if that didn't happen, I think trade-in done well would be enough to make the newer version worth it. As for a Deck 2.0, my #1 feature is 3D V-cache on the CPU with a GPU based on RDNA 3 architecture, and no real loss to efficiency. I would want that in a few years, though, perhaps 2025 or 2026. I think Deck 1.5 would be perfect for either late 2023 or 2024.
Mountain Man Mar 2, 2023
Valve has said they won't start thinking about Steam Deck 2 until they can offer a significant performance advantage over the Steam Deck, which I'm happy about. I would love to get several years out of the current iteration.
Mrowl Mar 2, 2023
I don't think we need a Steam Deck 2, as in we don't need a Steam Deck that uses an entirely new APU from AMD. But we do need something like a Steam Deck "mini", or a Steam Deck "Pro" with increased battery and better screen. The Nintendo DS "Phat" came out in November 2004, and DS Lite came out in March 2006, so this type of practise is completely normal in the world of handhelds and has been going on for years; the Steam Deck should be no different.

A lot of people will disagree with me, but personally, I would like to see Valve make a Steam Deck that has detachable controllers, kinda like the Switch's Joy-Cons, but a lot more sturdy and wobble-free, when attached (like, you can literally lock them to the sides with screws).

Why? Because then you could have the option to have the default large Steam Deck, where the side controllers have the trackpads, etc, or you could buy slimmer, 3rd party ones, that makes the entire thing more pocketable. The bezels around the screen would also need to be heavily reduced, too. I think such a design would be a lot easier to tear down and get to the internal guts, battery, NVME, etc, because you wouldn't have to worry about the controller motherboard bits getting in the way; you can just pop those off, and remove the backplate from the "tablet portion".

Last edited by Mrowl on 2 March 2023 at 6:50 pm UTC
chickenb00 Mar 2, 2023
I find a lot of these Steam Deck 2 wishlists lack consistency, are hopelessly unrealistic, and most of them are just too early. This isn't a smartphone seeing annual revisions, nor is it a locked-down walled-garden console where the manufacturer has total system/UI control. I think when SD2 does come out we will see an awful lot of disappointment from the community where they decry the lack of Killer-But-Totally-Necessary Feature (120hz, VRR, 32gb, 1920x1200, OLED, IPS, removable controllers, etc).
Keep your expectations in check guys: moving from RDNA2 to 3 (or 4) but moving resolution up to 1200 will result in no performance gains and hang-wringing about playing at 800p (but then you're missing out on 1200 pixel density!). Adding more battery will make the device heavier. Adding OLED won't be possible at "reasonable" prices (Valve doesn't move Nintendo unit quantities).
I'd prefer they wait until 2024, announce a refresh/2.0, release in 2025. Problem is then any competitor has a spec target to match/beat at a lower price.
mitcoes Mar 2, 2023
I would change
- joysticks with magnetic ones
- The APU, a RDNA3 one
- Only one model with 1 TB NVMe as they are cheaper now
- Another battery easy to switch, with replacements and an external charger - optional -

I would not change
- Everything else, including the screen

I would add

- Waydroid or any other Android compatibility layer
- eSIM for 5G+ and phone use
- Webcam for broadcasting and video conference
(if it is as a plugin and you can make pictures or selfies just plugin it backwards, better)

Unless a better screen tech saving energy appears.

And let the OLED version for the SD 3 or later or other brands.
Philadelphus Mar 3, 2023
Make the power button bulge out like the volume buttons instead of in; on not a few occasions I've tried to power on/wake up my Deck without looking only to realize I'm pressing the USB-C port which is right nearby and feels similar to my fingertips. 😂

Though realistically, I'm happy with what I have and not looking for any sort of upgrade at the moment, since I don't use mine for pushing the envelope with demanding games. Maybe the one upgrade I'd like would be a bump in screen resolution; for the games I'm usually playing it wouldn't really need more power, but it'd easier to read small text and just look nicer in general.
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