The Valve Steam Deck is expected to begin shipping in December to customers who pre-orders the handheld gaming computer for $399 or more. But ever since introducing the Linux-powered PC with a custom AMD processor this summer, Valve has been getting a lot of questions.

So the company has published a FAQ with some answers. Among other things, we’ve learned that you can run non-Steam games on the Steam Deck, if you opt for the priciest model you’ll get a slightly better display, and you the computer supports dual booting.

The Steam Deck ships with Steam OS, an operating system that’s based on Arch Linux with a custom user interface, Valve’s Steam game client, and Valve’s Proton software, which allows users to play many Windows PC games on Linux.

But the Steam Deck is a full-fledged computer capable of running different operating systems, and according to Valve’s FAQ, the BIOS won’t block users from installing multiple operating systems. That means you could, for example, install Windows or Ubuntu alongside Steam OS and decide which to run at startups.

Don’t want to use up precious disk space, or just want to poke around an operating system before deciding whether to install it? The Steam Deck also supports booting from a microSD card, which means that you could install an operating system to removable storage.

Speaking of microSD cards, if you use them with the Steam Deck while it’s running Steam OS, the operating system will format the cards to the ext4 file system. That means they probably won’t be readable by a Windows computer unless you use third-party software.

Other interesting tidbits from the FAQ (some of which have been previously reported):

  • The Steam Deck will not support external GPUs.
  • You can use the Steam Deck as a PC controller through Steam’s Remote Play software.
  • You could plug in a VR headset if you wanted to, but the Steam Deck isn’t optimized for that use case.
  • Connecting a dock doesn’t boost performance, it just gives you more ports.
  • All Steam Deck models have IPS LCD displays, but only the 512GB model has “an additional anti-glare etched treatment applied to it.”
  • The Steam Deck has dual LRA motors for haptic feedback, with one under each trackpad.

If you haven’t already pre-ordered a Steam Deck, you’ll have to reserve a place in line: Valve says it currently doesn’t expect new orders to be available until after the second quarter of 2022. But pricing remains the same as it did on day one:

  • Steam Deck with 64GB of EMMC storage for $399
  • Steam Deck with a 256GB NVMe SSD and carrying case for $529
  • Steam Deck with 512GB NMVe SSD, case, and anti-glare glass for $649

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14 Comments

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    1. Based on the summary on Reddit, the performance is looking pretty good. Even better when devs tweak their games to detect the Deck and apply optimized settings right off the the bat.

      Can’t wait for my Steam Deck.

  1. Somewhat related news, it’s also been confirmed that the Steam Deck uses an M.2 2230 card for storage, including the eMMC model. So theoretically you can buy the eMMC model and upgrade the storage.

    However Valve has stated that it is not intended to be user accessible. But several people have already managed to access it. Apparently you need to remove some EMI shielding to access it, so it’s not very convenient.

    1. Oh, some devs took apart their kits? Any links to details? I wonder how difficult it is to open, remove the shielding and put things back together.

      I’ve seen EMI shielding for other notebooks/tablets and removing them was sometimes kind of “permanent” depending on skill.

  2. Been excited to for my Steam Deck order. Nice to see we’re seeing more info now that game devs got their kits. Some devs even ignored Valve’s terms and showed off the SteamOS UI. Looking pretty good.

    Glad to finally see a reputable company making a gaming PC handheld. Hopefully, this encourages some large PC OEMs to enter the market too.

    1. Glad to finally see a reputable company making a gaming PC handheld. Hopefully, this encourages some large PC OEMs to enter the market too.

      Ooh. Shots fired!

    2. “Glad to finally see a reputable company making a gaming PC handheld.”

      And not a day too soon.

    3. “Glad to finally see a reputable company making a gaming PC handheld. Hopefully, this encourages some large PC OEMs to enter the market too.”

      I’ve been sitting on the sidelines waiting for this. Too many horror stories with the current companies. Finally going to get a handheld gaming PC in Q1 2022!

  3. Nice that there’s an option to fallback to Windows just in case for some games. Plus, you don’t have to replace the OS.

    I wonder what’d be worse between my handhelds:
    Gaming compatibility with Windows + Intel’s horrible Tiger Lake GPU drivers.

    or

    Gaming compatibility with SteamOS + Proton on the Steam Deck where Valve’s actively working with AMD and game devs.

    I already know how crappy it is to game on Tiger Lake and Windows. I’ll find out about the Steam Deck this December!

    1. Quote from Linus Tech Tips about the 2021 Intel GPD Win Max that summarizes the experience: This is not a great experience.

      The characters and background are glitching but at least the FPS is high, right? XD

      1. Yeah, the Intel GPU driver problem has been a thing for years.

        Nice to see an AMD chip is making it into the Steam Deck. I’ve also been reading that the open source AMD Linux graphics drivers are pretty good. At least based on the coverage at phoronix.com.

    2. Yeah, the Intel GPU drivers are pretty bad. All those quoted FPS numbers don’t tell people how the graphics actual looks or the game crashes every few minutes.