Even for Valve, which had a dismal history with first-party hardware before to the portable’s release in 2022—its Index VR headset is the only other product it still sells—the first Steam Deck was an unexpected hit. In fact, the Deck has been so popular that a growing market for portable gaming PCs has emerged.
In an effort to remain current, Valve has revealed the Steam Deck OLED, an update that includes several improvements. What is the difference between the new model and the LCD Steam Deck, which is still available for less money? Which one ought to you purchase?
Steam Deck LCD vs OLED: At a glance
In terms of performance, the two versions are essentially the same; we’ll discuss battery, storage, and display technology in later parts. All of them use the same core processing technology; the OLED variant just has quicker 6,400MT/s memory, improved cooling, and a smaller, more efficient 6nm architecture. While framerates may occasionally be somewhat increased in this way, Cyberpunk 2077 won’t suddenly run at its highest detail level. It’s not a sequel; it’s a revision.
However, the OLED variant has a number of more subdued enhancements. Multiple controllers may now be (reliably) connected thanks to the dedicated Bluetooth antenna, better and more consistent haptic feedback, and a more responsive touchscreen. Even the trackpad and analogue stick feel and responsiveness, repairability, and overall console weight have all been enhanced by Valve, albeit the latter is primarily attributable to the switch to OLED.
Better network speeds can be achieved with Wi-Fi 6E, and newer audio codecs including HD and low latency aptX can be used with Bluetooth 5.3. Although we wish Valve had included a USB-C port with a faster speed of 4.0, we don’t think anyone will be complaining about 3.2 Gen 2, since it is more than sufficient for docks and external screens.
Steam Deck LCD vs OLED: Display
Naturally, this is the major one. The change is noticeable since OLED allows for richer and brighter colors as well as true blacks (no more backlight). HDR content is only compatible with the OLED model; it is not supported by YouTube or Netflix or other video streaming apps. We’ll see if that changes in subsequent app releases.
With a peak brightness of 1,000 nits, the OLED Deck is now significantly more suitable for gaming outdoors in bright light. Additionally, you receive smoother refresh rates of 90Hz instead than the LCD panel’s 60Hz.
Compared to the LCD’s 7.4-inch screen, the OLED’s is slightly bigger at 7.4 inches. It won’t take up much space in your view like, say, the Ayaneo Kun’s 8.4-inch display, but it’s good to have something that improves the Deck’s overall look and makes the text a little easier to see.
An etched anti-glare display is an option available only on the OLED Deck. However, to get it, you have to spend money on a top-tier configuration, which is definitely not essential given the great contrast that OLED offers.
Steam Deck LCD vs OLED: Storage options
You can choose between 512GB and 1TB of inbuilt NVMe SSD storage for the OLED Steam Deck. That ought to be sufficient for the majority of users, unless you intend to use your Deck in place of a desktop computer, in which case you ought to think about connecting external storage to a dock.
Moving forward, 256GB will be the only LCD storage tier available. Right now, Valve is still offering 64GB and 512GB versions, but only while stock lasts. Unless you exclusively want to stream games using Steam Link, we advise against getting the 64GB option. Some triple-A games from today are far larger than 64GB.
There is a microSD slot on every Steam Deck, and sure, you can install games on a card. However, since microSD cards are always going to be slower than a Deck’s internal SSD, that’s not ideal.
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