Steam Deck has made me fall back in love with my gaming PC — here's why

Steam Deck next to RTX 4090 PC
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It's no secret the Steam Deck is a remarkable device. In a short space of time I've done a total 180 on the breakout portable PC. In just two months I've gone from being a complete contrarian towards Valve’s handheld PC to becoming a full-blown convert. My relationship with the Deck has been a whirlwind tryst, and even though it's early days, I can already say it's one of my favorite gaming machines ever. 

That’s not a sentence I ever expected to be typing three months ago. Back in my pre-enlightened days, I’d be throwing shade at Steam Deck and what I considered to be its subpar LCD screen left, right and center. It was a position of pure ignorance — I’d only played Valve’s machine a handful of times at that point — and the fact that I’m an unapologetic display snob who really needs to stop obliterating his bank balance buying the best OLED TVs didn't help.

The groveling apology I offered up to the Deck community was well warranted. Now, such is my love for the custom Steam Deck the good folks at MegaModz kindly sent me to sample, it’s actually helped revitalize my waning love of desktop gaming.

Steam Deck has helped revitalize my waning love of desktop gaming.

Despite owning the most powerful consumer graphics card on the planet, and I’ve made this admission on Tom’s Guide freely before, I’ve barely played my Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090-powered rig this year.

It wasn’t that long ago I was all too happy to admit I’d rather play my Nintendo Switch OLED over my powerful gaming PC. It was a sentiment I felt quite deeply at the time. 

Even though I published that article quite recently, things have changed and my home office is no longer the unbearable sauna it was when that piece went live. That means playing games in my apartment’s work space is no longer a sweltering experience, which makes it a lot easier to enjoy a marathon Starfield session.

The main reason I was choosing to play my Switch OLED over one of the best gaming PCs was also a pretty shallow excuse. It was basically down to pure laziness. In truth, I’d rather lie corpse-stiff, utterly prone on my sofa playing Metroid Dread than sit upright on one of the best office chairs obsessing over frame rates in the likes of Jedi Survivor’s woefully broken PC port.

Things have really come full circle of late, though. In a move I wasn’t expecting, there’s now a symbiotic relationship at play between my gaming rig and Steam Deck that’s gradually built up over the last few weeks. So much so, the pairing between my main PC and my teeny one is about as unshakable a bond as that pesky black suit poor old Peter Parker can’t seem to shake off in the recent (and awesome) Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Bat's entertainment

(Image credit: Future / Valve / Rocksteady Studios)

The best example of this new harmony between my colossal Corsair desktop machine and the palm-friendly handheld happened just this past weekend. Even though it’s now almost a decade old, I legitimately had one of the best gaming experiences of the year going back and forth finishing Batman: Arkham Knight on my two computing devices.

It kicked off late on Friday night when I started wrapping up a save I hadn’t touched in ages when I began to replay The Dark Knight’s trilogy-capper on Steam Deck in bed. Despite its hardly class-leading 720p LCD panel, Arkane’s supreme superhero sandbox looks brilliant on the Deck. It’s aged remarkably well, with extremely detailed character models I’d put almost on par with even the best-looking games you’ll see on either PS5 or Xbox Series X.

That, and it also contains perhaps my favorite spin on the relationship between Bats and Joker from any form of fiction. It’s a brilliant story that few of the best open-world games since can hold a candle to, even if there’s maybe a little too much Batmobile action and the titular Arkham Knight is a whining crybaby.

Anyway, I ended up playing the Caped Crusader’s brilliant adventure until the wee hours. The next day, I decided to finish the Scarecrow-themed central campaign on my PC through the amazing Alienware AW3423DWF QD-OLED gaming monitor.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Despite the obvious gaping chasm in visual fidelity between the handheld and desktop experience — for context I was playing Knight at 720p at 40 frames per second on the Deck, then at a resolution of (3440 x 1440) at a locked 90 fps on my PC — I barely skipped a Bat beat. I genuinely found my experience of playing the game across pieces of hardware to be equally enjoyable.

For visual fidelity and extreme frame rates, nothing can beat high-end PC gaming. But when it comes to convenience, the Deck is hard to topple. And thanks to Gotham’s ripped vigilante, I now know I can interchange between them and both experiences can be Bat bedfellows.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to dip back into Cyberpunk 2077 and its recent Phantom Liberty DLC, which I plan to play across both my mega rig and Steam Deck.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.