Valve’s surprise Steam Deck announcement made gamers’ eyes gleam with anticipation, creating what many feel is a true Switch Pro alternative. While I was also smitten by the clean contours and the concept itself, I opted not to drop the minimum $5 necessary to reserve a unit, with prices starting at $400. And no, it’s not because of Valve’s shaky track record with hardware.
I do feel that Valve has put a lot of research and development into making the Steam Deck a solid piece of handheld kit, one that will feel premium in-hand. The impressions by IGN indicate as much. Rather, I feel that hardware makers with more experience building computers can elevate the current concept and bring it to its ultimate form.
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Razer should build a Steam Deck
An obvious third-party Steam Deck contender would be Razer. The Singaporean-American design company has done an excellent job setting itself apart by creating gaming laptops that are both powerful and svelte. Even the newly released Razer Blade 15 screams of quality, although it costs a staggering amount of money. I feel Razer makes gaming’s closest equivalent to a MacBook Pro.
A Razer-made Steam Deck would likely feature an all-aluminum frame, a bezel-less screen, tactile and satisfying buttons, all in a sleek matte black package. Razer would also put much time and effort into energy management, figuring out ways to tune the AMD system-on-chip to extract as much battery life as possible.
Plus, Razer was also one of the first companies to push eGPUs, external devices that can give a laptop the power of a desktop graphics card. Razer could potentially sell a dock with a beefier GPU built-in for greater gaming performance when playing on a monitor on television.
The case for Samsung and Asus
I personally would like to see a Steam Deck from a company like Samsung. The South Korean conglomerate controls the rails for a lot of component manufacturing, so why not?
A Samsung-branded Steam Deck would likely feature an OLED display made by Samsung Display, an SSD, RAM and wireless chips made by Samsung Semiconductor, and speakers made by Samsung Electronics. Hell, even a stylish case could be made by Bean Pole, a fashion brand owned by Samsung.
While Samsung itself hasn’t done much in the gaming space, its experience in mobile could give it an advantage when designing a PC-handheld meant for on-the-go.
Asus with its Republic of Gamers, or ROG, brand would also make a compelling Steam Deck. Apart from the tired black-and-red color scheme, Asus has experience making well-regarded gaming laptops and gaming phones. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, with its dot-matrix laptop lid, caught the attention of our TVs editor Brian Westover, calling it a dream come true. Phones editor Jordan Palmer said the Asus ROG Phone 5 was a “true marvel of engineering” even if the cameras were mediocre.
I feel an Asus-made Steam Deck would be a bit more angular, but would work in some overly-engineered cooling solution to get the most performance out of a tight package.
Don't forget about Xbox
A final Steam Deck contender I’d like to see would be Xbox. The design team at Xbox did a tremendous job putting together the Xbox Series X. I consider it a marvel of industrial design.
Seriously, the Xbox Series X is able to get 12.1 teraflops of performance out of a 6.86 liter case with a single fan. It’s mind-blowingly well made. And remember, an Xbox Series X only costs $500.
If Team Xbox were to work in conjunction with the Surface design team, then a Microsoft-made Steam Deck could truly be next level. Not only could it feature a magnesium body like the Surface Pro 7 Plus, the Xbox design team has the working relationship with AMD to potentially create an even better chip than what’s on the Valve Steam Deck. Plus, such a device would ship with Windows 11 onboard.
While I’m sure Valve Steam Deck owners will have a blast playing with their new PC-handheld when it ships at the end of the year, I think we’re still in the nascent stages of this new product category. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see announcements of other Steam Decks soon.