Five months after Valve announced the Steam Deck, a new challenger entered the handheld console market. But there’s also the Switch, Nintendo’s existing Steam Deck console competition.
Until the device is commercially available (or in our hot little hands), it’s difficult to tell how it compares to these other consoles. But we have some thoughts.
Console wars: Enter the Steam Deck
In 2021, Valve threw the gaming world a curveball by announcing the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming device most similar to the Nintendo Switch, complete with a small screen and controls on the left and right-hand sides.
The Steam Deck is a portable console reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch, yes, but with more horsepower, which allows it to play PC games from the Steam library. It was originally supposed to ship by December of last year, but as a result of the global chip crunch, Valve pushed the release back by two months. It looks like the last of the delays, though, because Valve said it will start shipping consoles on February 28. But there’s a catch for those of us in Australia.
Let’s take a look at the Steam Deck console’s competition before you head out to get your hands on one.
Compared to other PC-based handhelds, the closest counterpart is the Aya Neo, a crowdfunded PC gaming handheld running Windows 10. This boasts impressive specs similar to the Steam Deck, with two models available at higher prices (range from $US925 to upwards of $US1,300 – when you convert the top tier device to AUD, you’re looking at nearly $1,900, without any ‘Australia tax’).
There’s no doubt other players want to capitalise on the success of the Nintendo Switch as a hybrid console, with more attempts emerging to take a share of this portable, palm-sized gaming PC pie.
In reviewing the Aya Neo 2021 and Aya Neo Pro, GameSpot said this: “With a premium build quality and tremendous performance for its size, the Aya Neo is a remarkable handheld PC” and “The amount of power crammed inside of the Aya Neo’s relatively sleek shell is pretty astounding”.
Ya got some console competition on the horizon, Steam Deck.
The OneXPlayer is much like the Aya Neo, packed with a larger screen and similar specs. The OneXPlayer also runs an Intel CPU and an Intel Iris XE GPU, as opposed to the AMD CPU of the Steam Deck.
The OneXPlayer is another crowdfunded console, but compared to all the other handheld gaming PCs, the OneXPlayer is kinda huge – coming at 28 x 12.8 x 2.5cm and weighing 800 grams.
Tech Critique reckons the graphics on the OneXPlayer are crisp and they liked the touchscreen elements (actually, they had a lot of good stuff to say about the Steam Deck console rival), but, they called it a gimmick. “It’s not a Nintendo Switch, and it will never be. The ONEXPLAYER is for those of you that appreciate the form-factor, and the technological advance and want to support this niche,” they wrote in their review.
GPD Win 3
Next, we have the GPD Win 3, a handheld Windows 10 machine intended for handheld gaming (including a sliding screen that reveals a small keyboard), running an Intel CPU instead of the Deck and Neo’s AMD CPU.
This is turning into an advert for crowdfunding, with the GPD Win 3 also coming by way of support from Indiegogo.
According to Robots.net, it’s a great portable AND home console that can not only cater to your gaming needs but, basic PC functions as well. The GPD Win 3 pricing starts at $US799, which is twice as expensive as the PlayStation 5. But in their review, they tout the sliding screen, the 90s gaming nostalgia and the near-perfect sound the Steam Deck console competitor blasts.
Ah, the Nintendo Switch. The console you all want us to convince you to throw out the window to opt for the Steam Deck.
The Nintendo Switch is a portable gaming console, that plays games in two modes: portable or docked. The portable mode allows you to play the Switch on-the-go, using its screen and joycons, while docked mode allows you to play it on a monitor or TV. The Switch is widely considered the most popular gaming console, simply for its form-factor, its much loved Nintendo IPs and just how much of a joy it is to use. While the dock is quite bulky.
It’s an all-in-one gaming console that might not be as powerful as the Steam Deck, but it’s where you’ll find Nintendo exclusives like Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon. So as the battle of which console you should get, and if you should opt for the Steam Deck, heats up, it may come down to what games you want to play. Valve is in the process of verifying games for the Steam Deck, however.
Qualcomm-Razer unnamed Steam Deck console rival
Chip manufacturer Qualcomm partnered with gaming hardware company Razer in December to produce the Snapdragon G3x, a streamer-friendly console that can play games across PC, mobile, consoles and the cloud. The hardware is still heavily in the development phase, so further details about how the streaming aspect will work haven’t been described.
Taking a look at the specs, the device features a 6.65-inch OLED screen, which puts it just slightly below the size of the Steam Deck but slightly larger than the original Nintendo Switch model. The OLED Switch screen is seven inches. The Snapdragon device will include a camera and two mics, a feature meant to cater to players who want to stream their games. For comparison, the Steam Deck has a mic for multiplayer but not a camera. The Snapdragon can run games at up to 144 FPS, while the Steam Deck runs AAA games at 60 FPS on medium settings.
As first reported by Nintendo Life, the Snapdragon G3x isn’t out for consumers just yet. Though the console is meant to stream games from other devices, the chip manufacturer Qualcomm said it’s looking for developers to create content for the platform. As for what it has to offer developers, senior product director Micah Knapp emphasised that Qualcomm had the expertise to reduce throttling and overheating on handheld devices.
Steam Deck console competitors, the final word
Australian availability of these Steam Deck alternatives vary, but if you’re simply after a handheld gaming device, the Nintendo Switch is readily available. BUT, you can’t use the Switch on a TV/monitor without the dock, unlike the Steam Deck which you just use a display cable for.