I recently picked up a Steam Deck OLED and I have to say: I have no regrets. I’m glad I went with the OLED too, since the screen is better, but the battery life is perfect – it lasts me all day. Being able to play a game here and there while hanging around has been an overall positive experience. Watch some TV, get bored, play some Bioshock, and when a new section comes, save and put it down.

Valve must have been put some black magic into it, because I’ve been playing the first Bioshock (remastered) at a locked 90 FPS and it can run for hours and hours; but the magic part is that it’s a Windows game. I only had one dip in FPS when 5 enemies or so rushed into a small area I was in and I just started blasting. I didn’t catch what it dropped to, but I felt it. Impressive nonetheless!

I think the ergonomics are pretty spot on, despite being almost a foot wide – that’s actually a good thing! Controllers for consoles make you hunch your shoulders over because they are so narrow. Honestly, as an old man, I wish all controllers were about a foot wide now. The D-PAD leaves room to be desired and I wish the triggers were a bit more stiff, other than that, it’s brilliant. The D-PAD is just kind of… mushy. I get that they wanted it to be an 8-way, but I like a much more tactile feel to them.

The software has been mostly great as well. Install game, start it, and there it is. The only issues I’ve had were that the steam button + holding b doesn’t seem to kill a game for me. I hear some sort of confirmation, but nothing. It’s not a huge deal, there are other ways to kill the app. And Firefox would just freeze after installing an extension. You can just relaunch it and it’s there, so again, minor.

Where things seem to fall flat are around the 3rd party software, and it kind of makes sense. There are just hobbyists trying to get other games to work. Heroic launcher is okay. It let me connect my Epic and Amazon accounts to download and install those games. It doesn’t trigger the software keyboard though and it states it will add your games to steam… but it doesn’t. I also tried EmuDeck, I went through the install which is slightly jank, fired it up and uninstalled it right away (but there’s no uninstaller). It’s just not finished. I did install RetroArch right after, though Steam, but I haven’t tried to use it yet. My biggest criticism with both is that there’s no way to get ROMs onto the Steam Deck. If you fire up RetroArch on the Apple TV (yeah, you can do that now!) it also starts a web service that allows you to upload ROMs. That’s the right way of doing things. Again, not Valve’s fault, but I think it will take some experimentation once I get into playing some old games.

I’m not sure what else to say about it, it’s pretty great. The screen is solid, the speakers are meh, but that’s to be expected with a device so small. They are usable though, they don’t make me want to die or anything. Downloading games puts strain on the CPU for sure and loading / saving games is a little slow for my taste, but neither are worth complaining about. Oh, and the trackpads are super cool. They are very tactile. I don’t use them in games, but when running the desktop, they are good enough for a “mouse”.

With how Windows 11 ended up and the Windows 10’s support soon coming to and end, I think I’ll stick with Linux for gaming, even on my desktop. It’s not perfect and I won’t miss games like League where they want to install a kernal level anti-cheat. You can keep your Chinese spyware to yourself. I don’t want AI forced down my throat and telemetry out the ass. Windows 11 improved nothing for me, only made settings more fragmented and my computer more slow. That’s a big ole nope for me. If only Microsoft didn’t fire all of their QA, if only.

In any case, I know I’m late to the party, but the Steam Deck is pretty great. I think the hardest part to using it is figuring out what I want to play next.