Valve announce the Steam Deck OLED with an upgraded screen and longer battery life

Valve love their surprise hardware announcements, and there’s just been a doozy in the Steam Deck OLED. It’s a “definitive” refresh of the existing Steam Deck handheld PC that swaps the underwhelming IPS display for a brighter, more vibrant OLED panel, while making numerous battery life improvements – up to and including a new, more efficient AMD APU – that promise significantly more time away from the mains. It’s not far off either: the Steam Deck OLED’s release date is November 16th, just one week away.

You can read my review right now, though, and lemme tell ya: this thing’s great. The Steam Deck OLED’s display looks fabulous, especially with its newfound HDR support enabled, and some of the game-specific battery life tests I’ve run have shown it can last for potentially hours longer than the original. There are also grippier thumbsticks as standard, and because the new APU isn’t as thirsty, the whole system runs both cooler and quieter. The rest of this article will stick to straight specs and prices, so go have a look at that review afterwards for the full scroop (and watch out later for our interview with some of the Valve devs behind the Steam Deck OLED).

Pricing for the new models is simple in itself: there’s a 512GB version for £479 / $549 and, for the first time on a Steam Deck, a 1TB version, set at £569 / $649. US and Canada denizens can also consider the $679 Steam Deck OLED Special Edition, which comes with translucent bodywork and some extra orange trim.

The Steam Deck OLED Special Edition against a black background.
Image credit: Valve

Compared to previous Steam Deck prices, the 512GB and standard 1TB OLED models appear to be even better value, as the ‘old’ 512GB Deck was also £569 / $649 – though the 512GB OLED no longer gets the anti-glare screen treatment, which both 1TB models do. In practice, they’ll still be more expensive, as Valve are simultaneously dropping prices on the non-OLED Decks, and are discontinuing the 64GB and 512GB models outright. That will leave the original 256GB Deck as the new ‘budget’ option, though the 64GB and 512GB models will still be sold until Valve run out. I’m told they’ll keep receiving all software updates in the future, too.

Here’s the new-look Steam Deck lineup in full:

  • 64GB – £309 / $349 (while stocks last)
  • 256GB – £349 / $399
  • 512GB – £389 / $449 (while stocks last)
  • OLED 512GB – £479 / $549
  • OLED 1TB – £569 / $649
  • OLED 1TB Special Edition – $679

Both 1TB versions will also bundle in a nifty new carrying case, which comprises an outer shell with a removable, more form-hugging secondary case inside as a more compact protective option for smaller bags. Shame the 512GB OLED misses out on this, to be honest.

The new bundled carry case for the Steam Deck OLED 1TB models.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

Still, besides the case, SSD size and screen coating, all OLED variants get the same catalogue of upgrades. Some of these are obvious – the brighter, bolder screen, the improved thumbsticks, the lowered fan noise etc. – but others are hidden within. There’s now Wi-Fi 6E support, for instance, so the Steam Deck OLED can download games faster when connected to high-end routers. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth receivers are also kept separate, having been combined on the original Steam Deck, so you may get less interference when combining Wi-Fi with wireless peripherals and accessories.

The touchpad haptics have also been reworked, to feel more responsive and precise, and since the OLED panel is physically thinner and lighter than the original IPS screen, the Steam Deck OLED as a whole is 29g lighter. That’s also in spite of the more capacious 50Whr battery, up from 40Whr on the original Deck.

A Steam Deck OLED running Skyrim.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

The OLED screen itself is rated at up to 1000cd/m2 for brightness, which I’d call accurate enough, having measured it peaking at 984cd/m2 in HDR testing. Even better is the refresh rate rising from 60Hz to 90Hz, which might not be as high as that of the Asus ROG Ally or Lenovo Legion Go, but does allow for visibly smoother performance in games that can blast past 60fps on the Steam Deck OLED’s APU. Speaking of which, I’ve recorded a few games making teensy framerate improvements over the old Steam Deck, though usually not to the extent that you’d notice them. The new chip is here for efficiency purposes, first and foremost.

At this point I’m in critical danger of just regurgitating the review, but yeah, I’d recommend the Steam Deck OLED easily. By giving so much TLC to the screen and battery life, it’s tackling the two biggest shortcomings of the original, which was still a truly great handheld gaming PC. With these improvements, at prices that haven’t technically increased, the Steam Deck OLED is even better.

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