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Steam Deck OLED: the whole lot you should know

Valve has officially revealed an upgraded Steam Deck OLED, improving on its first handheld games console in several major areas – most notably the screen and battery.

The new model takes a lot the shine off the incoming wave of Windows-based handhelds, including the Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go. But don’t think of it as a true Steam Deck 2; instead it’s more like how the Nintendo Switch OLED is related to the regular Nintendo Switch. This is a premium alternative that plays all the same games – they just look a load better thanks to a spiffy new screen.

It’s the newest and shiniest bit of Valve hardware, then. But what exactly has changed from the original, and is the OLED version so much better that existing Steam Deck owners should think about upgrading? Here’s everything you need to know.

Steam Deck OLED hardware upgrades

The clue’s in the name here: the Steam Deck OLED’s biggest upgrade is its display. The 7.4in OLED is physically larger than the 7in LCD panel found on the original Steam Deck, with much slimmer bezels. It sticks with the same 1280×800 resolution, but has a higher 90Hz refresh rate – albeit still without any variable refresh tech.

Naturally the OLED panel delivers impeccable contrast, more vibrant colours and deep, inky blacks that put the original handheld’s LCD to shame, and viewing angles are much improved. It gets significantly brighter, too: 1000 nits peak brightness is more than double that of the 400 nit original. There’s HDR support for the first time, touch response is faster, and it’s also more power efficient.

There’s also a bigger 50wHr battery now, which Valve reckons is good for 30-50% more battery life depending on the game. Newer battery chemistry should mean a 20-80% charge takes just 45 minutes using the bundled 45W power brick, which also gets a longer 2.5m cable.

Other big hardware changes include a more efficient 6nm processor and faster 6400MT/s memory, although that shouldn’t boost frame rates to any meaningful degree. Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 bring faster downloads on compatible networks and aptX low-latency codec support respectively.

Valve has even managed to shed 30g of weight, while a larger fan and bigger thermal block means it runs cooler than the original handheld. The analogue sticks and triggers have been tweaked for better responsiveness, and new Torx screws on the rear apparently make it easier to disassemble, repair or mod – if you know what you’re doing, anyway.

There’s an extensive list of all the changes available on the Steam Deck website.

What’s stayed the same?

The Steam Deck OLED has the same physical dimensions as the original model, so all accessories and cases designed for it will work with the new version.

It has the same number of inputs, with twin analogue sticks, twin touchpads, a D-Pad, ABXY face buttons, and four shoulder buttons/bumpers. Internally, the microSD card slot still maxes out at UHS 1 speeds, and charging is still at 45W over USB-C. Data transfer speeds are unchanged, too.

Software-wise, both versions run SteamOS. According to Valve, future updates will continue to support both versions of the handheld, so you don’t have to worry about missing out if you stick with an original model.

Steam Deck OLED price and availability

Valve is selling the Steam Deck OLED exclusively through Steam, in the countries it already sold the original Steam Deck. It’ll be available through Komodo in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

The Steam Deck OLED goes on sale on the 16th of November – a day after Sony’s PlayStation Portal streaming handheld starts shipping to customers.

Expect to pay $549/£479 for a Steam Deck OLED with 512GB of storage, or $649/£569 for a model with 1TB capacity. The 1TB models come with an updated carry case-within-a-carry case, which lets you pick between protection and more compact dimensions.

US and Canadian customers will also be able to get a limited edition translucent 1TB model with red accents, but only while stocks last.

Valve will be discontinuing the 64GB and 512GB versions of the original Steam Deck, but the 256GB version remains on sale as the new entry-level model. It can be had for $349/£349.

Should Steam Deck owners upgrade?

That’s the hardest question to answer right now. The Steam Deck OLED is clearly an upgrade over the original handheld, with a massive improvement on the display front and significantly better battery life. While we’ve yet to try it in person, it seems like the obvious choice for anyone yet to pull the trigger on a Steam Deck of any kind.

However, the underlying hardware hasn’t gotten any faster, so games will play at the same frame rates across both machines.

Valve has categorically said a true Steam Deck 2 isn’t coming any time soon – mobile processors just haven’t gotten better enough to justify one yet, apparently – so anyone desperate for more performance is out of luck. At least for now. 2025 is the most likely date for a true sequel.

We reckon you’re better off sticking with your existing Steam Deck for now – unless you can get a seriously good price for it on somewhere like eBay or Facebook Marketplace. And even then, there’s no guarantee Valve will be able to keep up with demand once the Steam Deck OLED goes on sale. The original was regularly out of stock for months, so if you’re regularly getting your game on, we’d also suggest waiting until stock levels are confirmed.

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