Steam Deck in 2023, Worth Buying?

The Steam Deck has been out for over a year, but it was such a popular release that they had to slowly release products to consumers over the course of a year. Luckily, now you can just buy one without any kind of wait.

Steam Deck in 2023, Worth Buying?

At first, we were a bit skeptical of the Steam Deck because Valve has a reputation of creating really innovative hardware that inevitably flops because it didn't hit a wide enough audience. The Steam Machines, Steam Link, and Steam Controller are all examples of hardware that failed to gain traction. However, looking at the Steam Deck, it feels like they finally understand how to hit that wider audience and give them something that could fit easily into their current demographic of gamers.

The Steam Deck comes in three variants, but the internal hardware is the same on all three. The only difference between them is the storage size and speed, and the most expensive variant comes with an anti-glare etch glass screen. The cheapest version is what we will be reviewing today, and that cost us $399 USD. If you are going to buy the 64 GB variant like we did, please be ready to either buy an SD card or an SSD replacement because 64 GB is nothing honestly. From a consumer standpoint, we think it's kind of silly to sell a handheld gaming PC with only 64 GB of storage. You will 100% need more storage, but $399 is a super aggressive price point that nobody else can even come close to.

Steam OS, which is the Linux operating system that comes pre-installed on the Steam Deck, just kind of works out of the box. You are able to get into Steam and navigate it with ease, and even desktop mode just feels like a normal Linux desktop. As far as budget computers go, we really think a Steam Deck is as good as it gets for $400.

Yes, you can build a used gaming PC for $400 and you'll have a good time, but if you go that route, you'd have no portability, no battery, no screen, no controller, and no warranty or support. It's hard to compare the Steam Deck to anything else because there's literally nothing that compares to it in the price range. $399 is an amazing price for what you get here.

We wish the base model started at 256 GB, but we understand why they didn't. If you don't have another laptop or desktop or anything, we would be totally fine with using our Steam Deck as our only computer for school work, gaming, LAN parties, and just surfing the web. It all works just fine in your hands. We replaced our PC with a Steam Deck entirely as a challenge a few months ago, and since then, we found ourselves using our other computers as just computers and sticking to gaming on the Steam Deck.

The device feels like a first-generation product, with its clunky and bulky design. Although it does not hinder the gaming experience, the size and weight of the device make it less portable than other handhelds like the Switch Lite or the EON Neo.

However, the ergonomics of the grip and size of the Steam Deck are comfortable for people with larger hands and allow for longer gaming sessions without hand cramps. The screen size and resolution are suitable for most games, but the lack of an OLED display makes colors feel muted and unsaturated at times.

The device's fan can get a little loud, but it is not erratic enough to wake someone up. The battery life is as expected, with up to 2.5 hours of gameplay for Triple-A games, and it can be charged with a USB-C cable or plugged into the wall.

Overall, we think that a streamlined and lighter version of the Steam Deck could improve the gaming experience, but it is a significant improvement for those who have larger hands and struggle with smaller handhelds.

The Steam Deck does have some compatibility issues, most games we want to play work just fine on it, especially any super popular ones. The device allows us to use Xbox Game Pass,, and Epic Games Launcher with a little setup, and we appreciate the flexibility to install emulators, game launchers, and all kinds of link software. Unlike other handheld devices like the Nintendo Switch, Valve doesn't actively try to stop users from installing these programs and firmware updates that break your device.

Valve has said that the Steam Deck is your own to do with it what you will, just like you would with your own PC. We love the freedom and flexibility in our gaming devices and the fact that Steam has paired with iFixit to create guides and sell spare parts so we can repair our device if needed. We appreciate that Valve is on the consumer side when it comes to the right to repair.

We can absolutely recommend the Steam Deck for purchase in 2023 for $400. However, we caution that the more computers you own, the less likely you will utilize the Steam Deck to its full potential. If you already have a desktop PC, gaming laptop, Nintendo Switch, and other devices, think about how you will use the Steam Deck before purchasing. Don't just buy it so it can sit in a drawer forever.

You can use the Steam Deck when traveling, waiting for appointments, in the living room or bed at home, and when going somewhere to play games without bringing an entire desktop. The device has been amazing for your needs, and we look forward to whatever improvements Valve makes in the future. Although it has a very 1.0 feeling, we believe it could easily be improved with some small updates.