Is Steam Deck More Powerful Than Nintendo Switch?

Valve announced its upcoming new Steam Deck portable gaming system today, and already people are comparing it to the Nintendo Switch. But how does the Steam Deck power compare to what the Nintendo Switch, which will likely be its main competitor, is capable of? To do that, we need to look at both.

The Nintendo Switch has proven to be a smash hit for Nintendo, having sold 84.59 million units as of March of this year. However, it’s not as powerful as the Xbox One, Playstation 4, or their successors in the current console generation, and games ported to it often have to take a graphical downgrade, though the new OLED variant shows promise.

According to Valve, the Steam Deck will have four cores of AMD Zen 2 CPUs with eight threads, and eight CUs of RDNA 2 GPU. These are apparently the latest architecture, and it certainly sounds impressive for a handheld and makes Steam Deck power a pretty big concern. The specs of both Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch are compared as following:

Comparison                                        Nintendo Switch Steam Deck
Screen Size 6.2-inch LCD Screen / 1280 x 720 7-inch diagonal, 1200×800 px
Dimensions 4 inches high, 9.4 inches long, and 0.55 inches deep (with Joy-Con attached) Approximately .66 lbs 298mm x 117mm x 49mm Weight: Roughly 669 grams
Processor AMD APU, Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor
Graphics Nvidia GM20B Maxwell-based, 2 CUs,       307.2-768 MHz 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz
Battery Lithium-ion battery/4310mAh Battery life Approximately 4.5 – 9 hours 40Whr battery, 2 – 8 hours of gameplay
Video Output Docked 1080p Up to 4K 120Hz / 8K 60Hz (as claimed)
Gyro Gyro-enabled (accelerometer, gyroscope, brightness sensor) Gyro-enabled (IMU, capacitive thumbsticks, ambient light sensor)
Storage Standard 32GB (64 on OLED) with expansion options Standard 64GB eMMC and up to 512GB NVMe SSD with expansion

As you can see, Steam Deck is clearly a more powerful machine here but some of the claims are yet to be seen in action like the 4K output. Much like the Switch, the Steam Deck also has limited storage space, but can also use SD cards. However, they may not need it, as the storage space comes in three variants: 64 gigs, 256 gigs, and 512 gigs, which puts it pretty much immediately above the Switch’s 32 gigabyte default.

However, all of that power comes at a price. The Steam Deck will cost $399, $529, and $649 for each variant of memory storage. This is in contrast to the Switch, which remains at the $299 price it came with, making it the more economical variant. PC players that want to take their games on the road in a more convenient way, however, might see that as an acceptable sacrifice.

Much like the Switch, however, all the Steam Deck power in the handheld can’t save it from low resolution. The Steam Deck’s seven inch screen will run at 720p resolution, though the exact resolution is 1280 by 720. The Switch can also get into its dock to bump its resolution up to 1080p, though the Steam Deck will also have a dock on launch, sold separately.

The Steam Deck power will also be coming from SteamOS, though that doesn’t really indicate how games already available on PC will run on it. One can imagine though that with all of the specs outlined above, nearly any game that comes to Steam can be played on the Steam Deck with no trouble at all.

Overall the Steam Deck definitely has the edge on power over the Switch in a lot of ways, and might actually be what Valve needs to really break out into things beyond the actual Steam client, especially since previous efforts to do that such as the Steam Controller and Steam Machine haven’t gone over well.

You can learn more about the Steam Deck by following this link to IGN’s questionnaire.