Steam Deck is future proof, says Valve, but new generations could also be launched later

Written by Neil Soutter on Sun, Aug 1, 2021 3:00 PM

Valve’s upcoming Steam Deck has excited a lot of gamers, especially those who wanted a portable gaming solution like the Nintendo Switch but one that was compatible with their already-purchased Steam games. In a recent interview, Valve even said that the Steam Deck is “future proof”, but they are open to the idea of adding new generations later if needs be.

Despite the relatively modest performance target of 30fps at 800p resolution, the Steam Deck can seemingly handle almost all games thrown at it (we say almost because we haven’t actually got our hands on it yet). But under the hood lies some interesting tech that does give credit to future proofing.

Everything that's been coming out this year [that we've tried] has been running without issues,” said Pierre-Loup Griffais, developer on the Steam Deck. “I think this is largely a factor of industry trends. If people are still valuing high frame rates and high resolutions on different platforms, I think that content will scale down to our 800p, 30Hz target really well.

If people start heavily favoring image quality, then we might be in a position where we might have trade offs, but we haven't really seen that yet.

Taking a look at the Steam Deck specs, the device uses the latest generation of AMD hardware for its graphics card and processor. Plus, it is apparently one of the first devices in the world to use the new LPDDR5 memory, all of which contributes as a “big factor” for its future proof performance.

We're using the LPDDR5, which is brand new to the industry,” Yazan Aldehayyat said, a Hardware Engineer for the Steam Deck. “I think we might actually be one of the first products to showcase this new memory technology. So in that sense, that gives a lot of future proofing.

There’s also the case of ray tracing and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution support. In terms of the former, although the Steam Deck is technically capable, it still proves to be a very demanding technology that is too much for the mobile device. However, as the technology improves we could see it eventually come to Steam Deck in some form.

As for AMD FSR, Griffais mentioned that it does work on the Steam Deck and can be used to achieve higher frame rates. Though, at a resolution of 800p, one would expect there to be more visual artifacts than we’d expect even at 1080p. We’ll just have to wait and see how this one works though.

Lastly, Valve already mentioned that they are interested in other manufacturers making their own versions of the Steam Deck: “We want to make sure people know that the SteamOS 3 is available free, for any manufacturer that wants to make a similar product,” said Lawrence Yang, Designer.

But that doesn’t mean Valve won’t improve on their own version. Despite calling it “future proof”, no hardware lasts forever when it comes to gaming. And so, if the demand is there, more generations of the Steam Deck could be made. Plus, Valve already stated that they are in it for the long haul.

We look at this as just a new category of device in the PC space,” said Greg Coomer, Designer. “And assuming that customers agree with us that this is a good idea, we expect not only to follow up in the future with more iterations ourselves, but also for other manufacturers to want to participate in the space.

What do you think? Could the Steam Deck really be future proof? Would you be interested in newer generations released later on? What about ray tracing and FSR? Let us know!

Are you excited for the Steam Deck?

Do you think the Steam Deck can really be future proof?

Would you be interested in newer generations released later?

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13:04 Aug-03-2021

To be fair, I'm not expecting to play the latest AAA games on the Deck. I'd be fully satisfied even if it ran just today's titles or older, since I have a huge library of games that I would love to play hand-held (like racers).

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05:27 Aug-03-2021

I mean, future proofing when it comes to PC parts varies greatly. I'm down to see how long the Steam Deck will be able to play modern titles at decent FPS. Hopefully upscaling tech will help the Steam Deck last longer.

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19:17 Aug-02-2021

Ah yes so it's future proof the same way the original 3DS was future proof.
Good to know portable consoles are always released with the expectation and declaration of "pro" or "new" models that will replace them/render them obsolete within 2 years... (switch excluded of course)

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17:56 Aug-02-2021

Well, as long as developers are pushed just like with developing for Nintendo, yes, it's definitely future proof, but I highly doubt it, since it's a portable pc, so developers will just ignore the by then weak specs and just develop for the mainline pc industry.

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03:38 Aug-02-2021

idk about future proof, but i am excited for it.

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22:14 Aug-01-2021

I mean he is technically right, the future can be in 4 years or in 4 days.

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19:24 Aug-01-2021

I don't think Steam Deck is very future proof, though I can understand why Valve wants to convince us. Sure LPDDR5 and low resolution that isn't a problem on small screen will help. But I don't think it will fix everything. But for plenty of purposes, like emulation, it will be fine even long term. So it won't be bad, but as laptops, it won't age that well either.

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19:27 Aug-01-2021

As for next generation, if it is successful, which it likely will be, 2nd generation is inevitable and will likely be exciting as well. So far response has been positive, so I doubt Valve will just cut everything off. Whether it will be must have upgrade for 1st gen owners, we will have to see, I don't have crystal ball. And if you want portable gaming device, 1st gen Deck will be fine.

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19:46 Aug-01-2021

My laptop with a 1070 from 2016 still does very well, and I expect 2-3 more years of solid gaming from it.

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18:03 Aug-01-2021

steam deck is the ultimate emulation machine, you name it ps1 games, ps2 games, psp games, nintendo switch games, sega games anything you want, besides that, it can play all windows games, that is why im going to get it and not really wait for new generation of it since it would do 95% of anything i would want from it.

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17:51 Aug-01-2021

There's no such thing as "future proof" technology. And even then, if they follow that up by admitting that they might release "new generations" of the product, then that completely wrecks their future proof claim right on the spot.

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