Steam Deck OLED: First Impressions
I've had the Steam Deck OLED for a few days now, so I want to put down my thoughts about it.
First things first: I absolutely love the Steam Deck. I've had the original LCD model since July 2022 and it has been my main gaming device since then. I play games on it just about every day. I'm not a PC gamer (At least I haven't been one since 2016), so I love how "console-ified" the Steam Deck is; however, it still lets me do more advanced things like modding. It's an amazing little device.
So here are my thoughts on the new OLED model.
If you don't want to read all of my individual thoughts, here's the tl;dr:
The new OLED model is amazing and is definitely worth it. It's the model you should get if you don't already have one. If you already have a LCD model, it depends on how much you use it. If you use it all the time, it is a worthwhile upgrade.
The new OLED panel is 100% better than the LCD panel. It looks much better, even with the changes in SteamOS 3.5 that improved the LCD panel's vibrancy. Not only that but it also supports HDR, which is absolutely wild. It's also a
90 Hz panel. Not that you'll be able to take advantage of that in most games, but it does make the UI much smoother and it makes input latency much better (Even if you cap the framerate to 30 FPS).
The panel is also slightly bigger. It's only a
0.4 inch increase (From
7 inches to
7.4 inches), but... It's noticable. The original LCD model had huge bezels around it and it legitimately felt cramped at times. The native resolution of both the LCD and OLED panels is
1280x800, which is a
16:10 aspect ratio. Not every game supports that resolution though, so you would have to run the game at
1280x720, which is a
16:9 ratio and is commonly named
720p. For those games that run at
1280x720, it felt cramped and didn't look all that great due to the added black bars on the LCD panel; however, it looks so much better on the OLED panel because there's more room to display the image and the black bars blend into the bezels. It is such a small quality of life improvement, but it's a very good one.
The battery is noticably better. I mean it's going from a
40 Whr battery in the LCD model to a
50 Whr battery in the OLED model, but there are also power efficiency improvements coming from the reduced size of the APU. At this point, I'm getting about 3-5 hours of playtime now. On the LCD model I was getting somewhere between 1-2 hours. It still heavily depends on what you're playing and what framerate you have set, but it is a huge improvement.
The OLED model runs much cooler. I was seeing between
75-90 °C on the LCD model if I was playing something intensive or at a high framerate, but I'm seeing between
60-75 °C on the OLED model. One benefit from that is that it doesn't get hot to touch often on the back of the Deck where the APU is. Plus the fan is much quieter. You can still hear it when it does kick on, but it's nowhere near as loud as it was on the LCD model.
Here are some other things that I noticed too:
- The analog sticks feel much better. Completely different materials.
- The haptics are more prominent. If a game didn't handle haptics/vibration/rumble directly through Steam Input, you could barely feel it (If at all). Now it's actually noticable. I was able to notice it in Borderlands 3 when shooting a gun.
- It's much lighter.
- You can now wake up the Deck from sleep when you turn on a controller that you have paired to it. Very handy when you have it in a dock.
- The speakers are slightly better? I think it's pretty subjective. I thought the speakers on the LCD model were already really good, but there's a noticable change in how the speakers sound on the OLED model. Some things sound better, but some things don't.
- If you get the
1 TBmodel like I did, the included carrying case has a removable liner. You can basically remove the inner portion of the case and use it as a smaller case.
- The OLED model now supports WiFi 6e, but... I won't be able to take advantage of that just yet. The router I've got right now is WiFi 6, but not WiFi 6e. lol
- They added the Steam Deck logo on the charger. The logo improves
NBperformance by 100%. What's
NB? It's a nothingburger.
The Steam Deck OLED is a great improvement of an already great device. Sure it might not be as powerful as something like the ASUS ROG Ally, the Lenovo Legion Go, or whatever new device Ayaneo or GPD has put out. I still believe it's the best out of all of them because it's efficient at how much power it uses. Plus you don't have to worry about all of the weird quirks with Windows (Though I will point out that it does comes with downsides, like some multiplayer games will not work because the anti-cheat doesn't work on Linux).
So should you get the Steam Deck OLED?
- If you don't already have a Steam Deck and you're looking to get one, get the OLED model.
- If you already have a Steam Deck and use it all the time, I highly recommend getting the OLED model. All of the improvements made with the OLED model are well worth it.
- If you already have a Steam Deck and don't use it frequently, don't get the OLED model.