Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch: Specs, Games, Graphics, Price And More Differences Between The Two Handheld Consoles

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Following the Steam Deck announcement, gamers flooded social media with comparisons to the Nintendo Switch, even describing Valve's console as the true 'Switch Pro'. Who comes out on top in the battle of the Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch?

It's easy to see people made these comparisons. Nintendo has a near-monopoly on the current handheld market, and Valve launching its own, powerful handheld device may disrupt at least some of this market share.

Here's everything you need to know about the Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch.

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Specs

In terms of the sheer processing power, the Steam Deck will outperform both the Nintendo Switch and its OLED model.

Featuring 16 GB of DDR5 RAM and 8 RDNA 2 CU's, the Deck packs more of a punch than the Switch's custom NVIDIA Tegra SoC that features 4 GB of RAM.

Its Zen 2 CPU boasts up to 448 GFlops FP32, reaching between 2.4-3.5GHz. In comparison, the Switch's ARM Cortex CPU has a clock speed of 1.02 GHz.

When comparing the battery life, Valve states the 40Whr battery will last for between 2-8 hours of gameplay. The original Switch had a battery life of between 3-7 hours, while the updated model and the OLED promise 4.5-9 hours.

Both also feature Bluetooth 5.0 support, but the Steam Deck will allow players to connect headphones via Bluetooth, whereas the Switch does not.

Graphics Output

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Of course, all that power means nothing if it doesn't look pretty.

Both the Switch and Steam Deck screens are very similar. The Steam conosle features a 7-inch, 720p LCD screen, while the base Switch includes a 5.5" 720p LCD screen. The OLED variant, however, has a 7" OLED screen capable of 720p. Both have a 60Hz Refresh Rate.

When docked, the Switch can run at 1080p/60Hz. According to Valve, when the Deck is placed in its official dock, it could reach 4K/120Hz, or 8K/60Hz. However, whether any games will be able to run at those levels on the Deck is not yet known.

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Storage

The base Switch and Switch Lite feature 32 GB of internal eMMC NAND memory, while the OLED will include 64 GB. The Steam Deck has three different models with varying amounts of storage. Prospective buyers will be able to choose between 64 GB eMMC, 256 GB NVMe SSD, 512 NVMe SSD.

Both the Switch and Steam Deck offer players the ability to upgrade their storage via a MicroSD slot.

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Games

The reason for the Steam Deck's perhaps astronomical storage compared to the Switch is that PC games can be huge.

Any Steam game - or Epic Games, Xbox Game Pass title playable on the PC - is compatible with the Steam Deck. This gives the handheld console a library that spans across the entire PC gaming landscape. In an interview with IGN, Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais said: "It can pretty much run anything you can run on a PC."

While the Switch has a smaller library, it makes up for this with its plethora of Nintendo-exclusive titles, alongside a handful of excellent third-party and indie games.

Price

The base Nintendo Switch cost £279.99/$299.99 at launch, while the OLED version will cost £309.99/$349.99.

The Steam Deck price varies depending on the amount of storage you want. Here's a brief rundown:

  • Steam Deck 64 GB eMMC- £349/$400
  • Steam Deck 256 GB NVMe SSD - £459/$530
  • Steam Deck 512 GB NVMe SSD - £569/$649
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Verdict

When comparing the Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch, it's hard not to be impressed by its powerful PC-like specs crammed into a handheld gaming device.

However, does this mean it's 'better' than the Nintendo Switch? Not particularly.

The Nintendo Switch does not compete with the more powerful games consoles - whether that's the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S or now, the Steam Deck. It relies on its bespoke library of unique first-party experiences, alongside some others, to attract customers to that which only Nintendo can offer.

READ MORE: Nintendo Switch OLED: Can the Nintendo Switch Get Burn-In or Screen Burn?

As a result, while the Steam Deck may succeed, it's unlikely this will come at the expense of the Nintendo Switch, instead drawing new consumers into the handheld market.