- The Steam Deck OLED offers significant improvements over the original, including a gorgeous 90Hz OLED display with better brightness and color accuracy.
- The battery life has been greatly improved, with the OLED model lasting 30-50% longer than the original Steam Deck, thanks to a bigger battery and a more efficient processor.
- Upgraded storage options provide better value, with the middle-tier now starting at 512GB and the highest tier at 1TB, offering more storage capacity at competitive pricing.
A few days before the Steam Deck OLED was announced, I wrote about how the original Steam Deck was still worth it despite so many competitors hitting the market, like the Asus ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Go. Valve’s commitment to delivering high-quality and intuitive experiences, thanks in part to SteamOS, helped the handheld stay on top. Then, we got the surprise news that Valve was releasing the Steam Deck OLED. The Steam Deck was already great, but with some new upgrades, it feels like the most complete handheld PC gaming experience yet.
There are certain things that Windows-focused Steam Deck competitors might do better, such as easier access to games with anti-cheat and more modding capabilities. However, the Steam Deck OLED just made arguably the best handheld gaming console even better.
1 Gorgeous 90Hz OLED display
Bigger, brighter, and faster
One of the biggest criticisms of the Steam Deck was its somewhat mediocre screen. The original Deck had a 7-inch, 60Hz IPS panel that was limited to 400 nits of brightness. In comparison, the new Steam Deck OLED has a 7.4-inch HDR OLED panel that can reach a peak brightness of 1,000 nits in HDR and 600 nits in SDR. The bezels are smaller, it has better colors thanks to the 110% DCI-P3 color gamut, and the refresh rate is bumped up to 90Hz. Simply put, it’s faster, brighter, and more color-accurate — better in every way.
Once competitors started hitting the market, it became clear that the original Deck’s display was one of its weakest points. For example, the Lenovo Legion Go has an 8.8-inch QHD IPS screen that reaches 500 nits peak brightness. So, if you were holding off on buying a Steam Deck because of the screen, you should consider the new OLED model.
2 Better battery life
30-50% better battery life compared to the original
There’s a lot more to the new Steam Deck than the OLED screen. Another weakness of the original Deck was its battery life, and thankfully, that got a big improvement here. The OLED offers 3–12 hours of gameplay, while the original could only do 2–8 hours. In both cases, battery life highly depends on how demanding a game is regarding power consumption, but there are more reasons why the OLED model lasts longer.
First off, the new OLED model has a bigger 50Wh battery compared to the original’s 40Wh battery. Secondly, it uses a more efficient 6nm AMD APU compared to the original 7nm one. While this new processor isn’t better in terms of performance, it draws less power.
Finally, the new OLED screen still has the same 1280×800, meaning the GPU power draw will stay relatively the same. OLED screens also usually provide better battery life because the LEDs illuminate each pixel individually and can turn off completely when there are black areas on the screen.
This combination of a more efficient APU, the bigger battery, and the OLED screen all translate to noticeably better battery life compared to the original. The Steam Deck OLED also charges faster, as it can go from 20% to 80% in 45 minutes.
3 Upgraded storage
Each model gets a higher-capacity SSD
Better battery life and the new OLED screen already make the new Steam Deck incredible, but the upgraded storage makes the value proposition even better. The middle-tier option now starts at $549 with a 512GB SSD, while the highest tier starts at $649 with a 1TB SSD.
Previously, you would have paid $529 for a 256GB model and $649 for the 512GB model. The new base model still uses an LCD screen and the same internals, but now it uses a much faster 256GB SSD instead of the 64GB eMMc storage. And it still costs the same as the 64GB model at $399.
In short, all models now offer better value than ever before, regardless of whether you want the OLED or LCD version. The pricing is highly competitive here, considering both the Legion Go and ROG Ally cost $699 for their respective 512GB models.
4 Better haptics and button feel
Improved thumbsticks, touchpads, and shoulder buttons
The Steam Deck OLED is just a refresh, not a proper sequel, but it’s still surprising how refined this new version of the handheld feels. Valve could have stopped at the better display, but it went a step further and fine-tuned the buttons as well. For example, the thumbsticks are slightly grippier thanks to the more pronounced rubber lip at the top, and the shoulder buttons feel more tactile and responsive.
However, the touchpads have received the biggest upgrade here. The haptics feels more precise, and the surface itself is more responsive. For those of you who want to play shooters on the go, this is a big win. Elsewhere, the speakers have a bit more bass and volume. Another nice yet subtle change is the power button, which now has an orange accent that contrasts with the rest of the design.
5 Better repairability
The importance of right to repair
Apart from the obvious upgrades that we’ve discussed so far, Valve has also made the new OLED model more repair-friendly. For one, you no longer need to remove the backplate if you want to replace the screen. However, if you do the new Deck uses Torx threaded into metal. These screws are more resilient to stripping, and they’re generally an upgrade from the Phillips screws present on the original.
Other than that, the bumper switches are now on the joystick board, which improves shock reliability and also makes them easier to repair. Overall, there are now fewer steps required with the repair process, and the fact that you can easily replace the screen on your own is a massive win.
6 Everything else
A lighter design, faster download speeds, and speedier memory
That pretty much covers all of the major changes, but there are still some minor things that got tweaks. The OLED model now features Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6E, which translates to faster download speeds and a more stable wireless connection to peripherals. RAM is also faster at 6400MT/s (up from 5500MT/s), and the device is 29 grams lighter (depending on the configuration). Along with the more efficient processor, it also got a larger heatsink and a bigger, quieter fan. Even the charging cable got an upgrade, now measuring 2.5 meters long instead of just one.
The Steam Deck OLED is an incredible upgrade
As you can see for yourself, there’s a lot going on here for a simple refresh. The new OLED Steam Deck doesn’t just have a better display, it’s better in every way possible. Battery life lasts longer, charging is quicker, you’re finally getting a higher refresh rate, and the value is better thanks to upgraded storage. If you don’t already have a Steam Deck, this is the perfect time to buy one.
Steam Deck OLED
The all-new Steam Deck from Valve features some key upgrades, like an OLED display, HDR support, better battery life, faster downloads, and even a higher refresh rate. If you liked the Steam Deck, there’s even more to love with the Steam Deck OLED.