I’m sure you’ve heard by now the mumblings regarding a potential Steam Deck revision. Codenamed as the model 1030, this new model is speculated to have a new Wi-Fi chipset capable of the 6E spectrum. There’s also the rumor of the “Sephiroth” audio codec commit to kernel 6.6, that have led some to speculate a modest hardware refresh.
While I normally don’t comment on rumors or speculation, I’ve got something to say regarding the next-gen Steam Deck.
Valve time. Yes, that dreaded phrase that no one likes to hear. But let’s try to look at that phrase from the glass half-full perspective. Valve time is actually good. Because you know Valve takes their time with their software and their hardware. They don’t rush their products out the door. Meaning, when you get a product from them, you know you invested your money properly. You get decent support from Steam, there are repairability services set in place should something go wrong with your device, and you get software that has been properly tested and doesn’t break for the typical end-user.
That’s what the Steam Deck is. The device is a little over 18 months old at the time of writing this. And we’re already seeing games push the Van Gogh APU to the limit. People demand more powerful hardware. People want an OLED screen. Longer battery life.
And yet, we’re not really at that point where we can do that. Pierre-Loup Griffais had recently mentioned “we don’t want more performance to come at a significant cost to power efficiency and battery life. I don’t anticipate such a leap to be possible in the next couple of years.” The same developer also commented that replacing the screen with OLED would be “a bigger amount of work than people are assuming it would be.” In other words, the team at Valve wants to take their time. They want to make sure the next-gen Steam Deck is truly going to be worth your while and your wallet. So, I’m glad they’re taking their time with this.
You have the so-called “Steam Deck competitors.” Take Aya Neo, for example. I can’t think of a company that produces as many handhelds as they do. Every three months there’s a new handheld from them. Say you’ve invested $1,000 in that shiny new handheld from them. Now in a few months’ time, your device is already outdated, and you feel like a loser because you’re not going to spend another $1,000 on another handheld from them that has a slightly smaller bezel and 2 more GB of RAM. And where’s the support? Is all the support going to their new handheld now? Are you still going to get support from them for the product that you have that’s only six months old?
That, to me, just causes anxiety. Investing a huge chunk of your wallet to them, only to find out it’s already outdated in a few months, with poor Linux support, and maybe getting a short-circuit somewhere in the hardware because they rushed the product out too quickly.
You don’t have that problem with the Steam Deck. Not only is it significantly less expensive than every other handheld I’ve seen, but you’re going to have longtime support for your product. You have the one-year limited warranty, even if you buy a refurbished unit. And even after that you can still send it for repair, albeit with some of your money taken away. You have software that has been tested thoroughly. You have hardware that is easy to access. And no other company would dare to invest in a platform other than Windows, to try and make the device truly more catered to Valve’s wants and needs (except for maybe Google, but they’re basically irrelevant to this.)
And you don’t have to worry about the Steam Deck becoming outdated, because Valve isn’t rolling out a new major hardware revision anytime soon. You could buy a Steam Deck next year, and still get a few years out of it, especially for the lighter indie games.
We’ve got things like FSR 3. Give that technology some time, and more developers will incorporate it into their games. This will be a huge boost for the Steam Deck, since games are becomingly increasingly demanding on hardware and this will at least allow heavy-pushing games to be playable. And you may have seen the benchmarks from Phoronix, seeing just how much better games perform on SteamOS 3.5 compared to SteamOS 3.4, thanks to the upgrade to the Mesa drivers. SteamOS 3.5 also delivers improved color management, making the screen’s colors less bland. It’s things like these that ensure the Steam Deck has a long life ahead, while giving Valve time (no pun intended) to properly invest in a Steam Deck 2 that will really be worth your while.
So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what would you like to see added or improved with the Steam Deck 2? Do you think Valve’s estimate of late 2025 or 2026 for the next-gen Deck is proper?