Steam Deck OLED Out Now, New Variant With Patch Notes Worth Of Improvements

Valve has revealed a new variant of the Steam Deck, the popular handheld portable PC gaming machine. The Steam Deck OLED, as the name implies, switches the display from an LCD screen to an OLED screen, which brings has brighter colours and darker blacks.

The screen is of the same resolution (1280×800), but bigger (7.4-inch diagonal display size compared to 7-inch). No changes were made to the size of the Steam Deck itself (so you just get smaller screen bezels which is nice).

Another slight upgrade is the change of APU size (from 7nm to 6nm), the use of Wi-Fi 6E from Wi-Fi 5, and a slightly larger 50Whr battery (previously 40Whr).

But unlike when Nintendo revealed the Switch OLED as just the same hardware but with a better screen, Valve goes on to list out the improvements made with this variant, and the list reads more like patch notes than there are marketable selling points, which is refershing, albeit funny, to see.

Here’s all the changes the Steam Deck OLED has made that makes it different to the original Steam Deck:

  • Updated APU to 6 nm for better efficiency
  • Updated memory to 6400 MT/s, improving latency and power management
  • Increased thermal module thickness and performance
  • Increased active area to 7.4″ (from 7.0″)
  • Updated refresh rate to 90Hz (from 60Hz)
  • Updated peak brightness to 1000 nits
  • Updated touchscreen polling rate to 180Hz, improved latency and accuracy
  • Updated WiFi / Bluetooth module
  • Added support for WiFi 6E
  • Added support for Bluetooth 5.3, supporting newer codecs such as aptX HD and aptX low-latency
  • Added third antenna near the top of the device for better Bluetooth performance, including when docked
  • Added support for wake from Bluetooth controllers
  • Improved bass response for an overall flatter sound profile
  • Added support for using onboard microphone array simultaneously with the 3.5mm headphones connector
  • Adjusted analog stick top material and shape for increased grip and dust build-up resistance
  • Adjusted analog stick post material to improve interaction feel with front cover and reduce wear
  • Improved reliability of analog stick touch detection
  • Improved responsiveness and tactility of shoulder buttons switch mechanism
  • Adjusted D-pad snap ratio and diagonal interactions
  • Redesigned trackpad for improved fidelity and edge detection
  • Greatly improved trackpad haptics feel and precision
  • Improved battery capacity from 40Wh to 50Wh
  • Improved battery chemistry for faster charging, from 20% to 80% in as little as 45 minutes
  • Changed charging LED to WRGB
  • Added support for waking up from initial unboxing by long-pressing power button instead of requiring AC power
  • Adjusted power supply cable length from 1.5m to 2.5m
  • Added logo to power supply
  • Reduced total system weight to ~640g, or ~5% less than Steam Deck
  • Rear cover screws now thread into metal
  • Adjusted rear cover screw heads to Torx™, as well as other materials and geometry tweaks on the heads to reduce stripping risk
  • Lowered number of screw types throughout system
  • Reduced step count required for common repairs
  • Improved bumper switch mechanism drop reliability
  • Moved bumper switch to joystick board for easier repair
  • Improved display repair/replacement to not require taking rear cover off
  • Greatly improved memory power management firmware
  • Added preliminary support for open-source BIOS and EC firmware
  • Improved resume time by roughly 30%

Most of these don’t really matter to the consumers who just uses the Steam Deck as a product and nothing more. But for the repair technicians and tinkerers, the internal changes made with the Steam Deck OLED should make it more repairable, and easier to mod, which is a breath of fresh air.

For those curious how much the innards of the Steam Deck OLED has changed, GamersNexus has a breakdown of the teardown between the original and OLED variants. The main board is cleaner and less dense, the fan orientation is flipped and more changes were spotted.

The Steam Deck OLED comes in two variants, the 512GB OLED is priced at $549 USD (roughly RM2,586 )and the 1TB OLED starts at $649 USD (RM3,057).

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