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Shacknews Best Hardware of 2023 – Steam Deck OLED

The original Steam Deck released last year and was acclaimed for its various capabilities. However, while it was one of the ideal ways to play games from the Steam ecosystem while on the go, there were several shortcomings that were worth noting. None of them were dealbreakers, but it felt like Valve could do better. It now appears that they have with the release of the Steam Deck OLED, a more optimized version of the handheld that addressed many of the last version’s issues.

To start, the OLED display is marvelous. It provides a level of clarity similar to what the Nintendo Switch OLED offered to Switch owners. Games come across clearer with a brighter display, sharper colors, and a greater refresh rate. The improved 90Hz display (versus the 60Hz refresh rate of the previous model) make it a more alluring option for many of Steam’s more intense titles. Plus, it’s much more suited to extended handheld sessions thanks to the readjusted heating vents. While there’s still some noticeable heat exhaustion, it’s significantly cooler and a lot less distracting than the OLED’s predecessor.

One of the other problems the original Steam Deck had was battery power. Depending on brightness settings, the original would only last about 2-8 hours per charge. The OLED’s battery life is marginally improved, able to go something closer to 3-10 hours depending on the game and settings. It’s not a substantial improvement, but it’s enough to get some more gaming time on a flight or long drive. On top of that, the new OLED charges faster than the original, able to get Steam users up and running again within roughly an hour. As long as the unit is charging, it gives users a chance to download some more games, which they can do faster with the new Wi-Fi 6E module.

The Steam Deck OLED still isn’t quite perfect. The form factor is basically the same, so those who hate the D-pad placement and the touchpads will have to live with those a little while longer. It’s also still bulkier than other handhelds on the market. However, the OLED is the best way to play Steam games on the market right now. Valve saw the way the winds were blowing with competitors like the Asus ROG Ally, the Lenovo GO, and the Razer Edge and responded in kind with this November release. There’s nobody beating Valve at its own game, at least for this year.


Be sure to read over the rest of the Shacknews Awards in our Year of the Games: 2023 feature.

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