Valve has explained why they have no plans to upgrade or make an updated Steam Deck anytime soon.
Announced in 2021, the Steam Deck was released a year later. At the time of its production, Valve was able to stock it with Ryzen 2 powered CPUs, the latest chips made by AMD at the time.
Valve went through quite a few growing pains with the Steam Deck. Their supply and distribution system alone hadn’t been properly figured out at launch, prompting the company to stagger its sale around the world until they were ready.
In the meantime, AMD revealed this year that they had finally been able to produce a CPU designed for mobile use, called the Z1 and Z1 Extreme. Those chips are found in the ASUS ROG Ally, and will also be in the Lenovo Legion Go.
So the interest would naturally be there for Valve to update their Steam Deck with the new CPU. However, as reported by Dexerto, Valve employee Pierre-Loup Griffais spoke about why Valve wasn’t doing this yet.
“It’s important to us that the Deck offers a fixed performance target for developers, and that the message to customers is simple, where every Deck can play the same games.
As such, changing the performance level is not something we are taking lightly, and we only want to do so when there is a significant enough increase to be had.”
Now, some gamers may want to say that the Z1 Extreme is a significant enough leap to justify upgrading with a more powerful batch of Steam Decks, but it’s easy to see what Valve is planning here.
Valve endeavors to treat their Steam Deck platform like a video game console platform. Each console company introduces third parties to their hardware and works with an assumption that they will be making games on the same hardware for a significant period of time.
This choice also protects Steam Deck users, particularly those who barely afford their units and are on limited budgets. Those gamers can expect their Steam Deck purchase to be worthwhile for a few years.
Griffais also pointed out that upgrading the Steam Deck’s hardware would increase the power requirements and make for lower battery life. This is an issue particular to AMD, and it certainly affects both the ASUS ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Go.
Other CPU manufacturers have experience and tricks for battery management on laptops and other devices. For example, Intel based laptops can be built around longer battery life than is possible on an AMD based laptop. Consequently, Nintendo benefited a lot from switching from AMD to Nvidia. Nvidia produced their mobile Tegra CPU nearly a decade before AMD. Tegra is why the Nintendo Switch is as powerful as it is.
While some gamers may be disappointed with this revelation, they can always replicate and customize the Steam Deck experience themselves on superior hardware right now. It’s as simple as installing HoloISO on another PC gaming device. They can even do this with other PC gaming handhelds like the ASUS ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Go.
Or, we can all just wait for Valve to make that successor console in a few years’ time. In any case, it’s better for fans to know this now instead of waiting on something that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.