Valve says Steam Deck OLED is made to improve battery life

Valve recently introduced the Steam Deck OLED, a seemingly minor update that primarily involves a screen change. However, aside from its exterior, the new device has been fundamentally redesigned. While some bold manufacturers might have labeled it a “Steam Deck Pro,” Valve maintains a more honest approach. They have stated that significant performance enhancements would be required for a new generation Steam Deck. The current model is an interim improvement, focusing on battery life.

In earlier public responses, Valve hinted at a new version of the Steam Deck with improved battery life and minor enhancements, without performance upgrades. This now appears to be the Steam Deck OLED. Gamers often hope for some performance improvement in new devices. Valve did indeed switch to a more advanced 6nm process custom SoC, theoretically reducing chip heat and allowing for slightly higher peak performance. However, initial media tests showed no significant game frame rate improvements in the Steam Deck OLED, about 5-10%, because the CPU and GPU frequencies are locked at the same rate as the original, with a maximum TDP limit of only 15W.

In an interview with Adam Savage’s Tested, Valve’s hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat explained that although more powerful SoCs (such as the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme) are available, their power consumption is too high for the Steam Deck. The primary upgrade of the Steam Deck OLED focuses on battery life, including a more energy-efficient OLED panel, a better SoC, and a larger battery capacity. The new device boasts a 30-50% improvement in battery life, with tests showing over two hours of battery life in certain gaming scenarios, a significant increase from the original’s one-hour capacity. Additionally, the new device generates less heat and has a quieter fan.

Originally, they could have simply replaced the original Steam Deck’s screen with an OLED panel (there are third-party high-definition panel replacements available), but the new thinner display panel allowed for more internal improvements. These include a larger battery, a thinner and quieter fan, an improved touchpad, and more. Besides enhanced display quality, the new device also offers a better gaming experience, with a 90Hz refresh rate OLED screen, and faster memory, improving display response and system latency.

Steam Deck OLED battery life

In terms of pricing, Valve has shown fairness. The Steam Deck OLED is priced at $549 (512GB), the same as the original 256GB version’s launch price, effectively offering more for the same cost. The new device will go on sale on November 16th. With a smoother supply chain and production process, Valve anticipates that customers will not have to wait long to purchase their devices.