Heya, 8bit here. Haven’t blogged in a while, pretty insane if you ask me, but don’t worry! I’m back with an update with the Steam Deck I got back in May of last year. I’ll be talking about how it felt to own the Deck for these past couple of months and see if my opinions changed when I first wrote about it. I’ll also talk about a couple of things I’ve done to the Deck to make my experience with it a bit better.
When the Steam Deck first came out, Steam OS was pretty.. okay. Not good, just okay. As these months go by, Steam OS just keeps getting better and better. As of this blog post, we are currently in Steam OS 3.4.11 and when I wrote my blog post about the Steam Deck for the first time, we were in Steam OS 3.1. That’s like a ton of updates, both minor and major! What has changed since then? Here’s a list.
Steam OS Updates
- The SteamOS 3.2 Update
- Steam Deck OS Stable Update: nothing to see here
- Steam Deck Client Update and SteamOS 3.3
- Steam Deck OS Update
- Steam Deck OS Stable Update: 3.3.3
- Steam Deck OS 3.4 Update
- Steam Deck OS Stable Update: 3.4.4
- Steam Deck OS Stable Update 3.4.6: March 13th
- Steam Deck OS Stable Update 3.4.8: May 31st
- Steam Deck OS 3.4.9 Update: August 31st
- Steam Deck OS 3.4.10 Update: August 31st
- SteamOS 3.4.11 Update: October 6th
Clicking on any of the links in this list will take you to Steam’s website and are not responsible for the content or availability of linked sites.
Using the Steam Deck has been a better experience than once before 12 months ago. Games run better, unsupported games are finally supported, and more. Valve is really doing a great job on making this portable computer feel like a portable console. The ROG Ally for instance may be a powerful portable PC, but it’s biggest downside is it’s software. Because since it runs Windows, there’s just not much customization you can do without interfering with the kernel, because of this battery life and UX is not friendly for beginners in the portable computer market. Because of this, for anyone thinking about switching to Windows instead of using Steam OS on the Steam Deck, don’t! Try at least a couple months with Steam OS unless you really have to use Windows.
Traveling with the Steam Deck™
Let’s talk how amazingly awesome this thing is when traveling. In June of last year, I went to Las Vegas with my buddy, pal, friend, JustBrian; and the Steam Deck definitely carried the vacation as we were under 21 and weren’t allowed to do anything fun at Vegas. “Why were we at Vegas?”, you may ask is not important. However what is important is how we got there. The answer? Driving. Unlike plane rides where it takes like 2 hours, driving to Vegas from a couple of neighboring states takes time and that’s where the Steam Deck shined. The games that I played were light, easy to run games that didn’t drain the battery since the car we were in didn’t have an AC plug. Fortunately I had borrowed a battery bank from my dad with one and was able to get another full charge for the Deck when needed. Now, the games I spent my time on while on the road were: “Hollow Knight”, “The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles”, and “A Hat in Time”.
When we would take a break from driving and stay at hotels, the Steam Deck became peak! With internet connection and constant power from the wall, me and Brian would play multiplayer games. One of them was “Dead by Daylight”. Before it was Steam Deck verified, Brian and I would take out microSD cards loaded with Windows and play Dead by Daylight there. Windows on microSD cards were previously talked about in this blog post so I won’t go in-depth about them here since my opinion on them hasn’t changed. Then when we were done playing multiplayer games, I would play some heavy games that would drain the Steam Deck’s battery in like 2 hours. Some games include “Horizon: Zero Dawn” and “God of War (2018)”. Although both would run at like 25-30fps, it was still enjoyable.
In conclusion, the portable console… is certainly portable.
Accessories, Upgrades, and more.
It took a while, but after some time I got some upgrades for my Steam Deck. A new backplate, a bigger and better SSD, better thumbsticks, and a grippy case. I also got the official Valve Steam Deck dock. Although these aren’t needed, they definitely an improvement when using the Steam Deck. I’m going to in depth with all them and give my review on them as well.
Disclaimer, all the links I’ll be posting below are not affiliate links. Amazon links listed will be based on the United States.
Matte Screen Protector
The first accessory I bought for my Steam Deck was the magglass Tempered Glass. Basically what this screen protector does is give it a matte feeling so fingerprints won’t easily show up and muffles the light glare. It’s pretty nice and feels great, unfortunately you do lose picture quality. Earlier this year I had the screen protector chip off near the top left corner. I have no clue how that happened, but fortunately the screen protector has lifetime warranty. I contacted the manufacturer and got a replacement with only me paying for shipping (5 USD). If given the choice however, I’ll choose a regular glossy screen protector with oleophobic coating instead of the matte screen protector because 720p games with it do not look good and I’ll rather have better screen quality than less glare from the sun.
This is my least favorite of all the accessories that I bought, 7/10 it works.
Valve Steam Deck dock
When the Steam Deck dock first released, I instantly bought it since I didn’t want to go for a third-party brand. So essentially this is the only dock my Steam Deck has touched and the only one I can give my thoughts on. It works as you expect, you plug stuff in and it works. I think my favorite part about this dock over the others is that you can update the dock through the Steam Client via an OTA. I do wish that the USB speeds were faster since I plug in my Windows OS external SSD to it to run Windows-only video games. The USB-A 3.1 Gen1 5 Gbps speeds is not enough for Windows and games at the same time, I really wished Valve did USB-A 3.2 at least. The HDMI and DisplayPort combo is nice and having FreeSync and HDR enabled is such a nice bonus.
I’ll give the Steam Deck dock a 9/10. It does it’s job and I’m very happy with it. Good work Valve.
The next accessory I bought for my Steam Deck is the blue Transparent Back Plate for Steam Deck from JSAUX. Now we are heading to the part where you have to open the Steam Deck and stuff. Installation was really easy, just unscrew the 8 screws, use a plastic prying tool or your fingernails to take off the regular back cover, then insert the JSAUX back cover and screw it back up. The metal heat plate is an interesting addition to the transparency. I didn’t do any testings or what not, but it does seem like the Steam Deck is getting cooler. 75 C average when playing triple-A games when usually I average 79 C nearly 80 C. I have heard that the heat plate is a bad idea since it makes VRAM and SSD’s hotter, but it hasn’t stopped me from using it. The transparency is also not bad either, you can see the insides of the Steam Deck pretty well even with the blue color.
I’ll give the JSAUX transparent back plate a 8/10, it does it job well, but I think the heat plate could be optional as I don’t really care for it. However… this gets covered up by the dbrand Killswitch case I talk about later. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Now this is something I’ll call an upgrade rather than an accessory. My new thumbsticks are the GuliKit Joysticks. These are hall effects sticks rather than potentiometer. Basically the too long didn’t read is that they are better since they can have almost 0 deadzone and no stick drift. These are amazing. My deadzones are 3000 for both sticks and have not experience any stick drift. So basically it’s doing it’s job.
Although I’m very happy with these, if your sticks are doing just fine, you can stick with stock, however if you’re experiencing any drifting you should replace them with the GuliKit joysticks instead of ordering new stocks from iFixit. I’ll be giving these a 10/10 however since having basically no deadzone is very nice to have while playing FPS.
The next upgrade was the Inland QN446 2TB SSD. I bought the 256 GB model for the Steam Deck with a 512 GB microSD card. However this not enough for me. I just have way to much games, both Steam, Emulators, and non-Steam games. So I got the next best thing currently, a 2 TB SSD. It has enough space for the games I wanted to play right now and leaves my microSD card to be just only emulators and the games associated with it. Probably down the road I’ll dual boot both SteamOS and Windows just for that added convenience.
Going to give this upgrade a 10/10, although bit pricey right now, it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
More than an accessory than an upgrade is the dbrand Killswitch. I chose the Travel Kit with the Sea Breeze skin with the Dock Adapter Kit. I believe this is the most I’ve spent on a case for anything. For this I’ll give each item from the dbrand Killswitch a rating out of 5 and give me overall score at the end.
The skin installation was a “breeze” however I did fuck up on the right side of the Steam Deck where the ABXY buttons are housed. I contacted dbrand support and got a replacement with me only paying for shipping. Thumbs up for that. The vinyl has this matte texture feeling that really nice to touch. Because of this, I’ve also added the touchpad skins. I’ll rate the vinyl a 5/5.
I’ve always been a huge fan of dbrand cases, I have one for me phone and luckily the case feels just like their dbrand Grip™ cases. It has that dotted texture with the strips for that grippiness, the kickstand is nice feature just in case you want to relax it on a tabletop while playing. It does make the Steam Deck heavy, but not to the point where it’s hard to carry it for prolong times. I’ll rate the Killswitch case a 4/5.
The travel cover is my favorite part of the Killswitch since the included Steam Deck cases, although very good, it’s big. I carry a handbag and putting the official carrying case inside is not an option. The travel cover allows me to dump my Steam Deck in the bag and carry it around. The travel cover is a hard plastic that covers the buttons and triggers so the sticks don’t get pushed down while traveling. I’ll rate the travel cover a 5/5.
Picking the Travel Kit option also gives you their Stick Grips and it’s not bad. I didn’t think I’ll like them since I really like the official Steam Deck sticks feeling, but adding the Stick Grip feel a lot better, so I’m keeping them on. I’ll give them a 3/5.
Finally, my add-on, which was the Dock Adapter Kit. It’s a metal piece that goes on top of the Steam Deck dock that allows the Steam Deck to be docked with the Killswitch case on. It fits snugly with the dock adapters since it has indentations for the bottom lips of the Killswitch case. The adapter for the cable is a lot different from the adapter I’ve seen in other video reviews, however I think it’s a lot better since it has a lip and space for the cable to attach to making it easier to take off the cable off the Steam Deck. I’ll give this a 2/5 since it a must purchase if you have the official Steam Deck dock, I’m pretty sure third-party docks already fit the Killswitch fine.
Overall I’ll give my experience for all the Steam Deck dbrand products I’ve purchase a 8/10. It’s nice and the customer service is good, but very overly price. I say go for it if you don’t care about the price and enjoy quality products.
After a whole year and a couple of months, I still use my Steam Deck quite often. I thought it’ll collect dust on my dock after a couple months of owning it, but lately it’s been nice gaming on the go on vacations and on bed. It’s still a quality product and probably the best handheld PC in the market even after the release of the ROG Ally and Legion Go due it’s support from the community and Valve themselves. There’s always something new in r/SteamDeck that people have been experimenting with their Steam Deck. There’s something about the SoC in the Steam Deck that other handheld PC’s can’t beat, and it’s the battery life since the software and hardware are working that closely together. I love my Steam Deck and I can’t wait for the next version when it does come out. Thanks Valve.
Thanks for reading, see you in the next blog post.