Steam Deck OLED vs. Steam Deck: Which one should you buy?

Playing Steam Deck with your feet in the hot tub.
As great as the Steam Deck OLED is, don’t play it in the bath. It’s not waterproof. Valve

The Steam Deck is one of the most popular handheld gaming machines, offering stiff competition to the Nintendo Switch OLED, and the Asus ROG Ally. But now there’s new competition from… himself. A new version with a larger OLED screen, new more efficient internal components and better battery life is coming soon.

There’s a lot to be excited about with the new Steam Deck, including twice the storage as the previous model. But considering the price drop of the original model, you may still be unsure which is the right choice for you.

Price and availability

The original Steam Deck with an LCD screen launched in February 2022, priced between $400 and $650, depending on whether you want extra storage, a scratch-resistant screen, and some unique digital gifts. There are some older models with 64 GB eMMC internal storage that are still available at discounted prices, but they won’t last long.

Going forward, only one LCD model will remain available, with 256GB of storage space and a $400 price tag.

Steam Deck OLED models will launch on November 16, and will start at $550 for the 512GB model with a larger OLED screen and upgraded battery. The next tier is $650, and has 1TB of storage space, a premium etched glass screen, and some digital rewards. There’s also a limited edition model for $680 that has a unique carrying case.

The Steam Deck is held between two hands.
We love our Steam Deck and have modified it to improve it. But that OLED screen sure looks nice. Jacob Roach / Digital Trends


Steam Deck LCD Steam Deck OLED Steam Deck OLED
CPU AMD Zen 2 CPU 4c/8t 7nm process AMD Zen 2 CPU 4c/8t 6nm process AMD Zen 2 CPU 4c/8t 6nm process
Chart AMD APU RDNA 2 8c 7nm process AMD APU RDNA 2 8c 6nm process AMD APU RDNA 2 8c 6nm process
RAM 16GB LPDDR5 5500MHz 16GB LPDDR5 6400MHz 16GB LPDDR5 6400MHz
Storage The SSD is 256GB 512GB SSD 1TB SSD
Displaying 7 inch LCD, 1280×800 7.4 inch OLED HDR 7.4 inch OLED HDR
Refresh Rate 60Hz 90Hz 90Hz
Connection Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0 Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
Battery 40 working hours, 2-8 hours 50 working hours, 3-12 hours 50 working hours, 3-12 hours
Heavy 1.47 lbs 1.41 lbs 1.41 lbs

On the surface, the Steam Deck OLED sounds like a Switch OLED-style upgrade with new display technology, but that’s not the case. The Steam Deck OLED is more of a revision than the naming scheme suggests. Indeed, it looks set to be the default mid-range and high-end Steam Deck for the foreseeable future, with Valve discontinuing the high-end LCD version of the model.

The screen is new and improved, with OLED offering much higher contrast and greater brightness control per pixel. meaning the screen will look much more vibrant and rich, offering a more immersive gaming experience in every way. It also gets brighter, with support for HDR mode and a peak brightness approaching 1,000 nits. It really helps some of the content pop off the screen. The screen is also slightly larger, making the new Steam Deck a more impressive device to use.

The screen is also 90Hz, not 60Hz, which should make whatever you play on it look smoother if you can run the game at a high enough frame rate to notice that. This is arguably a bigger change for the gaming world, as well as gamers big fan of high refresh rates, and with good reason.

Elsewhere, there’s faster memory, support for next-generation wireless technologies like Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3. The weight is also down a bit, which is always welcome in a portable gaming machine.

However, one of the biggest changes is to battery life. With a larger battery and more efficient components, Valve managed to increase overall battery life by up to 50%. It is now claimed that under ideal conditions, the Steam Deck can run for up to 12 hours, far exceeding what you might expect. Typically you’ll get less power than that, but more power is always good for a device like this.

Woman playing Steam Deck OLED.
The OLED display makes all your games look richer and more vivid. Valve


The Steam Deck OLED was not designed as a performance upgrade, and Valve has made it clear that when creating the new device, they were aiming for the same performance as the original Steam Deck. That applies in testing. We haven’t gotten our hands on one yet, but our colleagues around the world have shown that in this case, the Steam Deck OLED performs just as well as the Steam Deck LCD, even with some examples of the original. performs slightly better.

However, the game looks and feels much better. The OLED screen looks beautiful, and the added refresh rate support makes games look and feel smoother and play much more responsively when you have the frames to take advantage of it. This is especially important in competitive gaming.

Network performance also improves. If you have a high-end internet connection, you’ll be able to download games faster on the Steam Deck OLED — as long as you have one Wi-Fi 6E compatible router.

Steam Deck OLED is the new Steam Deck

Steam Deck OLED is not a major revolution for Steam Deck. Performance doesn’t matter much, real-world battery life isn’t likely to get much better when you’re playing demanding games, and there are no real changes to ergonomics or controls. However, that OLED screen is beautiful enough that the Steam Deck OLED should be considered the new base model for anyone looking to purchase.

Although the original Steam Deck is still great (especially when you modify it), the newer version is the better of the two. Just as the Switch OLED is the version you should buy if you’re buying new, the Steam Deck OLED is the version we recommend. It looks much better, and the other changes are nice touches, making the Steam Deck feel more contemporary and relevant.

But this isn’t the Steam Deck 2. The ROG Ally is still faster and better in many ways, but the Steam Deck OLED is great. You probably shouldn’t upgrade your existing Steam Deck to one, but if you’re buying a new one, consider the OLED version first.

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