Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch: Is it game over for the Switch?

Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch: A battle of the handhelds (Image via Sportskeeda)
Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch: A battle of the handhelds (Image via Sportskeeda)
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Shaurya Sharma

The Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch battle will be one for the ages, as two of the best handhelds collide to get the crown for the best handheld in 2022. When Valve first announced the Steam Deck as a portable/ handheld gaming computer system, everybody was convinced that it was going to dominate the Nintendo Switch. Now that the Steam Deck has finally been out for some time (after Valve started shipping retail units), it has gained significant appraisal from reviewers and gamers. But has it been able to overtake the success of the Switch, and is it game over for the Nintendo Switch?

This article analyzes the key differences between the two devices and reflects on the reasons why you should prioritize getting one over the other. To compose a refined viewpoint and arrive at unbiased results, the article is based on factors that include build quality, design, display quality, hardware specifications, game library, and intended usage.

Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch: Five key factors to compare

1) Build quality and design

Who made the better console? (Image via Nintendo and Valve)
Who made the better console? (Image via Nintendo and Valve)

Build quality and design are two of the most influential factors in portable devices like Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck. Nintendo has been thrashed for a long time for their inferior build quality. Switch owners often complain about it creaking and feeling cheap. There is also the infamous Joy-Con drift issue that has plagued the console since its release. However, Nintendo has resolved some of these complaints with the recent release of the Switch OLED model, but it is still not comparable to the standard set by Valve.

The Steam Deck is an exceptionally sturdy and well-built device. It is, however, considerably bigger than the Switch. This makes the Switch a much better choice if portability is important to you, especially considering that you can get the Lite variant, which is a true on-the-go console.

In terms of general design, the Steam Deck takes a win as well. It has a superior grip-based design that does not lead to fatigue with extended gaming. The buttons and functionality also feel superior on the Steam Deck, but this might be subjective.

2) Display quality

The Switch OLED display looks breathtaking (Image via Nintendo and Valve)
The Switch OLED display looks breathtaking (Image via Nintendo and Valve)

A good display is important for gaming as it determines the level of immersion. Nintendo recently introduced their Switch OLED model with a vibrant seven-inch OLED panel. This makes its display superior to that of the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck’s display is quite average. It has a seven-inch IPS display that outputs a resolution of 1280 x 800. Even the Switch Lite V1 and V2 have better-looking screens than the Steam Deck. Nintendo clearly pulls ahead of Valve in the display segment.

3) Hardware specifications

We're seeing history repeat itself. Specs on Nintendo systems were almost always weaker vs the competition, but most of the time they managed to do well.- Gameboy vs Gamegear- DS vs PSP- Wii vs PS3/Xbox- 3DS vs PS VitaInterested to see how #Switch vs #SteamDeck plays out.

The Steam Deck is a much more powerful device than the Nintendo Switch. It features an AMD APU based on Zen 2 architecture CPU and RDNA 2 GPU with eight compute units.

The Switch, on the other hand, has a custom Nvidia Tegra chipset, which falls considerably short in terms of raw performance compared to modern computational standards. The Steam Deck can comfortably run most modern AAA games at a higher graphical fidelity and frame rate. Valve’s offering clearly takes this segment by a huge margin.

4) Games library and intended usage

The Switch's library is already legendary (Image via Nintendo and Valve)
The Switch's library is already legendary (Image via Nintendo and Valve)

This factor is probably one of the most influential when comparing the two gaming devices. If you consider the intended usage, the comparison almost feels illogical. The fact is that both the Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch are meant to be portable gaming devices/consoles targeting different audiences and use cases. The Steam Deck is based on Valve’s specific platform, with the same game library that Steam offers. This means you can play games like God of War and Elden Ring on the go.

If you don’t own a PC or a next-generation console, the Steam Deck can be used to enjoy most AAA games. Nintendo, on the other hand, has a separate target audience. The target audience for the Switch is often considered to be young children. While this is mostly true, older people also enjoy it based off nostalgia and a desire to revisit the games of their childhood. It is more apt for casual gamers who want to enjoy games like Pokemon, Super Mario Odyssey, and The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild.

The Switch may not have a library of graphically extensive games, but that does not limit one’s experience on the console. It still has a unique library of games that are truly fun.

What do you value the most?

Steam Deck vs Switch discussion starting againSpoilers: Both are worthwhile

From a general point of view, Valve and Nintendo seem to be competing against one another in the portable gaming market. Both have their strengths and weaknesses in different segments. It is extremely difficult to justify and conclude that the Steam Deck is the better gaming device because both the portables have their own intended use cases.

The Steam Deck should be your premier choice if you value playing modern AAA games, and the Switch is the perfect console to enjoy casual and fun games. One should also keep in mind that the Switch has a comparatively lower price of entry, with the Lite starting at just $200. As it turns out, Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch is an arbitrary battle. Whatever your choice, we are sure that you will enjoy gaming on these systems regardless.

Edited by Siddharth Satish
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