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The Steam Deck OLED: What's Different, and Is It Worth Buying?

The Steam Deck OLED: What's Different, and Is It Worth Buying?

Mike A.Mike A.Steam
Nov 17, 20237 minute read

Valve made waves in February 2022 when they launched the Steam Deck.

The handheld gaming PC wasn't a new concept before this point, but the Steam Deck did introduce a device that was more reasonably priced AND intertwined with the most popular video game digital distribution service. Talk about a win-win.

Since the Steam Deck's release, others have jumped in to compete in the same space. First Asus with the ROG Ally, and more recently Lenovo with their Legion Go handheld PC. Gotta love those Nintendo Switch-style removable controllers.

And now, just short of two years since we first got the Steam Deck in our hands, a revision of the console that changed everything is on the way. Announced on November 9th, 2023, the Steam Deck OLED has been confirmed and will be replacing the original Steam Deck when that inventory is cleared out.

But, what about those of us who were on board with the Steam Deck from the beginning? Is the Steam Deck OLED worth tossing out our perfectly fine Steam Deck LCD model?

That's what we're here to find out today. So, whether you're a loyal Steam user or just someone curious about the changes Valve made for their newest hardware, join us as we dig into the Steam Deck OLED to see if it's worth buying. And, since this is a Gameflip blog, there might even be some tips on how to snag a new Steam Deck OLED for less money. You'll just have to read to the end to find out!

Screen

The Steam Deck OLED's screen is all about inky blacks and brighter colors. (Image Source: Steamdeck.com)
The Steam Deck OLED's screen is all about inky blacks and brighter colors. (Image Source: Steamdeck.com)

The first and most obvious change made for the Steam Deck OLED is its headlining feature: the brand-new OLED display.

Let's see how the old and new screens stack up:

Original LCD Screen

  • Resolution: 1280 x 800

  • Type: Optically bonded IPS LCD

  • Size: 7" diagonal

  • Refresh Rate: 60Hz

New OLED Screen

  • Resolution: 1280 x 800

  • Type: HDR OLED Display

  • Display Size: 7.4" diagonal

  • Refresh Rate: up to 90Hz

As you can see, the new screen retains the resolution of the original model while also introducing a higher refresh rate and a slightly bigger screen due to the trimming of the bezels. In addition to that, the OLED version also benefits from the inherent advantages of the technology, like an infinite contrast ratio thanks to perfect blacks, and a lighting-fast response time. The colors produced by OLED screens are second to none.

The new screen is also HDR capable, which the old one certainly was not. All of this definitely impacts the visual experience of using a Steam Deck, but what about the rest of it?

Battery

You won't have to worry about digging these out as often with the Steam Deck OLED. (Image Source: Homemade Media)
You won't have to worry about digging these out as often with the Steam Deck OLED. (Image Source: Homemade Media)

Perhaps the biggest change to the Steam Deck OLED beside its screen is the new battery.

The new Steam Deck model boosts the battery capacity to 50Wh, up from 40Wh. An increase of 20% that results in - according to Valve - 3 to 12 hours of gameplay depending on the game and system settings. That's 30 to 50% better battery life than the outgoing model. That's super impressive, especially considering the high dynamic range screen and all the specs this piece of hardware is packing.

However, it's not just the bigger battery that gives the Steam Deck OLED more oomph. The OLED display draws less power, the internal components have been reconfigured, and the inclusion of a more efficient AMD APU ensures a longer-lasting battery. And when it's time to charge up again, improved battery chemistry means that new power supply will get you back to playing games faster.

Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Connection

No more waiting around for your games to be ready! (Image Source: Steamdeck.com)
No more waiting around for your games to be ready! (Image Source: Steamdeck.com)

The Steam Deck OLED comes with a newer, more powerful Wi-Fi 6E chip that promises more stable online play as well as increased bandwidth and way faster downloads than the old LCD model. Waiting around while games download will reportedly be a thing of the past with three times the download speed of the previous deck.

The dedicated Bluetooth antenna means you can more reliably connect multiple controllers to the system - a godsend for docked-mode party game situations. You can also now wake the system from sleep with a Bluetooth-connected controller, just like your other home consoles.

System Frame

The Steam Deck OLED is lighter and more robust at the same time. (Image Source: Peter Vukobrat on Unsplash.com)
The Steam Deck OLED is lighter and more robust at the same time. (Image Source: Peter Vukobrat on Unsplash.com)

If you think your current Steam Deck is a little hefty, prepare for some good news. Or bad news, if your wallet is feeling empty (don't worry, we can still help you score a new Steam Deck).

New materials and changes to the Steam Deck OLED's frame have reduced the system's weight 5%, down to about 640g. That'll definitely help with those long handheld gameplay sessions, and if you're a modder at heart, you'll also benefit from these changes.

Repair processes have been streamlined (fewer screws!) and the cooling system has also received an upgrade. That new hardware will stay cooler and last longer thanks to a bigger fan.

Is The New Steam Deck OLED Worth Buying?

All of these games will look better, but is it worth it? (Image Source: Steamdeck.com
All of these games will look better, but is it worth it? (Image Source: Steamdeck.com)

With this brief overview of some of the most important changes made by the new model of Steam Deck - and not even taking into consideration things like the improved responsiveness, bigger NVME SSD, or the fantastic looking smoky translucent colorway of the limited edition Steam Deck OLED - is this new portable PC worth your hard earned money?

The answer to that question will largely depend on whether or not you already have a Steam Deck and how happy you are with it. It's worth noting that this is explicitly not a "Steam Deck 2" or a full iteration of the hardware, meaning that it still has essentially the same performance as the Steam Deck LCD. If you're ok with that and the entry price of $549, then the Steam Deck OLED just might be worth buying in your case.

However, you won't necessarily need to pay full price for that fancy new OLED model. That's where we come in.

How Can Gameflip Make the Steam Deck OLED Cheaper?

Get ready to explore a whole new world of savings. (Image Source: Gameflip.com)
Get ready to explore a whole new world of savings. (Image Source: Gameflip.com)

At Gameflip, we want to do our best every day to help you get the video games, hardware, and digital goods you want without breaking the bank. We accomplish that goal in a few different ways, but it all starts with the Gameflip Marketplace.

For those wanting to snag a Steam Deck OLED on launch day as cheaply as possible, you might want to take a look at our Steam gift card offerings. We have hundreds of listings for authentic Steam digital gift card codes that clock in at decent discounts from their retail prices. That means you can get $100 Steam gift cards, $50 Steam gift cards, and more for way less than you pay at other stores.

When you stack up those savings with multiple cards, you could be looking at enough money in your Steam Wallet to pay off a Steam Deck OLED with some money left over to get some awesome new games to play on it when it arrives!

Like all purchases made by our millions of registered users, your Steam gift cards would be backed up by the Gameflip Guarantee - ensuring that if there are any issues that arise during or after the transaction, we'll do everything we can to make it right or refund what you spent.

So, what are you waiting for?! Check out the Gameflip marketplace and prepare for the Steam Deck OLED, pick up a Steam Deck LCD, or just pick up all of those Steam games you've added to your wishlist over the years.

What's a few more games for the backlog anyway, right?

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