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Can You Play VR Games On The Steam Deck?

Valve’s handheld $399 gaming device boasts impressive specs, but is it enough to play your favorite VR games?

Earlier today, Valve revealed the Steam Deck, a new handheld gaming device capable of running AAA PC games on the go. The Nintendo Switch-like system features a 7-inch 1280×800 touchscreen display and is controlled via a standard gamepad with support for gyroscopic controls. According to the company, the Steam Deck is essentially a fully functioning PC.

As such, you’ll have the ability to plug in monitors as well as various peripherals, including keyboards, mice, headphones, and additional third-party gamepads.

Internally, the Steam Deck features an AMD Zen 2 CPU and AMD Radeon DNA GPU with 16 GB of RAM and 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage depending on which model you purchase. Valve claims that the Steam Deck should have no trouble running the latest PC games at 60fps. The handheld gaming unit also features a Displayport as well as additional USB ports, which leads us to the ultimate question: can the Steam Deck—which is basically a miniature gaming PC—run VR?

While the company has yet to mention VR directly, the above-mentioned internal specs and abundance of ports indicate that VR gaming could be possible on the handheld device, albeit at a significant cost to performance.

Image Credit: Valve

When asked about potential VR support for the device during an interview with IGN, Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais had this to say: “I mean, it has all the connectivity. You would need [a lot] to do that, but that’s not really what we’re optimizing the performance for.”

So, while Griffais has confirmed that the Steam Deck is not designed to run VR specifically, he doesn’t write it off entirely. With the right finagling, you may be able to run simple VR content on the device, but performance may vary. It sounds as though higher-end experiences, such as Half-Life: Alyx and Boneworks, are definitely off the table, while less demanding titles, like Beat Saber or SUPERHOT VR, might still be a possibility. You can even replace the SteamOS (Linux-based) platform in favor of Windows.

Image Credit: Valve

It looks like we’ll just have to wait until the official launch this December to learn more about the full capabilities of this ambitious handheld device. Those interested can reserve a Steam Deck starting July 16th at 10am PT for $399 (64 GB), $529 (256 GB), or $649 (512 GB).

Here’s a brief rundown of the key specs as provided by Valve:

  • CPU: Zen 2
  • GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs
  • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5
  • Storage: 64 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
  • Controls: Gamepad and 6-Axis IMU gyrscopic
  • Haptics: HD Haptics
  • Resolution: 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio)
  • Display size: 7″ diagonal
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 and Dual-band Wi-Fi radio (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Audio: Stereo
  • Microphone: Dual microphone array
  • Headphone: 3.5mm stereo headphone / headset jack
  • Input: 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 power supply
  • Battery: 40Whr battery. 2 – 8 hours of gameplay
  • Expansion: UHS-I supports SD, SDXC and SDHC

For more information visit here.

Feature Image Credit: Valve

About the Scout

Kyle Melnick

Kyle is a writer for VRScout also working in new media production. He's also a part-time bounty hunter.

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