What console is better than the Steam Deck?

What handhelds are better than Valve's Steam Deck?

What console is better than the Steam Deck? Image shows a Steam Deck underneath three question mark boxes, on a light blue gradient background.

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Valve’s portable gaming PC has become one of the strongest competitors in its field, but what console is better than the Steam Deck? The gaming industry has been witnessing a renaissance of the handheld, with companies such as ASUS and Valve pushing forward the new handheld gaming PC. With the launch of the Steam Deck OLED, Valve gave its flagship console a better screen, but not much of a performance boost over the Steam Deck LCD. So, for gamers looking to find a console that surpasses the capabilities of the Steam Deck, here’s a quick run through five alternatives that you might find better suited to your gaming needs and expectations.

The Asus ROG Ally – a powerful alternative

For those looking for an even more powerful handheld console, the Asus ROG Ally stands out as a top contender. Equipped with the new Ryzen Z1 CPU, a stunning 120Hz refresh rate 500 nit brightness screen, and a sleek design, the Asus ROG Ally offers an exhilarating gaming experience. On the whole, this gives the ROG Ally better raw processing power than the Steam Deck with its Zen 2 chip.

Surpassing the Steam Deck in terms of power and performance, the ROG Ally boasts a more powerful GPU and a higher resolution display, making it an ideal choice for gamers seeking top-notch visual quality and performance from a handheld.

ASUS ROG Ally

The Nintendo Switch – a worthy rival

The Nintendo Switch OLED found fresh competition with the launch of the Steam Deck OLED, but what sets the Switch apart is not just its huge game library of Nintendo exclusives, but its unique portable gaming experience. The Steam Deck was originally positioned as the ‘Switch Killer’, and on paper, its hardware majorly outperforms the Switch’s Nvidia Tegra X1 tech.

However, with its modest price, detachable Joy-Cons, and Nintendo gaming library, the Switch remains one of the most popular handhelds out there, hands down. While they might be aimed at different audiences, the charm of the Switch, alongside its healthy capacity for running first-party and third-party games, gets it on this list as one of the consoles that out-performs the Steam Deck.

Nintendo Switch OLED

✓ Marla’s thoughts

is OLED better?

Consoles such as the Steam Deck and the Switch got re-launched with OLED screens, giving gamers a better picture quality that has improved color contrast, with brighter hues and deeper blacks. While you can save a bit of money by opting for the LCD models, the OLED screen will give you a more impressive visual experience on the whole.

Lenovo Legion Go – better than the Steam Deck?

As two of the most recent portable gaming PCs on the market, there’s a strong rivalry between the Steam Deck OLED and the Legion Go. But what makes Lenovo’s offering a better console than the Steam Deck? Well firstly, you can’t ignore the impressive performance of the Legion Go. Under the hood, the Legion GO features an AMD Ryzen Z1 or a Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor, providing ample processing power for a handheld gaming console. Paired with its 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM, the Legion GO can handle even demanding games with ease.

The Legion Go also has a design advantage, thanks to its detachable controllers. Similar to the functioning of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons, with the push of a button, gamers can separate the controllers from the main body of the device, allowing for a more flexible gaming experience. Naturally, this enhanced performance does come at an enhanced price; the base model of the Legion Go starts at $700, positioning it as a better but more high-end alternative to the Steam Deck.

Legion Go

PlayStation 5 – an excellent choice

When comparing the Steam Deck to the PlayStation 5, it becomes evident that the PS5 holds an advantage in terms of graphics and processing power. The PS5 boasts a GPU with 10.28 TFLOPS of computing prowess, while the Steam Deck lags behind with 1.6 TFLOPS. Additionally, the PS5 supports up to 4K resolution, whereas the Steam Deck is limited to FHD, 1280 x 800 resolution. Sony’s console also boasts a 16GB GDDR6 memory and an 8x Cores 3.5GHz Custom Zen 2 processor, out-performing the Steam Deck’s humble APU.

Overall, its size and nature as a home console distinguishes the PS5 from the Steam Deck. The PS5 has its own dedicated library of games available on the PlayStation Store and retail outlets, and many of these are exclusive AAA titles. For both hard-core and casual console gamers, the PS5 is a landmark choice. Its gameplay also got a whole lot more flexible with the launch of the PlayStation Portal, a companion handheld streaming device – that unfortunately does come at an extra $200. But, it means that the PS5 can rival the Steam Deck in terms of a hybrid gaming experience.

PlayStation 5 (disc version)

Steam Deck vs PS4 – a closer match

While the Steam Deck may not match the power of the PS5, it actually falls somewhere between the PS4 and PS4 Pro in terms of performance. On the one hand, the Steam Deck supports more modern GPU features, offering improved fidelity compared to the GCN architecture found in the PS4 and PS4 Pro. Yet, on the other hand, the PS4 does hold a few advantages over the Steam Deck.

Similarly to the PS5, the PS4 has a wealth of PlayStation-exclusive games that you can’t get through your Steam library. The PS4 is still a competitor in the gaming industry and has stood the test of time given that it’s still popular following its 2013 release. This means that you can now buy the PS4 for a significantly lower price than when it came out, and it still makes it one to consider over the Steam Deck despite the latter’s next-gen hardware.

Playstation PS4 1TB

What console is better than the Steam Deck?

The Steam Deck has carved out a place for itself in the handheld console market, with its native SteamOS and Steam gaming library bringing gamers a unique portable PC experience. However, its success means that there’s intense rivalry throughout the handheld industry, with companies constantly looking to outperform.

In terms of which consoles are better than the Steam Deck, each of the five devices listed has its own unique advantages over the Deck, from being more powerful to having a more exclusive gaming library. Personal preference and user needs will ultimately be the biggest factor in which console is better for you personally.

Wrapping up

In the battle of handheld gaming consoles, the Steam Deck emerges as a strong contender. While it may not match the raw power of gaming PCs or dedicated consoles like the PS5, the Steam Deck offers a unique and portable gaming PC experience, creating a new category besides the likes of the ROG Ally and the Legion Go. With its vast library of compatible games and impressive performance, the Steam Deck has carved a niche for itself in the gaming industry, but with constant console development, it’s likely that we’ll only continue to see more Steam Deck competitors emerge.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.