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Valve Steam Deck Gaming Handheld's SteamOS Goes on a Diet

Steam Deck
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Nintendo Switch may be the hottest handheld gaming console on the market today, but Valve has garnered a lot of attention for its upcoming Steam Deck. The handheld gaming PC will launch in February 2022 and is powered by the Linux-based Steam OS 3. Courtesy of PCGamesN, we're now learning that the operating system currently weighs in at a mere 10GB.

To put that figure in perspective, previous internal builds were over twice as large, coming in at 24GB. Given that the $399 base Steam Deck has a 64GB internal eMMC, SteamOS consumes roughly 15 percent of that total, which is par for the course for current-generation game consoles (the OS takes up roughly 20 percent of available storage on the 1TB Xbox Series X and 825GB PlayStation 5).

Steam Deck

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Thankfully, there are three ways to obtain additional storage on the Steam Deck if 64GB is too restrictive for your gaming needs. For starters, you could simply opt for the mid-tier $529 model that comes with a 256GB NVMe SSD or pay $649 for the flagship with a 512GB NVMe SSD. However, perhaps the more cost-effective solution is to take advantage of the onboard MicroSD slot and add your own high-speed removable storage for games.

The final, more invasive solution is to crack open the console. Valve shows that it is technically possible to access the internal M.2 2230 to add your own NVMe SSD in a teardown video. "We at Valve really don't ever recommend that you open it up," the narrator of the video warns, however.

The Steam Deck is powered by a custom AMD Zen 2-based APU (4-core/8-thread CPU, 8 CU RDNA 2 GPU) with 16GB RAM. A 7-inch 1280x800 display is front and center, and you'll find dual thumbsticks, a directional pad, ABXY buttons, twin trackpads and R/L triggers. According to Valve, the internal 40 WHr battery is good for two to eight hours, depending on the game (which is a significant swing in extremes).

Be sure to check out our hands-on preview of the Steam Deck, including how the 1.47-pound device feels and what performance is like for this portable gaming powerhouse.

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.