While Valve haven't been overly secretive with the Steam Deck, there are still plenty of burning questions to ask about the upcoming handheld PC. For me, these are usually along the lines of “Will it slip into my big coat pockets as easily as the Switch does?” or “Will it survive my cat pushing it off literally any flat surface?” but the newly-launched Steam Deck FAQ covers enquiries of a generally more techy nature.
Some of answers cover what’s already known, like the Steam Deck UI eventually replacing Steam’s Big Picture mode on desktop, but there are some tasty morsels of fresh new info in there. For one, it turns out the Steam Deck can be used as a controller for playing on your main PC or laptop. Given the Deck’s considerable, uh, girth, this doesn’t sound like a very wieldy alternative to just using an Xbox or PlayStation controller, but it could work out nicely if those little trackpads do a sufficient job or recreating the accuracy of mouse movement.
The FAQ also confirms multi-booting on the Steam Deck, so you’ll definitely be able to install multiple operating systems and choose which OS to boot into at launch. Valve had already suggested a willingness to let users install Windows on the Steam Deck, and with multi-boot support you don’t even need to go all-in between Windows and the default Steam OS 3.0. You’ll be able to boot from a microSD card and access the BIOS, too.
It’s not all good news: the FAQ clarifies that the Steam Deck won’t support external GPUs, so you won’t be able to 'roid the handheld by plugging a graphics card enclosure into its USB-C port. In fairness, this port was never confirmed to have the requisite Thunderbolt capability, so external GPU support was always a long shot.
Apparently some folk have also been asking if the Steam Deck will work with VR headsets? Valve says that you can technically connect one, but hoo boy, running certain VR games will be asking a lot of the Deck’s APU: a relatively modest combined CPU and graphics processor.
Anyway, hopefully this FAQ proves sufficiently illuminating, even if the tone of the strapline makes it sound like Gabe Newell had it written because he was tired of people emailing to ask how long the charging cable is. For more insights, Katharine’s Steam Deck interview with Valve designers Greg Coomer and Lawrence Yang examines both the hardware capabilities and the thoughts that went into them.
And it’s 1.5 meters / 4.9 feet, for the record.