In The Verge’s interview, Steam Deck designers Lawrence Yang and Pierre-Loup Griffais directly addressed rival handheld devices, noting that the Steam Deck’s biggest advantage over other handhelds is its efficiency, thanks to the custom Aerith APU. While the off-the-shelf, eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 6800U is far more powerful than the custom unit in the Steam Deck — featuring four more CPU cores, eight more threads, and 50% more Compute Units in its Radeon 680M GPU — battery life and thermal limitations make the Steam Deck more competitive. All that extra power comes at a cost, with the Steam Deck topping out at 28W, while 6800U-powered devices can reportedly run at up to 40W (via ETA Prime on YouTube).
Aside from relying on efficiency to edge out the competition, the pair say they are excited for the development of the console market as a whole. Instead of competing with the other console OEMs on the market, they hope that SteamOS 3 — Steam’s custom Linux-based operating system on the Deck — will power more gaming devices from other manufacturers. As both a hardware and software development company, this is a stance that makes sense for Valve, and aligns with previous comments from Gabe Newell about the low pricing of the Steam Deck. If more gaming devices are running SteamOS, more users will be spending on the Steam Store — the operating system’s default source for games — meaning the company will generate revenue from both its own handhelds and its rivals.