Do the Valve Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch OLED Even Compare?

Q4 2021 welcomes the Valve Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch OLED model, but what sets these two handheld consoles apart?

Do the Valve Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch OLED Even Compare?

The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular gaming systems on the market. With this handheld gaming console, players have access to a library stacked with new and nostalgic games that are playable anywhere, anytime. On October 8, 2021, Nintendo is welcoming the upgraded OLED model to the Switch lineup, which has fans buzzing in anticipation.

Shortly following the release of the Nintendo Switch OLED is the Valve Steam Deck. Valve is known for its groundbreaking gaming platform, Steam, as well as for its innovative hardware. In December 2021, the company plans to release the Steam Deck. Steam players are gearing up to access their entire Steam Library from this portable PC.

Let's see how the Nintendo Switch OLED and the Valve Steam Deck compare!

Exterior Design Features

To start, the Valve Steam Deck is a much larger piece of equipment than the Nintendo Switch OLED. It is 2.2 inches longer, for instance, and weighs over half a pound more. The Switch OLED has the classic Joy-Con exterior controllers on either side of the console that are removable for gameplay.

On the other hand, the Steam Deck has two sides of controls with a mouse pad in between that only have removable grippers. The device made by Valve also allows you to connect a Bluetooth device or headset, and the Switch OLED does not.

Valve Steam Deck & Nintendo Switch OLED

Hardware Under the Shell

The Steam Deck has impressive hardware under the exterior shell and casing, which makes sense as the system is a gaming PC. The CPU is a quad-core Zen 2, and there is an RDNA 2 GPU. The memory core is a 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM.

The Switch OLED utilizes a chipset called Nvidia Tegra X1 for its CPU and Maxwell systems for its GPU. It also has a 4 GB LPDDR4 RAM, significantly smaller than the Steam Deck system.

Additionally, the Switch OLED has a battery life of up to nine hours, and the Steam dock lasts up to eight hours.

Steam Deck | Credit: Valve Corporation

Display Settings

If you want to play handheld games on the Nintendo Switch OLED or the Valve Steam Deck, you will not reach 1080 pixels. The Switch OLED has 720 pixels, and the Steam Deck has 800 pixels.

However, the Switch OLED does have a docking station, allowing you to connect the device to a television or monitor for 1080 pixels at 60 Hertz.

The Steam Deck, on the other hand, does not have a docking station. You can hook the PC up via HDMI cables for a display resolution of 4K at 120 Hertz.S

Switch OLED Model | Credit: Nintendo 

Performance Operations

The Valve Steam Deck is a PC, meaning, as mentioned, it utilizes the latest hardware. Currently, it runs SteamOS, which comes from the software company Linux, but you can install a Windows operating system if you would like to use that.

The Nintendo Switch OLED, on the other hand, only has access to the custom performance system made by creators from the company. It is not customizable, and you can not download other operating systems to the console for your enjoyment or performance needs.

Steam Deck | Credit: Valve Corporation

Storage Options

Three storage variations exist on the new Steam Deck. The base has a 64 GB storage solution, after which you move on to 245 GB and 512 GB.

The first level of the Switch OLED has 32 GB, and beyond that, you can opt for a 64 GB system.

However, both handheld devices allow you to insert a micro SD card if you need additional storage for your games. There is a slot on the front of each gaming device for ease of access.

Switch OLED Model | Credit: Nintendo 

Accessories Available on Each Device

One of the many reasons gamers love the Nintendo Switch OLED is the accessories that come with it. As mentioned, the Joy-Con controllers come off so that you can play when the console is in the docking station. There are also accessories for specific games like a steering wheel for Mario Kart, for instance, and even a keyboard.

The Valve Steam Deck, on the other hand, has a trackpad on the controller. This feature allows you to feel as if you are playing your game on a computer. The controller also allows you to hook up a headset to it through Bluetooth or the audio jack.

Steam Deck | Credit: Valve Corporation

Controlling Your Games

When you detach your Nintendo Switch OLED Joy-Con controllers, you can use them as two separate controllers for a multiplayer game. You can also connect them to play a more strategy-based option with something similar to a traditional gaming controller. Finally, hook up the alternative accessories, like the steering wheel mentioned above, for very specific games.

The Steam Deck uses two thumbsticks with the trackpad aforementioned to give you PC-like control over any game you want to play. Thanks to bluetooth compatibility, both systems are compatible with other devices, including the GameCube controllers for the original Switch and the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 controllers for the Steam Deck.

Switch OLED Model | Credit: Nintendo 

Multiplayer Gaming

Today, online multiplayer games are more popular than ever before. Whether you're looking to make new friends around the globe or wanting an ever-evolving gameplay experience, online gaming is the way of the future.

If you subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, you can play any co-op game available on the Nintendo Switch OLED. If you do not have a subscription, play locally with others in your home via the two separate Joy-Con controllers.

The Valve Steam Deck allows you to play almost every game in your Steam Library. However, if you want to play games like World of Warcraft, you will need a subscription to engage in multiplayer.

Steam Deck | Credit: Valve Corporation

Games to Play on Each

As mentioned, the Valve Steam Deck lets you access your entire Steam library. You don't have to worry about losing your gameplay data since your progress will save to the cloud. Eventually, Valve plans to make games from other libraries compatible with the Steam Deck, including Epic, uPlay, and Xbox.

The only games available on the Nintendo Switch OLED are those that are in the Nintendo Store. The good news is that many independently-owned games come to the Switch OLED. So, depending on the types of games you're into will be a huge deciding factor on which handheld console is best for you.

Switch OLED Model | Credit: Nintendo 


The Valve Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch OLED are comparable in price. The Steam Deck is very affordable compared to other handheld PCs, starting at only $399. If you want the largest, 512 GB option, you will pay $649.

The Switch OLED has a starting price point of $349, making it only $50 less than the Steam Deck. This fact is shocking when considering all of the hardware features that come with the Valve device.

Valve Steam Deck & Nintendo Switch OLED

Making a Choice

The only similarities between the Valve Steam Deck and the Nintendo Switch OLED are the comparable price point and the handheld features. Other than that, each portable gaming device is vastly different, offering contradictory hardware features, gaming libraries, and even controls for gameplay.

The Steam Deck is built like a PC, as even the controller has functions similar to a keyboard. Whereas the Switch OLED has basic console controls and offers removable Joy-Con and top gaming picks.

Overall, both handheld gaming consoles are attractive and have their benefits. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide on the essentialist features for your purchase.