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6 Months with the Steam Deck

 ·  ☕ 6 min read

I’ve had my Steam Deck (256GB version) for a bit over 6 months now and I love it! Being a mostly keyboard-and-mouse gamer, that was a bit of a surprise to me.

Unboxing Experience

Opening the Steam Deck was an easy process. The packaging has fun Valve-y designs and contains the contents well without using unneeded extra packaging.

Setup (or lack thereof)

The initial setup process was as simple as possible. Sign into your Steam account and you are pretty much good to go!

Playing Games

Playing games just works. With the Proton layer, most Windows games fully work. Even some games with Anti-Cheat software (I’ve tried Fall Guys) will work on the Steam Deck.

Downloading Games

Steam recently added a feature which is fantastic for the Deck. If there is a computer running Steam on the local network which already has a game downloaded, Steam will automatically download to your device from the other device, preventing the game from having to be downloaded from the internet and being able to use your much likely much faster LAN. Either machine can cancel this and force the downloading device to pull from the internet, but it is a great feature to be able to pull a game onto the Steam Deck at full 1 Gbps or 2.5 Gbps speed with the use of a USB-C ethernet adapter.


It plays the games I want to play (even emulators of more recent consoles) at a stable 40-60 fps with medium-high quality settings. Check out proper reviewers for details, quantitative performance metrics. For more demanding games, I can play them at home by streaming them from my desktop. The Deck can play more demanding games if you lower quality settings and are okay with reducing your target framerate to 30-40 FPS, but it really isn’t well suited for it and performs much better in the lighter games at which it excels.

Battery Life

Admittedly, I’ve mostly used the Deck at home or in a location with easy access to power, so the battery life of the Deck has not been super important to me. However, for most of the light games that I play on it, the Deck gets 3-4 hours of play time, more than I really want (should) to play in a single sitting. Add an external battery pack and you can game for even longer.

Obviously with a triple A title, the battery is not going to last that long, the Deck will crank out so heat, and the fan will kick into high gear. But I rarely play these on the Deck anyway as I have a gaming desktop for these types of games.

Exploring the Controls

This is by far the best part of the Steam Deck in my opinion. There are so many controls and Steam allows you to rebind and configure the inputs in just about any way you want. All the controls are comfortable for my medium-large hands to use. Especially for games which include Steam Input support (mostly just Valve games as of now), the ease of remapping inputs and creating complex input schemes is fantastic. The ability to tie in the gyroscope, back buttons, and touch pads makes it easy to setup a very fluid and natural control. And the ability to share controller profile means that the community (and you!) can share the tweaks that work the best for them and game authors can create custom controller mappings for their games. The control customization deserves its own entire post.

The main thing I appreciate is the back L4, L5, R4, and R5 buttons. Since basically no game uses them, they can be mapped to duplicate other buttons. I’ve found it useful on a lot of games to remap these buttons to ABXY so that I can use those buttons while using the right stick. For emulated games, I’ve really liked mapping the rear buttons to emulator commands, like the “Hotkey” button for RetroArch. This makes it much easier to perform emulator commands like creating a save point or pausing the game.

Using the Desktop Mode

While I haven’t done a lot of different things in the Desktop Mode, there are times where it is invaluable. Since the Deck is a full Linux computer, you can go in and adjust files, add mod files to games, or just use it as a desktop. Desktop Mode also allows you to install applications not in the Steam store, like indie games, Discord, or anything that works on Linux. The read-only file system can be an issue, but most everything is a flatpak now, so that is less of an issue.

Favorite Software

These tools and apps greatly improve the experience or functionality of the Steam Deck.


I’ll make a more in-depth review of it, but if you like playing old console or arcade games, EmuDeck sets up emulators for just about any console or system you can think of. It streamlines the setup of tools like RetroArch and EmulationStation to allow you to seamlessly play any old game for which you own (or can “acquire”) the ROMs. It can even add your games as game entries to Steam, allowing you to directly launch an emulated game from Steam.


Decky adds so many great plugins which can do everything from syncing your play status to Discord to adjusting detailed performance/clock/TDP tunables to controlling how fast/much the Deck can charge.

Here are the plugins I currently have installed

  • EmuDeck Hotkeys (preinstalled by EmuDeck)
  • Network Info
  • AutoSuspend
  • PowerTools

KDE Connect

KDE Connect is a great tool for many uses, but I have found it the most useful for using another computer/phone as the keyboard for typing in complex passwords. It is super useful if you use a password manager. You can use a device which is already logged into your password manager, copy the credentials for whatever you are logging into on the team Deck and paste it via KDE Connect.

Favorite Games

These games are a combination of games I already enjoyed playing on desktop and games that where specifically reccommended to me to play on the Steam Deck. Enjoy them all!

  1. Vampire Survivors
  2. Sky Rouge
  3. Fall Guys
  4. Kalimba
  5. A Short Hike

The Future

I will likely swap out for an OLED Steam Deck at some point, but more out of a desire to have the latest shiny thing and not due to the Steam Deck LCD being bad. I’ve really liked the Steam Deck and am happy I got it. It has opened a whole new world of simpler games to me and allowed me to come back to retro games I played as a kid.

9/10 - Love it and the gaming it has given me. Would love it to somehow break the laws of physics and get more performance and longer battery without changing its size.