We talked to the community about their wishlist for a Steam Deck 2. From a clamshell design to a bezel-less design, this is what they said.
Valve's portable PC has had a great first year.
Following its launch, the Steam Deck quickly became a firm fan-favourite device, offering up an exciting and real look at just what a portable PC could offer. Since it's been used in countless creative places, gone on to sell a reported million-plus units, and developers are now quick to target the handheld for their latest slew of game releases.
Of course, it also allowed a fresh community of ardent owners, avid enthusiasts, and keen creators to emerge and flourish — all passionately sharing neat tidbits and new details about the handheld device as they came to light.
Now, with such enthusiasm comes the desire to look ahead — and although Valve are only just getting started with their portable PC, it's fair to say the Steam Deck community has spent countless hours over the past twelve months speculating as to what the company may create next.
Valve recently went on record to squash any hopes of an imminent Steam Deck 2 - saying that any potential follow-up device is "a few years" away. So although new hardware isn't in our immediate future, that doesn't mean we can't dream.
So, just what could a Steam Deck 2 look like?
Well, in an attempt to find out, we sat down with a few notable creators in the Steam Deck space — these are folks who talk about the Steam Deck day-in, day-out, know the device and what its capable of, and what its current strengths and shortcomings are.
We've spoken to the likes of Russ from RetroGameCorps, ThePhawx, Fan The Deck, and others asking them: What do you want to see in a Steam Deck 2?
We've broken down their suggestions, speculation and wishes into three categories — obvious picks that we all want, hope and pretty much expect to see, specific picks that dive into some technical nuance, and the more oddball, fun, exotic picks to round things out.
Here's what they had to say.
- Russ from RetroGameCorps
- Hi-Tech Lo-Life
- Bill from The Nerdnest
- Richard from FanTheDeck
- Wesley from RetroResolve
Let's start with the obvious changes.
To little surprise, a change nearly everyone wanted to see in a Steam Deck 2 is better battery life. TheTerk notes that the current Steam Deck 40Wh battery "is underwhelming in the handheld landscape", explaining that a future model "needs to adopt a 50Wh solution to remain competitive with the more expensive brands". They add that with a 25% increase in battery capacity, a new model could "iterate on its already impressive efficiency". ThePhawx adds to this by going one step further, as he believes a 60Wh battery wouldn't be that outlandish.
Another common feature request is for a better screen. Be it NerdNest's Bill or RetroGameCorps, nearly everyone agrees that the next Steam Deck needs an OLED screen with smaller bezels — something even Valve acknowledged in a recent interview.
Not all changes people wish for are hardware-related, however. Another of the more popular requests is for Valve to continue working on their game support — despite a continuously growing list of over 10,000 tested games.
“While game compatibility is quite good across the board, the problem today is that it’s not predictable. If the Steam Deck is my only PC, I have no idea if I’m safe to pre-order the AAA game I’m looking forward to in three months. It might work or it might not. This is going to require closer partnership between Valve and game publishers but I think it’s worth the effort.”
Our panel also agreed that while the Steam Deck's Gaming Mode is great, there should be more quality-of-life improvements, especially for docked mode.
"Gaming Mode works brilliantly out of the box, but anything outside of that requires more work than it should", explains Wesley from RetroResolve. "Do you know how many people use FSR incorrectly or don't downscale the resolution when in Docked Mode? Some of that info really needs to be front and center for new users or people who aren't familiar with Linux or PCs in general".
FanTheDeck agrees: "If you ask anyone that primarily docks their Steam Deck, you'll quickly learn that the living room gamer is not a first-class citizen. The various third-party docks are PC docks first and foremost; meaning that sometimes they lack compatibility with standard, modern TV and Surround Sound features. Moreover, there is no single standard controller, and no controller has full input parity with the Steam Deck".
A somewhat related request is for a second, preferably USB4, USB-C port, since — according to Hi-Tech Lo-Life — "USB4 is powerful enough to drive Thunderbolt 3 GPU Docks, and being able to plug your Steam Deck into a GPU Dock to output to a monitor would truly solidify itself as a hybrid powerhouse".
Regarding the charger, Bill from NerdNest wishes for a particular change: "Good lord, make that thing have a detachable wire".
Having covered the most noticeable changes, things get a tad more technical and specific.
While some of the interviewed experts agree that the Steam Deck could be slightly smaller, ThePhawx goes one step further: "I'd like two versions, a Steam Deck Classic" (basically what the Steam Deck looks like right now) and "a smaller clamshell version. "
Wesley from RetroResolve also wants to see a smaller Steam Deck: "Don't get me wrong, it's totally playable, and the extra-large size means you get a killer screen, so the trade-off makes sense. But c'mon. If you play on it for longer than two hours, you risk doing serious damage to your neck. It's so cumbersome!"
If Valve does change the outside of the device in the future, DeckWizard wants to see them use slightly "higher quality materials for their plastic", giving things a more premium-feel, and hopefully offered up in more colours.
As a given, everyone agrees that the next Steam Deck should be more powerful than its current iteration, but ThePhawx shared in detail what he wants to see next.
For him, the next AMD chip should be a physically larger die-size: "I'm okay with a four-core CPU but I would prefer the GPU component to be massive. As an example, instead of eight-compute units (as in the current Steam Deck), go to 32, go four times larger on the GPU side. The benefit would be that you could run the GPU at its base frequency spread among all cores and still get the same performance, but save a lot of power on the low end. But then you'd also be able to up-clock to really put the pedal to the metal."
He continues, "considering we are already swapping as much as we are on newer games, going to 32GB of memory just seems like a thing they would do but I hope they don't consider 16GB for the "inexpensive" model."
TheTerk agrees, saying, "a next-gen Phoenix 2, with Zen 5 and RDNA4, would be a good performance uplift for a Steam Deck successor".
However, he goes on to note that "Valve and AMD can crank up Van Gogh (the current Steam Deck uses the so-called Van Gogh platform) a bit more to give a refresh some legs. Increase the rated TDP to 20W and increase the clock speeds. The 6800U at 20W can hit 3800MHz while the GPU can approach 1800MHz, so Valve can easily hit that same threshold. A 20W APU would give AAA power users a bit more horsepower for the latest games like Sons of the Forest while allowing the flexibility for retro gamers to embrace the chips' already proven efficiency."
That last part is something DeckWizard agrees on, as he specifically wishes for better PlayStation 3 emulation.
But for Richard from FanTheDeck, it's not about Valve simply reiterating the Steam Deck every release to make it slightly better:
"When I think about what I want the Steam Deck as a brand, to become — it's not just another computer line that gets bog-standard spec improvements every year or every few years."
He adds that the "Steam Deck has the potential to be a household name, and I don't think it's better specs on a spec sheet that will get it there. By addressing issues like these (better performance and better Game Verification), you move people further into the funnel of interest. Not only do uninterested gamers become potential buyers, but many people that treat the Steam Deck as a companion device will have more reason to treat it as their primary platform."
And while ThePhawx had more to say on possible hardware improvements, for him, it all boils down to Valve looking "at every component running on the Steam Deck 2 and explore components which could possibly use less power, and even if each component brings only small wins, every milliwatt adds up. Maybe that means remaking certain components to consolidate or upstream."
Finally, something both DeckWizard and Russ from RetroGameCorps agree on is that the Steam Deck needs better Windows support. Here's Russ: "I'd love to see more advanced support for Windows on the Steam Deck, with improved drivers to make it a seamless experience to swap between the two when you want to play one of those pesky holdout games that don't play nicely with SteamOS."
Finally, this is where things get more exotic:
First of all, Bill from NerdNest wants Valve to take what they learned and apply it to another category: "What I would like most is for Valve to release a Steam Machine with a new Steam Controller that has all the inputs from the Deck", and while he knows, they failed horribly, "that was before Proton".
But if Valve doesn't want to release their own wide range of hardware, Russ from RetroGameCorps would be happy to see the company focus more on cross-functional software updates:
"I think Valve has done a fantastic job with SteamOS, but I'd also like to see it properly ported to other handheld PCs, with full thermal profile controls like on the Steam Deck. HoloISO (a version of SteamOS created by the community to be installed on different hardware) does a great job of giving users an idea of what it could be like when SteamOS has a public release, but the lack of TDP controls in particular, keep me from permanently installing it on any handheld PC."
Hi-Tech Lo-Life, for their part, wants the Steam Deck to focus even more on enhancing the controls. For one, they want to use the Steam Deck as a controller via USB: "I don't want to stream to my Steam Deck to use it as a controller, I'd like to just, plug it into my PC and use the Deck's controls."
They continue: "The Steam Deck has a touch screen but people hardly use it. My idea would be the ability to have specific onscreen buttons or regions of your screen be configurable the same way you can configure your controller. One example could be having a big invisible touch button over your minimap, and touching the minimap button opens up the full map."
So, to recap, the wishlist for a future Steam Deck — whether it's the obvious picks, specific changes, or the more unusual requests, looks like this:
- Better battery life
- OLED screen with smaller bezels
- More powerful hardware, with 32 GB of RAM, and a much more powerful GPU
- Better docked mode support
- Second USB-C port, preferably USB4
- Smaller design, or second device with a clamshell design, with higher quality materials
- Establish 'Steam Deck' as a standalone brand
- Better Windows support
- Return of Steam Machines and new Steam Controller
- Standalone SteamOS version
But despite this long list of requests, there's mainly one thing everyone seemed to agree on: Valve should be in no real rush to release new hardware anytime soon. As RetroGameCorps found out, "over the past year, I enjoy the Deck more when I think of it as a console more than a computer, and like with home consoles, I'd prefer to have longer gaps between device iterations."
And on that, we agree, too!