Steam Deck OLED review

by on January 26, 2024

I’m going to start things off with a sentence you probably don’t want to hear: the Steam Deck OLED model is a big upgrade on the previous LCD models. At brass tacks level, you might not get the biggest improvement when it comes to performance (it is there), but in every other way, this may as well be the Steam Deck 1.5.

Let’s start with the obvious then, that screen. The vibrancy of the OLED is stunning. Starting with Tetris Effect, which is already a superb game on Steam Deck anyway, but being able to play with HDR enabled makes it sing. It’s a beautiful, colourful title, that takes the classic Tetris gameplay and enhances it tenfold with audio and visual glory, and it feels great on Steam Deck OLED.

Steam Deck OLED

But it’s not just that the screen is an OLED now, it also has been upgraded to run at 90hz refresh rate for games that can achieve that. I tested Hades, which is about as stable a game as I could find, and the combination of deep reds and blacks, along with the higher refresh rate made it feel like the game had been designed for the Deck. Then I moved to Devil May Cry 5 which, frankly, feels like Valve and Capcom has created some kind of magic with.

The RE Engine used in modern Capcom titles is a sight to behold, and everyone pretty much knows that. But seeing Devil May Cry 5 hitting consistently above 60 (around 70-90) frames per second is just ridiculous. Yes, you’re losing a slight bit of definition on a 1200×800 resolution, but even with the upgraded screen size (OLED is 7.4 inches, LCD is 7) you’re getting the best available option for playing a tremendous, 10/10 game, in handheld on the sofa. It’s truly ridiculous.

Steam Deck OLED

Sticking with Capcom, but moving to Resident Evil 4 Remake, I was again surprised at how well the Steam Deck OLED handles things. You’re not getting a full 60 frames here, but this is a very modern title, and I will admit I noticed the lower resolution more in Resi 4 Remake than almost any other game. But what you are getting with an OLED screen is deeper blacks, and with a darker, scarier game that thrives on tension and jump scares, it still looks pretty remarkable. Playing this game was one of those moments where I found myself stopping and marvelling a bit at the technology of today.

It’s worth noting that the OLED model is also lighter than the previous LCD model. Valve isn’t calling it the “new” Deck, or “Steam Deck 2”, but there are so many small upgrades that it’s hard not to feel like that’s what it is. A more responsive touch screen; better haptics on the touchpads, a more power-efficient processor, louder speakers, and better fans to keep the device cooler. These are the tip of the iceberg, and things most people might not even notice.

Steam Deck OLED

Elsewhere, the battery has been massively upgraded. Before, I’d often find myself just playing with the LCD model plugged in, or charging after every single session. The OLED model battery is so vastly improved that for the first time, I finished a session and put it down, not worrying about the charge for the next day, when I’d pick up and play again. On the highest intensity games, we’re talking an extra thirty minutes or more of playtime at least, but on smaller titles that require less power, it just stops being an issue. Playing House Flipper 2 I was previously doing “a job” then having to charge, or think about charging. With the OLED it just became a non issue. In fact, more often I’d be checking the charge because it would be surprising that it was above 50%.

Another small upgrade is to how things work with docks. The hardware inside has been upgraded so that you can now “wake” the Steam Deck from sleep using a controller. This may not seem much, but it’s a major boon for those who want to plug their Deck into a TV like it’s a console. Likewise, due to this Bluetooth upgrade, you can now use a microphone/headphones combo at the same time. Having tested the entire range of “Portable PCs” on the market now, the Deck remains the most comfortable option, too.

Steam Deck OLED

The elephant in the room is always going to be the question: “does it run everything?” The answer still remains the complicated “yes, if you’re willing to play around with Linux a bit”. I got my Xbox Series X streaming games to the Deck comfortably without ever entering Desktop mode thanks to some new software available on the Steam store itself. You’re going to have to tweak and play to get Ubisoft, EA, and Epic Games Store to work, but it is doable. I will say, having experimented with that before on the LCD model, this time around I’ve just not bothered. No changes I could see have been made to how Linux operates, so whether or not you want to get into tutorials for how to run launchers, etc, is down to your personal tastes. They do work, but they are never going to be as simple as just running them on a PC, or an Asus ROG Ally, etc.

But the Steam Deck OLED model is a big upgrade. You’ve heard me say that at the very start of this review, but it really is true. I almost don’t want to say it, but with seemingly everything internally upgraded, a better screen, massively improved battery life, and even some small quality of life improvements, the Steam Deck OLED has made an already phenomenal device significantly better in pretty much every conceivable way.

Does it suddenly have an 1080p screen like the competition? No, but when you’re playing games that have HDR enabled, or that can hit that 90hz refresh rate, you will feel like you’re playing the second iteration of Valve’s hardware, whether it’s called that or not. If you don’t have a Deck yet, this is the version to get, if you have an LCD one, it’s trickier, but I’d still recommend finding a way to trade up for this model: it’s just that good. The OLED model has switched me from a “I’ll play some stuff on Deck” person, to someone who chooses that platform whenever available.


Incredible HDR OLED 90Hz screen
Multiple hardware improvements
Comfortable and easy to use
Great battery life


Not every game will work perfectly
Obviously still runs Linux

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

The Steam Deck OLED has made an already phenomenal device significantly better in pretty much every conceivable way.