When Valve announced the Steam Deck OLED on November 9, I assumed the update would be similar to the Nintendo Switch OLED. However, as I read through the full list of updates, I decided I would try to get my hands on a Limited Edition version, to see how noticeable the differences are between the original Steam Deck LCD and the new Steam Deck OLED. After experiencing 25 minutes of checkout errors on November 16, I managed to secure an order for the Steam Deck OLED Limited Edition. much to my surprise, it shipped the following day and arrived on Saturday, November 18. Over the past few hours, I’ve spent time comparing the Steam Deck OLED to the Steam Deck LCD, and I have to say, I’m really surprised by how refined and polished the OLED version feels compared to the original.
My journey to convert all of my displays to OLED began when I swapped out a Samsung LED TV for an LG G1 OLED. That purchase convinced me to eventually opt for OLED wherever possible, which meant I upgraded my original Switch to the Switch OLED, when that became available. While not as impactful as switching TVs, the slightly larger and brighter display along with the more vibrant colors justified that purchase. A more significant leap was the purchase of an Alienware 34″ OLED Gaming Monitor (AW3423DW). I was very much on the fence about getting an ultrawide monitor, but it didn’t take all of 30 seconds after starting up my PC that I knew it was a keeper. For many, with the proper displays, transitioning from LCD to OLED is truly a night and day difference.
The Steam Deck OLED screen is really in a league of its own when it comes to handheld displays. This is a much more noticeable jump in quality compared to the standard Switch to the Switch OLED. This is largely because the original Steam Deck’s LCD screen is subpar, but also due to the high quality of the OLED display. Just booting up into SteamOS, I was already convinced that upgrading for the display alone was worthwhile. Not only is the OLED screen brighter and more vibrant, but it also offers significantly more color accuracy.
While navigating in desktop mode to setup Xbox Cloud Gaming, I noticed how much better the haptics were on the touchpads. This may seem like a very minor detail, but it’s a significant improvement in feedback, which gives the Steam Deck OLED a more premium feel. Anyone who has switched from a phone with poor haptics to one with good haptics will understand this improvement. Another noticeable improvement is to the D-pad, which feels significantly “clickier,” making the original Steam Deck’s D-pad seem mushy by comparison.
Finally, I know the weight difference is only supposed to be about five percent, but it feels much more than that when you bounce back and forth between the two handhelds. Valve reports that the original Steam Deck weighs about 669 grams, while the Steam Deck OLED is approximately 640 grams. Despite this small difference, the OLED model feels much more balanced and lightweight. This should prove beneficial for longer gaming sessions, and for those who like to play the Steam Deck while lying in bed.
Personally, I love the design of the Limited Edition’s smoky, semi-transparent outer shell, allowing a subtle view of the Steam Deck OLED’s internals. The included case features a nicely printed teardown design. While you won’t be looking at it too often, it’s a nice touch that adds value to the Limited Edition model. I’m not sure how often I’ll detach the inner case from the outer case when I travel, but it’s nice to know I have the option. Additionally, the new charger is now branded, and the accompanying charging cable is approximately three feet longer. These minor details, which Valve didn’t need to address, enhance the overall experience. Valve approached the Steam Deck OLED as though it were implementing quality-of-life updates in one of its games.
I’ve yet to extensively test the unit’s updated battery life; those results will be detailed in my full review. In the coming week, I’ll be playing Persona 5 Tactica on the Steam Deck OLED to put it through its paces.
If you own a Steam Deck LCD and can afford an upgrade, I confidently recommend doing so. This upgrade offers more than just a better display, improved battery life, and the option for 1TB storage. The unit feels lighter and more premium overall, with noticeably better controls, particularly the improved haptics. For those without a Steam Deck, the choice is clear: get the OLED model, even if it means a week of only eating Doritos and Mountain Dew.