I won’t be wrong in saying we are living in the golden era of gaming. I won’t argue with people who will say that the period of NES, SNES, SEGA, etc. was the golden period of gaming.
That is because just a couple of days back I started playing old-school games like Double Dragon, Kunio Kun Soccer League, and Super Mario 3 and I am hooked, so there you go.
Now everyone is familiar with the ol’ console vs PC war.
Let me start a new war today, an intra-console war if you will.
With the advent of the steam deck, anyone interested in console gaming is pondering this question if not openly but definitely in the mind.
So, let me go ahead and address it today.
Is Steam Deck Better than PS5?
It depends, Is your inclination towards portability and having a huge library of games at your disposal? Or do you like experiencing PS-exclusive games and want a powerful system that just works at the cost of portability? Depending on your need either can be better than the other.
So, the hidden attribute that you need to focus on is your requirement. What is your need?
The answer that I gave above simplifies it, but I know there are still some crucial aspects that I need to convey to bring you more clarity.
In the subsequent sections allow me to do just that.
PS5 and Steam Deck: A Qualitative Comparison
So, what are the fundamental differences between a PS5 and a Steam Deck apart from the obvious aspect of size and portability of course?
On this blog, I have on many occasions urged my readers to focus on what their need is and from their work up their decision-making process.
In this type of decision-making process, device specifications have their place of referral and not as an ultimate basis for making a purchase decision.
So, to create the necessary context let’s look at the core technical differences between both these consoles.
|Processor||Quad Core Zen 2 CPU with AMD APU||3.5 GHz 8 Core Zen 2 Custom Processor|
|Graphics||1.6 TFLOPS||10.28 TFLOPS|
|Portability||Compact Easy to Carry Handheld Console||No Portability|
|Storage||256 – 512GB SSD or 64GB eMMC with microSD expansion slot||825GB PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD|
|Display Out||Display Port 1.4||HDMI 2.1|
|Resolution||7 inch 1280X 800 400 nites 60Hz IPS screen||Up to 4K at 120Hz or 8K at 60Hz|
|Performance||Great performance for a console but significantly slower than a PS5||Fast load times, buttery smooth frames|
The number one factor in choosing a steam deck over a PS5 is portability. While the PS5 is a beast of a machine beating Steam Deck on all core technical fronts, if you are looking for a device to game on the go, the Steam Deck is a no-brainer choice.
If you travel a lot, the compact form factor of the Steam Deck with a weight of 669 gms makes it easy to just put it in your shoulder bag and be on the run.
I hope you are not imagining carrying a PS5 around, are you? If you are the fact that it weighs 4.5 kg should make you stop and think and did I mention carrying around a TV too?
One of the biggest reasons why people who already own a PS5 are so interested in getting a Steam Deck too is because now they have a means to get the best of both worlds without wanting to create a separate gaming PC.
So, portability is your top priority, you will be hard-pressed to find a handheld as good as the Steam Deck.
The graphical computing power of the PS5(10.28 TFLOPS) as you can see in the table is leaps ahead of the Steam Deck(1.6 TFLOPS).
One of the key selling points of the PS5 has always been that it can render 4k frames while the steam deck is limited to FHD, 1280 X 800, which is perfect for a console, but it doesn’t hold a candle for someone looking to experience gaming to the fullest.
A PS5 can drive buttery smooth frames on a compatible 4K display. The Steam Deck on the other hand drives a 7-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280 X 800 pixels. Once again, when it comes to choosing between these two devices making a black and white choice on the basis of specs is not the way to go.
For what the Steam Deck promises to offer which is a rich gaming experience at the palms of your hand, what it offers is excellent.
Loading times on Steam Deck are excellent, one of the best you will find when you compare handheld consoles. For obvious reasons, loading times on the PS5 are a whole different beast.
Once again, you have to look at performance by keeping in context the demand each of these devices is fulfilling. With that in place, I think each of these devices offers what they promise.
If portability is the biggest reason to get a Steam Deck the huge library of cheap games that you can get from Steam has to be the second one.
PS5 also has its own library with exclusive titles that aren’t available to other platforms “right away” but the sheer volume of games that you get (including popular and ported games) from Steam on the Steam Deck is second to none.
Not to mention that Steam Deck can run games from other game hosting platforms like Epic, GOG, Origin, etc.
Is it worth owning both PS5 and Steam Deck?
To be honest the segment of people who will benefit most from Steam Deck are the ones who own a PS5 already. With a PS5 you can enjoy high-end exclusive titles and with a Steam Deck, you will be able to enjoy Steam games without actually investing time and effort in building a new PC.
Of course, building a PC has its own benefits and an argument can be made that you can use a fully functional PC for tasks beyond gaming.
And yes that’s true but there is a huge segment of people who are interested in having just a gaming station.
They don’t wish to invest their time or extra money in building a PC if they are happy with a PS5 and all that they are looking forward to is enjoying games from the Steam library.
Now what about people who own neither? Someone who just got his first salary and wants a system to game on.
Well, I would first ask you to really ask yourselves what is your genuine need.
Are you looking for a core gaming unit or are you looking for a gaming unit on which you can perform other functions like browsing, watching movies, editing videos, running Photoshop, etc.?
If your answer is the latter, guess what, what you truly desire is a computer on which you can game, so you need to look into building your own PC.
Now what if you want a core gaming rig and have no intention of performing the mentioned extraneous tasks?
Well, then the next question you need to ask yourselves is how important is portability for you.
Are you looking for something to game on the go or are you looking for something to give you the best gaming experience of the current time?
With Steam Deck you get portability and a huge gaming library with decently priced games at the cost of just the core gaming power a PS5 can offer.
Now it’s not always the case of either or.
From what I have been seeing, Steam Deck is quickly becoming an add-on gaming device to a gaming PC and also the PS5.
Some get a Steam Deck in addition to a PS5 or a PC because,
- People seem to like the small form factor of a console.
- They need a device they can continue playing games saved on Steam.
- I even heard one of the players on a forum saying he liked playing desktop games from a sofa. Can’t blame him.
- Steam Deck is an excellent console for playing indie games like Stardew Valley and Terraia.
- The fact that console alternatives like the Switch offer exclusive games at an exorbitant pricing.
Is Steam Deck the Best Option for Console Gaming?
It’s so funny if I had written this article a couple of days earlier, my answer would have been a resounding yes.
But just yesterday, Sony announced that it will be releasing PS5 portable later this year. Obviously, nothing can be commented till we get our hands on the gadget, but the point is companies are realizing the importance of handheld console gaming.
So, we will get a full comparative understanding of where each of these devices stands after a while.
But the upcoming entry of Sony’s PS5 portable cannot be used to undermine the incredible console that is the Steam Deck.
One gaming enthusiast on a tech forum said, “I don’t even see the Steam Deck as a console. I see it as a PC/laptop that happens to be shaped like a handheld”.
That pretty much sums up what Steam Deck is.
The fact that you can run heavy AAA games decently on a handheld that otherwise was only possible to be played on a powerful PC should be enough reason to get one.
The design, the powerful computing, and a huge library of diverse games to choose from at your disposal make the Steam Deck, the best handheld gaming console you can buy.
You see I am here to make your decision process easier.
So making a decision when it comes to choosing either the PS5 or the Steam Deck, the decision must be driven by a good understanding of your requirements.
So, in addition to sharing specs in relation to each other, I have at different points in this article relayed subjective differences between the two.
One of the best things that the designers did with the Steam Deck was to craft it in a way that anyone who is even mildly interested in gaming cannot ignore it.
Handheld consoles have never lost their charm even in the face of high-power gaming rigs. And to have the power of a decent PC in the palms of your hand has an appeal that is hard to ignore.
So, before concluding this article let me give you some pointers to make the purchase decision easier.
- If you don’t own a PS5, are comfortable missing out on PS5 exclusives, and would rather have a diverse range of games at relatively decent pricing Steam Deck is what you get.
- If you already own a PS5 and would like to experience PC games without actually wanting to create a PC, Steam Deck is just perfect for you.
- If portability and playing games on the go is what you want get a Steam Deck.
- If you want raw power and would like to experience gaming in its full 4K glory, PS5 is where it’s at.
- If you are okay with missing out on PS5 exclusives or are at least patient till they get ported to PC, would like to create something even more powerful than a PS5, and in addition would like the huge Steam library to be at your disposal, you need to build your own PC.
Manufacturers go through a rigorous process of R&D to create this product. If a product makes it to the marketing lifecycle, you can be sure that the company wants to make it mainstream.
This is because it is in the mass production phase where the profits are minted.
So, the responsibility of making the right investment always lies in your hands as a consumer.
I hope I was able to bring a lot of clarity to you in that direction. If you have any other doubts the comments section is always open.
Take care of yourselves and I will see you at the next one!