Valve was adamant about not releasing a Steam Deck 2 for a long while, but there are signs that a new model with upgrades could be released in the near future.
Valve’s portable handheld PC launched in February 2022 and has since become a popular choice among those who want to game on the go. Its affordable price, respectable specs, and Steam integration propelled it to the top of the portable PC food chain. The Steam Deck can run many of the best games on the market, and offers a different experience from sitting at a desk.
However, some PC gamers are dissatisfied with the Steam Deck’s performance and have held out for a Steam Deck Pro or Steam Deck 2. If the recent findings are any indication, fans looking for a complete spec bump will have to continue waiting for a while. A full-fledged upgrade might not materialize for a few years, but Valve may still do a refreshed Steam Deck.
What’s new in the Steam Deck refresh?
A new Steam Deck refresh might come with upgraded WiFi and Bluetooth 5.2 capabilities thanks to a WiFi 6E chip.
An FCC filing revealed that the first proper upgrade to the Steam Deck is inbound. This doesn’t seem to be accompanied by improved specs, but would lead to better performance in some ways from these new units.
It remains to be seen whether Valve goes through with the refresh or not. There are no official announcements made by the company.
Valve has changed the Steam Deck’s internals on several occasions. There have been numerous tweaks to the hardware since Steam Deck’s launch including different fans, SSDs, and minor rearrangements. There are Steam Deck models with slightly different motherboards with modified shapes to better host fans. The layout for the RAM packages and power delivery also got reshuffled, but the actual specs have not been changed.
This isn’t the first time the WiFi module will be changed, either. It was previously removed from under the M.2 Slot. Valve upgrading the WiFi chip to provide better performance is very possible though it won’t offer the capacity for higher framerates or greater draw distances.
Is an upgraded Steam Deck with WiFi 6E actually better?
Steam Decks with WiFi 6E will be better due to the capacity for gigabit speeds, lower latency, and less impact from interference.
The WiFi 5 on existing Steam Deck units gets the job done. However, many users have complained about the 5 GHz connectivity on the Steam Deck. Some avid hardware modders have taken to upgrading the WiFi module themselves to completely bypass what the Deck offers. A Steam Deck refresh with WiFi 6E would be a welcome change for gamers with high-speed internet and compatible routers.
Current Steam Deck owners won’t be able to upgrade their Steam Deck without intense modding, however. While this may be disappointing, it’s not unusual when it comes to gaming devices. Early Nintendo Switch units have a weaker battery than those released after 2019, the PlayStation 5 received a major overhaul in 2022 that included changes to the motherboard and improved cooling, and so on.
With refurbished Steam Decks available for cheaper, the handheld is only going to grow in popularity. That said, fans may want to hold off on buying a new Steam Deck in anticipation of this upgrade.