Steam Deck OLED arrives for $549, but is it a big enough upgrade?

person using steam deck oled
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve just officially revealed (via The Verge) the new Steam Deck OLED, and it looks pretty awesome. The most notable upgrade is, of course, its OLED display, but this updated handheld also features improvements to battery life, cooling, and connectivity.

The Steam Deck OLED starts at $549, and it'll start shipping on November 16, right before Black Friday. While you won't find any Black Friday deals on the Steam Deck OLED, plenty of Steam games will be discounted during the Steam Autumn Sale between November 21 and 28.

If you're not convinced Valve's new Steam Deck OLED model is worth the upgrade, here's quick overview of all the improvements you'll find on the OLED model, as well as what's stayed the same.

What's changed on the Steam Deck OLED?

steamdeck oled on red background

(Image credit: Valve)

For starters, the Steam Deck OLED, as its name implies, is equipped with a stunning 7.4-inch 90Hz OLED custom Samsung screen with 1000-nit HDR peak brightness and 600-nit SDR peak brightness. This is a massive improvement over the existing 7-inch 60Hz IPS LCD screen with 400-nit peak brightness. An OLED screen can produce pure blacks and more vibrant colors, making all your games look top-notch.

The improved screen alone is worth the upgrade, but luckily, that's not the only improvement the Steam Deck OLED is packing. You'll find a 50Wh battery that lasts about 30-50% longer than the old 40Wh battery, according to Valve, thanks in part to the OLED screen demanding less power than the LCD screen and the addition of a more efficient AMD APU.

There's a larger heatsink along with a larger (and quieter) fan to improve cooling, and 6400MT/s memory rather than 5500MT/s. Valve's Steam Deck OLED is also equipped with Wi-Fi 6E, which allows for faster downloads and less laggy online play, Bluetooth 5.3, and a touchscreen polling rate of 180Hz.

Then, you'll find a few ergonomic improvements to the buttons, thumbsticks, and trackpad, as well as accessory improvements, like a longer power cable and an updated carrying case for 1TB models.

Specs that won't be updated on the Steam Deck OLED

woman using steam deck oled

(Image credit: Valve)

Most of the performance-related specs will remain the same between the Steam Deck OLED and LCD models. They're both equipped with the same processor, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and NVMe M.2 2230 SSD storage, so the overall performance output of both consoles will be relatively similar, but the OLED model won't feature turbo mode.

Though the new model will boast an OLED screen with a faster refresh rate, the screen resolution and aspect ratio will remain the same between the two models. Then, both handheld consoles charge at the same speed, run the same games, and will receive the same software updates.

According to The Verge, Valve says, "We don't want people to think we're doing a yearly refresh, that's not how we're looking at this product cycle." This is most likely going to be the last iteration of the original Steam Deck until a Steam Deck 2 launches. Valve thinks that a proper Steam Deck 2 with performance-related spec upgrades is possible "in the next couple of years."

So you shouldn't be worried about buyer's remorse with the Steam Deck OLED because the next iteration is at least a few years away. And if you've recently purchased the Steam Deck LCD, just know that it still performs the same as the new OLED version, just with an LCD screen and a slightly lower battery life at a cheaper price.