Steam Deck VS rivals

I was interested in buying a Steam Deck… Until I discovered all the (apparently) better alternatives. Asus Rog Ally, OneXPlayer, Aya Neo etc… I like the idea of an handheld console and obviously I would like to have a device that can run almost everything, so the Windows based handhelds seem better than the Steam Deck. Is it true? Furthermore the Steam Deck looks really big compared to some new devices out there (eg the OneXFly) and neither I like the screen of the Steam Deck, apparently of lower res and with very big bazels (to me looks like the first Nintendo Switch). On the other hand, I think Valve is a more serious company than (apart from Asus) some other unknown Chinese company and I expect Valve to deliver a better product. Still I’m not convinced of Steam OS compared to Windows 11, since I would like to play also Epic games and maybe some emulators. So I started getting information about the alternatives and… There are a lot. There are so many that I got overwhelmed. If you go to the OneXPlayer website they sell like 3-4 different handheld consoles, Aya Neo even more and they also have IndieGoGo campaigns running for new devices, all with weird names. I can’t understand what’s the device right for me (and I really don’t understand their business model). So my question is: are the rivals of the Steam Deck worth their price? Are they really better than the Steam Deck (in terms of quality, screen, size)? Thank you for your opinion!

UPDATE: I finally bought a refurbished 256GB Steam Deck.

CalcProgrammer1, avatar

I have a ROG Ally and a Steam Deck. The Steam Deck experience is miles ahead. Windows is such a limitation on these handheld devices (and dare I say PC gaming in general). SteamOS is the real MVP behind the Steam Deck, it makes everything feel seamless.

The Ally feels like a crappy ASUS launcher stapled on top of an unoptimized Windows desktop, since that’s exactly what it is.

Also, the ASUS ROG Ally controls are nowhere near as nice as the Deck’s. The Deck sticks feel better. The touchpads allow for mouse control.

Get the Deck.


Yeah, the Rog Ally got the more powerful hardware, but this is a good example how power isn't everything.


Nintendo smashing the console market twice with underpowered hardware proved that.


I haven’t used other handhelds, but what you say is what I’ve seen from other discussions and reviews. Yes, there are more powerful systems with better screens, but the SD’s OS is miles ahead (but not without a lot of quirks as well). The touchpads are incredible - I couldn’t imagine trying to use a handheld PC without those touchpads. Also, the custom control configuration abilities built in to steam OS are incredibly versatile and detailed.

NXTR, avatar

Hopefully Microsoft releases a handheld mode instead of just experimenting with it. Besides the interface, they also really need to optimize for performance. Even though, with the steam deck, proton is converting draw calls it still outperforms the same deck running windows with native driver support. This really shows how the mountains of extra crap running on windows hurts gaming performance on these low power devices.

CalcProgrammer1, avatar

Hopefully Microsoft fades into irrelevance. I’m glad the Steam Deck is doing something about Microsoft’s control over the PC gaming market. I’m also glad Microsoft is losing in the handheld gaming PC experience. Let Windows die already, it’s long overdue (especially given the continued and intensifying enshittification of the OS every release cycle).


Yeah, that’s not going to happen in a world where Gamepass is their new focus and those apps only work on Windows.

CalcProgrammer1, avatar

Hopefully this “you will own nothing and be happy” BS also fades into irrelevance. I hate how everything has to be a subscription these days. No. Just NO.

I refuse to move to subscription based platforms. It’s anti-consumer lock-in. Unfortunately, right now, gamepass is cheap because they’re still in the growth phase and need a compelling product to get people to switch from buying their games to subscribing. However, believe me, in time the enshittification will come. What subscription-based platform hasn’t once it captured the market?


I mean, they’ll have to make some big changes to Gamepass before it becomes worse value than buying all those games outright. Most subs are still pretty good value now for the level of content, available, they’re just not as cheap as they were when they were driving users.

CalcProgrammer1, avatar

That’s exactly the point though. Until they corner the market and start “deprecating” actual game sales entirely, they have to keep gamepass appealing. If they get to the point where enough people have adopted gamepass that they can stop selling games outright, then they’re free to raise the prices all they want. What are you going to do about it, buy the games instead? Not an option anymore. Buy the games, keep your rights as a consumer.


Get a PS5? I’ve been back and forth between the two platforms for several generations now depending on who’s offering the best service.

CalcProgrammer1, avatar

Fuck no, moving to a console is the opposite of consumer freedom lol. Steam seems to be the levelest of heads in the gaming space, making an open platform OS and “console” and not tying people into nasty subscriptions to be able to play their games. Plus, regular sales with usually quite good discounts. While they still offer DRM and allow it on their store, they have plenty of DRM-free offerings and don’t discourage you from running third party games/launchers on their machine.


I’m wondering how PC gaming will look like if Windows fades into irrelevance.

Are developers going to keep releasing Windows build as it’s the easiest way to get your game working on all Linux distributions?

Is Windows going to be reduced to an API to write games on Linux?

NXTR, avatar

Although I would love to see it, as long as DirectX is the de facto graphics API, I don’t see Microsoft fading into irrelevance when it comes to the PC gaming market.


I believe Vulkan can help with that.


Both are great options! Just to counterbalance arguments against:

I can’t buy a Steam Deck in Australia, but I can buy the ROG Ally.

Windows can be clunky, but that less-than-stellar experience is limited to navigating and launching games. The stock launcher works fine, it’s just bare-bones. You can set Steam to launch into big picture on boot at which point it’s the same experience as the Steam Deck anyway.

All games install and run, there’s absolutely no dicking around required compared to some experiences on Steam Deck.

Touch controls are nice. 120hz VRR 1080p screen is a better draw imo as it’s universally applicable to all games. That screen makes sub-60fps experiences much nicer and has better colours and contrast and uniformity (not to mention resolution).

ROG Ally cooling system is really great, and really quiet. I don’t feel like there’s a desktop machine wedged between my hands.

The ROG Ally performance isn’t what ASUS sold, but it’s still a good bit faster than Steam Deck, and most games I’ve tried I can hit a visual and performance fidelity roughly on par with an Xbox Series S. Which ain’t bad at all.

Both are convenent and versitile systems, I think probably Steam Deck is more convenient whereas ROG Ally is more versatile.

CalcProgrammer1, avatar

I really bought the ROG Ally to experiment with Linux on it. I think it is getting there. I have Arch Linux with chimera kernel on mine as well as gamescope-session which allows it to function very similarly to the Steam Deck, but at the moment it seems TDP control isn’t working so games don’t run as well as they should. I also can’t get the ROG button to work as a Steam button even though that should be working according to ChimeraOS. I wanted Arch because it allows for dual booting vs. Chimera which does not, as well as for development purposes. I think the hardware of the Ally is solid, though I still hold that the Deck’s controls are much better. Once the Ally is better supported on Linux I think it would be a better option, as I refuse to use Windows anymore except for testing/reverse engineering purposes.


Handheld Companion are doing good work implementing better controller options (including gyro) and power management (including autoTDP) and I believe will have napping to the OEM keys sorted out eventually. If that sort of stuff could go into a distro I could see Arch or ChimeraOS being really interesting options. Hopefully the ROG Ally sells well and there’s a community to support it in this way, it could be great!


The Deck’s power management features are a solid selling point. There’s no reason they couldn’t be implemented elsewhere, and it would be a boon for other portable devices for sure.

I haven’t used the Ally, but the Deck’s touchpads are just intuitive and functional, it seems so obvious in hindsight that it’s actually shocking that nobody had thought to put them on a portable until now. They work great for replacing a mouse in mouse-focused games, and for navigating desktop mode. Much more effective than navigating with a joystick.


I would have loved to see something like that on the Ally. It’s very situational, but I can imagine in those situations it feels great (I own a Steam Controller, so I’ve used something very similar).

I think if you had a chance to see the Ally screen in person you might have a similar feeling. It changes the experience a lot.

For example, Diablo 4 with upscaling and the right settings is a 1080p experience, so text is crisp and UI elements are clear. At those settings in 15w I get mostly 60fps in dungeons, when things get hectic and the frames drop to 45 or 50 the VRR makes it hard to notice. Fan noise and heat aren’t really notable either, I just wish there was a little more battery to round that all out.


I feel like the Deck’s 800p screen is plenty for the size, and it helps it perform better. But maybe that’s just my boomer eyes that can’t tell the difference. Though a bigger screen would have been amazing.


1080p is a more flexible choice though. You can always just set it to 720p for better performance. Or upscale to 1080p or drop the internal render resolution so the UI remains 1080 while the game itself renders 720. You gain many options and lose none (other than just battery).


All of those are visually worse than rendering at native resolution though.

I think battery life is an important factor since these are high-drain portable devices. Any additional battery life you can squeeze out of it is a big plus.


Not really. A screen of that size is really forgiving. I’m not sure if you have seen the Ally in person? In a lot of games you can turn some GPU intensive settings down or upscaling on and it’s not nearly as noticeable. The sharpness really stands out though.

Anyway, you seem pretty thrilled with the Steam Deck, which is great. I’m just pointing out that there are some pretty sweet perks with the Ally (there’s plenty of downsides too). All the best!


I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled, I still use my PC a lot more. I’d say the dual touchpads are probably the best feature for the form factor. And I think the power management features are great, but that’s just software, and I think the other platforms should implement similar systems.


Fair enough. I can’t even buy a Steam Deck in Australia so I’m pretty happy the ROG Ally exists and is what it is. Maybe we get the Steam Deck 2 done day, I would be keen to check it out.


Ive used the Ally and I would agree. The hardware is great and feels good in hand, but Valve is going to have much more to gain by supporting the software of the deck as much as possible.

The steam deck definitely shipped undercooked, but Valve has made amazing strides to make it my a reliable and versatile experience.

I use a steam deck dock to hook it to my TV, but A LOT of the time im using it in desktop mode in this setup. I get crisp 1080p out and its a fantastic experience for playing youtube and twitch from the couch.


You can run Heroic on the steam deck to play Epic

Ally is worse than the steam deck in everything unless it’s plugged in and you’re using a keyboard and mouse, at that point you should get a laptop

Emulators also have no issue

The res is lower so it can play higher demanding games, necessary res scales with screen size, a 1 cm screen doesn’t matter if it’s 10 pixels or 10 million but a 200 cm screen you’d want the 10 million

Rivals might compete but they aren’t big enough to handle volume (you might be waiting a long time)

Also Linux is better than Windows


Correct me if I’m wrong, but all these better alternative have “better” price tags.

Stefh, avatar

No, they all cost more of the Steam Deck


Still I’m not convinced of Steam OS compared to Windows 11, since I would like to play also Epic games and maybe some emulators

How much time, relatively speaking, do you spend playing multiplayer Epic games? If it’s more than 50%, then yeah, SteamOS may not be for you. But if it’s less than that, then SteamOS would be a better experience, simply because it was built ground-up for gaming. No Windows Defender slowing down your system unexpectedly, no Windows Updates to hijack your system at the most unexpected times, no other bloatware or nonsense services like Bing/copilot crap or ads in Explorer - just pure gaming. These Windows handhelds you speak of are barely optimized for gaming, the most they do is add a launcher and call it a “gaming console” - you still have to put up with various Windows annoyances, which defeats the point of a dedicated gaming console - you want to be able to just pick it up, turn it on and game - no nonsense. One of the cool things about SteamOS is how reliable the sleep/resume is when you’re gaming, which allows you to just pause and game whenever you like. This whole streamlined experience is why people love the Deck.

BTW, SteamOS has no issues running emulators. I can’t think of any popular emulator that runs only on Windows, or runs significantly better on Windows.

the screen of the Steam Deck, apparently of lower res

The lower res is actually better because it’s a small screen. A higher res on a small screen makes things harder to see, plus with a lower res you get more FPS and a better batter life.

very big hazels (to me looks like the first Nintendo Switch).

It may not look good, but it actually makes it more ergonomic and easier to hold. Check any review of the Deck and you’ll see they all praise it’s ergonomics, like this one:…/steam-deck-review#sectio…

“Despite its undeniable girth, the Steam Deck’s attention to ergonomics makes it an incredibly comfortable device to hold, even during extended gaming sessions”

In fact, read the rest of the article - or any other in-depth review. You’ll find that the Steam Deck is a much more polished experience overall compared to the others, and this is thanks to both it’s hardware and software.


better alternatives. Asus Rog Ally, OneXPlayer, Aya Neo etc…

Don’t they all cost double or tripple of the SteamDeck? Call me oldschool, but spending $1000 on a handheld just sounds crazy to me. SteamDeck is already pretty much the max price I’d call acceptable.

The biggest problem for me with the SteamDeck, and why I haven’t bought one, is simply its 1280x800 resolution, that might be acceptable for gaming, but it’s really no good when you want to read a PDF or do other non-gaming things. Kind of limits it’s versatility and is just not a good look when you have the same resolution as a cheap China tablet from five years ago, or a Nintendo Switch for that matter, which itself already felt a little out of date at its launch.


The Steam Deck is sold specifically as a gaming handheld. If you’re buying it to read PDFs, you’re buying the wrong device. Besides, the resolution isn’t the issue for reading documents, it’s the size of the screen. If you want to do non-gaming things, you’ll be much better served if you plug in a monitor, in which case you can even use a 4K display if that’s what you want.

I think the SD does have its issues, but I feel like the display is not one of them. At that size, it’s a good resolution to get better performance in games. A higher resolution would kill the battery, reduce performance, and due to its size it would be hard to tell the difference in-game.


I mean… Buy a 50usd tablet to read pdf’s and do some casual browsing. Steam decks are made for gaming.

I don’t understand some people :)


You can press the power button on the Deck while in the middle of a game and it’ll suspend. Pick it up hours/days later and hit the power button and it’ll instantly resume your game. I don’t believe the Ally can do that.


I own Steam Deck and the ROG Ally. Steam Deck is a simpler experience, ROG Ally is more powerful and offers a true desktop experience in a handheld.


and offers a true desktop experience in a handheld.

Awkwardly telling us it’s an unsuited Windows 11 installation on a handheld. Would not want it on my desktop, let alone on my unwieldy handheld.


No I’m telling you that you can have more of a direct desktop experience on a handheld like ROG Ally. There’s no compatibility issues - apps and games all work as expected. What Steamdeck provides is streamlined experience but it is also limited somewhat as a result - can’t easily switch between, say, a browser and a game, can’t easily run desktop apps such as Wallpaper Engine or productivity apps. There’s a use case for Ally.


Steam Deck is shaping up to be the “Nintendo” of handheld PCs. Not the most powerful thing on the market, but cleverly put together with its own bespoke software that allows users to customise and tweak games at the system level via quick access to its features. Having windows on the other machines makes your access to games better but means you have to dig harder or install extra software to do what the deck does. To paraphrase Sega’s 90s marketing, It Does what Windon’t.


I'm not a Linux fan, but even disregarding the OS (SteamOS vs Windows), the fact that most of these "killers" don't come with touch pads of any kind makes them an instant loss. So many PC games use a mouse, I'm not using a fiddly thumbstick in its place.

Squirrel, avatar

Without the trackpads, the Steam Deck would be considerably less useful. They open up a huge variety of games that would be practically unplayable with sticks alone. Disregarding them simply for more power is foolish.


Yes, and funnily enough, also makes running Windows worse, since it's so mouse-driven. Why'd they do stupid decisions like that?

circuitfarmer, avatar

SteamOS (and Linux gaming in general, thanks to Proton) is absolutely great and has been for at least a year or two now. The reduced overhead and lack of update bullshit honestly makes it better than Windows gaming in every way, IMHO. Getting it running on non-Steam Deck mobile hardware is likely a bit of a chore, though. Frankly I don’t even understand why anyone would waste time with the competitors.


I sold my Steam Deck because the hardware really isn’t good enough. Poor quality screen and no anti friction rings for the analogue sticks, plus the whole thing is just too large.

Stefh, avatar

These are my concerns 🫤 Did you opt for any of the alternatives? Which one and how is it?


Not yet. I’m just waiting for the market to develop a little more and hopefully something more up to standard will come along.

sirico, avatar

Steam deck has the community. There’s more powerful single card computers than the raspberry pi but the pi has the community so everything works better and for longer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the decks support outlives the others not to mention the third party market.

Veraxus avatar

Steam Deck's secret sauce is the software. Steam Deck's software isn't all OSS yet (it's NOT the same as the publicly available SteamOS), so the alternatives are all running on Windows which... is not good (especially for a handheld).

Honestly, just get a Steam Deck. The "power" differences are just not meaningful at that form factor right now.

Toribor, avatar

Additionally, power costs battery to actually use it. Sometimes it’s better to opt for lower settings anyway if you’re going to play on the go.


Yes, battery and heat meaning you’ll hear the fans and feel your device get hot.

Stefh, avatar

Thank you all. This discussion is really helping me making a decision. I even thought that YouTubers are being paid for well advertising all these Chinese alternatives and put the Steam Deck in bad light.

aebrer avatar

I'd like to second what Veraxus said. I have a steam deck and the ease of use factors are off the chart. At this point my gaming PC sits nearly entirely unused, I do everything on my steam deck, even playing Caves of Qud lol


You should not just assumed a large community is telling the truth about their products. Steam Deck is still just a machine that requires Proton to work. You are at the mercy of Valve corp and the community. If a game doesn't work than the game will not work. Steam Deck is not amazing in what people here have told you, it's a machine that runs limited Steam games, nothing else mattered.


it’s a machine that runs limited Steam games

This is not true though, it’s a full PC which you can install whatever you want on, which just happens to have a very convenient way to run most steam games on


You cant run DRM games or online, MMO or anything that makes the game have their files locked away for a reason. So, no. You can not Play all games.


I didn’t say all, I said most.

enbee, avatar

I bought a Onexplayer mini. I massively regret having done this instead of spending less money on a steam deck. the batery life stinks. I wish I had touchpads.


I had a deck for a while and have sold it in favor of the ROG Ally. It requires a lot of work to get its software out of your way but after tearing all of thw asus crap out, including the trash services who's only purpose is to put their broken ass software back on against the end users' wishes I've got a matching software experience on it.

I just could not give up the vrr screen, it makes the Ally beat out the deck for my uses and none of the $1200+ devices really come close either.

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