Valve engineer wants the Steam Deck to have a better screen, but moving to OLED won’t be easy

Valve engineer wants the Steam Deck to have a better screen, but moving to OLED won't be easy

Valve’s clearly considering an “incremental” Steam Deck model with an upgraded screen

Valve’s Steam Deck is an incredible gaming device, and while it is not as powerful as a full-on gaming PC, the device can run rings around Nintendo’s Switch and can play many modern game releases with playable framerates and pleasing visuals. That said, Valve’s handheld has room for improvement, with the device’s LCD screen being a huge area of contention amongst fans.

Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais, one of the engineers behind Valve’s popular handheld, when speaking to PC Gamers acknowledged that the Steam Deck’s screen is one of the device’s primary limitations, and that Valve “also want it to be better”. That said, a simple OLED screen swap is not as simple as it sounds.  

Valve has already discussed an “incremental” Steam Deck upgrade, an enhanced Steam Deck model that will feature the same SOC as today’s model but offer users a more refined user experience. A Steam Deck 2 system is years away, but before then Valve could create an enhanced Steam Deck model that features a better screen and perhaps a few other hardware upgrades. Below is what Pierre-Loup Griffais had to say about the prospect of a Steam Deck OLED upgrade.

    I think people are looking at things like an incremental version and assume that it’s an easy drop-in, but in reality, the screen’s at the core of the device. Everything is anchored to it. Basically everything is architected around everything when you’re talking about a device that small. I think it would be a bigger amount of work than people are assuming it would be. […] I don’t think we’re discounting anything. But the idea that you could just swap in a new screen and be done—it would need more than that to be doable.”

Much of the demand for an OLED Steam Deck stems from the fact that Nintendo has an OLED-based Switch model, offering users more vibrant colours, brighter highlights, and deeper blacks. These enhancements largely come from the ability of OLED screens to illuminate pixels independently, instead of using a backlight. While OLED screens do have their disadvantages, they do offer users more appealing images and faster response times.

Valve engineer wants the Steam Deck to have a better screen, but moving to OLED won't be easy

Modifying Valve’s Steam Deck design to support an OLED screen is not a simple task, but it is a doable task. Valve are clearly thinking about how they can improve their Steam Deck handheld, and how they can transition to a better screen technology with future models.

    […] But there’s nothing about LCD vs OLED, different screen technologies that makes that a dealbreaker. It’s about how you’re designing the whole system, and what’s in between the screen and the SOC (system-on-a-chip).

You can join the discussion on Valve’s Steam Deck upgrade plans on the OC3D Forums.