Steam Deck with OLED Display is “a Bigger Amount of Work Than People Think”

Giving the Steam Deck an OLED display isn't just a simple drop-in process, according to a designer at Valve.

Posted By | On 18th, Mar. 2023

steam deck

Despite the success of the Steam Deck, Valve is hesitant in talking about future upgrades for the system, even down to the possibility of a Steam Deck with an OLED display. According to Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais, the company is looking at ways to improve the Steam Deck’s display, but putting on an OLED display into the current hardware is more complicated than a simple screen replacement.

“I think people are looking at things like an incremental version and assume that it’s an easy drop-in,” said Griffais in an interview with PC Gamer. “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.”

When it comes to some of the Steam Deck’s display-related features like the ability to change the refresh rate and its backlight dimming capabilities, Griffais stated that these things are definitely possible to do with an OLED display.

“It’s just something you have to plan ahead,” said Griffais. “When we were working on this [IPS LCD] screen, we made sure these could be supported, even if the refresh rate switching wasn’t ready at release. It was really important to us that all that would be supported. So it’s something that you need to keep in mind when you’re evaluating and selecting possible options. 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).”

Valve is celebrating the first anniversary of the Steam Deck’s release with the first discount the device has seen since its launch. Currently available at a 10% discount for all versions, the Steam Deck also got a recent update that allows users to change its booting animation.


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