Steam Deck vs Gaming Laptop: Which Should You Buy?

So you’re wondering if you should buy a Steam Deck or a gaming laptop. There are arguments for both sides, but we will go over the pros and cons of each so you can make an educated decision.

Continue reading to discover what you should invest your hard-earned Christmas money in. It’s hard to compare a Steam Deck to a gaming laptop because they are very different machines and there many different types of gaming laptops out there. It’s like comparing a mobile phone to a PC.

But here’s what you need to know:

Steam Deck vs Gaming Laptop:

Steam Deck is best for casual gaming at 720P with medium graphics. Gaming laptops are powerhouses, with features such as; 144 Hz refresh rates, 4K resolution, full-size (17-inch) displays, keyboards and touchpads, and much more. Most gaming laptops can run triple-A games at ultra settings with no issues.

The Steam Deck’s advantage is it’s much cheaper (starting at $399) than most gaming laptops and it’s very portable. The fact that it can run most games in the Steam library with decent frames is impressive too. But it has mobile-grade hardware.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you could buy a gaming laptop and a Steam Deck.

I recommend the Acer Helios 300 for a gaming laptop!

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each device.

What is Steam Deck?

a picture of a Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is Steam’s new handheld gaming system, similar to Nintendo Switch, but with lots of new features.

What makes Steam Deck special is not only does it have state-of-the-art hardware, but it’s also compatible with all the games in your Steam library.

The Steam Deck has an AMD APU with a Zen 2 4-core CPU clocked at 2.4 – 3.5 GHz. The GPU on the Steam Deck is based on AMD’s architecture with clock rates of up to 1.6 GHz, comparable to an entry-level GTX 1050 dedicated graphics card.

The performance of the Steam Deck has been optimized to achieve a stable 60 FPS on most games. The screen is only 7 inches across with a native resolution of 1280×800 at 60 Hz.

There is a lot to say about the Steam Deck but I’ll save it for an official review. For now, what you need to know is the Steam Deck is a portable handheld device that you can use to play your favorite Steam games.

But how does it compare to a gaming laptop?

Steam Deck Pros:

Extremely Portable:

The Steam Deck is much more portable than the gaming laptop because it’s the size of a small tablet and comes with a case. It also only weighs about 0.6 Kgs or 1.47 pounds. If you are looking for something that can fit in your backpack, then this is a good option.

Low Maintenance

The Steam Deck does not require any maintenance at all which means no cleaning or dusting inside of it, similar to a tablet.

Price (Cheaper!)

As we mentioned before, the Steam Deck is very affordable as the price starts at $399 for the entry-level model. It also acts as a portable computer, with mid-range hardware, and it has lots of customization potentials.

Built-in Grip Buttons with Analog Stick

The Steam Deck has four back grip buttons that can be mapped to custom keys. They really are practical features in so many games, especially shooters! No need to worry about dragging a controller around.

Can Be Used as a Mini-PC (compatible with all platforms):

Another great feature about the Steam Deck is Valve announced it can be used as a Mini-PC. In other words, you can uninstall the Steam OS and install Linux or Windows, if you want to. You can even hook it up to an external display and use it as a workstation. Pretty cool.

It was also recently announced that all the main gaming platforms (Origin, Uplay, Epic Games, etc) will be compatible with the Steam Deck. Even Xbox Gamepass seems to be coming to the Steam Deck too.

Steam Deck Cons:

Screen Size:

The screen size on the Steam Deck is not very big either which means you may have to strain your eyes when playing games or watching videos. The screen is only 7 inches, similar to a small phone.

But there is the option to hook it up to a TV or monitor and output 1080P to a larger display. It also seems like it’s capable of outputting 4K but don’t expect to play games at a reasonable frame rate at that resolution.


The Steam Deck doesn’t have the most powerful hardware, but the hardware is still impressive for a mobile device. The bottom line is you’ll likely have to lower some graphics settings in your games to achieve a reliable frame rate.

Gaming Laptop Pros:

Much More Powerful Hardware:

A gaming laptop can bring all the power of your desktop with it wherever it goes. There is a wide range of gaming laptops with a variety of specifications, but most of them have powerful graphics cards, such as the mobile RTX 2060. Not to mention powerful processors, such as i7 processors with 6 cores or more.

Gaming laptops are not only designed for games but for graphic-intensive tasks such as rendering high-definition videos and whatnot. If you need a powerful machine, a gaming laptop is a good choice. But unlike PCs, gaming laptops are not very future-proof. 

Larger Screen & Better Resolutions:

Most gaming laptops have large screens, such as 17 inches, which provides you with plenty of screen real estate. You can easily use a gaming laptop as an office or workstation too, not only for games. On that note, you can use a Steam Deck as a PC too, and even sideload Windows on it, but that’s a subject for a different time.

And gaming laptops also support more resolutions, 1080P being the most common, but some gaming laptops support 1440P and even 4K.

Built-in Keyboard and Mouse

As you know, laptops include a built-in keyboard and a touchpad. It’s a lot easier to type on a gaming laptop than a Steam Deck. The Steam Deck will include a virtual touchscreen keyboard similar to those found on phones, but it won’t have a dedicated one. It’s also worth noting that the Steam Deck will be compatible with Bluetooth keyboards and mouses.

Gaming Laptop Cons:


The main downside to buying a gaming laptop is they’re very expensive. Gaming laptops are generally much more expensive than a Steam Deck, this is due to the fact that the much better hardware and screen. Most gaming laptops are $1000 while others can be as high as $2500.

Therefore this is an option for serious gamers only!


Gaming laptops are generally heavier than the Steam Deck which is something to consider if portability matters to you. This is a big factor in the Steam Laptop vs Gaming Laptop debate!

Can’t Upgrade Laptops (That Much)

The only thing that you can upgrade on laptops is the hard drive and RAM. You won’t be able to upgrade the CPU or graphics card.

Prone to Heating Issues

Since gaming laptops have powerful hardware squished together in a small area, they’re prone to overheat, especially when under heavy load. To reduce the load on the graphics card, consider limiting the frame rate in games, which will lower the temperatures.

Steam Deck vs Gaming Laptop Conclusion

If you are looking for a fun portable and handheld device that’s perfect for being on the go then the Steam Deck could be a fantastic option.

The screen size on the Steam Deck is not very big either which means you may have to strain your eyes when playing games or watching videos.

Overall if you have the budget we recommend trying out both devices and seeing which one fits into your lifestyle better!

I hope this blog has been informative and helped you make a decision on the Steam Deck vs Gaming Laptop debate.

What do you think? Drop a comment below.


  • James is a writer for My Portable Office. He's passionate about all things electronic and spends most of his time grinding on Path of Exiles.

2 thoughts on “Steam Deck vs Gaming Laptop: Which Should You Buy?”

  1. Just a little note on the pro for the laptop is not entirely true:
    “Access to More Games:

    Another thing to consider is that you are able to play more games on your gaming laptop, not just Steam games. This is due to the fact that you can install games on your laptop through other platforms like Origin and Uplay. Not to mention sailing the high seas.”

    Valve has stated that you can install orgin, uplay, epic, any and all other things that a normal pc can, like mods and music. You can even uninstall SteamOS and install linux or windows if you wanted and just use it as a basic portable pc

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