If you’re reading this, there is a good chance your Steam Deck is either in transit or not yet built. As it stands, new orders are projected to ship in October (or later), a sign of strong demand—and limited supply—for Valve’s portable handheld console. I say this because if you’re anxiously awaiting delivery, you might want to just go ahead and close out this tab.
Zach Nelson, who runs the JerryRigEverything YouTube channel, secured the most premium $649 Steam Deck to test whether its anti-glare etched glass is worth the $120 over the middle option (it also has twice the storage). If you’re skittish, you might want to look away because Nelson tested the Steam Deck’s durability by torturing it with metal objects.
It didn’t fare too well. Because the etched glass has a slight texture, it acted as “sandpaper” against the fine metal torture picks. As a result, even the level 1 hardness pick left marks that wouldn’t rub off with a thorough cleaning. What Nelson considers “actual damage” occurs at level 6, as is typical of standard glass.
Durability, it seems, is less of a problem than the screen’s maximum brightness. While it does a good job of dispersing reflections, Nelson said the screen of the Steam Deck was “barely visible” and he wished Valve had gone with a panel with a higher nit count.
As for the rest of the console, Nelson had no problems slicing off bits and scratching through the Steam Deck’s almost entirely plastic chassis with a boxcutter. The joysticks earn some points for the X/Y/A/B letters being printed all the way through the button, so there is no way to rub them off. The decals on the other buttons rub off with a light slice. Nelson notes that the Steam Deck lacks any water resistance, though it did survive the bend test with only minor flex.
As painful as it is to watch, this durability test should give you a sense of how much abuse the console can take. That said, if I see you treating your Steam Deck like this, I will confiscate it and give it to the next person on the waitlist.