Valve has recently announced the launch of the Steam Deck, a handheld console (technically Valve has recently announced the launch of the Steam Deck, a handheld console (technically a PC) that allows you to play any game on your Steam library wherever you go.
Like the Nintendo Switch, the Deck comes with a pair of joysticks, a touch screen, trackpads, and even gyro controls, so you have everything you need to play whatever game is in your library.
However, the way the controls are placed in the Deck might not be to your liking, and for some genres, like strategy games or MOBAS, the joystick might be a tad too uncomfortable to play. In those cases, can you plug in other controllers to play them the way you like to?
Is the Steam Deck compatible with gamepads and controllers?
Yes, as the Steam Deck is a computer, technically, you can connect it to pretty much everything you could already plug into Steam. While it doesn´t have Windows, the Deck runs the Linux-based Steam-OS with "Proton", a compatibility program that lets you run all the usual Windows games on other Operating Systems.
(In theory, you could even hook up your Switch to your Deck with the right setup)
How can you connect your gamepad? Well, the two usual ways, with a USB cable or Bluetooth.
The Steam Deck has a USB-C port at its bottom that you can use to connect a wide arrange of accessories. While the Deck doesn´t run Windows, Valve´s support for third-party gamepads is quite extensive. You can bet that as long as it works on Steam, it will work on the Deck. Even if they are from the "competition", like the Pro Controller, the Playstation controllers and the Xbox controllers.
If your controller uses a regular USB-A port, then you will need an adapter, or to buy the Deck´s dock, to use it. The dock has three USB-A ports that you can use to connect your gamepad directly, albeit with the disadvantage that you can't use the Deck in handheld mode while you do so.
Same deal with Bluetooth and Wi-fi, if your controller is wireless. You should be able to pair it up with the Deck the same way you would with your regular computer.
Is the Steam Deck compatible with headphones?
Yes, the Steam deck not only can connect to wireless headsets, but it has an audio jack well. Every headset on the market (that works with a computer) should be compatible with the Steam Deck. It´s only a matter of plugging them in or pairing them up with the handheld.
For wireless earpieces, you can turn on Bluetooth and pair them to the Steam Deck as you would normally.
If you can´t connect your headset via Bluetooth or the audio jack, then it gets a bit trickier. The only USB port that the Deck has is a USB-C port at its bottom. The dock has regular USB-A ports, but if you want to use the Deck in handheld mode, then that won´t do.
What you´ll need is (again) one of these USB-C to A adapters. This will let you plug your USB-A cable into the USB-C port on the Deck. Afterward is just a matter of plugging in and playing.
Is the Steam Deck compatible with a mouse and keyboard?
Yes, as counterintuitive as it can sound to use a mouse or keyboard on a handheld, you can do it if you feel like the touch screen and trackpads aren´t up to snuff. (Which to be fair, most of the time they aren´t when it comes to PC gaming).
The easiest way to do so is by simply plugging your mouse and keyboard into the USB-A ports on the dock. After all, if you are using the M&K combo, you are likely to remain stationary, so why not bring the dock closer to you?
If you can´t, or you haven´t bought the dock, then you will need this adapter to connect a USB-A cable to the USB-C port at the bottom of the deck. The glaring issue here is that there is only one such port, so unless you have a cable splitter or a hub like this one, you will only be able to use either a mouse or a keyboard.
Of course, this isn´t a problem for wireless keyboards or mice, as you can use Bluetooth or even the Wi-gi network to pair them with Valve´s handheld console.
There you have it, the Steam Deck is pretty much compatible with every third-party accessory out there. As long as it works on Steam, it should work on the Deck. Now, connecting them might be a bit of a hassle due to the lack of "normal" USB ports, but you can always buy an adapter to work around this limitation.