Steam Deck OLED Display Durability: Burn-In Test Reveals Surprising Results

Steam Deck OLED
Valve had a hit on its hands with the Steam Deck, and we expect the gaming firm to produce more handheld consoles in the future. While we don't yet have word of a true Steam Deck successor, Valve has seen fit to upgrade the Steam Deck with an OLED display. This device launched in late 2023, which turns out to be enough time for some extremely committed gamers to begin seeing display burn-in.

OLED panels are inherently prone to burn-in and image retention, unlike LCD screens. The problem used to be worse when OLED technology was newer, though—monitors, TVs, and phones with OLED screens could begin showing ghostly images of static UI elements after a few months. What of the Steam Deck OLED? Testing shows that it can develop burn-in, but the timing depends on your usage.

According to YouTuber Wulff Den, it took between 1,000 and 1,500 hours for the Steam Deck OLED to exhibit burn-in. The test consisted of showing a static image of Breath of the Wild on the Steam Deck for weeks on end and at maximum brightness. So, it's kind of a worst-case scenario as brightness is the most important factor.

A similar test on the Nintendo Switch OLED took twice as long before burn-in was apparent, but that device has a peak brightness of 350 nits. The Steam Deck OLED can hit 1,000 nits in HDR mode. The Wulff Den test was using SDR, so the screen sat around 600 nits for about two months. A similar test from YouTuber The Phawx used HDR images, and burn-in kicked in even earlier and with greater intensity.

So, should you be worried about Steam Deck OLED burn-in? Probably not. Most games have enough motion that the screen won't show a static image for long enough to be retained. If you plan to dump hundreds of hours into a game that has static UI elements, you might end up with burn-in eventually. Valve will replace the Steam Deck under warranty, including for display issues. However, the warranty is only a year. Even heavy gamers would struggle to damage the screen before the warranty is up.

It's natural for even the expensive electronic gadgets to age—your shiny new Steam Deck might show some display burn-in after a few years. That's not the end of the world, though. The effect will probably be faint, and Valve does make replacement parts and repair tutorials available for the Steam Deck. That's more than you can say for most gaming hardware makers.