The Steam Deck, like the Nintendo Switch, can be docked and connected to a TV or monitor. Valve confirmed this back when it was announced. But now the publisher behind Steam has revealed that docking the portable PC won’t lead to any performance boosts in games. This could lead to some issues if you decide to hook up your Steam Deck to a big 4K TV.
In an interview with PC Gamer, Valve’s Greg Coomer explained that when developing and designing the Steam Deck, Valve had thought about adding a “higher power mode” that would be activated after docking the device. However, the company decided against it.
“...We felt that it was actually better all things considered to not modify based on docked status or mobile status,” Coomer explained.
“We really wanted to prioritize for using it in what we thought would be the highest use case, which is actually mobile,” Coomer told PC Gamer. “And so since we were focusing on that, and we chose like a threshold where the machine will run well, and with a good frame rate with AAA games in that scenario. We didn’t really feel like we should target also going after the dock scenario at higher resolutions. We wanted a simpler design target and to prioritize that.”
We know from past interviews that Valve has tested lots of games on the Steam Deck and is shooting for at least 30 fps in as many games as possible. According to the company, they are hitting and exceeding those targets in most games. But that’s in portable mode, running games at 800p. Docking the Steam Deck to a 1080p TV or higher-resolution monitor would require more power and if the dock isn’t going to provide that it’s very likely in that scenario that some higher-end games could suffer performance issues.
Of course, the Steam Deck isn’t a locked-down console. These are PC games and players will be able to change the resolution and visual settings in-game just like they do on a desktop PC. So if something like Control, a game which according to Giant Bomb had some performance issues on Steam Deck, runs even worse on a 4K TV players could lower the settings to smooth things out. And it should also be noted that Control is a game that pushes even next-gen consoles and powerful PCs pretty hard. I would assume older, less graphically intense games should run mostly fine on the Deck when docked to a TV.
Still, if you were planning on using the Steam Deck as a living room PC and portable console, this might be something to consider before trying to snag one later this year.
As of today, we also don’t even know how much the dock for the Steam Deck will cost, when it will be available to pre-order or purchase, or really any other details for that matter.
The Steam Deck will start shipping to some customers this December, with more coming in the following months. You can pre-order one now, though Valve warns that folks ordering today won’t get one until sometime in 2022.