Valve’s Steam Deck is a powerful piece of hardware, based on the specs released. According to Valve, it’s powerful enough to play everything the company has tested on it at 30 fps or more.
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Announced on July 15, the Steam Deck is Valve’s Switch-like portable PC that will allow people to play most of their Steam library anywhere. It can also be connected to a TV or a monitor to be used as a more console-like device or a more traditional PC. It comes in three flavors and starts at $400, with the middle-of-pack version that includes faster storage going for $530 and a high-end version of the device with more storage and anti-glare glass selling for $650. It’s planned to release in December 2021.
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In an interview with IGN, designers and programmers at Valve explained that after years of testing and developing the hardware the Steam Deck has reached a level of performance that might surprise some folks.
“We’ve been looking at various games over the past few years in the back catalog,” said Valve coder Pierre-Loup Griffais. “But the real test for us was games that were coming out last year. They just couldn’t really run very well on the previous types of prototypes and architectures we were testing.”
But now, with this latest version of the Steam Deck, Valve seems confident that the device is finally performing better and is now able to run anything the company throws at it. (Assuming the game in question supports Valve’s SteamOS or its Linux compatibility software Proton.)
“We haven’t really found something that we could throw at this device that it couldn’t handle,” Griffais explained.
However, in that video interview with IGN, it’s mentioned that Steam Deck is targeting 30 fps gameplay on its 800p display. This caught the eye of some performance-focused folks, who worried that the Steam Deck would struggle to run games above 30 fps, effectively losing one of the advantages of PC gaming: high-framerates.
But Griffais later explained on Twitter more details about what level of performance to expect from Valve’s portable PC and what that 30 fps target means.
“The ‘30 FPS target’ refers to the floor of what we consider playable in our performance testing,” he tweeted. “Games we’ve tested and shown have consistently met and exceeded that bar so far.”
He also explained that the Steam Deck will include an optional fps limiter that will allow players to fine-tune the balance between performance and battery life, as higher framerates will use up more energy because it demands more from the hardware.
It’s good news for folks who are planning to pick up the Steam Deck, but until we actually have the device in our hands we can’t know for sure how well everything will run and if some games will be bigger battery killers than others.
The Steam Deck is out this December and the base version of the device starts at $400.