Despite the Nintendo Switch (arguably the best-established comparison product to Valve’s new handheld) upping games to 1080p when the console is docked (instead of its native 720p), Valve didn’t see the need. to include similar functionality for its own portable gaming device. This may mean that you will see better performance on the Steam Deck when using it only as a handheld, especially if you only have a large 4K TV , which is quite common in modern homes.
Don’t rush with your expectationsIn fact, you will likely see a drop in performance even if you also connect the Steam Deck to a 1080p desktop monitor. In an interview with PC playerValve’s Greg Coomer revealed that while a “higher power mode” was previously designed to help improve performance when docked, the idea was eventually scrapped.
“We felt it was actually best not to change based on docked status or mobile status,” Coomer explained.
“We really wanted to prioritize its use in what we thought was the highest use case, which is actually mobile, and therefore since we were focusing on that, and we chose as a threshold where the machine will work fine, and with a good frame rate with AAA games in this scenario. We didn’t really feel like we needed to target the dock scenario at higher resolutions as well. “
Steam Deck’s native resolution is set to 1280x800p, although Valves has assured people that you can still change the resolution just like you would on any gaming PC. It is, after all, a computer despite how it looks. misleading. But like any PC, changing the resolution is going to affect frame rate and performance, making the appeal of playing docked mode games questionable for some.
If you’re looking to use the latest Valves hardware as a dedicated standalone or retro machine, you won’t have to worry about a thing, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to plug into a 4K TV and play something. like The Witcher 3 or Horizon Zero Dawn on a nice level.
The point is, that’s not really the point of the Steam Deck, and if you’re gearing up for a disappointment on that front, you’re not the market Valve is targeting. To use the old adage “you get what you pay for”; The Steam Deck offers incredible portability compared to a gaming laptop, and at a much cheaper price – expecting it to perform the same is a sure-fire way to be disappointed.
Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve, even said affordability was a key part of the design of Steam Decks.
“I want to pick this up and say, oh, it’s all working. Everything is fast. That’s all… and the price was secondary and painful. But that was quite clearly a critical aspect, ”Newell said in an interview with IGN. “But the first thing was the performance and the experience, it was the most important and the most fundamental constraint that motivated that. “
Of course, none of this suggests that you shouldn’t be using the gear while it’s docked, but limiting your expectations will avoid disappointment. For things like Stardew Valley, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, or Hotline Miami, go for your life. If you want to try something like Cyberpunk 2077, consider saving your pennies for something with a dedicated GPU inside.