The Steam Deck will perform the same in docked and handheld mode

midian182

Posts: 7,293   +65
Staff member
Why it matters: While it's still months away from release, many people are comparing the Steam Deck to Nintendo's Switch, given that they're both handheld gaming machines. But one area where Nintendo has the edge is when its console is docked: the Switch gets a performance boost in this mode, while the Steam Deck won't.

Valve's Greg Coomer explained to PC Gamer that the company did consider adding a "higher power mode" to the Steam Deck that's activated when it's placed in a dock, "…but we didn't choose to make it a really high priority design target," he said. "We felt that it was actually better all things considered to not modify based on docked status or mobile status."

Valve has already confirmed that with the Steam Deck, which has a native 800p resolution, 30fps is "the floor of what we consider playable."

"We really wanted to prioritize for using it in what we thought would be the highest use case, which is actually mobile," Coomer continues. "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."

The dock won't come bundled with the Steam Deck—it will be available separately for an as-yet-unannounced price—but a powered USB Type-C hub appears to work just as well, as Linus demonstrates below.

Steam Deck owners will be able to lower a game's settings or resolution like they do on a PC, which should improve its docked performance, and its open nature suggests users might eventually find ways to squeeze more performance out of the handheld.

Valve recently said that the experience it gained from its previous hardware endevors, including the notorious Steam Machines, aided in the Steam Deck's development. We also know that its UI is replacing Steam's Big Picture mode.

Permalink to story.

 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,337   +2,619
We know that Ryzen chip is capable of scaling up. This means that the cooling solution is not getting a particular boost from being docked to handle the extra power going through.

I'm a bit surprised because this means that either their cooling solution is *barely* enough and already maxed out, or they were really concerned about the extra noise which I honestly don't think could be that much of an issue given the size of the fan and what it can realistically spin up to which is not much.

So my early speculative and totally baseless conclusion at this point is that Nintendo going with ARM instead of x86 it's really paying off: No matter their claims AMD it's still far ahead from ARM when it comes to mobile devices: don't expect x86 phones to become a thing anytime soon. In fact, ARM might sooner catch up to desktop x86 performance now that Apple is propping them up.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,848   +4,507
We know that Ryzen chip is capable of scaling up. This means that the cooling solution is not getting a particular boost from being docked to handle the extra power going through.

I'm a bit surprised because this means that either their cooling solution is *barely* enough and already maxed out, or they were really concerned about the extra noise which I honestly don't think could be that much of an issue given the size of the fan and what it can realistically spin up to which is not much.

So my early speculative and totally baseless conclusion at this point is that Nintendo going with ARM instead of x86 it's really paying off: No matter their claims AMD it's still far ahead from ARM when it comes to mobile devices: don't expect x86 phones to become a thing anytime soon. In fact, ARM might sooner catch up to desktop x86 performance now that Apple is propping them up.
OR, possibly, it could be valve doesnt want to deal witht he complaints from end users when different settings used in docked mode dont work properly in handheld mode? This isnt a switch where the console will auto adjust settings to match the performance mode, and Valve probably doesnt want to deal withthe support headaches.
Once again Steam underperforms ..... is it a bad habit or a company goal???
Yeah, they're underperforming a LOT with this whole x86 handheld thing, all the competition is doing WAY better, like the...ummmm....I think there was a chinese thingy with an atom chip? Maybe?
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,868   +1,918
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So my early speculative and totally baseless conclusion at this point is that Nintendo going with ARM instead of x86 it's really paying off: No matter their claims AMD it's still far ahead from ARM when it comes to mobile devices: don't expect x86 phones to become a thing anytime soon. In fact, ARM might sooner catch up to desktop x86 performance now that Apple is propping them up.
Apple and Nintendo are established MAJOR players in their markets that have and/or because they chose to control software and the hardware to maximize profits and optimizations, and you think SteamOS and a Zen 2 mini PC is in the same league as them?

No.
 
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Irata

Posts: 1,811   +3,050
What if the Steam Deck‘s undocked performance is higher than the Switch‘s docked performance?

Switch obviously has the advantage of games being targeted for its hardware, but if the Steam Deck sells enough units, we may see publishers optimizing performance for its hardware or at least add a ‚Steam Deck‘ mode with settings optimized for an ideal performance / visuals trade off.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
What if the Steam Deck‘s undocked performance is higher than the Switch‘s docked performance?

Switch obviously has the advantage of games being targeted for its hardware, but if the Steam Deck sells enough units, we may see publishers optimizing performance for its hardware or at least add a ‚Steam Deck‘ mode with settings optimized for an ideal performance / visuals trade off.

Nintendo devices sell because of exclusives games and "different games", games you don't really see on other platforms. And giving the low specs on Switch, performance is actually pretty decent thanks to games are 100% optimized.

Steam Deck might be faster on paper, I don't think it will impress much on visuals and performance tho. Like they say, it's just a PC.

PC never gets the optimization console get, because of 1000s of different hardware configs, it's not possible.

Valve mentioned 30 fps was a good sweet spot for the Steam Deck in one of the video's... It's probably not that strong, X86 hardware is not that efficient and it runs on battery, so expect low clockspeeds and alot of trottling/balancing to hit watt-limits. Unclock clockspeeds and it might overheat or battery lasts less than 1 hour.

Switch went ARM for this reason, way better efficiency, and still _decent_ for games if the games are optimized for ARM in the first place..

It might be a good emulator for older consoles, just sad that it lacks the OLED screen.

I would buy Switch OLED over Steam Deck for sure if I actually had the need to play games on the go, but I don't.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,270   +2,354
Valve mentioned 30 fps was a good sweet spot for the Steam Deck in one of the video's... It's probably not that strong, X86 hardware is not that efficient and it runs on battery, so expect low clockspeeds and alot of trottling/balancing to hit watt-limits. Unclock clockspeeds and it might overheat or battery lasts less than 1 hour.
I mean, Have you not watched the multitude of videos out there of people playing on this thing and easily getting at least 30fps in everything. I'll post a couple here:



Doom Eternal on Valves recommended settings, it was getting 60-75fps, And it looks much better than the Switch port, that runs at 30fps (most of the time).

Now I'm not going to judge the Steam Decks performance until it's released and third party reviewers have properly got their hands on it but purely based on early hands-on videos, it handily outperforms the Switch whilst running the proton compatibility layer. Meaning performance will only get better rather than worse.

We haven't even seen Windows installed on it yet and games running natively on Windows 10/11.

I'm just saying, it already is way more powerful than the Switch. That's not in dispute and is fact. ARM CPU's weren't picked because 99.95% of PC games are designed around x86 and Windows, adding an extra "x86 to ARM" layer PLUS Proton to convert from Windows to Linux would all but destroy any advantage the ARM CPU would have had.
 

TimmyP

Posts: 6   +9
Nintendos handheld is UNDERCLOCKED and UNDERVOLTED below spec when it is in handheld mode. There is no "enhancment" being done when its docked, it just has more power available so it runs at spec.
 

RedBear

Posts: 29   +23
Yeah, they're underperforming a LOT with this whole x86 handheld thing, all the competition is doing WAY better, like the...ummmm....I think there was a chinese thingy with an atom chip? Maybe?
Easy with the hyperbole there, the Aya Neo comes with a Renoir (4500U) hexacore and you can't really do much better in 2021 with no RDNA2-based APU commercially available atm; Valve is simply going to sell those things at loss, but let's wait and see if it will pay off.
 

Tom Yum

Posts: 133   +297
We know that Ryzen chip is capable of scaling up. This means that the cooling solution is not getting a particular boost from being docked to handle the extra power going through.

I'm a bit surprised because this means that either their cooling solution is *barely* enough and already maxed out, or they were really concerned about the extra noise which I honestly don't think could be that much of an issue given the size of the fan and what it can realistically spin up to which is not much.

So my early speculative and totally baseless conclusion at this point is that Nintendo going with ARM instead of x86 it's really paying off: No matter their claims AMD it's still far ahead from ARM when it comes to mobile devices: don't expect x86 phones to become a thing anytime soon. In fact, ARM might sooner catch up to desktop x86 performance now that Apple is propping them up.

Are you suggesting the Switch's 4x A57 cores at 1GHz are comparable to Ryzen Van Gogh (Zen2 @ 2.4 - 3.5Ghz)? The same A57 that powered the Galaxy S6 (but with twice the clock rate)?

Comparing the Steam Deck to anything Nintendo offers is completely pointless because they aren't comparable. And that is not me knocking the Switch, just recognising that it is an order of magnitude away processing power wise from what the Steam Deck is trying to achieve. A Switch can barely run Witcher 3 (2015) with potato graphics and sub-25 fps. This is aimed at modern AAA (Cyberpunk-level) at 800p, 30fps.

It is likely that the Steam Deck doesn't boost in docked mode because the cooling system isn't designed for it. Now that could be construed as bad, but the alternative is that the Steam Deck is fitted with a cooling system larger than needed which means you are making the device larger and heavier than it needs to be for its predominant use case, mobile gaming.

Given this is running Linux, I predict a developer will release an application that can boost the TDP to 20-25W approx 1ms after its released into the public. Whether it can safely run at that (potentially with forced external cooling) we'll have to wait and see.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,337   +2,619
Are you suggesting the Switch's 4x A57 cores at 1GHz are comparable to Ryzen Van Gogh (Zen2 @ 2.4 - 3.5Ghz)? The same A57 that powered the Galaxy S6 (but with twice the clock rate)?
The S6 was a long time ago: we shouldn't settle on Nintendo's obsession with "absolute bare minimum viable hardware" mentality the S20 is significantly more powerful than the S6.

But alas, I made myself other points later on on another thread: Valve probably needs a few more years for them to get ARM on Linux working seamlessly in compatibility layer for Windows x86 games.

We know Apple is doing precisely that but they're really only interested in transitioning whereas Valve would need to keep developing it for much, much longer since they can't really just kill x86 the way Apple killed their version of it very quickly.

But ultimately, unless something drastically changes
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
I mean, Have you not watched the multitude of videos out there of people playing on this thing and easily getting at least 30fps in everything. I'll post a couple here:



Doom Eternal on Valves recommended settings, it was getting 60-75fps, And it looks much better than the Switch port, that runs at 30fps (most of the time).

Now I'm not going to judge the Steam Decks performance until it's released and third party reviewers have properly got their hands on it but purely based on early hands-on videos, it handily outperforms the Switch whilst running the proton compatibility layer. Meaning performance will only get better rather than worse.

We haven't even seen Windows installed on it yet and games running natively on Windows 10/11.

I'm just saying, it already is way more powerful than the Switch. That's not in dispute and is fact. ARM CPU's weren't picked because 99.95% of PC games are designed around x86 and Windows, adding an extra "x86 to ARM" layer PLUS Proton to convert from Windows to Linux would all but destroy any advantage the ARM CPU would have had.

Dude Doom is notorious for being easy to run. I pump out 200 fps solid at 1440p maxed on my PC, 200 fps limit and GPU even not working at 100%

Try RDR2, a game from 2018-2019, it will make Switch Deck catch fire. The hardware is insanely weak for true AAA PC games and going forward it will only get worse.

I expect Steam Deck to fail miserably in terms of sales, compared to Switch.

So far, it looks like Valve is not even interrested in selling them. Most that pre-ordered says they got a late 2022 date. 1 year from now...

Hell Switch Pro or 2 might even come out before it
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,270   +2,354
Dude Doom is notorious for being easy to run. I pump out 200 fps solid at 1440p maxed on my PC, 200 fps limit and GPU even not working at 100%
I was responding to someone who was trying to compare the Steam Deck to Nintendo Switch and said the Steam Deck is weaker than the Switch. I used Doom as an example because you can easily find video's of Doom running on both platforms.
Try RDR2, a game from 2018-2019, it will make Switch Deck catch fire. The hardware is insanely weak for true AAA PC games and going forward it will only get worse.
We haven't seen it yet, hence why I haven't even bothered mentioning games we simply haven't seen running. I assume you're one of "those" PC gamers and you need a 4k screen at 400Hz and FPS around the 800 mark with everything set to extreme...
I expect Steam Deck to fail miserably in terms of sales, compared to Switch.
Well yeah, no way are they selling as many Steam Decks as the Switch, I don't think the hardware is the play here either. It's SteamOS. It's getting developers onboard with Linux more than anything, if they can sell a few million, that should at least boost developer engagement with Linux.
So far, it looks like Valve is not even interrested in selling them. Most that pre-ordered says they got a late 2022 date. 1 year from now...

Hell Switch Pro or 2 might even come out before it
Just checked Steam, reckons Q2 2022, You reckon the OLED model of the Switch and a Pro/2 model will come out in that time frame?

Even if they did, so what? The Switch isn't a PC and has a much smaller games library and isn't really in the same league as the Steam Deck. They're easy to compare because they both play games in the same form factor. The way they go about it is completely different and one is much more versatile than the other.

Lets put it a different way, If I wanted to play Mario/Zelda/Animal Crossing/Pokemon, I'd be forced to get the Switch. So I'd buy my girlfriend a Switch and play the games I'd like and then never use the console again.

If I want to play the games I actually like playing, the vast majority of these titles are on PC (BF4, New World, Tribes of Midgard, Valheim, Deep Rock Galactic, It Takes Two, Mass Effect, Based on my Steams "recently played") I'd get the Steam Deck, because I cannot play most if any of these games on the Switch.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
I was responding to someone who was trying to compare the Steam Deck to Nintendo Switch and said the Steam Deck is weaker than the Switch. I used Doom as an example because you can easily find video's of Doom running on both platforms.

We haven't seen it yet, hence why I haven't even bothered mentioning games we simply haven't seen running. I assume you're one of "those" PC gamers and you need a 4k screen at 400Hz and FPS around the 800 mark with everything set to extreme...

Well yeah, no way are they selling as many Steam Decks as the Switch, I don't think the hardware is the play here either. It's SteamOS. It's getting developers onboard with Linux more than anything, if they can sell a few million, that should at least boost developer engagement with Linux.

Just checked Steam, reckons Q2 2022, You reckon the OLED model of the Switch and a Pro/2 model will come out in that time frame?

Even if they did, so what? The Switch isn't a PC and has a much smaller games library and isn't really in the same league as the Steam Deck. They're easy to compare because they both play games in the same form factor. The way they go about it is completely different and one is much more versatile than the other.

Lets put it a different way, If I wanted to play Mario/Zelda/Animal Crossing/Pokemon, I'd be forced to get the Switch. So I'd buy my girlfriend a Switch and play the games I'd like and then never use the console again.

If I want to play the games I actually like playing, the vast majority of these titles are on PC (BF4, New World, Tribes of Midgard, Valheim, Deep Rock Galactic, It Takes Two, Mass Effect, Based on my Steams "recently played") I'd get the Steam Deck, because I cannot play most if any of these games on the Switch.

Most people will probably just install Windows on it. Steam itself, lacks too many games now. There is too many games missing on Steam today. Epic Games, EA/Origin, Battle.net, Ubisoft, Microsoft Store / Game Pass just to name a few launchers, most of their games does not come to Steam and if they do, they still need to launch on the platform (Steam says 3rd party DRM) when you actually start the game on Steam. It won't run natively on SteamOS without these.

This is the reason why SteamOS failed hard and Valve Deck won't change much here. I highly doubt many game developers will care more for Unix/Linux gaming, because Steam Deck comes out. It a low-end device that won't run AAA games well, especially not in 2+ years. It's probably mostly suited for indie games and older games.

HOW MANY Steam Deck owners will run dual boot with SteamOS and Windows, when ALL GAMES will run on Windows anyway? Valve is already working close with Microsoft on Windows 11 optimization for Steam Deck. Besides, storage is low on Steam Deck, 64GB model is pretty much pointless and DoA, but 256 and 512GB models are also somewhat low. Alot of AAA games today hits 100+ GB. People are not going to waste space on dualbooting and expanding space with memory card is too slow.

Linux gaming is pointless really. Pretty much alll PC gamers are using Windows. Linux will always lack behind in this segment.

I like Linux/Unix, don't get me wrong, BUT FOR SERVERS. I don't see the point for desktop use at all, ESPECIALLY NOT if you are a gamer. You will spend more time getting games to work and/or play well than actually play the games. Performance is wonky in most with visual artifacts etc.

Even MacOS is way bigger than Linux for gaming. More games have native MacOS support than Linux.

The only reason Steam tried pushing SteamOS years back, was to retain their monopoly. Which they now lost, because too many games are missing on Steam. Which is a good thing. Valve was milking game developers for years and still does to some degree.

Why do you think Valve stop making their own games (almost). No need to make your own games, when you can milk other developers for 30% of the earnings.
 
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Burty117

Posts: 4,270   +2,354
Most people will probably just install Windows on it. Steam itself, lacks too many games now. There is too many games missing on Steam today. Epic Games, EA/Origin, Battle.net, Ubisoft, Microsoft Store / Game Pass just to name a few launchers, most of their games does not come to Steam and if they do, they still need to launch on the platform (Steam says 3rd party DRM) when you actually start the game on Steam. It won't run natively on SteamOS without these.
See stuff like that doesn't bother me, WoW died months ago so I don't use Battle.Net anymore. I didn't know anyone still bought Ubisoft games (of which didn't Ubisoft say they will bring back their games to Steam if the Deck does well?). Microsoft Store I have Gears of War 1 on and even in Windows I struggle to get it to run properly so have never been back there. Epic Games I don't even have installed anymore. It's really only Steam, Origin and RSI Launcher I use these days, most of these drawbacks for you, aren't drawbacks for me.

I am intrigued on what happens if you try to play something like BF4 on the Steam Deck using SteamOS though, does it just error out? Or is it capable of emulating Windows in such a way for Origin to install? How does Punkbuster cope with this? They've shown off multiplayer games working fine but how does Anti-Cheat work since currently, running games on Linux using Proton causes most anti-cheat systems to fail.
Linux gaming is pointless really. Pretty much alll PC gamers are using Windows. Linux will always lack behind in this segment.

I like Linux/Unix, don't get me wrong, BUT FOR SERVERS. I don't see the point for desktop use at all, ESPECIALLY NOT if you are a gamer. You will spend more time getting games to work and/or play well than actually play the games. Performance is wonky in most with visual artifacts etc.
So basically you're happy to continue paying for Windows Licenses and running on Microsoft's OS, that's fine, I've used Windows for forever and currently running it right now, But if I could move away from Windows to Linux, I absolutely would, the only thing stopping me is because games just don't run or are hard to get running on Linux.

Anyway, enough of this, I was disputing your unsubstantiated performance claims and you came back with a bunch of "Linux is pointless" rubbish.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
See stuff like that doesn't bother me, WoW died months ago so I don't use Battle.Net anymore. I didn't know anyone still bought Ubisoft games (of which didn't Ubisoft say they will bring back their games to Steam if the Deck does well?). Microsoft Store I have Gears of War 1 on and even in Windows I struggle to get it to run properly so have never been back there. Epic Games I don't even have installed anymore. It's really only Steam, Origin and RSI Launcher I use these days, most of these drawbacks for you, aren't drawbacks for me.

I am intrigued on what happens if you try to play something like BF4 on the Steam Deck using SteamOS though, does it just error out? Or is it capable of emulating Windows in such a way for Origin to install? How does Punkbuster cope with this? They've shown off multiplayer games working fine but how does Anti-Cheat work since currently, running games on Linux using Proton causes most anti-cheat systems to fail.

So basically you're happy to continue paying for Windows Licenses and running on Microsoft's OS, that's fine, I've used Windows for forever and currently running it right now, But if I could move away from Windows to Linux, I absolutely would, the only thing stopping me is because games just don't run or are hard to get running on Linux.

Anyway, enough of this, I was disputing your unsubstantiated performance claims and you came back with a bunch of "Linux is pointless" rubbish.

WoW died? It has been dead for years according to most people, yet it still have millions of players.

Battle.net have Warzone / COD too, with millions and millions of players. Pretty much the most popular battle royale today, peaking on twitch.

Origin have Apex Legends, again with millions of weekly players.

Maybe you don't have any other launchers installed, but tons of people do. Steam simply lacks too many games. I have like 5 launchers installed on my PC to be able to play everything.

Origin I did not use for years, but will need for BF2042 soon. Another huge PC release that Steam does not get (native, that is).

Steam lost their monopoly, because developers were tired of getting milked. It's their own fault. We could have had ONE BIG STORE with ALL PC GAMES, but Valve wanted more money.

And this is why Steam Deck will fail too. Very few regular gamers are going to buy a Steam Deck, format and install Windows, so they can play all games.

I'm a long time Debian user. FOR SERVER USAGE. Linux is pointless for gaming.

Linux gets zero focus from dev's or AMD/Nvidia (OS lacks launch drivers for new games, even tho 99% of new games, does not even come with Linux support).

Thats why pretty much no pc gamers use Linux. Horrible experience, lack of games, bugs and issues in general is what you get. No true PC gamer would ever run Linux without dualbooting into Windows. Especially not serious gamers who need those 100-200+ fps on 144-360 Hz monitors.

Only people that game once a week, and mostly run indie or older games, with a 1080p 30 fps goal, will be satisfied with Linux gaming. It's a horrible mess, hence the sub 1% marketshare.

But they can always play Tux Racer...
 
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Burty117

Posts: 4,270   +2,354
God you're really hard to have a conversation with. You bring up stuff that I was never arguing about in the first place or even agreeing with, and then you double down on it anyway.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
God you're really hard to have a conversation with. You bring up stuff that I was never arguing about in the first place or even agreeing with, and then you double down on it anyway.
Simply stating facts - Steam lost their monopoly over the years

PC gaming on a Steam only platform like SteamOS is pointless for most people and they will install Windows anyway, so they can use their full catalog of games + other launchers

Like I said, SteamOS failed for a reason when they tried to push it several years ago

No fun in PC gaming if you can only play a low amount of PC games..
 

Brach Speicher

Posts: 24   +7
What's confusing me is why this is even a news article. That's not a Thunderbolt port on the bottom. Hello? Without one, how did anyone think the performance was going to boost? Unless, hypothetically, someone broke out the M.2 slot inside the device and made it connect to a GPU with a lot of hackery.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,270   +2,354
Simply stating facts - Steam lost their monopoly over the years

PC gaming on a Steam only platform like SteamOS is pointless for most people and they will install Windows anyway, so they can use their full catalog of games + other launchers

Like I said, SteamOS failed for a reason when they tried to push it several years ago

No fun in PC gaming if you can only play a low amount of PC games..
If we're stating facts, Steam has the biggest games library out of any of your listed digital stores. "low amount of PC games" is just a pure lie. What you mean is, Steam doesn't have anything from Ubi/Bliz and only older titles for Acti/Epic.

What you're essentially saying is "yes, I like being locked into using Windows and Epic Games Store only on my gaming computer". Which is strange to be honest.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 1,736   +1,790
TechSpot Elite
Steam has the biggest games library out of any of your listed digital stores.
Very true, but with Steam OS, I wonder how many Windows games will run on it. I know we can install windows, so that will be an option to make sure it runs any Steam game.

Is Proton even any better than WINE was?