Valve could optimize SteamOS for the GPD Win Max 2 gaming handheld

Daniel Sims

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Something to look forward to: One of Steam Deck's main advantages is Valve's optimization of SteamOS. Thanks to those tweaks, the operating system could end up on another, more powerful handheld gaming PC, and Valve may help other manufacturers foster this emerging tier of portables.

The maker of the recently revealed GPD Win Max 2 says Valve reached out to it about bringing the Steam Deck's operating system to the upcoming device. Collaboration could help turn it into a more appealing premium alternative to Valve's handheld gaming PC.

Valve's SteamOS is a free Linux distro that the company encourages users to install on various devices, potentially even the Win Max 2. However, Valve has introduced optimizations to the Steam Deck software to improve that specific hardware's gaming performance and give users more control. Players can download pre-cached game shaders and easily adjust refresh rates or clock speeds to conserve battery life.

Those adjustments might scale up relatively smoothly on the Win Max 2. The AMD versions of the mini laptop run on chips from the same family as those in the Steam Deck but are more powerful. Valve's device sports a custom 4-core, 8-thread Zen 2 processor running at up to 3.5GHz, and a 1.6GHz GPU with 8 RDNA 2 compute units.

Win Max 2 should exceed those specs with the 4.7GHz 8-core, 16-thread Zen 3+ Ryzen 7 6800U and a 2.2GHz GPU with 12 RDNA 2 compute units. Though, it will cost about twice as much as a Steam Deck.

Currently, GDP plans to ship the Win Max 2 with Windows. A tailored SteamOS option would encourage comparisons between native game performance on Windows versus SteamOS' compatibility layer Proton.

However, GPD says it would first need to send Valve its device for testing, after which it could take six months to get an optimized SteamOS on the system. Afterward, Valve might promote GPD's handheld PCs on Steam, similar to how it showcases HP, HTC, and Microsoft VR headsets alongside its own. This type of partnership could open the door for more handheld PCs in the future.

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