You might think that Valve’s Steam Deck looks awful like a Nintendo Switch, but they are actually very disparate designs in several ways. For example, we recently learned from Valve that the Steam Deck will not work differently when docked, unlike the Switch. Instead, Valve prioritizes the system over how it expects it to be used the most: on the fly.
That’s not to say you can’t plug a 1080p or higher resolution monitor into the Steam Deck dock and get it out at the right resolution. You absolutely can. However, the performance of your device will remain the same, whether paired or mobile, so you will experience performance success when you play at higher resolutions in docked mode than in your hand.
When asked if Valve considered a higher power mode when docked, Steam Deck designer Greg Coomer told Wes Fenlon of PC Gamer:
"Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. Cell phone status ".
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRUElAEGXBo (/ embed)
This means that you may need to be expert with the games you play on the big screen. Valve says the minimum frame rate is 30 fps considers it playable on Steam Deck, but this is only relevant for the native 800p resolution of the hand.
"We wanted to prioritize use in what we believe would be the highest use case, which is actually mobile," explains Coomer. "And so since we focused on that and chose as a threshold where the machine would work well and with a good frame rate with AAA games in that scenario. Dock stage at higher resolutions. We wanted a more design goal. simple and prioritize it ".
Valve will have to balance battery life, thermal performance and acoustics with the Steam Deck, which will ultimately play a role in deciding how the CPU and GPU parts of the AMD system will work in the game. You might suspect, then, that some performance would be left unexploited on the system if you connected to the network while it was docked and let the system run a little hotter.
It’s something Valve is sure to have taken into account. We know that the Steam Deck's quad-core Zen 2 APU will be capable of CPU clock speeds of up to 3.5 GHz and the RDNA 2 GPU's eight computing units of up to 1.6 GHz.
Both are quite a bit slower than current AMD desktops built with the same Zen 2 / RDNA 2 architectures, but we don’t really know enough about the Steam Deck APU or, in fact, about cooling, to be able to attract any company. conclusions about what is possible beyond these speeds, if any.
The Steam Deck is based on a Linux operating system and is at least open to user-installed software, so there is probably a possibility of overclocking or line descent, which can allow a bit more hand performance.
For now, it looks like improved performance when docked is off the table for release. The Dock is an unknown amount today, anyway, it will be sold separately on the device itself and Valve says a powered USB C-type hub could act as a suitable replacement for some.