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Steam Deck dev kit gets tested, holds its own in demanding games with a bit of tweaking

Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmarks (Image Source:
Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmarks (Image Source:
We are still a few months away from the official Steam Deck release, so the dev kit performance could actually be improved in the meantime. Still, demanding games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Cyberpunk 2077 appear to be hitting 30 fps even on high settings thanks to the included LPDDR5-5500 quad channel RAM.

Valve is already distributing a limited number of Steam Deck development kits to select game devs around the world, and some of these were used for unofficial benchmarks. A Chinese source went ahead to test the early version in a few demanding games and it looks like the RDNA 2 GPU is able to hold its own with a little bit of tweaking.

Linus Tech tested an even earlier version of the Steam Deck with Doom Eternal shortly after the device was announced, and the performance looked promising. The latest leaked benchmarks from China include tests for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Cyberpunk 2077 and DOTA 2, in addition to Doom Eternal.

Keep in mind that the Steam Deck comes with a 7-inch display limited to 1280 x 800 @ 60 Hz, yet it also supports 8K @ 60 Hz and 4K @ 120 Hz for external displays via the HDMI output on the separate dock. Surely nobody expects the handheld console to perform well at those high resolutions, since not even the PS5 and Xbox Series X can tackle them properly. Nevertheless, the included 16 GB of LPDDR5-5500 RAM with quad-channel support on the Steam Deck should be enough for 800p gaming.

Although limited to 800p, Cyberpunk 2077 is still a bit too much for the Steam Deck on the high graphics preset, as the dev kit can barely hit 30 fps and more often than not hovers at around 20 fps. The reviewer also noticed some stuttering here and there, but for a smoother experience, users will need to lower settings somewhere between low and mid. DOTA 2 is on the other end of the spectrum, as the Steam Deck can deliver 47 fps for highest settings, while the low preset can boost the fps counter to 80.

It seems like Doom Eternal did not receive further optimization compared to what we have seen from Linus's test earlier this August. The console appears to deliver 60 fps on medium settings, and can still push 46 fps on a more demanding preset, although the reviewer does not specify the exact settings. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is surprisingly playable at the highest preset with 30 fps on average. However, lowering the details to high only boosts the fps counter to 36, so users will need to tinker around for a smoother gameplay. The reviewer does show a screen with the game running at 60 fps, but the exact settings are not revealed.

The official launch of the Steam Deck is scheduled for this December, so overall performance could still improve  in the meantime. Temperatures, on the other hand, might not need further improvements. The Chinese reviewer recorded 42.6 °C at the back of the console and 29 °C on the grips. Valve might want to see if it can squeeze some more power from the included 40 Wh battery, as it currently lasts for around 6 hours.


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 09 > Steam Deck dev kit gets tested, holds its own in demanding games with a bit of tweaking
Bogdan Solca, 2021-09-29 (Update: 2021-09-29)