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Valve Steam Deck receives performance and external display improvements with new Steam Deck OS 3.5 update

Steam Deck OS 3.5 is available to try now on Valve's Preview channel. (Image source: Alexander Andrews)
Steam Deck OS 3.5 is available to try now on Valve's Preview channel. (Image source: Alexander Andrews)
Valve has released Steam Deck OS 3.5 to its Preview software channel. While its version number suggests that it is a minor release, Valve has added numerous features, including APU undervolting, HDR support and VRR integration for external displays.

Valve has published Steam Deck OS 3.5 to devices enrolled on its Preview channel. In a blog post, the company explains that you can opt into receiving its latest preview builds by heading to Settings on your Steam Deck, then System and finally System Update Channel. For reference, Valve has not provided a timeline for when Steam Deck OS 3.5 will be available as a stable update.

Additionally, it is worth keeping in mind that Valve could remove some features listed below should they prove troublesome during its testing phase. Nonetheless, Steam Deck OS 3.5 currently enables high dynamic range (HDR) and variable refresh rates (VRR) on external displays. However, the latter will only be togglable if your USB Type-C adapter supports the functionality.

Moreover, Steam Deck OS 3.5 contains a fix that resolves the Steam Deck's touchscreen orientation when it is connected to an external display. Arguably, the addition of 'voltage offset settings' is the biggest change this time around, which Valve has bundled within Firmware 116. In other words, the Steam Deck now supports undervolting, as The Phawx celebrated on Twitter. Thus, it is now possible to reduce power consumption without compromising performance, as is the case when reducing the Steam Deck's TDP. The full Steam Deck OS 3.5 changelog is as follows:


The default color rendering for Steam Deck has been adjusted to emulate the sRGB color gamut, resulting in a slightly warmer and more vibrant color appearance.

  • Added Settings -> Adjust Display Colors, to tune the display's Color Vibrancy and Color Temperature. The settings can be tuned with a preview of a test image (above), or with your running game.
  • Native: The native display color appearance (the color rendering for Steam Deck prior to this update).
  • sRGB: Emulate the sRGB primaries, in a smooth manner that does not introduce gradient clipping.
  • Boosted: Emulate a wider-gamut display appearance, resulting in increased apparent vibrance. May result in gradient clipping.
  • HDR can now be enabled in Display Settings if supported by the external display.
  • VRR can now be enabled in Display Settings if supported by the USB-C adapter.
  • Reworked Quick-Access scaling settings to separate scaling from filtering. Added Stretch and Zoom scaling as new options to handle different aspect ratios.
  • Fixed touchscreen orientation while external display is connected.
  • Compositing is now avoided in additional scenarios, reducing latency and stutter in situation with multiple overlays on screen.
  • Improved latency in certain situations where the application renders slower than the display's refresh rate.


  • Fixed an issue where certain workloads would exhibit severe CPU performance issues unless SMT was manually disabled.
  • External storage devices are now auto-mounted when connected to Steam Deck. To format or manage storage devices use the new device management interface in Settings->Storage.
  • Updated graphics drivers, with many performance and functionality improvements. Improved performance for Starfield. Fixed viewmodel corruption in Amnesia: The Bunker and launch failures for Immortals of Aveum and Kaiju-A-GoGo.
  • Improved Bluetooth connection stability, especially with multiple controllers
  • Slightly improved sleep resume speed
  • Implemented switching between controller bindings and mouse/keyboard desktop bindings by long-pressing Options in the Linux hid-steam driver, to match Steam's default Desktop configuration.
  • Improved fade transitions between applications.
  • The contents of the performance overlay can now be customized by creating a ~/.config/MangoHud/presets.conf configuration file.
  • Fixed a bug where some games could appear stretched if their window size didn't match their swapchain size (eg. Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4)
  • Fixed Disgaea PC needing to be tapped on before input works
  • Fixed physical dimensions reported to games, fixing some issues with an incorrect aspect ratio sometimes being detected (eg. Returnal)
  • Worked around a problem where Allow Tearing could cause heavy stuttering if the Performance Overlay or other overlays appeared on screen. Tearing is now impossible in such situations, and the Performance Overlay should be disabled for best results.
  • Fixed a problem where keyboard input would not be detected in Overwatch 2
  • Controller firmware: fixed an issue where some thumbstick touch sensors would lose touch periodically

Firmware 116

  • Added voltage offset settings.
  • Improved robustness of the Firmware Settings Reset chord (Volume Down + Quick-Access + Power) against some boot hang scenarios.
  • Fixed a rare issue that would set the processor TDP limit too low causing CPU and GPU frequencies to be stuck at 400 MHz and 200 MHz respectively.
  • Fixed an issue when the charging light would turn back on when plugged in for a while after fully charged.

Updated Arch Linux base

  • This update pulls in newer performance, security and stability fixes for the underlying packages that are the foundation for SteamOS
  • Most notably, this includes recent changes to KDE Plasma, Steam Deck's Desktop Mode. Full notes on these updates can be found on KDE's website here. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • New window tiling system
  • Updated Discover (app store / software manager) with a new homepage and improved search
  • Discover can now perform system updates from the desktop
  • Updated desktop widgets
(Image source: Valve)
(Image source: Valve)


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 09 > Valve Steam Deck receives performance and external display improvements with new Steam Deck OS 3.5 update
Alex Alderson, 2023-09-19 (Update: 2023-09-19)