Steam Deck updates specs and performance and memory options are very promising

Steam Deck updates specs and performance and memory options are very promising

It's now been a few days since Valve's Steam Deck announcement. There have been pre-orders, sold out but we have yet to see a lot of the device beyond some short clips shared by Valve along with some off-screen videos from IGN. We have an idea of ​​what this machine is capable of but much of its composition still remains a mystery. However, some additional details have emerged about the device and the official specifications page has been expanded slightly to give us more good news regarding the hardware.

At the core of the Steam Deck we find an AMD processor that has been at the center of a lot of rumors. but that has not yet received official confirmation with some even thinking it had been canceled. Codenamed 'Van Gogh', the specifications for the APU designed for the mobile environment have been known for some time now, verified to a certain extent by the revelations within the Linux drivers. At the heart of the Chip is the Zen 2 architecture with a quad-core configuration, supported by eight RDNA 2 computational units. However, a longstanding problem with AMD's all-in-one chips and their performance has been limited. at the level of memory bandwidth and the initial specifications shared by Valve gave us only hints as to what this chip can offer in this area.

One of the two aspects of the specifications that have been extended by the announcement is about the memory controllers of the AMD processor, the four-channel configuration confirms 88 GB / s of bandwidth and in terms of the balance of the computational capacity of the GPU compared to the memory capacity, the good news is that Steam is definitely in the same territory defined by the Xbox and PS5 consoles and the hope is, of course, that the laptop will be able to scale effectively with respect to those machines.

In the DF Direct special that we have prepared we try to outline some expectations for Steam Deck, starting with a small taste of performance analysis based on clips from Valve showing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order running between 30 and 40 fps, DOOM Eternal running very close to 60 fps and less demanding games running at the full 60 Hz of the display. What we have seen so far is promising: the processor seems capable of running AAA games supported by the 1280x800 resolution. This resolution might seem very, very low for a desktop or laptop but it's just fine for a portable device.

Rich Leadbetter, John Linneman and Alex Battaglia of Digital Foundry share their thoughts on the Steam Deck. On YouTube you will find instructions on how to jump from one topic to another.

Watch on YouTube. In our video we also show the Ryzen 9 4900HS APU spinning some titles shown in the reveal. On the one hand, this is a good yardstick for the performance of integrated graphics solutions in the portable environment. However despite the 1.8 TF GPU operation, the performance is more in line with Xbox One than with PS4 (note that this is a very impressive milestone for a mobile machine!). In terms of Steam Deck comparison, this Renoir-based Ryzen processor runs on a less capable architecture with less memory bandwidth but has 35W available power compared to Steam Deck's maximum 15W. On the one hand the comparisons with Steam Deck will be marginal but on the other they demonstrate how problematic comparisons based on the console specifications can be.

We must also take into account the possible limitations deriving from the compatibility issue of the Steam Deck but to when it comes to power consumption, CPU and GPU clocks are even more important. We received several requests that prompted us to prepare as soon as possible a PC with specifications similar to those of Steam Deck based on the computational capabilities of the GPU and CPU. The problem with this idea is that any PC cannot replicate the power limit of a mobile part that must work well in a handheld device. Long story short: Power limits are just as crucial to performance as the rest of the specs.

The other spec element that has changed since the initial announcement concerns storage solutions. With its € 419 base configuration, Steam Deck is equipped with 64GB eMMC NAND, while the more expensive versions offer 256GB and 512GB NVMe SSDs. Initially it was not clear if the storage side was augmentable by users or not and to be honest we don't know with absolute certainty yet. A change to the spec page confirms that standard SSDs are being used suggesting that there is indeed a possibility for replacement or improvement. It is clear that this is not the intended solution with MicroSD slots recommended for additional storage as confirmed by the fact that Lawrence Yang of Valve shared the detail that IGN's experience with the console has seen all games run from an SD. >
Our first video analysis of the specs. Now we have more details on storage and more importantly on AMD APU and RAM bandwidth.

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I'm really looking forward to the next steps in Steam Deck. We have confirmation thanks to another IGN video that the suspend function is implemented, a crucial element for a portable device, but I am very interested in seeing more of the device in addition to an indication from Valve on the presence at the launch of graphic profiles designed specifically for Steam Deck. We'd love to see optimized 30fps solutions and profiles with 60fps or unlocked frame rates simply because if the PC market were to expand in the way Valve hopes, immediate pick up and play has to work at its best. Then there is of course the battery aspect and the implications behind running titles on a machine with fully unlocked frame rates.

Another aspect I can't wait to hear about is how much it is really open Steam Deck in practical terms. Yes, we can install Windows but will Windows drivers be made available for the AMD chipset? Without it, playing will be impossible. And if SteamOS is the best route to Steam Deck, it will be intriguing to understand how well the compatibility for Windows titles will perform and whether Epic, Ubisoft, Microsoft and others will bring their own services or stores to SteamOS.

For now Additional details on Steam Deck have pinpointed key spec levels and whetted the appetite for more future revelations. The stage is set for a machine that has a good chance of being able to successfully propose the vastness of the Steam world in a new form factor and potentially to a new audience over time. The scale of the undertaking of getting PC gaming to run on a console format while keeping the open and highly editable nature that makes PC so beautiful is incalculable. It will be fascinating to find out how Valve intends to tackle the biggest challenges and how much we can see of the hardware ahead of launch.

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