Update: Valve has dropped a load of new information about the Steam Deck that sheds more light on the handheld PC's capabilities.
When Valve unveiled the Steam Deck, the company claimed that the system offered “more than enough performance to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient power envelope.”
Running is not the same thing as “running well," but we can rest a bit easier on that front now, as a Chinese user has released benchmarks taken from a Steam Deck development kit. Given this isn’t the finished product, you probably can’t take these figures as identical to what the first retail units will offer, but it’s unlikely performance will get worse once things have been fuly optimized.
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Without the ability to run actual benchmarking software easily on Steam Deck, the user turned to a number of games to test real-world performance. And the results are extremely promising, with only one — Cyberpunk 2077, predictably — giving the Steam Deck a hard time.
Starting with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the game delivered a solid 30fps plus on the Highest and High presets, with performance easily upped to 60fps by lowering things a bit further. Doom was equally capable of hitting the magic 60fps frame rate on the Medium preset, dropping to a very playable 46fps with the quality bumped up a notch.
As you might expect for a game that’s now 8 years old, DOTA 2 ran very comfortably on the Steam Deck, hitting up to 47fps on the highest setting, and 80fps on the lowest (output to an external monitor, given the Steam Deck’s screen is a 60Hz number).
Cyberpunk 2077, however, proved more problematic. Not only did it deliver the Steam Deck’s one crash during testing, but performance was stuck around the 20 to 30fps level n ‘High’ with some freezing.
Maddeningly, the leaker didn’t reveal how it performed when lower graphics settings were applied. But it is worth noting that the Steam Deck's troubles here don't seem to be anything to do with the game’s recommendation of an SSD for best performance, as the leaker mentions that the hardware has 512GB of space at one point (only the entry-level 64GB model uses slower eMMC storage).
After 3 hours of use, the Steam Deck had apparently dropped from 100% battery to 46%, which isn’t bad at all, and pretty close to Valve’s own estimate of two to eight hours. But all this AAA gaming in such a small package does lead to a device that’ll certainly get toasty: measuring the temperature mid session revealed a high of 42.6 degrees Celsius (108 degrees F) on the back, though this was down to a more usable 29 degrees C (84 F) on the grips.
Early adopters will get their Steam Decks in December, but if you missed that boat you’ve got a longer wait ahead of you, with Valve quoting a shipping date of “after Q2 2022”.