Digital Foundry’s Oliver Mackenzie Posted an article Learn how Valve’s Steam Deck works on the latest AAA titles released last year. In particular, he wanted to see if Steam Deck could provide his stable 30 fps gaming experience in a highly graphically demanding title. A Plague Tale: Requiem, Callisto Protocol, Gotham Knights, more.
To refresh your memory, Steam Deck features a Zen 2 quad-core CPU that speeds up to 3.5GHz and an RDNA 2 iGPU with 8 CUs that runs at up to 1.6GHz. This APU is certainly not a powerful chip by today’s standards, but the Steam Deck application proves to be a surprisingly decent gaming APU.
Plague Story: Requiem It showed impressive results on the Steam Deck. Mackenzie said he was able to achieve a solid 30fps gaming experience, only dipping slightly in more demanding areas. This was achieved by setting all visual settings to low with the exception of the resolution optimizer in performance mode and textures set to medium settings.
Despite running on lower settings, graphics are on par with Xbox Series S and hold up well. However, since the game has been upscaled from an internal resolution below 720P, pixel popping and fizzling are definitely an issue.
Callisto Protocol Coming up next is one of the most difficult games to run on Steam Deck. In terms of graphical fidelity, Mackenzie was able to use a mix of low and medium settings that worked well against current and previous generation Xbox consoles. However, framerate proved to be a problem due to his CPU bottleneck issue with fps sporadically dropping into his early twenties.
Gotham Knights is another title that didn’t play well with the Steam Deck. Despite his FSR 2 use on low quality settings and performance mode, Gotham Knights was consistently below 30 fps in open world areas. Again, this is probably due to a CPU bottleneck. However, when fighting enemies in the inner space, the game reverts to his perfectly smooth 30FPS.
Need for Speed Unbound The only racing title tested by Mackenzie. The game performed surprisingly well, achieving his near-steady 30 fps on medium quality settings at 720P or 800P resolution and his DRS target of 30Hz. However, hitching is still somewhat of an issue with this title, according to Mackenzie, and the game is also bottlenecking his CPU in certain areas.
To put it more positively, The Witcher 3 Complete Edition The game maintains 30fps in almost all areas. The graphics settings used were a mix of medium and high settings with TAAU enabled at native resolution (800P).
Uncharted 4 It’s the last game Mackenzie tested. This game ran the smoothest of all the titles and hit his steady 30 fps. But this isn’t all that surprising considering the game was originally created in 2016 and only released to PC late last year.Mackenzie used his preset for Medium Graphical in this title. , combined with his FSR 2 upscaler in quality mode, achieved his 30FPS on target.
As Mackenzie learned, Steam Deck’s hardware clearly shows its limits in these graphically demanding PC titles. Almost every game I tested required the use of a resolution upscaler, but the native resolution was a very low 1280 x 800, making the quality borderline playable in some cases. CPU bottlenecks were also a problem for most titles and the only reason some games weren’t able to reach a comfortable 30 FPS.
That said, Steam Deck still pulls off a playable gameplay experience where it seems like it shouldn’t be. The hardware requirements for most of these titles are much smaller than what the Steam Deck hardware actually has. Yet somehow the console is able to run these games with a gameplay experience that rivals previous generation consoles.
It’s hard to know when Steam Deck will stop playing the most graphically demanding games the PC platform has to offer. . And that doesn’t bode well for the company’s claim that its next-gen devices won’t focus on performance upgrades.
Game developers are beginning to switch to next-generation game engines such as Unreal Engine 5, dropping support for previous generation consoles in the process. This will no doubt make future AAA titles significantly more difficult to run on Steam Deck’s Zen 2 APUs.