It is probably not what Valve expected when it launched its portable PC.
The video below confirms that the Steam Deck, Gabe Newell’s portable PC, is capable of 4K resolution gaming at a reasonable frame rate, even though its hardware isn’t exactly designed for it (but we’ve written before that Valve may release more powerful models of the PC later). True, it will take a bit of extra expense, as the Deck itself isn’t enough to pull off this trick, which is Frankensteinian to look at (while underlining that human creativity indeed knows no bounds…).
So a YouTube channel called Eta Prima took a Steam Deck, and into its M.2 slot, they plugged… a video card. Nvidia’s GeForce cards don’t work with this descriptively unheard of connection as it stands (although the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 have been tried), but given that Valve is using AMD-based hardware, it’s no surprise that a Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card was able to work. Let that sink in: an external video card connected to a portable PC with an SSD slot…
Steam Deck’s processor is holding back the RX 6900 XT (so there’s a bottleneck…), but even so, The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V are capable of over 60 frames per second at 4K resolution. However, it is no longer possible for newer games, as the machine’s CPU is not on par with the video card. So Cyberpunk 2077 and Elden Ring are running at 1080p, a significantly lower resolution. That’s still something. After all, M.2 connectivity isn’t meant for such a thing, and Valve could probably hold a roundtable discussion to consider the future of hardware.
In the case of the Steam Deck, one might well ask, if its dock is going to be launched, would it not be a good idea to include a graphics chip to give it even better performance? Or are we just thinking too far ahead?