The SteamOS 3.2 update for Valve’s portable PC brings several new features.
Gabe Newell’s company has been updating the Steam Deck software quite frequently (and we suspect they’ll start beefing up the hardware as well because when demand is high, you have to keep up; it’s up to AMD, perhaps), which is quite an honour from Valve, which meanwhile is giving more and more games the verified tag, because Steam’s game offerings (like human stupidity and creativity…) are almost endless.
The SteamOS 3.2 update allows you to limit the display refresh rate. Usually, everything is 60 Hz, but it can be reduced to 40, 20, or even 10. (Question: how much does this feature increase input lag? We previously discussed this subject before.) Not all games need 60 FPS (e.g. for turn-based strategy games, it’s unnecessary), and it can increase battery life. And the ability to quickly set it up is good to have, and it seems to be tied to per-game performance settings, so it can be handy for longer trips when you can’t charge your Steam Deck while on the train, for example.
Update 3.2 also addresses the Steam Deck’s fans. They were pretty noisy when the handheld PC first came out, and Valve has tried to eliminate the issue, resulting in a fan curve managed by the operating system. The company says it makes the system quieter, especially if you don’t put the device under load too much, but it still allows you to revert to the original BIOS-controlled curve in the system settings. Finally, Remote Play Together is now fully functional on Steam Deck: our friends can join us, or we can use the device to join them at any time, with one condition: the game in question must support this feature.
Valve’s approach to Steam Deck support is quite fair. They seem to be taking things seriously after Steam Machines.