In the context: Valve’s Steam Deck wasn’t designed to be a PC gaming beast, but that hasn’t stopped people from testing how far it can go with some upgrades to its capabilities. For example, you can connect an RX 6900 XT for a huge increase in overall performance. It will be interesting to see if Valve decides to add official eGPU support to the eventual Steam Deck successor.
The Steam Deck is a desktop computer at heart and a portable console in practice. Earlier this month, its BIOS was updated with fTPM support to allow users to install Windows 11. Microsoft’s new operating system has stringent system requirements that have less to do with CPU or computer power. GPUs and more with the hardware security features your business wants right now. for full use on consumer hardware and business machines.
The performance of the Steam Deck is adequate for its relatively low resolution screen. However, YouTuber ETA Prime has decided to take several steps forward and install a large desktop GPU on Valve’s handheld console. The device doesn’t have a Thunderbolt port to connect an external GPU, so it used an adapter plugged into the M.2 slot to do so.
The downside is that the operating system and games have to run from the slower microSD memory. Also, the Steam Deck won’t start if you connect an Nvidia GPU to it, but it will happily work with AMD Radeon cards like the RX 6900 XT, which ETA Prime used in the experiment.
As you’d expect, the Steam Deck’s low-powered APU struggles to power a monstrous GPU like the RX 6900 XT, especially through the limited PCIe lanes of the M.2 slot. However, the device scored nearly 27,000 points in the 3DMark Fire Strike test and over 15,000 in the TimeSpy benchmark.
For reference, this is between 5 and 10 times faster than the Steam Deck’s iGPU. Game testing revealed a similar story, with the RX 6900 XT allowing the handheld to hit over 60fps at 4K in titles like The Witcher 3 and GTA 5 using maximum graphics settings. The same was not possible in recent titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Elden Ring, where the configuration struggled to produce a constant 60 frames per second even at 1080p, mainly due to the relatively weak CPU.
Of course, most users can get better results using a cloud gaming service like Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, as long as you can get it running properly on the Steam Deck. Meanwhile, Valve and AMD are still working on adequate driver support for Windows 11 and producing enough Steam Deck units to meet higher-than-expected player demand.