Valve's Steam Deck will hit the market in December 2021. However, a lucky Chinese netizen (opens in new tab) has managed to get his hands on a development kit and posted an early review of the handheld PC. Being a development kit, the retail unit's performance will likely vary so approach the benchmarks with an open mind.
The Steam Deck utilizes a custom AMD APU that brings the chipmaker's Zen 2 and RDNA 2 microarchitectures onto a single chip. On the computing side, we have a quad-core, eight-thread processor with clock speeds that vary between 2.4 GHz and 3.5 GHz. On the graphics end, the chip wields eight RDNA 2 compute units that tick between 1 GHz and 1.6 GHz. The APU is accompanied by 16GB of next-generation LPDDR5-5500 memory.
Sporting 7-inch LCD display, the Steam Deck outputs at a 1280 x 800 resolution at 60 Hz in handheld mode and up to 8K at 60 Hz or 4K at 120 Hz when docked. The Chinese user tested his development kit in handheld mode.
Starting with Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the Steam Deck delivered an average frame rate of 30 FPS on the highest setting. The reviewer claimed that he didn't notice any stutter in the gameplay. Dropping the graphics preset to high got the average frame rate to around 36 FPS. Further lowering the image fidelity resulted in a frame rate over 60 FPS. However, the reviewer didn't share which settings he modified.
Steam Deck Benchmarks
|Game||Graphics Setting||Frame Rate|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||Highest / High / Custom||30 FPS /36 FPS / 60 FPS|
|Doom||Medium / Custom||60 FPS / 46 FPS|
|Cyberpunk 2077||High||20 FPS - 30 FPS|
|DOTA 2||Highest / Low||47 FPS / 80 FPS|
In Doom, the frame rate fluctuated around the 60 FPS mark on the medium setting. With a more demanding preset, the Steam Deck pushed out 46 FPS, and the gameplay was still smooth, according to the reviewer. Again, he didn't state the options that were changed.
Cyberpunk 2077, which is known to cripple even the best graphics cards, was tough on the Steam Deck. On the high preset, the frame rate oscillated between 20 FPS and 30 FPS, and the freezing was evident. For an acceptable experience, you'd need to lower the graphics setting to medium or low. Unfortunately, the review didn't test those presets.
DOTA 2 was obviously more forgiving on the device. The Steam Deck delivered frame rates up to 47 FPS on the highest preset and 80 FPS on the low preset.
During his testing, the reviewer measured the temperatures on the Steam Deck. He noted that the rear of the handheld PC was around 42.6 degrees Celsius and 29 degrees Celsius on the grips. In about three hours of game time, the battery life went from 100% to 46%. This is the development kit so there is margin for optimization. For reference, the Steam Deck is equipped with a 40 Wh Lithium-ion battery.
The Steam Deck will debut at $399 for the base model with 64GB of eMMC storage. The models with 256GB and 512GB of NVMe storage will cost $529 and $649, respectively.