New Windows Driver for Steam Deck Offers Vague Improvements

Steam Deck Dock Station
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Steam Deck (opens in new tab) owners who use Windows on their portable gaming machines rather than the Linux-based SteamOS have an updated APU driver to play with. Announced by the Steam Deck Twitter account — which tweets using the web app, raising the possibility that whoever’s behind it really is using a Steam Deck, the new driver doesn’t come with any release notes, but promises "compatibility, security, stability, and performance improvements."

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The new driver will be of particular interest to those who want to take Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II on the road, as the latest installment in the CoD saga only runs on Decks using Windows. Speculation on Reddit (opens in new tab) is that the driver improves the performance of OpenGL, and that it enables hardware accelerated video. It has been noted that the Citra 3DS emulator, which uses OpenGL, runs more smoothly on the Deck after the update — though not as well as it does under SteamOS.

Valve doesn't supply any support for using Windows on its portable PC (opens in new tab), though as it's powered by an AMD Zen 2 APU it should be straightforward. Anyone who's tried to install an operating system on a laptop, however, knows otherwise, and it was a while before internal audio was working on the Deck under Windows. The latest audio drivers arrived last month (in two parts), but the original driver to enable the Windows Deck to make a noise appeared in May this year — almost three months after launch, and two months after the first graphics and Wi-Fi drivers appeared (opens in new tab).

Our first impressions of Windows 10 (at the time, the Deck didn’t support the hardware TPM features needed to install Microsoft’s latest OS) on the Steam Deck were "rough around the edges," and we concluded that SteamOS was the better fit for the system. Thanks to a BIOS update, you can now run Windows 11 on the device, but dual-booting between Windows 11 and SteamOS isn’t supported.

The new driver, along with all the others you'll need to get Windows running on your Deck, is available now from the Steam Support website (opens in new tab).

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.