bottom line: While we cannot imagine that there are many people who will buy a Steam Deck with the express intention of using it as a desktop gaming system, it is certainly possible to do so if needed and with some moderate expectations.
Valve’s Steam Deck is already appealing to gamers with its unique combination of power, portability and price. This is the PC mobile gaming system that many have been waiting for, and starting at $399, it costs the same as the PS5 digital version and only $50 more than an OLED-screened Nintendo Switch.
It is also universal. Using Steam Deck Dock due out later this year, or an existing powered USB-C hub, you can connect your PDA to an external display and use standalone peripherals. The question arises: how does it work as a desktop today?
James Archer of Rock Paper Shotgun recently decided to find out pairing a Steam Deck with a 1080p monitor as well as a separate keyboard and mouse.
In Horizon Zero Dawn, Archer was able to get an average of 40fps using the built-in Steam Deck display at the original quality settings. On a 1080p monitor, the average dropped to 26fps. In God of War, the Steam Deck averaged 35fps on the built-in screen and just 20fps when running on an external monitor.
Elsewhere, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus dropped from a steady 60fps to 35-45fps at 1080p. In Death’s Door, the average frame rate on the system was also 60fps, but on a 1080p display, it dropped to 35-40fps. And if you want to drop the graphics quality a bit, games like Elden Ring and even Crysis Remastered play beautifully on a 1080p display.
Image credit Rock paper shotgun