Valve’s upcoming Steam Deck has excited a lot of gamers, especially those who wanted a portable gaming solution like the Nintendo Switch but one that was compatible with their already-purchased Steam games. In a recent interview, Valve even said that the Steam Deck is “future proof”, but they are open to the idea of adding new generations later if needs be.
Despite the relatively modest performance target of 30fps at 800p resolution, the Steam Deck can seemingly handle almost all games thrown at it (we say almost because we haven’t actually got our hands on it yet). But under the hood lies some interesting tech that does give credit to future proofing.
“Everything that's been coming out this year [that we've tried] has been running without issues,” said Pierre-Loup Griffais, developer on the Steam Deck. “I think this is largely a factor of industry trends. If people are still valuing high frame rates and high resolutions on different platforms, I think that content will scale down to our 800p, 30Hz target really well.”
“If people start heavily favoring image quality, then we might be in a position where we might have trade offs, but we haven't really seen that yet.”
Taking a look at the Steam Deck specs, the device uses the latest generation of AMD hardware for its graphics card and processor. Plus, it is apparently one of the first devices in the world to use the new LPDDR5 memory, all of which contributes as a “big factor” for its future proof performance.
“We're using the LPDDR5, which is brand new to the industry,” Yazan Aldehayyat said, a Hardware Engineer for the Steam Deck. “I think we might actually be one of the first products to showcase this new memory technology. So in that sense, that gives a lot of future proofing.”
There’s also the case of ray tracing and AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution support. In terms of the former, although the Steam Deck is technically capable, it still proves to be a very demanding technology that is too much for the mobile device. However, as the technology improves we could see it eventually come to Steam Deck in some form.
As for AMD FSR, Griffais mentioned that it does work on the Steam Deck and can be used to achieve higher frame rates. Though, at a resolution of 800p, one would expect there to be more visual artifacts than we’d expect even at 1080p. We’ll just have to wait and see how this one works though.
Lastly, Valve already mentioned that they are interested in other manufacturers making their own versions of the Steam Deck: “We want to make sure people know that the SteamOS 3 is available free, for any manufacturer that wants to make a similar product,” said Lawrence Yang, Designer.
But that doesn’t mean Valve won’t improve on their own version. Despite calling it “future proof”, no hardware lasts forever when it comes to gaming. And so, if the demand is there, more generations of the Steam Deck could be made. Plus, Valve already stated that they are in it for the long haul.
“We look at this as just a new category of device in the PC space,” said Greg Coomer, Designer. “And assuming that customers agree with us that this is a good idea, we expect not only to follow up in the future with more iterations ourselves, but also for other manufacturers to want to participate in the space.”
What do you think? Could the Steam Deck really be future proof? Would you be interested in newer generations released later on? What about ray tracing and FSR? Let us know!