Steam Deck Supports Ray Tracing, VRS, and Other Stores; Programmer Compares It to Xbox Series X in Performance per Pixel

Steam Deck

Following earlier rumors of a handheld system in the works at Valve, the Steam Deck was officially announced yesterday alongside a December 2021 release window.

The Steam Deck is powered by AMD's RDNA 2 architecture, so it's not surprising to hear straight from Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais that the hardware support DirectX 12 Ultimate features like variable rate shading (VRS) and acceleration for ray tracing, but it's always good to get confirmation.

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Perhaps most excitingly, Valve confirmed to IGN that you'll be able to do with the Steam Deck everything you could do with a PC, including browsing the Web or playing games from other stores such as Epic's.

Again, you can really do anything that you would expect a Linux-based PC to be able to do. So the answer to those things is yes.

Speaking of Epic, Tim Sweeney publicly applauded the Steam Deck announcement on Twitter specifically for the platform's openness.

The hardware is very powerful for its target resolution of 1280x800. In fact, programmer and modder Peter 'Durante' Thomas likened it to an Xbox Series X in 'performance per pixel' (via RobotBrush).

• The GPU is about as fast in raw performance as a base PS4, but it's a much newer and more efficient architecture (the same as PS5/XSX), and it only needs to target 1280x800. In other words, it has about the same raw GPU performance per pixel when targeting 1280x800 as the Xbox Series X has when targeting 4K (slightly more actually).

• The CPU is basically half a XSX/PS5, with slightly lower clock.

• 16 GB of RAM (really neat), 4x Switch, same capacity as PS5

Obviously there will be a bit of overhead (varying from basically nothing or even better performance to significant overhead) for running games on Proton compared to Windows, but this is the performance you should expect.

If one of your favorite games is among those titles that suffer from significant overhead on Proton, you could always opt to install Windows on the Steam Deck.

Last but not least, Valve founder Gabe Newell also commented on the upcoming handheld system. Newell stressed that it was hard but critical for Valve to maintain a low price point to sell millions of it.

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Price/performance is going to be one of the critical factors in the mobile space and so we've had to be very aggressive in terms of pricing on the Steam Deck. Price point was secondary and painful but that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it. But the first thing was the performance and the experience, that was the biggest and most fundamental constraint that was driving this.

Our view is, if we're doing this right, that we're going to be selling these in millions of units and it's clearly going to be establishing a product category that ourselves and other PC manufacturers are going to be able to participate in and that's going to have long-term benefits for us.

Are you interested in getting a Steam Deck? If so, which configuration do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

Are you interested in the Steam Deck?
  • Yes, but I'll wait for reviews 45%, 851 vote
    851 vote 45%
    851 vote - 45% of all votes
  • Yes, I'll preorder one right away 31%, 580 votes
    580 votes 31%
    580 votes - 31% of all votes
  • No, I prefer proper PC/console gaming 20%, 382 votes
    382 votes 20%
    382 votes - 20% of all votes
  • No, I'll keep using the Nintendo Switch for handheld gaming 4%, 73 votes
    73 votes 4%
    73 votes - 4% of all votes
  • No, I prefer proper mobile gaming 1%, 15 votes
    15 votes 1%
    15 votes - 1% of all votes
Total Votes: 1901
July 16, 2021 - July 20, 2021
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