Spec Analysis: Steam Deck - Can It Really Handle Triple-A PC Gaming?

Digital Foundry : There had been rumours, rumblings and actual, solid reporting of a handheld from Valve for some time now, but the hardware has finally broken cover - and it's looking promising. Steam Deck is built on the same architectural building blocks as the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, downscaled and refactored for a handheld. With up to 1.6TF of GPU compute power aimed at delivering circa 720p gaming, the idea is to break PC gaming free from the traditional limitations of the PC itself. It's a handheld designed to be as liberating as Nintendo Switch, but tied into the openness and sheer size of the Steam ecosystem.

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darthv7264d ago

If newer games can scale to the wide range of gpu cards like the 1070 up to current... then this can hold its own just fine.

Krog01164d ago (Edited 64d ago )

I mean, most GTX 1070s run around 7 teraflops. I know there is much more to a GPU than that single spec, but it is pretty obvious comparing a 1.6 teraflops, it is not even reasonable to compare it to a GTX 1070.

Seems likely it is probably going to be somewhere between OG PS4 and PS4 pro, leaning much coser to PS4.

hectorius64d ago (Edited 64d ago )

@ krog. Total rubbish.. It you look at the Tflops they are based on 32bit, PS 4/Jaguar is 2x 4x 64bit.. Seen what you need to run HZD on Win 10 bloatware?? Lessee... PS4 recommended spec PS 4 Pro.. 8GB of GDDR5, running on a "Mobile"/ "midrange"/ "Outdated before it released" Jaguar runnin @ 2.15Ghz

Win 10 bloatware


Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10 64-bits
Processor: Intel Core [email protected] or Ryzen 5 [email protected]
Memory: 16 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
DirectX: Version 12
Storage: 100 GB available space***

A Ryzen 5 running @ 3.5Ghz.. Basically a PS 5
16GB RAM.. Ditto PS 5
8GB of GDDR Vram the entire RAM inside the PS 4/Pro.

Days Gone..

Ryzen 5, 3.5Ghz.. 16GB RAM.. 8GB Vram.

Note they are showing Death Stranding running on this thing, thats because the engine was gimped to run on the inferior PC system..


OS: Windows® 10
Processor: Intel™ Core i7-3770 or AMD Ryzen™ 5 1600
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB or AMD Radeon™ RX 590
DirectX: Version 12
Storage: 80 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX compatible
Additional Notes: AVX instruction set required***

Note its only 8, not 16GB of RAM.

Clue kid you NEVER compare a device which runs on built in battery, to a device that is attached to the mains, running @ 220/240v AC [PAL] or 110/120v DC [NTSC] with unlimited access to power.

Krog01164d ago

@hector Cool rant. I didn't say anything about the CPU and definitely didn't say anything about recommended PC specs.

Darth brought up that games still run on the 1070 GPUs I simply pointed out that on a GPU ONLY spec, this thing is not even near a 1070. It is nearly the same in terms of GPU to a PS4, but with newer feature sets and hardware that come with Zen 2/RDNA2.

honestly I am not really sure what your point was.

hectorius64d ago

Krog0113h ago
@hector Cool rant. I didn't say anything about the CPU and definitely didn't say anything about recommended PC specs.***

FFS its like trying to educate pork. You said this kid..

***Seems likely it is probably going to be somewhere between OG PS4 and PS4 pro, leaning much coser to PS4.***

This thing is 32bit FP, Sony hasn't used 32bit since the PS 1 days... PS 4 and Pro use the Jaguar which is 64 bit so HTF can this feeble portable be in between???

I also showed 2x PS4 games [HZD & Days Gone] which are 64bit only

***Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
OS: Windows 10 64-bits***

and showed how Decima had been gimped on the PC

***OS: Windows® 10***

only requiring Win 10 and 8GB... TF is the matter with you child??

***Darth brought up that games still run on the 1070 GPUs I simply pointed out that on a GPU ONLY spec, this thing is not even near a 1070. It is nearly the same in terms of GPU to a PS4, but with newer feature sets and hardware that come with Zen 2/RDNA2.***

What part of BATTERY powered v MAINS powered is it you aren't getting kid???

***honestly I am not really sure what your point was.***

That doesn't surprise me in the slighted kid. Here's a test will this handheld install Win 11

Processor 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
Memory 4 GB RAM
Storage 64 GB or larger storage device
System firmware UEFI, Secure Boot capable
TPM Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
Minimum system requirements
Graphics card DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x
Display >9” with HD Resolution (720p)
Internet connection Microsoft account and internet connectivity required for setup for Windows 11 Home***

1Ghz no problem.. 2 cores or more no problem... 4GB [ouch 8x more than the total RAM inside a PS 3] no problem... 64GB storage [not even SSD] no problem... 720p screen no problem

if not, why not.. You 3 cowards who marked me down can also enter this question[aire] try to become MEN and back up your lunacy.

ElvisHuxley63d ago

@hectorius Calling people "kid" is not a good look, and it's cringe. You probably wouldn't talk like that in real life, so why do it online? That's why I downvoted you.

ABizzel163d ago (Edited 63d ago )


What he was trying to say is the Steam deck is a 1.6 TF GPU and the PS4 base is a 1.84 TF GPU, so steam deck is closer to base PS4 than it is a GTX 1070. Now TFLOPS isn't the ideal measure as they don't tell the whole story between different architectures, but what he said is true. I don't know what anything you posted has to do with what he said.


Where are you getting the Steam Deck is 32bit, I think you have that confused with FP32, I haven't seen a 32-bit CPU since forever from a mainline architecture. All Ryzen's are 64-bit processors.

But basically you're saying Steam Deck will be less powerful due to the OS, however, the original OS is not Windows its Steam OS (linux which generally needs less resources). But even if it was Windows:

1. Horizon was not a great PC port, it had a ton of optimization issues at launch, and while it's much better now it's still not as if the game was a multiplatform developed game. This is a PS4 game being forced to run on PC and as anyone with any emulation experience knows, you often need significantly more power to get the same result from a lower powered device.

2. The specs you're using are the recommend specs for PC which targets 1080p @ 60fps on Medium/High Settings, which is above 2x the framerate of the PS4 version, meanwhile the PS4 version is Medium across the board except Anti-Aliasing (which is camera based, not game based).

Finally yes you can get more performance with higher wattage and clocks on a desktop, so a desktop can always push boundaries further than a mobile device with the same hardware, but that point had nothing to do with Steam Deck. Valve already released the power envelope, it's a 40w battery running at device that saps between 4w - 15w depending on the game, so the performance they have has already been established and the battery has nothing to do with that outside of how long you will be able to play.

There is already a measure of performance for the Steam Deck and it's the Ryzen 5 3400G, however, the Steam deck should have a higher clock speed (up to 1.56 GHz based on TFLOPS). Now it has 4-cores and 8-threads making it a better multi-core processor, but the Steam Deck is Zen 2 making it a better single core-processor and still functional in games. It has 11 Vega CUs, while the steam deck is only 8 RDNA 2 CUs, but as PlayStation, AMD, and performance comparisons have shown an RDNA 2 GPU performance on par with a Polaris / Vega GPU that has around 35% - 40% more CUs (8 + 35% - 40% = 11 CUs). Not to mention that the display is set to 720p on the Steam Deck, so regardless of the wattage difference game performance should once again be on par with base XBO and PS4 with more consistent fps (considering it's 720p and has drastically better single-core CPU performance), and loads should be much faster (since 2 models have NVMe SSD)

Ryzen 5 3400G

What make this great is that this is still using 7nm parts, and we're rolling into 5nm Zen 4 and RDNA 3.0 in 2022 - 2023, which means a remodel could be coming sometime in 2023 that offers even better performance with up to 60% CPU performance boost and a rumored 2x GPU performance boost over Zen 2 (60% over Zen 2, 40% over Zen 3) and RDNA 2. Even if the APUs can't rep the full and only half of that, that still puts the GPU portion at GTX 950 levels as the APU will also be able to use DDDR5 RAM, which won't be a night and day boost in performance but will allow for more 60fps titles at 720p.

ABizzel163d ago

A few corrections on my part.

Steam deck already plans on using LPDDR5 which means the memory is going to be even ebtter for the APu than I expected and produce an additional small boost in performance.

Also Steam Deck has 4 Cores / 8 threads, which again is an additional small boost in performance. So it's basically equivalent to an overclocked Ryzen 5 3400G, which is amazing for a handheld.

hectorius62d ago

ABizzel112h ago
A few corrections on my part.

Steam deck already plans on using LPDDR5 which means the memory is going to be even ebtter for the APu than I expected and produce an additional small boost in performance.***

GDDR 5 is OCTAL RAM kid its also Asynchonous, just like XDR inside the PS 3

***This is because fewer lanes are needed for the same amount of bandwidth. Rambus owns the rights to the technology. XDR is used by Sony in the PlayStation 3 console.[1]

***Technical specifications
Initial clock rate at 400 MHz.
Octal data rate (ODR): Eight bits per clock cycle per lane.
Each chip provides 8, 16, or 32 programmable lanes, providing up to 230.4 Gbit/s (28.8 GB/s) at 900 MHz (7.2 GHz effective).[2]***

It inputs 400Mhz and outputs 900Mhz, for [900x8=] 7.2Ghz.. The cell was only rated on the input, ie 400x8=3.2Ghz which belied how powerful it really was.

***Also Steam Deck has 4 Cores / 8 threads, which again is an additional small boost in performance. So it's basically equivalent to an overclocked Ryzen 5 3400G, which is amazing for a handheld.***

FFS the cores are FP32bit.. Jaguar is FP64bit how many times do I have to say it.. All FP means is FLOating Point operandS.. 64=2x more than 32... 8cores = 2x more than 4.

As for your cores

***Newly leaked slides from AMD's new Radeon R9 290X Hawaii GPU reveals that the Volcanic Islands GPU will also feature 8 Asynchronous Compute Engines much like the Liverpool GPU inside of Sony's new PS4.

Each of the 8 ACE's can manage up to 8 compute queues for a total of 64 compute commands, in comparison the HD 7970 only has 2 ACE's that could only queue 2 compute commands for a total of 4 & the Xbox One only has 2 ACE's but they also manage up to 8 compute queues for a total of 16 compute queues.***

Hows about 8x cores with 8x CUs, 1 per pin of a 64bit processor??? 8x8=64 geddit???


hectorius62d ago


As for CUs child they are sooooooooo

****Differences between GCN and RDNA
There are architectural changes which affect how code is scheduled:

Single cycle instruction issue:
GCN issued one instruction per wave once every 4 cycles.
RDNA issues instructions every cycle.

GCN used a wavefront size of 64 threads (work items).
[NB whats 8x8 kid?]
RDNA supports both wavefront sizes of 32 and 64 threads.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Workgroup Processors:
GCN grouped the shader hardware into "compute units" (CUs) which contained scalar ALUs and vector ALUs, LDS and memory access. One CU contains 4 SIMD16s which share one path to memory.
[SIMD = Single instruction Multiple Data ie asynchronous] 4x 16s=??? I can't HEAR you.. lol]
RDNA introduced the "workgroup processor" ("WGP"). The WGP replaces the compute unit as the basic unit of shader computation hardware/computing. One WGP encompasses 2 CUs. This allows significantly more compute power and memory bandwidth to be directed at a single workgroup. In RDNA, 1 CU is one half of a WGP.***

laaaaaast generation sweetie. Clue ...

***AMD officially announced the Radeon RX 5700, 5700 XT, and 5700 XT 50th Anniversary Edition on June 10, 2019. These Navi 10[20] GPUs utilize 8 GB of GDDR6 memory.[21]***

All AMD GPUs come with 8GB of GDDR as standard, which is why if you actually WATCHED the DF video, they were comparing it to the Series S.. Which has 10GB in total with 2.5GB used for the OS.

I'm actually interested in this device because its NOT built on Windozze.. You PeeCee kiddies are building this up to be knocked flat.

As for HZD being run in Emulation form, thats TRULY retarded, we know Kojima didn't have the Fox engine so Sony allowed him to gimp the engine for the PC system. Days Gone ran on the UE 4.xx engine and is Multiplat.. But I showed EXACTLY the same result as HZD, Ryzen 5 @ 3.5Ghz, 16GB RAM, 8GB VRAM on the AMD processors.

Seen the spec you need for a PeeCee to get 1080p low in trash like Cyberpunk 2077???

***Games Cyberpunk 2077 System Requirements

Cyberpunk 2077 Minimum PC: 1080p Low
CD Projekt Red and Nvidia provided the above slide detailing all of the recommended specs. Interestingly, all mention of AMD graphics cards has been scrubbed from the list. However, the left two columns of the list basically haven't changed since what was stated in Night City Wire episode 3 (starting around the 20:30 mark), with Nvidia apparently adding five additional columns. Let's start with the minimum specs first:

Core i5-3570K or FX-8310
GTX 780 3GB (or RX 470 4GB)
70GB storage
Windows 7 or Windows 10 64-bit
Target: 1080p Low***

12GB total [AMD=4GB].


marvygarvy40860d ago (Edited 60d ago )

It will perform better than the PS4. The PS4 was aiming for 1080p. The Steamdeck has about the same power as the PS4 but is aiming at 720p and 800p and has 16GB of quad channel LPDDR5. The PS4 had 8GB of GDDR5 (not sure how many channels). Steamdeck is using RDNA 2. Theres more to it than TFLOPS. Steamdeck is a beast.

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kryteris64d ago

Can the 64GB sd card onboard handle future games? 100MB/s? Will that dual boot windows 11, or will that be an option to boot off sd card. Probably, right? pc after all.

Zeref64d ago (Edited 64d ago )

Unless the game requires an SSD, you'll be fine with 100MB per second. That's actually faster than PS4/Xbox One. It can handle any game you throw at it. It just loads slower, nothing dealbreaking imo

DarthMarvin63d ago

It's only 100MB/s? That's pretty disappointing, SD cards go over 300 now.

kryteris64d ago (Edited 64d ago )

Make or break will also be the joysticks, will they behave like a normal controller's. They look like normal ones.

Neonridr64d ago

Valve had some issues with the Index Controllers suffering drift, but these look larger than those, so fingers crossed.

n1kki664d ago

At it's 720p resolution, absolutely. Docked, time will tell. Also hilarious are people calling this out as some niche product for the hardcore. Steam has 120 million active users a month. This could be a huge win for Valve. If 120 million active users isn't main stream enough for people, then those people are asshats. PC gaming is more main stream than any other console by active user count.

jukins64d ago

Well like any launch product it is indeed for hardcore. Unless youre telling me a bunch if casual pc gamers where waitingnall day to preorder.

This looks solid and if it delivers on its promise then yes its a huge win for valve. Id love to see this be succesful personally if could play my pc library gamepass whatever ps games end up on pc as seamless as theyve shown ill definetly purchase. But for now its just a hardcore dream imo

n1kki664d ago

Of course. Which is the case for every single hardware release. Launch adoption is always intended for the "hardcore" core audience. Retaining and/or marketing to to those users is key. But that's not exclusive to Steam. That applies to Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft.

Vegamyster64d ago

Selling hardware is not the same as having a large community for a free service that can be put on any computer, it just mean PC gaming is popular as a whole. I have the top of the line model reserved because i love stuff like this and can see if it has issues with the Q1 base models but i can't pretend that it will be a sure fire success, right now it is a niche market that no ones really dived into it outside some smaller companies, it is an unproven hardware market.

n1kki664d ago

It's not a niche just because it's targeted to the early adopter segment of their entire market. Just because the steam app is free and some of those users might be "casual" don't marginalize the possible reach. The only company going completely "main stream" at the this stage is MS with game pass streaming on phones and soon TVs. But these early launches are always targeted at the current user base. But hitting 120 million users, free app or not, it about as main stream as it gets. Those are ACTIVE users, which is higher than Sony, MS, or Nintendo. Steam is main stream.

Vegamyster63d ago (Edited 63d ago )

Nobody is saying Steam isn't mainstream, again that doesn't inherently mean this hardware will be a massive success, people who use Steam already have a PC they're playing on and this isn't going to be an upgrade spec wise for most people based on hardware survey lists, it'll be a sub group of the user base and other groups like those looking at gaming laptop alternatives ect.

Profchaos64d ago

Tflop is the sum of all parts numbers the total compute power not really the sum of the capabilities.

So DF videos are raising concerns that this may work perfectly fine now but in the near future may not have the power required to run a modern game once next gen only development really begins.

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