The most remarkable part of the Steam Deck — bar none, if you ask me — is how the portable gaming PC gets the most from its AMD RDNA 2 graphics and 40 watt-hour battery.
As of the earlier update, you could lower the screen’s refresh rate to improve your effective framerate and more low latency, and you’ve been able to throttle the CPU, GPU, and frame limiter since its takeoff.
The haul: even if you figured out a great combination that provided you the battery life and/or performance you desire, the Steam Deck wouldn’t save those locations per game.
You’d have to remember them and flick the toggles appropriately when switching to a different game. That switches today.
Wednesday’s update now arrives with per-game performance settings. Flick a single button in the Quick Access menu to select a custom performance profile.
Flick it off, and you’ll be around to your global system settings, so you can include both a “generally we like our games running at 30fps setting. Elden Ring should drive at 40fps with a 40Hz refresh rate” as well as “Vampire Survivors should run at 10fps and 5 watts because we want to play it for the entirety of this car ride” if we wish.
It has been one of the most-requested Steam Deck features since the beginning. However, we can hope there’s more to come — because it doesn’t allow you to set multiple profiles (like one profile when you’re hit into AC power and another for the most extended battery life you can manage).
Instead, you can save and share profiles with the larger community to help the less-tweak-happy get their games running better.
Valve already showed us how powerful that could be with community controller profiles — a significant cause many ancient games were immediately playable on the Steam Deck is that users were encouraged to upload configurations for the Steam Controller back in the day.
Valve is very aware of this and that today’s update lays the groundwork for that. Because while the Steam Deck still might not be prepared for everyone who might pick up a Nintendo Switch, an update after the update has revealed Valve is listening closely and intently to power user feedback.
Digital Foundry recently did a unique look at how the previous update’s adjustable refresh rate and fan curve let you obtain more out of the Steam Deck.