There's No Docked Performance Change for the Steam Deck

No performance is gained when docked, but also none is lost in handheld mode

Valve has confirmed that its upcoming Steam Deck handheld PC will not receive any sort of performance changes when used in docked mode.

While the Steam Deck won't perform any better when connected to its (sold separately) dock, it also won't perform any worse when used in handheld mode. This may disappoint some folks, as it results in docked performance having the same constraints as the handheld mode's specs.

Steam Deck dock

Valve

In an interview with PC Gamer, Steam Deck designer Greg Coomer said Valve decided to prioritize the handheld mode since that's the mode it believes will see the most use. This means that, despite being docked and played on a big screen, the 30fps minimum required for the Steam Deck's 800p resolution will remain. So don't go in expecting a 60fps baseline if you decide to dock your Steam Deck.

Steam Deck back

Valve

It's worth noting that Valve does have to consider several factors for handheld performance (like battery life, heat generation, and so on), which aren't typically a factor otherwise. This does result in less-than-ideal specs when compared to, say, a high-end gaming PC, but you're also not going to be playing said PC on the bus.

Though there may still be hope: PC Gamer also notes that the Zen 2 APU being used in the Steam Deck is capable of higher speeds than what Valve is noting. Since the Steam Deck is designed to be customized, like most PCs, there's still a chance that other users, or even Valve, itself, may find a way to overclock the processor in the future. But much of that depends on the APU's architecture and cooling systems.

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