Valve’s Steam Deck launches in December, and as you may have seen, dev kits have been sent out – and a Chinese source with one such developer unit has leaked some purported benchmarks and info on battery life.
First off, we should take the details provided with a huge deal of caution as to whether they might be fabricated somehow, and even if real, remember that the Steam Deck is still a work in progress (albeit nearing the finish line now).
So, bear all that firmly in mind, but the benchmarks which have been spilled (as spotted by Tom’s Hardware) are of the Steam Deck running at its native 1280 x 800 resolution (in other words, how you’ll play it in handheld mode).
Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran at a solid 30 frames per second (fps) on average with the highest graphics settings applied, creeping up to 36 fps if the settings were notched down slightly to just high. With some lowering of other settings – unfortunately, the exact tweaks applied weren’t specified – the game could run at a really smooth 60 fps, which is good to hear.
Doom could also manage 60 fps on medium visual settings, and cranking up the options resulted in a still laudable 46 fps (again, no exact details were provided as to what was cranked up). Dota 2 ran at 47 fps with the graphics maxed out and 80 fps on low details, so again, 60 fps shouldn’t be an issue with some somewhat lowered settings.
The real challenge for the Steam Deck here was being confronted with the resource hog which is Cyberpunk 2077, and Valve’s portable PC didn’t fall flat on its face – on high details it actually managed 20 to 30 fps.
Battery life and temperatures were also tested, with the back of the Steam Deck reaching 42.6 degrees Celsius in use, and the battery giving three hours of playtime for just over half (54%) of its juice.
Analysis: Backing up Valve’s best case battery claims?
Cyberpunk 2077 hitting between 20 to 30 fps with high details is actually quite a feat, but while that sounds vaguely playable, the tester observed that some freezing happened, so the game was behaving in a somewhat stuttering manner by the sounds of it. Average frame rate isn’t the whole story, of course, and any such jerkiness will seriously mar the gameplay experience. Dropping the settings to medium rather than high should help boost that frame rate considerably, but unfortunately, that scenario wasn’t benchmarked (or indeed low details).
Overall, though, these performance levels look promising for hitting 60 fps with some contemporary games, particularly when you consider that this is still a dev unit, and things aren’t fully optimized.
The battery life also looks great, too, and could theoretically give you almost six hours of gaming on the go based on this leak. Of course, that very much depends on what game you’re playing, and how taxing the settings are, but this result appears to back up Valve’s claim of two to eight hours of battery life, and in particular makes the latter figure seem realistic.
All that said, given the source of this leak – and an element of ‘sounds too good to be true’ maybe creeping in at the fringes, at least for us – we definitely shouldn’t get carried away here, but it’s hard not to be tantalized by the prospect of that battery longevity and general performance.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).