The Steam Deck is an underpowered PC. That’s not a criticism of the device, it’s amazing what the portable PC is able to do with the limited power it has, but it is underpowered all the same. It’s perfectly fine for a handheld. Playing games in 900p or 720p on a handheld will look absolutely fine for most people. However, the Steam Deck can also be hooked up to a monitor/TV for a desktop PC experience. It just won’t be able to output the kind of resolutions people expect from the bigger screens. At least not at a playable frame rate. That’s where the YouTube channel ETA Prime comes in.
In their latest video, ETA Prime connected a full-size AMD Radeon RX 6900XT to the Steam Deck. The graphics card is much bigger than the Steam Deck itself but that won’t stop progress. ETA Prime was able to connect the RX 6900XT to the Steam Deck via the Deck’s M2 SSD slot using an adapter. However, the Deck’s puny (comparatively) battery is no match for the massive GPU. ETA Prime also had to connect a dedicated desktop power supply to the graphics card in order to run it. Also, because the M2 SSD slot was taken up by the GPU it meant everything had to be run off of an SD card with Windows 11 installed.
The RX 6900XT paired with the Steam Deck is able to provide some huge improvements in some games like The Witcher 3 which is able to be played at 4k with an FPS of around 100. However, as an older game, The Witcher 3 doesn’t require that much CPU grunt. In games that do require more CPU horsepower, like Elden Ring, the Steam Deck is essentially capped no matter the resolution because the game just can’t get the CPU power that it needs.
Obviously, most people aren’t going to be connecting their Steam Deck to desktop-class graphics cards but it is interesting to see what is possible with Valve’s new device. An external GPU that matches the CPU power of the Steam Deck and that can connect to the portable PC in a smoother manner could be something that is of interest to a certain set of gamers. However, it’s unlikely to ever hit the mainstream. For more on the Steam Deck GPU contraption, be sure to check out ETA Prime’s video at the source below.