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How to use desktop mode on the Steam Deck

When you first start using your Steam Deck, its native state is the gaming mode, designed for an easy mobile experience. But the gaming mode is also a little limited — it lacks the customization options and more in-depth settings that you’d find on a PC. That’s why Valve also included a Desktop Mode, which plunges the Steam deck into a Linux desktop that works great with a mouse and keyboard while expanding your options.

If you don’t mind working in a Linux environment, switching to Desktop Mode can make Deck management easier and even enable games Steam couldn’t otherwise play.

Here’s how to use Desktop Mode on the Steam Deck so you can make it work like a PC.

How to use Desktop Mode in the Steam Deck

Step 1: Turn your Steam Deck on, then once it’s booted up, press and hold down the Power button. Hold it down until a new menu appears.

Step 2: Select Switch to desktop.

Choose switch to desktop.

Step 3: Your Steam Deck is now technically in Desktop Mode. However, you’ll find working in the mode a lot easier if you connect a keyboard and mouse to work with (the trackpad works, but it’s not great). We’ll also suggest connecting to a laptop or monitor so you can use a larger screen for better visibility.

Blank desktop in Steam Deck.

Step 4: Now that you’re in Desktop Mode, what can you do? Well, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the pre-installed apps that allow you to quickly make some changes. One of the most popular is the Discover Software Center app (the blue bag icon), where you can find a variety of emulators. These emulators can allow you to play games that Steam doesn’t directly support. Choose the ones you want to install.

The Discover app allows you to search for a variety of other apps too, including browsers, specific games, and music players. It can even help you play Xbox games with the right setup.

Steam Deck Apps in desktop.

Step 5: If you have tinkered with Linux before, you’ll notice that the Deck is a read-only system that doesn’t allow for much in-depth change. However, you can still open the Terminal and run commands, as well as make specific changes to the files on your Deck. This also allows you to use a “passwd” command to set a password and enable sudo commands, but that’s only something you should try if you have serious experience in a Linux environment and know the changes you want to make.

Step 6: If you experiment a little too much with the Linux features and start to mess up your Deck, you can fix it, but you’ll have to run a recovery process. Steam has a guide to manage recovery, but you’ll need a USB stick and a compatible USB-C adapter or dock to plug the stick in.

Step 7: When you are ready to go back to the gaming mode, just select the very obvious Return to game mode icon in the upper left. You can move between both modes whenever you want, but it’s a good idea to avoid doing it mid-game.

Not received your Steam Deck yet? You aren’t the only one, but here’s why it might replace your gaming laptop when it arrives.

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How to connect a keyboard and mouse to the Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is packed with controls – so many controls, you are able make all sorts of adjustments to the way it works and plays. But it didn’t quite manage to fit in an unfolding keyboard and retractable mouse, so you’re on your own for those. The good news is that a keyboard and mouse setup is entirely possible on the Steam Deck. You may want to switch to this option for certain games that just don’t play the same without it or if you plan on doing some serious work in the desktop mode.

Here’s what you’ll need to enable a keyboard and mouse on the Deck, plus which settings to keep an eye on to help get the performance you have in mind.

How to connect your keyboard and mouse to the Steam Deck

Step 1: Use a compatible wireless keyboard and mouse. While devices like the Steam Deck Docking Station (which isn’t out quite yet) will make wired connections easier to manage, for now, the best way to get your keyboard and mouse working on the Steam Deck is with wireless devices. Fortunately, the Steam Deck comes with unrestricted Bluetooth 5.0 support, which means it can work with all kinds of Bluetooth devices. If you want to pick up a new Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, we have your back with our guides to the best wireless keyboards and the best wireless mice.

Step 2: Make sure your keyboard and mouse are fully charged, turned on, and ready to pair with your Steam Deck for the first time. If either of them have pairing buttons or similar features, make sure they’re ready to go.

Step 3: You don’t need to switch to desktop mode to use a keyboard mouse. Simply select the QAM button – the “…” button on the bottom right of the Deck. This pops up the right-side menu. Here, navigate down to the cog icon, where you’ll find the Quick settings menu.

Steam Deck Quick Settings.

Step 4: At the bottom of Quick settings, select the Other option. This should open a small Bluetooth menu. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled here – it may not be turned on by default.

Step 5: Exit out of the QAM menu, and select the primary Steam button to open up the options menu. Go down to Settings and select it.

Settings in Steam Deck Menu.

Step 6: Select Bluetooth from the left-side menu. In the right-side screen, you’ll see all your current Bluetooth options. Look at the section called Available to pair. Keep your keyboard and mouse close by. If they have pairing buttons, now’s the time to hit them.

When you see your keyboard and mouse appear in Available to pair, select them, and wait for your Steam Deck to pair, then connect. It may take several seconds for each device.

Step 7: If you want to play a game with a keyboard and mouse, you should also check your controller layout. The Steam Deck tries to switch to an external device layout when it senses connected devices, but this doesn’t always work right for a keyboard and mouse.

Find the game you want to play on the Steam Deck, and select the Controller icon on the right side of the title. This will open controller settings, where you can check your current layout. Select the Right-pointing arrow on the current layout to check available layout options. If you see a keyboard and mouse layout available, switch to that.

Controller settings in Steam Deck.

Step 8: If there’s no template for a keyboard and mouse, you can always make your own by choosing a new layout, going to Edit, and going to the Mouse and Keyboard sections at the top of the menu, where you can set your own commands and more. Keyboard and mouse controls won’t function the same across every game, but this kind of customization can help. Just make sure your Deck doesn’t switch back to a different layout the next time you start the game – reorder the priority of your layouts if you need to.

Changing Deck Controller layout.

Step 9: Note: If you are already in Desktop mode, then all these options will work straight from the Desktop menu in the bottom right of the screen, where you’ll find a Bluetooth button. It’s just often easier to set up your keyboard and mouse before heading to the Desktop mode.

If there are specific games you want to play on the Steam Deck with a keyboard and mouse, make sure to check their compatibility first.

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How to turn on FSR on the Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is great, but it still feels like a bit of a work in progress. The good news is that it has indeed progressed since its release. Valve’s updates have added much-requested features and new compatibility, and one of those updates helped improve performance and visual quality with the introduction of AMD’s Fidelity FX Super Resolution, or FSR.

If you are having trouble balancing a usable frame rate and an acceptable resolution for your favorite games – especially when playing on a monitor – then the Steam Deck’s FSR compatibility could make a huge difference.

If you want to make the most of your Steam Deck, here’s how to enable FSR.

What is FSR on the Steam Deck, anyway?

FSR is an AMD technology that stands for FidelityFX Super Resolution, with the latest version being FSR 2.0. Basically, it works to upscale and optimize the resolution of your games so that they can run with more detail without compromising as much on the frame rate. That’s especially helpful for a system like the Steam Deck, which can struggle to reach higher resolutions for certain games, especially if you are connected to a monitor for a larger screen. Valve has even reported that using FSR can significantly save on battery life for the Steam Deck for certain games.

Some games have innate support for FSR, but on the Steam Deck, FSR can be enabled in the settings to help on all games you play on the system. Here’s what you need to do.

How to turn on FSR on the Steam Deck

Step 1: While you are in a game you want to optimize, press the QAM (Quick Access Menu) button on the Steam Deck. That’s the “…” button the right-hand side.

Step 2: In the menu, move down until you reach the Performance section, indicated by the battery icon.

Step 3: In the Performance section, select the Advanced view option to see all the possible features.

Step 4: Scroll down until you get to the Scaling filter slider. Slide this all the way to the right to the setting that says FSR.

The Scaling Filter in the Steam Deck.

Step 5: Note that right below this section there is an option for FSR sharpness. For now, you can max it out. You may want to return to this slider later on and play with it, especially if you are having frame rate issues in the game you are upscaling.

Step 6: You aren’t done quite yet. To enable FSR, open your in-game menu and look for an option to set the resolution, usually in the video or graphics section (below is where to look in Half Life 2). Set the resolution significantly below the native or default level, preferably 720p or lower. You need to drop the resolution for the Deck to recognize the situation and kick in FSR. Now you should be ready to play.

The Steam Deck menu for Half Life 2.

Step 7: If you aren’t noticing any resolution changes at the same frame rate, check your screen settings. Try toggling the full-screen mode off and on to see if that helps. Keep in mind that that you may have to play around with your resolution settings, too. FSR sometimes works best to help increase your frame rate and sometimes to bump up the resolution, and the best outcome often depends on the game that you are playing.

Did you enjoy tweaking your Steam Deck to enable FSR? Here are nine other tips and tricks you need to know to make the most of your Steam Deck.

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Steam games are coming to Nreal’s augmented reality glasses

Nreal users can now play some Steam games on their augmented reality glasses. The Chinese company has released the beta version of “Steam on Nreal,” which gives users a way to stream games from their PC to their AR eyewear. Nreal admits that installing the beta release will require a bit of effort during the setup process, and the current version is not optimized for all Steam games just yet. It will work on both Nreal Light and Nreal Air models, though, and it already supports some popular titles like the entire Halo series. 

To note, users can already play games on Nreal’s glasses by accessing Xbox Cloud Gaming on a browser inside the company’s 3D system called Nebula. But Steam on Nreal will give users who don’t have Xbox accounts the opportunity to see what gaming on the device would be like. Company co-founder Peng Jin said the beta release is “meant to give people a glimpse into what is possible.” He added: “AAA games should be played on a 200-inch HD screen and they should be played free of location restrictions.”

Nreal launched its Light mixed reality glasses in 2020 after a US court ruled in its favor for the lawsuit filed by Magic Leap. The American company accused its former employee Chi Xu of using stolen secrets to set up Nreal, but the court decided that Magic Leap failed to make any viable claim. In 2021, Nreal launched a new model called Air that was designed with streaming shows and playing mobile games in mind. Air looks more like a pair of ordinary sunglasses than its predecessor does, and it also comes with a better display.

In an effort to offer more content and perhaps entice those on the fence to grab a pair of its glasses, Nreal has also announced AR Jam, an online international contest for AR developers that will kick off on June 27th. Developers can compete in various categories that include at-home fitness, art, games and video, with each one having a $10,000 grand prize. Those interested can head over to the company’s Developer page for more information.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Steam Deck battery life: 5 tips to extend your play time

The Steam Deck is a great device, but it has a major flaw: Battery life. In the best of cases, you can get around four hours before charging, and in the worst, the Deck can die in as little as 90 minutes. We rounded up the five Steam Deck battery life tips so you can extend your playtime as long as possible.

If you just picked up your device, make sure to read our top Steam Deck tips so you can get the most out of it. We also have a roundup of the best battery packs for the Steam Deck, which are essential if you plan on taking the handheld on a long trip.

Reduce screen brightness

The easiest way to save battery life on the Steam Deck is to turn down the brightness of the screen. Valve includes an option for dynamic brightness in the settings, but you shouldn’t use it — it’s way too sensitive, and the constant adjustment could actually decrease your battery life. Set it manually to the lowest point you can while still being able to see the screen.

Valve sets the default screen brightness fairly high. With God of War, we were able to play for just over an hour longer with the brightness down to its minimum setting. That’s the difference between playing for two hours and three hours in a demanding game like God of War. It’s simple, but screen brightness goes a long way to improve the Steam Deck’s battery life.

Use the frame rate limiter

The Steam Deck laying on a laptop.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Beyond reducing the screen brightness, always use the frame rate limiter on the Steam Deck — even if you don’t need to. We recommend setting the frame rate limiter to 30 fps in the Quick settings menu regardless of the game you’re playing. This is especially true for games that hover between 40 fps to 50 fps on the Steam Deck. Those extra frames could represent 45 minutes or more of extra battery life (as we saw in God of War).

You can also adjust the refresh rate of the display, which you should do to match whatever your frame rate is set at. The refresh rate won’t save as much battery life as turning on the frame rate limiter, but the two together can give you an extra hour or more of playtime.

Limit power and GPU speed

Power limit settings on the Steam Deck.

If you don’t mind a bit of trial and error, limiting the Steam Deck’s total power and GPU speed can massively improve battery life without sacrificing performance. You’ll find both in the Quick settings menu, and you’ll have to play with the exact numbers depending on the game you’re playing and the frame rate you want to hit.

We recommend turning on the frame rate overlay on your Steam Deck to see how much power the device is consuming and the clock speed of your GPU. From there, set the TDP and GPU around the mark you see in the overlay. It’s best to start low, see where your frame rate is at, and then slowly increase from there until you can maintain the frame rate you want.

For example, we limited the retro-styled platformer Blasphemous to 5W and were able to maintain a steady 60 fps (and improve battery life by around an hour and a half). The Steam Deck allows you to store these settings as per-game profiles, too, so you can set everything up once and keep your battery life steady.

Use FSR

Performance overlay on the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck supports AMD’s FidelityFX Super Sampling (FSR) upscaling, and it’s hands-down the easiest way to save battery life. FSR essentially runs your game at a lower resolution, which takes a lot of strain off of the Steam Deck to improve battery life (and reduce fan noise in the process).

Using FSR on the Steam Deck is a little confusing, though. You can turn it on in the Quick settings menu, but you’ll need to turn down your in-game resolution for FSR to actually do anything. The Steam Deck has a resolution of 1,280 x 800, so bump down your resolution to 960 x 600 to save some battery life (or 640 x 400 if you need your battery to last even longer).

Turn on half rate shading

Half-rate shading option on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Valve recently added half rate shading to the Steam Deck, which is an interesting piece of graphics tech that can massively improve battery life. Shading is a complex topic, but the short of it is that every pixel on the screen needs a color value — and figuring out all of those colors takes a lot of power. Half rate shading cuts the rate in half, essentially only shading half of the pixels on-screen and using nearby pixels to fill in the missing information.

The result is that your game looks like it’s running at a lower resolution, even if half rate shading isn’t exactly the same as FSR. Keep this tip in your back pocket, though. Several Steam Deck games don’t allow you to adjust the resolution, so half rate shading can be a major help to save your battery life.

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How to check if your games will work on the Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is a gaming PC at heart, but physically, it is quite unlike any other gaming PC. After all, it uses a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse, is intended to be portable, and by default runs Linux when most games don’t have a Linux port, so it’s hard to expect very many games to work perfectly well on the Deck.

That being said, thousands of games can be played on the Steam Deck, and there are two very easy ways to check if your library is playable on Valve’s handheld PC.

Use Steam’s compatibility checker

As you might expect, Valve catalogs which games work on the Steam Deck and which games don’t. You can automatically scan your library for which games are verified to work.

Step 1: First, log into Steam on a web browser and then go to the Steam Deck Compatibility website.

Step 2: You should see a page like the one above, and your games will be divided into four categories:

  • Verified (green check mark): Fully functional on Steam Deck, and works great with the built-in controls and display.
  • Playable (yellow info mark): Functional on Steam Deck, but might require extra effort to interact with or configure.
  • Unsupported (gray stop sign): Currently doesn’t function on Steam Deck but could receive support in the future.
  • Untested (no symbol): Untested by Valve thus far.

Even if a game doesn’t have a Linux port, the Steam Deck can still run it via the Proton tool, which basically translates Windows games so that you can play them on Linux.

Unsupported games might actually run on the Steam Deck but can require a mouse and keyboard or VR headset. Technically speaking, the Steam Deck can use either of these things, but Valve’s rating is strictly about whether or not these games are playable on the Deck itself without any peripherals.


Valve

Look up your games on ProtonDB

If Valve hasn’t rated the game you searched on the official Steam Deck website, try checking out ProtonDB, the unofficial database for checking Proton compatibility with games.

Instead of waiting for game devs to confirm Proton compatibility, ProtonDB users report their experience using Proton for certain games. It’s basically crowdsourced bug reporting. However, this is strictly only for whether or not games work with Proton, not necessarily on the Steam Deck, which can’t play certain games due to other reasons, such as requiring a keyboard and mouse.

Step 1: First, go to ProtonDB.com.

The front page of ProtonDB.

ProtonDB

Step 2: In the top-left corner, find the search bar that says “Search games” and type in any game you’re wondering about, then press the Enter key. You’ll find a results page that should have the game you’re looking for.

The search results for Skyrim on ProtonDB.

ProtonDB

Step 3: Each game is given a score based on how playable it is. From best to worst, they are:

  • Native: Runs natively on Linux.
  • Platinum: Runs perfectly out of the box.
  • Gold: Runs perfectly after tweaks.
  • Silver: Runs with minor issues but generally is playable.
  • Bronze: Runs but often crashes or has issues preventing you from playing comfortably.
  • Borked: Either won’t start or is crucially unplayable.
  • No rating: ProtonDB won’t assign a rating if there aren’t enough reviews.

Keep in mind, this is about how playable the game is on Proton, not necessarily on the Steam Deck. For example, Age of Empires II HD, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, and Age of Empires III are all Gold-rated games but all have different Steam Deck ratings, so be careful.

Differing Steam Deck compatibility scores.

ProtonDB

Step 4: If you create a ProtonDB account, you can check your Steam library, too. ProtonDB may focus on Proton overall, but it still shows you games in your library that specifically work with the Steam Deck based on community feedback.

If your games are verified or playable, then you don’t have anything to worry about. The Steam Deck might not be the most ideal way to play your favorite games, but with a verified or playable rating, they will certainly run.

Games with an unsupported rating either don’t run well on Proton or don’t work well on controllers and/or handheld PCs. While many games would probably work if you installed Windows and hooked up a keyboard and mouse or VR headset, this is certainly reaching the point where you might have been better off just using one of the best gaming laptops.

And if your games haven’t been verified one way or another, then the only thing you can really do is rely on ProtonDB’s ratings and make sure your games are playable with a controller and wouldn’t have any obvious problems running on a handheld PC. In the worst-case scenario, you might have to see for yourself whether or not a game works on the Steam Deck.

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The Persona series is also coming to PlayStation 5 and Steam

Microsoft made a lot of western JRPG fans happy on Sunday when it shared it was working with Atlus to bring the Persona series to . Outside of , the franchise’s main entries have been exclusive to PlayStation consoles, limiting their accessibility. The good news is that expansion isn’t limited to Game Pass.

On Monday, Atlus said it would bring Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden and  to PlayStation 5. Additionally, P3P and P5R will join P4G on Steam, according to a press release the company shared with . Atlus didn’t announce a release window for the PS5 and Steam versions of those games. P5R heads to Xbox Game Pass on October 21st, with the other two games to follow sometime in 2023.

The expanded availability means a lot more people will have the chance to experience the Persona series. Before Sunday’s announcement, you had to go out of your way to play most of the games in the franchise. For instance, it was previously only possible to play Persona 3 Portable, which originally came out on the PSP in 2009, on PlayStation Vita. Persona 4 Golden, meanwhile, was only available on Vita before its PC release in 2020. As such, a lot of people turned to emulation to check out those games after the mainstream success of Persona 5.

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Still waiting for the Steam Deck dock? This fan made their own

The Steam Deck docking station might be subject to an extended delay, but fans of the handheld gaming system have taken measures into their own hands, creating their own 3D-printed variations of the accessory that work just as well as the peripheral promised by Valve.

Most recently, a Reddit user by the name of Hannover2k shared images of their own Steam Deck docking station rig, detailing that the accessory is based around a Dock-Teck DD0003 USB-C hub. The user also added two USB 3.0 slots, an SD/MicroSD slot, an HDMI and LAN ports, and a 45-watt USB C-Charge port passthrough, TechRadar noted.

No problem. I created my own docking station with the 3D printer + a template from Thingiverse + a USB C 8in1 hub. 👍 pic.twitter.com/3gLWd7PaMR

— Thomascz (@Nerdpfleger) June 1, 2022

This Reddit user isn’t the only Steam Deck fan to get creative by fashioning their own docking station for the Steam Deck while waiting for the real Steam Deck, which became available in February.

Valve announced in early June that it had once again delayed the launch of its docking station peripheral to an unspecified time, due to “parts shortages and COVID closures at our manufacturing facilities.”

During that time, Twitter user @Nerdpfleger shared images of their Steam Deck docking station iteration, which is based on a template from Thingiverse and powered by a USB C 8-in-1 hub.

In comparison, the actual Steam Deck docking station will include one USB 3.1 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0 port, a DisplayPort 1.4, and a USB-C port to connect to the Steam Deck console.

Fans’ ability to 3D print a Steam Deck label for their USB hubs to get the look and feel of a Valve-branded product without any wait could pose serious competition for the gaming company, considering the accessory has been delayed for most of this year. The Steam Deck docking station was originally set to release in February as a main accessory for the Steam Deck when the gaming system first became available.

For those who are not as handy, there are options such as shopping for ready-made docking stations on Esty. Or you can simply use a multiport USB hub, which, of course, won’t have Steam Deck branding.

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Steam Deck tricks and tips you need to know about

The Steam Deck is absolutely stuffed with features, settings, and configuration options, and you might not know about all of them. I’ve pulled together nine Steam Deck tricks and tips that you can use to get around the machine faster, save battery life, and make the most of of Valve’s handheld gaming PC.

Pull up Steam Deck shortcuts

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The Steam button will quickly become your best friend with the Steam Deck, but it does more than open your menu. Hold it down for a couple of seconds longer to pull up a list of Steam Deck shortcuts that show you how to take a screenshot, force quit a game, and more.

You’ll find the full list of shortcuts by holding down the Steam button, but here they are for quick reference:

  • Steam + B (long press): Force game shutdown
  • Steam + X: Show keyboard
  • Steam + L1: Toggle magnifier
  • Steam + R1: Take screenshot
  • Steam + L2: Right mouse click (this is correct, believe it or not)
  • Steam + R2: Left mouse click
  • Steam + Right joystick: Joystick mouse
  • Steam + Right trackpad: Trackpad mouse
  • Steam + Right trackpad (click): Left mouse click
  • Steam + Left joystick up: Increase screen brightness
  • Steam + Left joystick down: Decrease screen brightness
  • Steam + D-pad right: Enter key
  • Steam + D-pad down: Tab key
  • Steam + D-pad left: Escape key

Customize your controls

You have access to four back buttons on the Steam Deck, but they don’t do anything by default. You can customize your controls in any game by launching it and pressing the Steam button. Scroll to the right and select Controller settings to rebind any of the buttons on the Deck, browse community layouts, and create your own layouts. Valve even includes several controller templates to get you started, regardless of if a game supports controllers or not. You can’t do that on a Nintendo Switch.

Ignore the ‘Great on Deck’ category

Library filters on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Steam Deck automatically sorts your library and provides a “Great on Deck” category that’s a little misleading. These are all of the Deck Verified games in your library, which means they’ve been tested by Valve and provide a seamless experience when playing on Deck. That doesn’t mean the rest of your Steam library is out, though.

Swap over to your full library and press the button to select Filter by Verified and playable. Countless titles work perfectly well on Steam Deck but don’t have full verification due to a pregame launcher or a minor configuration issue. Although you should explore your full library, I recommend starting with the best Deck Verified games first.

Change your keyboard theme

The default Steam Deck keyboard theme is boring. Head to the Settings menu and select Keyboard to change it. You’ll have a few themes by default, plus an extra if you have a 512GB model, and Valve sells more themes in the Steam points shop. There aren’t a ton of options now, but I expect we’ll see a lot more keyboard themes in the future.

Turn on half-rate shading in pixel art games

Half-rate shading option on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Steam Deck now supports half-rate shading, which can massively improve your battery life. Half-rate shading basically cuts the resolution of pixel shaders in half. Although half-rate shading is available in every game, I recommend using in pixel art games in particular.

If you’re a big fan of platformer games and indie titles like me, half-rate shading will save you a ton of battery life (hours, in many cases). The lower resolution doesn’t matter in pixel art games, but be careful with half-rate shading in more graphically complex games — it can really hurt image quality.

Use FSR when you can

You can use AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) with any game on Steam Deck, but enabling it is a little confusing. FSR improves performance and saves battery by upscaling a game from a lower resolution. To turn it on, lower your resolution in any game and open the Quick settings menu. Scroll down to Performance and select FSR under the Scaling Filter section.

There are a ton of other options here, too — make sure to read our guide on how to check your frame rate on Steam Deck to see what some of them do.

Use desktop mode for Xbox Game Pass

Desktop mode on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

You can use Xbox Game Pass on the Steam Deck, at least a little bit. You can only stream Game Pass titles through Microsoft Edge, which you need to access the Steam Deck desktop for. To get there, press the Steam button, select Power, and choose Switch to Desktop. 

Once you’ve gotten Edge working and you’re signed into your Game Pass account, make sure to check out our roundup of the best games on Xbox Game Pass to know what to play first.

Limit power while traveling

Battery life is a big issue, so if you can’t pick up a power bank for Steam Deck, you’ll have to find other ways to save power. Open the Quick settings menu and scroll down to Performance to limit your graphics power (listed as Thermal power TDP). Turning the power down can save you massive battery life while traveling (though, the TSA might still make fun on your Steam Deck at the airport).

Make use of the Magnifier

The Magnifier on the Steam Deck.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Open up a game like Civilization VI, and you’ll quickly see the problem with the size of the Steam Deck’s screen. Thankfully, you can use the Magnifier to zoom in on areas that may be hard to read. To use it, hold down Steam and L1 and use the right joystick to select the area of the screen you want to zoom in on. Let go and it’ll stay there. You can turn off the Magnifier by using the same Steam L1 shortcut.

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Valve further delays Steam Deck dock due to supply shortages

You’ll have to be patient if you want an official way to turn your Steam Deck into a makeshift desktop. As The Verge notes, Valve has indefinitely delayed its Steam Deck Docking Station due to a combination of supply shortages and pandemic-related manufacturing shutdowns. The company said it was “improving the situation” and would share more info when available.

The setback won’t affect production and reservation windows for the Steam Deck itself, Valve said. In the interim, the company vowed to upgrade support for third-party USB-C hubs and external monitors.

The Docking Station cradles the Steam Deck while providing display, Ethernet and USB connections. It was announced alongside the handheld system, but wasn’t available when the Steam Deck first reached customers. Valve still lists the release as “late spring.” The delay won’t preclude you from using the Steam Deck as a PC or attaching it to a TV, but generic hubs clearly won’t be as elegant as a dock built with the console in mind.

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