The coolest feature of the Steam Deck—without exception, if you ask me—is how the portable gaming PC allows you to get the absolute most out of its AMD RDNA 2 graphics and 40-watt-hour battery. From the latest update, you can lower the screen refresh rate to increase your frame rate and latency, and you’ve been able to slow down the CPU, GPU, and frame limiter since launch. The catch: Even if you could come up with a great combination that would give you the battery life and/or performance you crave, the Steam Deck wouldn’t save those settings per game.
You should memorize them and move the switches correctly every time you switched to a different game. That changes today.
Wednesday’s update now comes with per-game performance settings, allowing you to set a custom performance profile for each of your games with a single toggle in the Quick Access menu.
Wipe it out and you’re back to your general system settings, so you can set both a “generally I like my games at 30fps” as well as “Elden Ring should run at 40 fps with a refresh rate of 40 Hz” and “Vampire Survivors should run at 10 fps and 5 watts because I want to play it the whole car ride” if you want.
This has been one of the most requested Steam Deck features since its inception and I hope more will follow – because it not lets you set up multiple profiles (like one profile when plugged into AC power, and another for the longest battery life you can manage), or save and share profiles with the wider community so we Power Users can help the less tweakers – thankfully among us get their games running better.
(Valve already showed us how powerful that can be with community controller profiles – a major reason many old games were able to play immediately on the Steam Deck is because at the time, users were encouraged to upload configurations for the Steam Controller.)
I suspect that Valve is very aware of this, and that today’s update lays the groundwork for that as well. Because while the Steam Deck may not be ready for everyone who might buy a Nintendo Switch, update after update has shown that Valve is listening carefully and attentively to user feedback.
Digital Foundry did a great job recently on how to get more out of the Steam Deck with the adjustable refresh rate and fan curve from the previous update. I am enclosing a copy below for your viewing pleasure.
You can read the full Steam Deck changelog here. The rest is mostly bug fixes, but now you can also hold down the power button to “stop streaming” a game, and Valve has removed the haptics and rumble switches from the Quick Access menu. That’s a change I don’t actually agree with; they came in handy when an older game (can’t remember which one) was really overzealous with the vibrations.