Steam Deck GPU Comparison: How Powerful Is The Steam Deck?

Does the Steam Deck GPU have enough grunt to compete with its rivals? We’ll give you the lowdown.

by Steven Shaw

You may be wondering just how the Steam Deck and its GPU stack up against the leading edge hardware that’s already out there. We’ve already done a handy comparison with the Nintendo Switch. But it’s a big market, with lots of rivals vying for your attention. So just how well does the Steam Deck compare to the main players? Let’s find out.

How powerful is the Steam Deck?

On initial inspection, the Steam Deck doesn’t look too bad. The headlines are as follows:

  • The GPU is the well-known AMD RDNA 2, which is the same GPU as you find in the Xbox Series X|S.
  • It also has 8 compute units, and 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM.
  • GPU clock speed is 1-1.6GHz
  • GPU power is 1.6 TFLOPS
  • Resolution is 1280 x 800
  • Refresh rate is 60Hz

Let’s take a quick look at what some of those numbers mean.

As we highlighted above, the GPU is the same as you find in the Xbox Series X|S and PS5. The LPDDR5 Ram meanwhile, is quick, and will be quicker than most DDR4 memory, which is common in gaming PCs. However, it’s worth noting that this will be split between GPU and CPU, so it won’t be as efficient as a discrete graphics card. It also isn’t quite as powerful as DDR5.

PSX Steam Deck GPU/ Steam Deck CPU/ Steam Deck SoC
A picture of the device’s SoC, which houses the Steam Deck GPU. (From Valve. )

But just how well does it stack up against its rivals?

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How does it compare to other platforms?

We can compare the main elements of the GPU of the Steam Deck against the Xbox Series X|S and PS5, to give us a reference point. As we stated above, AMD RDNA 2 is the basis of all these gaming devices. But there are some big differences as well.

We mentioned that Steam Deck has 8 compute units with a clock speed of 1-1.6GHz. In comparison, the Xbox Series X has 52 CUs at 1.825GHz, the Series S has 20 CUs at 1.565GHz, and the PS5 has 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency).

When we compare them in terms of GPU power, the difference is really stark: Steam Deck comes in at 1.6 TFLOPS. The Xbox Series S is 4 TFLOPS, the PS5 is 10.28 TFLOPS, and the Series X comes in at 12.15 TFLOPS. So there is clearly an enormous difference in terms of the power that each GPU can supply.

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So how does it stack up?

Power-wise, the Steam Deck obviously doesn’t match up to the latest generation of consoles. It does compare well with the Switch in terms of power, but probably sits somewhere in the same range as the PS4 and Xbox One S, from the last generation of consoles. We can’t make it a direct comparison though, because it is using the more modern architecture of RDNA 2, so we may find that this gives it a little performance boost as well.

As it does use RDNA 2 technology, the Steam Deck should stack up quite nicely alongside the Xbox Series S. However, it may fall slightly behind as most developers won’t be tailor-making PC games with the Steam Deck in mind. That’s what will keep the Xbox Series S’ advantage.

In summary, as a handheld device, it’s very good. Compared with dedicated gaming PCs, or next-gen consoles, it isn’t quite there. But that’s probably what you’d expect at this price point. We’ll need to wait until we get a clearer idea of how well it can manage those enormous AAA titles. It’s a very encouraging start though.

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Steven Shaw