With proper Steam Deck reviews published, it’s time to start getting deeper into the weeds. I’ve been giving Valve’s portable PC powerhouse a workout as my new daily driver by using it in Desktop Mode for work. But I’ve been gaming too, putting a battery of titles to the test at 1080p, 1440p and 4K to see how much performance it can squeeze out. With Aperture Desk Job releasing this week, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put Portal 2 through the paces.
I’m happy to report my jaw nearly hit the floor when I fired it up!
Sure, I understand that Portal 2 is nearly 12 years old, but aside from some dull textures here and there, it still holds up visually and remains a testament to how efficient and performant Valve’s Source Engine is.
Even as a generations-old game, I didn’t expect this $399 handheld with AMD integrated graphics (optimized for gaming at 800p) to run this (or any game) comfortably at a whopping 4K resolution. Much less at 4K resolution on high-quality settings. Not to mention complimented by a mostly stable 60fps!
Yet here we are.
Portal 2 at 4K/60fps
I captured the video above with OBS Studio, using an external USB capture card to avoid impacting the Steam Deck’s performance. As you’ll see in the beginning, Portal 2 is running at my monitor’s native of 3840 x 2160, and AMD FSR is not enabled. (AMD’s upscaling technology is available to use on all Steam games that use Proton, Valve’s Windows compatibility layer. It’s even built right into SteamOS when using the Deck’s default UI.) I’ve set Shader Detail, Effect Detail, and Texture Detail to “High” quality, disabled Anti-Aliasing, and set Filtering to Anisotropic 4x.
The overlay you’re seeing in the video is MangoHUD, which I’ve also cropped and zoomed on the bottom left, so you can more easily track the FPS and frametime graph.
Overall, there were a few drops below 60fps, and the Steam Deck has infrequent audio hiccups from time to time when playing on an external monitor. Still, color me very impressed.
Now I’m curious what other games this piece of kit can run competently at 4K. I’m busy testing dozens of games on the Deck at a variety of resolutions, so stick around for continuing coverage!
This article was originally published on my Forbes page.