Image: Steam

Valve’s Steam Deck is already a formidable gaming device thanks to its custom AMD APU and comprehensive library support, but that hasn’t stopped some enthusiasts from daydreaming about whether a future version of the handheld might be powerful enough to handle 4K gaming.

That seems like a tall order for a portable system, but interestingly enough, Valve engineers have shared some comments suggesting that a 4K Steam Deck may not be entirely out of the realm of possibility.

In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Steam Deck designers Greg Coomer and Lawrence Yang were asked whether 4K-capable handhelds like the rumored Nintendo Switch Pro seemed realistic at this point in time. Coomer noted that 4K wasn’t really a design target for the Steam Deck, which Yang agreed with, but not without adding that a 4K handheld was technically possible.

“Technically, it probably is possible to create a device of this size that can output at 4K…,” Yang said, hinting at the potential performance of a Steam Deck successor with more powerful hardware.

Yang goes on to inject some skepticism by highlighting potential concerns such as cooling and battery life, but the Valve engineer seems keen on the idea, noting that the hardware that makes all of this possible might be available sooner than expected.

“You know, technology marches forward,” Yang said. “Maybe in a year or two we actually will have something that becomes more possible.”

That said, Valve is perfectly satisfied with the first-generation Steam Deck that its engineers were able to put together. According to Coomer, the Steam Deck’s specifications should be ideal for the 800p display that was selected for the device.

Coomer: I think we did find what we considered a sweet spot around this screen size and the readability you can achieve on it. I guess for a lot of the games we’re running on this device, it isn’t at the moment for all the things we want this device to do, so it seems like that’s probably something that would come down the road, but we weren’t really very concerned with that for this generation of the device. It was not… achieving 4K and having a display that runs at that resolution wasn’t really a design target for us.

Source: Rock Paper Shotgun

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9 Comments

  1. [ATTACH type=”full” width=”274px”]1229[/ATTACH]

    I mean, seriously.

    With such a small screen, why bother with 4k? it’s just going to absolutely crush whatever little tiny APU GPU is on that thing.

    Going up to 1080p might make sense. I was actually surprised by th elow res the launched that thing with. 4K on the other hand would just be dumb.

  2. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 40514, member: 203″]
    [ATTACH type=”full” width=”274px”]1229[/ATTACH]

    I mean, seriously.

    With such a small screen, why bother with 4k? it’s just going to absolutely crush whatever little tiny APU GPU is on that thing.

    Going up to 1080p might make sense. I was actually surprised by th elow res the launched that thing with. 4K on the other hand would just be dumb.
    [/QUOTE]
    Cause of docking.,.. however in a few years means exactly nothing.

    1. Then make a docking station that will go to 4k.
      Wasting resources to do 4k on a device with such a small screen and limited power is incredibly stupid.
      I’d rather have a 1080p@120Hz OLED screen.

  3. [QUOTE=”xGryfter, post: 40523, member: 93″]
    Then make a docking station that will go to 4k.
    Wasting resources to do 4k on a device with such a small screen and limited power is incredibly stupid.
    I’d rather have a 1080p@120Hz OLED screen.
    [/QUOTE]

    Yeah, do it on the docking station. While they are at it, how about a new 4K Steam link?

  4. [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 40542, member: 297″]
    Yeah, do it on the docking station. While they are at it, how about a new 4K Steam link?
    [/QUOTE]

    Right? I’d find that far more useful than any version of the Steam Deck.

  5. Well, i mean you can’t make the dock do 4k, its just a dumb docking station, your tv does the 4k conversion anyway, usually a good job. The point of 4k capable hardware ( at some point in the future) its because it can connect to bigger screens, not really that you are going to run 4k in a tiny screen. Thing is all these comments about some potential 4k deck are poinless of couse, its a few years on top of 2022 at the earliest. We are talkin 2025 2026, yes of course even with slowdown in gpu progress a deck like unit will most likely be at full blown 4k capable then.
    That said, im very excited for the Deck as it will be hopefully soon. Got a preorder for the middle version.

  6. I think Valve is doing the right thing by ~not~ pushing a dock on this thing. It’s there, but this isn’t exactly like the switch.

    The Switch is a locked console, so the ~only~ way to play it on a big screen would be a dock.

    The Deck is just a PC, with built in screen and controller – so when you hook it up to a TV, you lose everything that makes it unique and gain just the big screen – which you could already do with any PC out there.

    So other than having a cradle that has an HDMI output, I wouldn’t put any more resources into docking than that if I were Valve. Everything that makes the Deck unique is what’s on the handheld itself. So if they wanted to have 4K output, I would hope it would also match with a very high resolution screen or VR output or something.

    It would be a nice lil VR controller – you could still use the controller + it would be mobile, so the wires to a headset wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem.

  7. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 40582, member: 96″]
    I think Valve is doing the right thing by ~not~ pushing a dock on this thing. It’s there, but this isn’t exactly like the switch.

    The Switch is a locked console, so the ~only~ way to play it on a big screen would be a dock.

    The Deck is just a PC, with built in screen and controller – so when you hook it up to a TV, you lose everything that makes it unique and gain just the big screen – which you could already do with any PC out there.

    So other than having a cradle that has an HDMI output, I wouldn’t put any more resources into docking than that if I were Valve. Everything that makes the Deck unique is what’s on the handheld itself. So if they wanted to have 4K output, I would hope it would also match with a very high resolution screen or VR output or something.

    It would be a nice lil VR controller – you could still use the controller + it would be mobile, so the wires to a headset wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem.
    [/QUOTE]
    The dock would be just a charger and video/usb ports just like any other USB3+ docking station. At best it could deliver some extra juice to run the APU at higher frequencies, but that’s about it. Then again you get heat issues to resolve…

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