User adds RX 6900 XT graphic card to Steam Deck

Valve’s Steam Deck, with the help of AMD RDNA2 architecture GPU, actually has relatively strong game performance on current PC handhelds, but the barely 60fps frame rate performance is obviously not enough to satisfy some hardcore players. Recently, some users thought of adding a discrete graphics card to Steam Deck.

In fact, on some Intel-based notebooks or handhelds, it is not difficult to connect an external graphics card, but Steam Deck uses the AMD platform, and there is no Thunderbolt or other dedicated graphics card interface. It only has a full-featured Type-C interface. There is no way to support the external graphics card in a perfect way, but the Youtube channel ETA PRIME thought of using the M.2 interface (PCI-E 3.0 x4) in the machine to connect the graphics card. This method is generally used on some old notebooks, which is a relatively early external graphics card method, but the Steam Deck has only one M.2C slot, so the operating system needs to be booted through microSD.

Image: ETA Prime

After the RX 6900 XT is connected externally, although the speed of the PCI-E interface of Steam Deck limits part of the performance, in 3DMARK FireStrike, the GPU performance can still be improved by 5.5 times. In actual games, the frame rate is greatly improved. The Witcher 3 has a performance of around 100fps under 4K ultra-high quality, even if the recent 3A masterpieces Cyberpunk 2077 has the highest quality of 1080p, there are 40-50fps.

I wonder if Valve will consider adding a design that supports external graphics cards natively on the second-generation Steam Deck after seeing this magic change. In fact, some AMD platforms can already connect external graphics cards with USB 4 ports. In this way, when Steam Deck is used in Dock mode, it has a performance close to that of a desktop game computer, and the handheld mode also has certain portable game capabilities. This dual-mode should be what many players want.