The Impressive Steam Deck Mod You Definitely Shouldn't Attempt Yourself

As it turns out, the portable albeit massive Steam Deck is a bona fide 4K gaming PC after all. Sort of. It's possible if you manage to jury-rig an M.2 adapter, a power supply, and a high-end GPU from manufacturer AMD, not NVIDIA. On April 11, YouTuber ETA PRIME released a video showcasing how he was able to plug a Radeon RX 6900 XT into a Steam Deck — ending up with some mixed results. Despite the fact that it technically worked, it appears to have been a vastly subpar PC gaming experience relative to playing the same games on an equally-priced desktop, due to the Steam Deck's CPU being underpowered, causing a bottleneck with the GPU. You can watch the YouTube video below:

ETA PRIME reported mixed impressions across a handful of different games, in terms of performance results, when he attached the heavily augmented and now decidedly less portable Steam Deck to a 4K display. Despite the Radeon RX 6900 XT being a powerhouse on its own merit, the setup only managed to produce sub-60 frames per second in "Elden Ring," before then displaying wildly inconsistent frame rates in "Cyberpunk 2077." An equivalent setup could cost anywhere from $1,500 to $1,700 or higher, once you factor in the prices of the M.2 adapter, external power supply unit, the GPU, and the Steam Deck itself, which means this probably wouldn't be the best way for any average gamer to break into 4K gaming or even PC gaming in general.

Steam Deck is still a great modular gaming device

Part of the reason the Steam Deck is so appealing to gamers, aside from it being able to access the previously PC-bound Steam library from virtually anywhere, is that it's incredibly modular in its hardware and software design. By comparison, it's impossible to plug an external video card into a Nintendo Switch, despite the fact that doing so would theoretically make it competitive with current-gen consoles that are capable of outputting 4K games at 60 frames per second.

The Steam Deck still technically can't do the latter on its own, but it does have access to FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), which is sort of like AMD's equivalent to NVIDIA DLSS in that it can improve video game resolutions on limited hardware. In addition to that, Xbox Cloud has become available to Steam Deck users as well, which means that any Steam Deck can theoretically stream games from the Xbox Cloud ecosystem and play with other Xbox users to boot.

Steam Deck, at its $400 MSRP, is probably not the ideal gaming system for casual users. It's also probably not the best idea to plug a video card into its M.2 port and make that your primary method of gaming. However, there's definitely an appeal to the fact that doing so is even possible, and the Steam Deck is most likely going to end up carving out its own niche of mod-oriented gamers who don't mind inventing their own ways to play.