AMD FSR support could be the Steam Deck's silver bullet

It looks like AMD's upscaling tech FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is coming to the Steam Deck in a big way. Previously, the 70+ games that supported AMD FSR could be played using the upscaling system. Now, though, it looks like the feature will be baked into SteamOS. This should offer a nice performance boost for any users who decide to stick with Steam Deck's operating system over Windows.

With FSR baked into SteamOS, users will be able to take advantage of the features that FSR offers without the game having to officially support it. We've known this was coming for some time thanks to the Steam Deck FAQ, which states that FSR will be included as part of an update to the operating system sometime down the line.

It looks like that update could come sooner rather than later. A merge for Valve's Gamescope Compositor was released overnight between January 31 and February 1, 2022. The merge included code that enables FSR support using a new launch argument. Gamescope is what Valve typically runs the Linux-based SteamOS off, so it's believed that it will use the same system for the Steam Deck, too.

How will AMD FSR help the Steam Deck?

In theory, bringing fully baked-in support for FSR to the Steam Deck could let users pull higher frames-per-second (FPS) out of their games. Essentially, FSR makes it possible to run the game at a lower resolution and then upscale the image to your device's standard resolution. This allows you to experience quality gameplay while also benefitting from the higher FPS that comes from playing in lower resolutions.

We've seen some success with FSR on Windows-based PCs since AMD released the feature, but it's still a little unclear how much it might help with the Steam Deck. Most PCs these days feature a display resolution of 1080p or higher. The Steam Deck only supports up to 720p, which means your game will run at a lower resolution than the lowest HD standard. That could lead to some graininess on the Steam Deck, or we could see a crystal-clear image. Unfortunately, we can't know how well it will work until we see it in action.

Since Valve's announcement that the Steam Deck won't get any kind of performance boost in docked mode, many have wondered just how well the handheld gaming system will work and how it will perform. Others have wondered if the handheld is too good to be true. We already know some games will only run at 30fps, which is below the standard most PC gamers look for in their games. AMD FSR could be a good solution for those who want higher FPS without having to play at lower resolutions on an already low-resolution display.