The Exigent Duality
Steam Deck Versus Series X - 09:43 CDT, 7/18/21 (Sniper)
I saw this and laughed: there is no way the Steam Deck is comparable in per-pixel power to a Series X, because games on the latter by-and-large don't run at native 4K-- they are upscaled, usually from 1440p.

But then I saw that the observation was made by Durante, who really knows his stuff-- this prompted me to give the notion a second thought, at which point it occurred to me that comparing the Series X at 1440p to the Steam Deck at 800p isn't apples-to-apples: why can't the Steam Deck do some upscaling too?

That thought in mind, I pulled out the proverbial napkin and did some crunching.

Series X at 1440p (55% pixel reduction from 4K)

  • 1440p = 3,686,400 pixels
  • 12500 gigaflops
  • Each gigaflop responsible for 294 pixels
  • Each CU responsible for 70,898 pixels

Steam Deck at 16:10 800p

  • 800p = 1,024,000 pixels
  • 1600 gigaflops
  • Each gigaflop responsible for 640 pixels
  • Each CU responsible for 128,000 pixels

Steam Deck at 16:10 504p (55% pixel reduction from 16:10 800p)

  • 504p = 451,584 pixels
  • 1600 gigaflops
  • Each gigaflop responsible for 282 pixels
  • Each CU responsible for 56,448 pixels


If you take the Steam Deck at native resolution, Durante is way off-- he's not even in the ballpark. But if you apply the same level of resolution scaling, turns out that the numbers are reasonably close, with the Steam Deck even having a slight advantage!

Put another way, Durante's observation isn't as crazy as it initially seems. Of course, there are lots of other variables-- I'm not sure these things scale linearly for one, given other potential architecture bottlenecks. It's still a fun thing to consider though.

Ultimately however, the value I personally see in the Steam Deck is as a RetroArch machine, and as a Steam Remote Play device for the bloodiest of the bleeding edge games, where people's mighty Turing and Ampere cards can do the grunt work, sort of like a Wii U part deux where a fixed box did the processing, and sent the feed over the LAN to the mobile component.

On a side note, I went back to "Monster Hunter Rise" on the Switch-- which was the next title in my review backlog-- and it's a blurry mess which is literally dropping down to the teens in terms of framerate in busy moments, when the system is docked. I'll play a bit in handheld mode today to see if things fare better.

Overall, I'm tempted to shelve the game and just buy the inevitable PC port on Steam when it comes out: provided it works via Proton, the Steam Deck "version" will easily run at 800p, and probably at a locked sixty frames per second too. If I go that route and double-dip-- it is a really fun game, even in spite of the low performance-- I'll post video recordings of both devices running the game, side-by-side.