Portable consoles almost always come with a compromise. This is a given. The size constraints and the need for a battery so that audiences can play video games on the go mean that manufacturers can't just go all-in on performance. This is something that Nintendo has proven with the Nintendo Switch. However, technological advances in recent years have paved the way for surprisingly powerful processors that have good gaming capabilities.
An example of this is the Steam Deck. Valve's upcoming portable console utilizes an APU (a processor and graphics card rolled into one) based on AMD's Zen 2 CPU architecture and RDNA 2 GPU architecture. TLDR; the Steam Deck's APU should have the performance of an AMD Ryzen 3000-series processor and a Radeon RX 6000-series graphics card rolled into one.
However, similar to the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X, which utilize the same technology, there's no direct comparison to the gaming performance of the Steam Deck. This is why fans have been waiting for footage of games that are running on the Steam Deck ahead of the console's release.
Now, audiences have a good idea of what kind of performance to expect from the Steam Deck, courtesy of CD Projekt RED.
The Witcher 3 on the Steam Deck looks surprisingly good
Most have kept their expectations for the Steam Deck rather tame. After all, it's a handheld and a PC at that. It's not like the Nintendo Switch where studios and developers are incentivized to port and optimize their games for a specific platform. Because of this, most are expecting the handheld console as a way to enjoy low-spec PC games while on the go. However, CDPR's most recent video suggests that the Steam Deck is far more powerful than initially thought.
Open a portal into the world and play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt wherever you go once Steam Deck is out!
Check out the footage of the current-gen version of the game running on Steam Deck 👇 pic.twitter.com/3IdIC2zGZJ
— The Witcher (@witchergame) October 6, 2021
Reading about the specifications of the Steam Deck is one thing. Seeing one of the best video games of all time running on it is another.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt isn't the most graphically demanding game, but it's no slouch either. The Nintendo Switch port of The Witcher 3 was impressive despite the compromises, but the Steam Deck version looks better. Despite Twitter's video compression, the quality is high enough with consistent 30 fps frame rates, which is Valve's official target for most games running on the Steam Deck.
The Steam Deck will never displace the Nintendo Switch. Both these consoles cater to entirely different markets. The only similarity that these consoles have is that they are both portable consoles. The Steam Deck is more of a PC lite while the Nintendo Switch is a dedicated gaming console. However, it's still nice to see the power of a portable console that's released today.
Here's hoping that Steam Deck's success makes Nintendo reconsider its stance on the long-rumored Nintendo Switch Pro.