Someone plugged an entire 4K desktop graphics card into the Steam Deck

The $400 Plus Steam Deck Gaming Handheld does not support of external graphics cards. Valve has been clear on this point for months – you can’t magically plug in a dock and run cyberpunk or Elden Ring at 4K. But ever since the company revealed that the Steam Deck’s storage plugs into a (relatively) easily accessible M.2 PCI-Express x4 socket, the PC gaming community has speculated that an eGPU module could completely fit there.

utilities, YouTuber ETA Prime really did itby adding an AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT, one of the very best graphics cards on the market.

It works, it works, it plays games at 4K with maximum settings at framerates that a vanilla Steam Deck could only dream of. But no, you probably shouldn’t do this at home! It doesn’t just slightly diminish the portable purpose of having a desktop graphics card on the back – not to mention an external power supply! — but a lot of games seem to crash due to a relatively slow CPU and only four lanes of PCI-Express bandwidth for that chunky graphics card.

Oh, and you can’t close the Steam Deck case either, which probably isn’t optimal for its longevity. And ETA Prime says an Nvidia GPU didn’t work.

A Steam Deck, a stand, USB-C dongle, USB stick, eGPU, power supply and HDMI cable

That’s a lot of kit.
Image: ETA Prime

Maybe a future Steam Deck will have a bona fide external graphics compatible connector so you can easily plug in a ready-made eGPU box? Thunderbolt is pricey and exclusive to Intel systems, but AMD’s Ryzen 6000 processors support USB 4, which incorporates the Thunderbolt 3 specification. And AMD has been working on Linux drivers specifically to allow hot plugging and unplugging of external graphics cards.

It may cost Valve more to include the faster I/O needed to power a dream with a single cable 4K graphics docking, but Valve can handle it – it’s said publicly that it won’t just interested in working on a Steam Deck successor, but was surprised at how many buyers opted for a premium $649 model over the $400 base configuration.

Me, I’ll probably just stream my games from my desktop PC to the Deck in my own house. It works pretty well.

www.theverge.com

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