Windows Graphics Drivers For Steam Deck Are Out, Gamers Start Your Benchmarks
A pile of outlets have run a lot of benchmarks on the Steam Deck (we haven't gotten one yet). However, one of the big question marks surrounding the Steam Deck's gaming performance has been the effect, whether good or bad, of its choice of operating system.
See, despite being a gaming PC at its heart, the Steam Deck doesn't ship with Windows. It ships with SteamOS 3.0, which is based on Arch Linux. Using a very clever interception library called Proton, it can run Windows games with native or perhaps even better-than-native performance, at least in theory. In practice, well, that remains to be confirmed, but early tests do show that many (if not most) games run very well indeed.
Fortunately we can actually check, now, because AMD and Valve have finally released Windows graphics drivers for the Van Gogh processor's integrated Radeon. Those go into a fresh Windows install alongside the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth drivers, although you'll have to use USB Type-C or Bluetooth for audio because as of this writing there is still no Windows audio driver for the built-in analog sound hardware, which means no speakers or 3.5mm output.
Perhaps even more interesting than the drivers themselves is the note from Valve on the release page stating that dual-booting Windows with SteamOS is not supported... yet. To run Windows on the Steam Deck, you'll have to nuke SteamOS, but once the company gets its full SteamOS 3 release out, it will have the ability to install alongside Windows. Still no word on when that will happen beyond "when it's done."
There's a quick guide to setting up Windows on the page, but it's definitely still for advanced users. Currently only Windows 10 is supported; if you want to use Windows 11, you'll have to engage one of the hacky workarounds due to the Steam Deck's lack of TPM support. Valve says that it is preparing a BIOS update that adds fTPM support—hopefully it includes AMD's fix for its fTPM stuttering issue.