AMD’s upcoming budget APUs can allow everyone to get a Steam Deck-like gaming experience on an affordable laptop. Here’s what it would look like.
AMD recently released its brand new range of budget ‘Mendocino’ APUs that could seemingly allow users to have a Steam Deck laptop. The Steam Deck was announced last year, and it took the entire PC industry by storm. The handheld PC gaming market was a thriving but niche market before the Steam Deck. However, its announcement brought the idea of a portable gaming PC to the mainstream.
In terms of hardware, the Steam Deck is pretty unique compared to its competitors. While most of the handheld PCs in the market use mainline chips from AMD and Intel, Steam Deck comes equipped with a custom-made AMD APU. In terms of specifications, the APU powering Steam Deck has a 4-core, 8-thread processor based on AMD’s Zen 2 architecture. Likewise, the Steam Deck GPU is based on the RDNA 2 architecture featuring eight compute units. The highest throughput of Steam Deck GPU is around 1.6 teraflops, which is roughly equivalent to an Nvidia GTX 950 or a GTX 1050.
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The good news is that the AMD recently revealed a brand new budget APU, and it looks very similar to the chip powering the Steam Deck. The AMD Mendocino chip also features a 4-core/8-thread Zen 2 CPU and an RDNA 2 GPU. AMD has not revealed the exact number of GPU compute units, but it’ll likely be higher. Moreover, a team of coders known as holoiso on Github made it possible to install the Steam Deck OS on almost every computer. With a similar APU as the Steam Deck and the support of its operating system, the upcoming AMD Mendocino laptops could make it way more accessible for everyone to get their hands on a Steam Deck laptop.
Here’s What A Steam Deck Laptop Would Like
Making the Steam Deck OS run on a standard PC is probably the most challenging part of the process. Although the Steam Deck OS is based on Arch-Linux, which is completely open-source, it has some strict hardware requirements to function correctly. To be specific, the Steam Deck OS only works with the custom-made AMD APU powering the device. The holoiso team has made the Steam Deck OS work on almost all computers but, in doing so, stripped away some of its features. Mainly, the OS won’t allow users to set the power limit or restrict the FPS in any particular game. Another feature that might not become available is probably the AMD FSR. Steam Deck offers AMD’s upscaling technology on a hardware level. So even if a game does not officially support AMD FSR, the Steam Deck can still allow users to enable it.
As mentioned above, the Steam Deck APU and the upcoming AMD Mendocino APU are pretty similar in architecture. So there is a possibility that the Steam Deck OS could work without any caveat with an AMD Mendocino laptop. If this happens, then the computer would probably gain all the functionalities of the Steam Deck OS, including its powerful tools that offer direct hardware control. However, if that doesn’t happen, users can still run the Steam Deck OS on their AMD Mendocino laptops and enjoy its various other capabilities.
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Moreover, the AMD Mendocino APU might trump the Steam Deck APU in terms of power constraints, clock speed, and compute units. Being smaller in size than a laptop, the Steam Deck is limited in terms of how much graphical power it can produce. On the other hand, the Steam Deck easily delivers a playable frame rate in most AAA gaming titles at 720p resolution and has excellent battery life. In comparison. the upcoming AMD Mendocino laptops could probably deliver higher performance. Furthermore, with the help of Steam Deck OS, these laptops just might become one of the more affordable and readily available gaming computers on the market.
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