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A Steam Deck owner has managed to successfully attach an ‘external’ graphics card to the handheld so it can output games at 4K and 60fps or more.
YouTuber ETA Prime posted a 10-minute video showing the steps they took to get everything working, pointing out that it’s not a very practical solution and was simply carried out just to see if it’s possible.
By opening up the handheld and removing its SSD storage from its M.2 expansion slot, ETA Prime was able to replace it with a Radeon RX 6900 XT GPU.
In order to do this he also had to connect the GPU to an adapter to make it fit, tape it down, and attach it to an external power supply.
As ETA Prime explains, “it’s definitely overkill, and with the GPU attached to the Steam Deck it’s no longer a portable system.
“The first question is going to be ‘why’. Really, it comes down to ‘because we can’.”
With the SSD card removed, ETA Prime then had to boot the console using a copy of Windows 11 saved on a Micro SD card, while his games were stored on an external SSD with a USB-C connection.
After connecting the Steam Deck to a monitor and booting it up, he was able to get The Witcher III running at 4K resolution on Ultra settings, and hitting a frame rate of around 108fps.
He was also able to get Grand Theft Auto V running at around 70fps on 4K Very High settings.
However, he also points out that the results are ultimately limited by the Steam Deck’s internal CPU, and that more recent games will be bottlenecked to an extent no matter how powerful the attached GPU is.
Ultimately, the unwieldy nature of the experiment means ETA Prime doesn’t actually think anyone else should be trying it out.
“This isn’t something I would recommend doing,” he says. “The Steam Deck is meant to be portable. This was just a test to see if it would work and, yeah, I mean, it definitely works.”