The Valve Steam Deck takes the portable console concept popularized by the Nintendo Switch and ups the ante. This new gadget lets you take top-notch PC gaming with you wherever you go, and it can be yours starting at $399.
If you’ve taken advantage of the holiday deals and invested in one of these gaming consoles, you should know how to get the most out of your hardware so you can play smarter.
Customize your Steam deck’s game controls
If you don’t like how the Steam deck buttons are mapped in your favorite games, you can change them. The console gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to deciding which buttons do what.
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Choose a game from your library and don’t tap To play On the listing page, tap the button with a gamepad icon on the right. On the next screen you will see the controller layout, which you can tweak by selecting Edit layout.
Tap the gear icons on the right and you can change the action associated with each button and move the joystick or touchpad. Back on the previous screen, tap the gear next to Edit layout to save your changes as a preset that you can load at any time.
Make the steam deck more gentle on your eyes
The Steam Deck has a built-in night mode designed to relieve your eyestrain late at night and in dark environments. It reduces the amount of blue light emitted by the display and creates a warmer hue.
You can activate night mode by pressing steam press and then select settings and advertisement. You’ll see that you can schedule night mode for specific times or turn it on right away (it stays on until morning). Below that is also a slider that you can use to change the intensity of the tint.
You can also keep your screen at a fixed brightness if you want, whether night mode is on or not. On the same screen you can dim and turn off the display with the brightness slider Enable adaptive brightness Feature to keep the Steam Deck from changing it.
Get a better experience by limiting frames per second and resolution
If you’re a PC gamer, you might be familiar with the idea of dialing down graphics settings (like resolution and visual fidelity) for a smoother experience. You can perform a similar balancing act with the Steam Deck.
Press the three dots button to the right of the screen and scroll down to the battery section of the menu to find the frame rate slider. You can cap the frames per second to 15, 30 or 60 or leave it uncapped. Don’t wonder about the location of these settings – lowering the frame rate can increase battery life and make games run more reliably.
You can also make performance smoother by lowering a game’s resolution. With a game highlighted in your library, press the menu button (top right, the three horizontal lines) and then select Characteristics and General to find the resolution setting.
Stream games to your Steam Deck
As powerful as the Steam Deck is for a portable console, it doesn’t quite measure up to a real gaming PC. Some games won’t run as well on your Steam deck, but you also have the option of streaming Steam games from a PC.
You can do this using the Remote Play service over a local Wi-Fi network, which you can also use to stream games from one computer to another or play multiplayer games with other people. As an added bonus, your Steam Deck should stay cooler than when playing locally, and you’ll also have more time between battery charges.
As long as your PC and Steam Deck are on the same Wi-Fi network and connected to the same Steam account, click the down arrow next to the To play or To install button on individual game pages, you should also find the option to stream them.
Take a closer look at the games on your Steam deck
The Steam Deck’s display is significantly smaller than any desktop monitor or laptop display, which could make it difficult to play. If you’re having trouble seeing what’s on the screen, there’s a built-in magnifying glass feature you can use.
To activate it, press and hold steam button and the L1 Button located on the top left shoulder of the console when you look at it. You can then use the right joystick to move the magnifying glass around the screen. Release the joystick and the two buttons and the display will return to normal.
Some titles are better than others when it comes to tweaking their interfaces on the Steam deck, but it’s a helpful tool in low-paced action situations.
Connect some peripherals to your Steam Deck
The Steam Deck is blessed with an abundance of buttons, but for some games you might want the feel of a classic gamepad or the very precise control that only a mouse and keyboard can provide. The good news is that you can easily connect these peripherals to the console.
When it comes to gamepads (such as PlayStation or Xbox controllers), you can plug them into the Steam Deck’s USB-C port and the device should recognize them immediately. You can also connect them wirelessly via Bluetooth: press the steam button, then select settings and Bluetooth to establish the connection.
The same goes for the mouse and keyboard. You can use the USB-C connector (via a USB-C hub if you want to connect both peripherals at the same time), or you can go via the Bluetooth Menu to pair these input devices wirelessly.
Know the shortcuts on your Steam Deck console
Keyboard shortcuts can hugely improve your productivity on Windows and macOS, and the same goes for the Steam Deck. These keyboard shortcuts let you control your gadget just like you would a PC or game console.
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For example, press and hold steam button to use the right stick or the Right touch pad as a mouse. For the latter, click on the touchpad for a mouse click.
Hold down the steam button and then tap control pad right simulate Enter Key, control pad down to simulate a Tab key, or control pad left to simulate an escape key. To view a full list of shortcuts, press and hold steam Button.