Steam Deck tips and tricks

Do you own the mobile PC gaming console from Steam? You think you know everything? That’s what I thought, too. But then I did some research and found a bunch of cool features. I would like to present these Steam Deck tips and tricks here.

Docking Station für Steam Deck, ivoler 6-in-1 Aluminium…*
  • ⚡[Eine ist Genug] ivoler 6-in-1 docking station für Steam Deck, ausgestattet mit einem HDMI…
  • ⚡[4K@60Hz HDMI Ausgang] Der Steam Deck docking ständer verfügt über einen 4K@60Hz HDMI 2.0…

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Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

With the following keyboard shortcuts, you can open the on-screen keyboard, among other things. This is an absolute must-have, especially for games that are not optimized for the Steam Deck. Or do you need to quickly increase the brightness in a dark part of the game? No problem:

  • Steam + X = On-Screen Keyboard
  • Steam + D-pad right = Enter
  • Steam + D-pad down = Tab
  • Steam + D-pad left = Escape
  • Steam + L2 = Right Click
  • Steam + R2 = Left Click
  • Steam + L1 = Screen Magnifier
  • Steam + R1 = Screenshot
  • Steam + Hold B = Quit the game
  • Steam + Left joystick up = Brighter screen
  • Steam + Left joystick down = Darker screen
  • Long press Steam = Overview of keyboard shortcuts
Übersicht der Tastenkombinationen des Steam Deck
Overview of the Steam Deck keyboard shortcuts

The most expensive variant of the Steam Deck is not always necessary

The most expensive variant of the Steam Deck costs €679, which is quite a chunk of change. For that, you get the largest and fastest NVMe storage at 512GB, as well as specially anti-reflective glass, which makes gaming outdoors easier or even possible in the first place. But there are cheaper options.

If you buy the cheapest Steam Deck for €419, you can get a 1TB NVMe SSD for under €100 and install it yourself. Simply set an alarm on popular bargain sites like mydealz. This way, we come up to €519 and even have 512GB more storage than the most expensive model. Make sure that the SSD has the right dimensions for the Steam Deck. The SSD should not be too thick.

The installation is not difficult and is well explained with pictures on iFixit. You can find the instructions here: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Steam+Deck+SSD+Replacement/148989

To enable outdoor gaming, I recommend an anti-reflective screen protector. Good quality ones can be found for around €10 for a double pack. I personally have one from BROTECT and am absolutely satisfied. Gaming in full sun in Croatia… No problem. Application is easy and if necessary, you still have a second one. You can get the screen protector on Amazon*

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In the end, we end up with €529, which is even €20 cheaper than the middle model with a 256GB SSD. Money that can then be immediately reinvested into games 🙂

mit dem Steam Deck im Kroatien Urlaub
Playing with the Steam Deck on vacation in Croatia, no problem with an anti-reflective screen protector

Installing non-Steam games

It’s not just games from the Steam Store that run on the Steam Deck. As almost everything is installed via launchers nowadays, you can either directly install the launchers like Epic Games or Battle Net, or install games from the launchers using special programs, without installing the launcher itself.

I find the variant of the “foreign launchers” to be the most appealing. Therefore, here are two programs that can install games from launchers:

  • Lutris – Origin, Ubisoft Connect, GOG, Epic Games Store, Amazon Prime Gaming, itch.io, Humble Bundle, more via Runner
  • Heroic Games Launcher – Epic Games Launcher and GOG

In theory, Lutris should be able to install Battle Net via Runner. But I just couldn’t get it to work. Therefore, for Battle Net I would recommend Bottles. The installation worked smoothly here. Since Bottles does not directly install games from launchers, I did not include it in the list. Bottles installs any Windows programs and selects a suitable runtime environment depending on the type of program. For games e.g. Proton GE, for office e.g. Wine.

Programme um Spiele aus anderen Launchern auf dem Steam Deck installieren zu können
Programs to install games from other launchers on the Steam Deck

To install Lutris, Heroic Games Launcher or Bottles, switch to desktop mode. There, start the Discover program from the taskbar at the bottom left. Search for the corresponding program and click on Install. Then open the Steam client in desktop mode and click on Add Game at the bottom left – Add non-Steam game. You will receive a list of the installed programs. Select your previously installed program and click on add.

Finally, you can go back to gaming mode or restart the Steam Deck. Afterwards, the programs are directly accessible from the gaming interface. You can see what this looks like in the screenshot above.

Sometimes 15 FPS is enough

Gaming monitors with 144 Hz and more are now standard. Of course, 144 Hz monitors also want to be powered with 144 FPS. This costs performance and energy. The Steam Deck does not have much of either. Therefore, I limit power-hungry games like Diablo 4, Cyber Punk 2077, etc. to 30 FPS. This saves battery and the fans don’t become turbines.

In my eyes, 30 FPS is still acceptable for these games, and other Steam Deck owners also see it that way. But what about games like Civilization or Humankind? There is hardly any action on the screen and the gameplay is rather relaxed. For such games, 15 FPS is usually sufficient. Lower the limit and your battery will last significantly longer.

Steam Deck Bildrateneinschränkung auf 15 FPS
Here you set the frame rate limitation of the Steam Deck to 15 FPS

Take a break

One of the coolest features is that you can pause games at any time. Simply press the power button and take your time to make a coffee, go to the bathroom, or order a pizza. The game is put into “sleep mode”. The Steam Deck then only has the usual standby power consumption.

After another press of the power button, you are right back in the game, at the point where you paused.

But be careful: in online games like Diablo 4 or Fifa this doesn’t work. You will then lose connection to the online servers and the games will give you a disconnect.

Accelerate download

It can happen that Steam assigns you a download server that is too far away from you. Or the currently assigned download server has a problem and therefore cannot provide full power.

In both cases, you can easily choose the download server yourself via the settings.

Auswahl der Download-Region auf dem Steam Deck
Selection of the download region on the Steam Deck

Unsupported games benefit from newer Proton GE versions

If you install the program ProtonUp-Qt in desktop mode, you can install the latest version of Proton GE. Proton (without GE) is the software that allows you to play Windows games on the Linux-based Steam Deck.

Proton GE stands for “Proton Gaming Edition” and is a community-developed and maintained variant of Proton. The GE version includes additional patches, improvements, and features aimed at further enhancing Proton’s performance, compatibility, and ease of use when gaming under Linux.

Valve is being, let’s say “cautious”, in the development of Proton, in order not to jeopardize the stability of the games and updates are therefore only provided after a longer testing phase. The chance that a game that doesn’t run under Proton will run or run better with Proton GE is high.

After you have installed ProtonUp-Qt and the current version of Proton GE, you can switch to Proton GE under compatibility in the properties of the game. At the time of this article, the latest version is 8.6.

Auswahl der Proton Version auf dem Steam Deck
Selecting the Proton version on the Steam Deck

Important Links

If you don’t yet own a Steam Deck, you can order yours directly from the Steam website (no affiliate link!):

https://store.steampowered.com/steamdeck/

You can find current news and especially the patch notes for the latest updates here:

https://www.steamdeck.com/en/news

You can check how well a game will run on the Steam Deck before you install the game or even buy it. For this, there is ProtonDB, a website maintained by users where the games receive a “compatibility score”. You will also find information there about whether you need to make any adjustments for the game to run.

https://www.protondb.com/

Do you want to really mess with the menu and change the sounds? Display the ProtonDB rating right next to the game? Have a notepad? Set the fan curve yourself and much more? Then you need Decky Loader. You can find this project, which has been rated with 2,800 stars, on GitHub:

https://github.com/SteamDeckHomebrew/decky-loader

And if your Steam Deck is being fussy and quits in the middle of a game with a black screen, my article on “repairing” this problem might be able to help you:

https://dadude.de/en/steam-deck-freeze-black-screen/

Letzte Aktualisierung am 2024-04-16 / Affiliate Links / Bilder von der Amazon Product Advertising API

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