The Steam Deck is Valve’s first major entry into portable gaming, and as such, it’s a noteworthy product. Announced in summer 2021, the Deck has the capacity to run just about every game on Steam. As such, it’s a must-buy for those with extensive libraries. The hardware looks up to the task too, with 4K output when docked, and a custom AMD processor. One question has potential buyers wondering, though: Does the Steam Deck support external GPUs?
Does the Steam Deck Have External GPU Support?
Sadly, the Steam Deck does not have external GPU support. You’ll only ever be able to use the system’s on-board graphics. If you have an external GPU already, it will not work with the Steam Deck.
This detail was confirmed in Valve’s official Steam Deck FAQ, which states that the unit cannot be connected to an external GPU. The possibility isn’t be ruled out down the line, with future iterations of the Deck platform, but with the three currently planned models, it’s not possible. Naturally, this could be a problem for those considering a purchase, especially for those hoping to interface the Deck with an existing high-resolution or high refresh-rate display.
It’s a bit of a shame, since the Steam Deck can interface with just about anything else through USB-C. However, since it can’t connect to an external graphics card, it will always be limited to its own internal GPU. The onboard graphics are certainly fine, but they’re optimized for the unit’s seven-inch display. With more demanding games, performance will drop when connected to an external display. Since the rest of the machine is quite the powerhouse, connecting an external GPU could have offered ultra-high performance at higher resolutions. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible.
Don’t buy a Steam Deck hoping to connect an external GPU, because it won’t work. The Deck has been designed to have everything it needs packed into its own housing. You can still connect other accessories, but you’re ultimately stuck with the system’s on-board graphics.
Luke Hinton is a freelance culture journalist living in Cardiff, Wales. He graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism, Media and Communications, and currently balances his freelancing work with postgraduate studies. He specialises in film, TV and entertainment writing.