Unlocking the Ultimate Gaming Experience: Steam Deck vs. Windows Showdown

When it comes to modern-day handheld gaming, one of the most important showdowns of today is the Steam Deck versus today’s biggest games. You can install the latest games through either platform, but the question is, which one should you use: Steam OS or Windows? Today, we’ll be analysing and answering that question – and I’ll be going through the things to consider when using these platforms for handheld gaming. So, without further ado, let’s get started! When playing games on handhelds, you’ll always want to be using a gaming-focused operating system rather than the normal – or vanilla – one. Typically, this is the SteamOS versus the vanilla Windows question when it comes to the Steam Deck. While vanilla Windows is a good OS in general, it isn’t the best for gaming. The fact that it was never designed for gaming means that many of the features that make operating systems good for playing games aren’t included, making it a bald choice (if you’ll pardon the pun). SteamOS itself is the superior choice when it comes to playing games on a PC.

Embracing the Steam Deck's Native Power

Steam OS: Tailored for the Ultimate Gaming Adventure

It’s powered by an AMD APU, packed with a suite of customisable PC components, and comes pre-installed with Steam OS – the in-house, Linux-based operating system undergoing a decade’s worth of refinement. Designed from the ground up for gamers, Steam OS works perfectly with the hardware of the Steam Deck to optimise performance and facilitate an immersive handheld gaming experience. But, exactly why is Steam OS the best option for the majority of users?

Windows on Steam Deck: A Familiar Face with Hidden Costs

While the allure of a familiar operating system and the games that might require anti-cheat software to run is there, making a switch from Steam OS to Windows is like trading in a treasure chest for a pile of crap toys. Trading in loses available the APU power settings settings and performance tweaks that provide Quick Settings menu advantage When I made the switch from Linux to Windows back in 2010, it was because I had a few games that wouldn’t run on Linux, and the emulation solutions I had tried were either too slow or comportment issues prevented completion. Even back then, it felt like a downgrade. The allure of a familiar operating system and the games that might require anti-cheat software to run is there with Steam OS, just as it was with Windows. But the wealth of games available on Steam, games that have been optimised for performance and ease-of-use by Steam OS, make a switch less attractive.

The Performance Puzzle: Unveiling the True Champion

When Speed and Functionality Collide

Diving into the heart of the matter, however, metrics reveal a clearer picture. In a comparison published on YouTube, a kind soul juxtaposed Steam OS and Windows 8.1, running 20 different games, and out of 20, 16 favoured Steam OS, with considerable frame rate upgrades that enhance the gaming experience. Need smoothness and best performance? Steam OS is your answer.

The Verdict: Why Steam OS Reigns Supreme

The Unity of Steam Library and Handheld Gaming

Each is also designed to complement the other: at long last, a partnership of Steam OS and the Steam Library that could put Valve in a gaming kingdom alongside Nintendo, the last great innovator of handheld consoles. Nintendo’s genius comes precisely from introducing a ‘frictional paradise’ in which the player can avoid being distracted and instead just sink into the act of playing. Valve has long aimed to create the same frictionless user experience within the confines of Windows and MacOS – allowing you to access your game library without having to wade through an overlayed operating system. Steam OS represents the culmination of this strategic design.

Exploring a Dual-Boot Solution: The Best of Both Worlds

For multiplayer addicts, the sealed nature of Windows – and its mandatory anti-cheat – simply cannot be passed over. But there is a way to get the best of both worlds – to experience the improved gaming of Steam OS when you need it, and head back to Windows for multiplayer when needed: dual-booting. For anyone who doubts the value of gaming on Linux specifically and open systems in general, there is a compelling reason to try it. If you are curious, or you have a friend or family member who thinks Linux is only for nerds, for programmers, for hackers, or for fanatics, then why not give it a try? Or in the words of a friend of mine: ‘Why not just try Linux?’

Celebrating NINTENDO: The Beacon of Handheld Gaming

Nintendo’s leading handheld operating system presents another set of compromises, one that’s impossible to separate from Nintendo’s legacy. Whether we’re browsing the internet on a Nintendo Switch, using the Linux-derived Steam Deck, or gaming on an N64, Nintendo’s impact on handheld computing remains potent and alluring.

All this to say, although the lure of Windows on the Deck might be seductive, I sincerely doubt it will be for many enthusiasts, due to the powerful advantages of Steam OS both in terms of performance and gaming experience. Considering how the Steam Deck is already evolving, I think the competition among Steam, Nintendo and Valve is only going to heat up, with the ultimate prize being to innovate as fiercely as the pioneers of the Japanese gaming world did years ago with the Game Boy.

Jun 10, 2024
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