Have you ever thought about how much better the Steam Deck could perform with an external GPU? While external GPU docks aren't directly supported, one early buyer has figured out how to get one set up, although the process isn't super user friendly.
YouTuber ETA PRIME thought it would be a good idea to connect an ASRock Radeon RX 6900XT Formula graphics card to the Steam Deck. Getting an eGPU set up isn't a simple task though. For starters, the Steam Deck will need to be running Windows, and you'll need to use the Deck's PCIe M.2 slot, as the system does not have a Thunderbolt port.
Finally, you need to boot the system via something else besides the M.2 2230 SSD, as you'll use the slot for the eGPU adapter. Something like a microSD card or an external storage device connected via USB-C should work. It is also worth noting that Nvidia GPUs do not seem to work at this time.
The setup process will turn most people off, but ETA Prime forged ahead and completed a number of benchmark runs, targeting major games like The Witcher 3, GTA V, Elden Ring, Cyberpunk 2077 and God of War. Some synthetic benchmarks were also ran, using Fire Strike and Time Spy.
In Fire Strike, graphics performance improved by 5.5x (4,856 vs. 26,855), but in Time Spy, it went even further. Here, the graphics score increased almost tenfold (1,576 vs. 15,579).
The Witcher III (Ultra) ran on average at 108FPS and GTA 5 (Very High) at 73FPS, with both titles seeing impressive gains. Elden Ring (Max) averaged 46FPS, while Cyberpunk 2077 (High) ran at 70FPS. Finally, God Of War (Ultra) at 4K averaged 37-42FPS. Moving to 1080p (low) was expected to increase performance, but it remained mostly the same because of the CPU bottleneck.
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KitGuru says: Although modding the console like this is far from practical, it's still interesting to see how the Steam Deck would perform using a more beefy GPU.