Steam announces a major update for SteamOS firmware for Deck
Some highly anticipated features were just added to the SteamOS 3.5 update, a new firmware for the handheld console from Valve based on AMD hardware.
According to the changelog, the system can now support VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and HDR (High Dynamic Range) output for external displays. Steam claims that this feature to work requires a USB-C adapter. Worth adding that Steam Deck does not support VRR through its main screen.
Changes start with the underlying Arch Linux update, adding support for new KDA Plasma 5.27, and updated Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode. There are changes to the tiling and widgets as well.
Users will be welcomed by a warmer screen, which is a result of Deck’s color rendering now being emulated to sRGB color gamut. This new profile is called “Boosted” and it will result in a warmer screen but also more vibrant colors. Of course, users who prefer previous color settings can easily change it through new menu, which is listed as “Native”.
Starfield is also getting some attention. This popular RPG from Bethesda is not really designed for integrated graphics, but thanks to AMD’s powerful RDNA2 GPUs and work from AMD and Valve driver teams, a graphics updated was released. It should result in improved performance for the game.
SteamOS 3.5 has just been released to the Deck Preview channel. On the menu, color management, SMT performance fix, graphics driver performance improvements for Starfield, undervolting, 400Mhz fix, Plasma 5.27, and much more!https://t.co/0uqMuQ75sV
— Pierre-Loup Griffais (@Plagman2) September 15, 2023
Steam also confirms there are some important fixes for the 400/200MHz bug. This rate issue would be observed when the Deck would be using a low TDP profile, as a result, it would force CPU and GPU frequency to be stuck to low values. This issue has now been fixed.
The SteamOS 3.5 can now be downloaded by going into the system update channel and enabling the preview option. This is not the final release of the OS and users can go back to the stable OS channel should they encounter any issues.
Steam OS 3.5 Changelog
The default color rendering for Steam Deck has been adjusted to emulate the sRGB color gamut, resulting in a slightly warmer and more vibrant color appearance.
- Added Settings -> Adjust Display Colors, to tune the display’s Color Vibrancy and Color Temperature. The settings can be tuned with a preview of a test image (above), or with your running game.
- Native: The native display color appearance (the color rendering for Steam Deck prior to this update).
sRGB: Emulate the sRGB primaries, in a smooth manner that does not introduce gradient clipping.
- Boosted: Emulate a wider-gamut display appearance, resulting in increased apparent vibrance. May result in gradient clipping.
- HDR can now be enabled in Display Settings if supported by the external display.
- VRR can now be enabled in Display Settings if supported by the USB-C adapter.
- Reworked Quick-Access scaling settings to separate scaling from filtering. Added Stretch and Zoom scaling as new options to handle different aspect ratios.
- Fixed touchscreen orientation while external display is connected.
Compositing is now avoided in additional scenarios, reducing latency and stutter in situation with multiple overlays on screen.
- Improved latency in certain situations where the application renders slower than the display’s refresh rate.
- Fixed an issue where certain workloads would exhibit severe CPU performance issues unless SMT was manually disabled.
- External storage devices are now auto-mounted when connected to Steam Deck. To format or manage storage devices use the new device management interface in Settings->Storage.
- Updated graphics drivers, with many performance and functionality improvements. Improved performance for Starfield. Fixed viewmodel corruption in Amnesia: The Bunker and launch failures for Immortals of Aveum and Kaiju-A-GoGo.
- Improved Bluetooth connection stability, especially with multiple controllers
- Slightly improved sleep resume speed
- Implemented switching between controller bindings and mouse/keyboard desktop bindings by long-pressing Options in the Linux hid-steam driver, to match Steam’s default Desktop configuration.
- Improved fade transitions between applications.
- The contents of the performance overlay can now be customized by creating a ~/.config/MangoHud/presets.conf configuration file.
- Fixed a bug where some games could appear stretched if their window size didn’t match their swapchain size (eg. Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4)
- Fixed Disgaea PC needing to be tapped on before input works
- Fixed physical dimensions reported to games, fixing some issues with an incorrect aspect ratio sometimes being detected (eg. Returnal)
- Worked around a problem where Allow Tearing could cause heavy stuttering if the Performance Overlay or other overlays appeared on screen. Tearing is now impossible in such situations, and the Performance Overlay should be disabled for best results.
- Fixed a problem where keyboard input would not be detected in Overwatch 2
- Controller firmware: fixed an issue where some thumbstick touch sensors would lose touch periodically
- Added voltage offset settings.
- Improved robustness of the Firmware Settings Reset chord (Volume Down + Quick-Access + Power) against some boot hang scenarios.
- Fixed a rare issue that would set the processor TDP limit too low causing CPU and GPU frequencies to be stuck at 400 MHz and 200 MHz respectively.
- Fixed an issue when the charging light would turn back on when plugged in for a while after fully charged.
Updated Arch Linux Base
- This update pulls in newer performance, security and stability fixes for the underlying packages that are the foundation for SteamOS
- Most notably, this includes recent changes to KDE Plasma, Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode. Full notes on these updates can be found on KDE’s website here. Here are a few of the highlights:
- New window tiling system
- Updated Discover (app store / software manager) with a new homepage and improved search
- Discover can now perform system updates from the desktop
- Updated desktop widgets