Valve’s latest SteamOS update is big for Steam Deck fans – and I’m literally talking about the portable gaming PC fan. A common complaint about the Steam Deck is its sometimes loud, high-pitched fan whine, even when playing light games. Some, including my colleague Sean Hollister, have tried a DIY fix to fix the whine, and iFixit’s Steam Deck replacement fans are already sold out despite having been on sale for less than a week.
With SteamOS 3.2, however, Valve introduced a new OS-controlled fan curve that aims to improve things. “That means overall it’s smarter, more responsive to what’s happening on and inside Steam Deck, and quieter — especially in low-use situations,” the company said in a blog post (emphasis added by Valve).
To see if I could notice a difference, I installed the update on my Steam Deck and tried out a few games. In my short and extremely unscientific tests, I feel like Valve has made some big improvements.
I first started Rogue Legacy 2, a side-scrolling roguelike that isn’t too graphically intensive. I immediately noticed that the fan was dramatically quieter – I could only hear it sporadically – and with the speakers on I couldn’t hear the fan at all. I had a similar experience with vampire survivorsalthough I haven’t had time to get to a typical endgame, where the whole screen is filled with enemies and weapons – I’m curious to see if this will push the fan further.
Valve’s new Steam Deck update seems to be making a BIG difference to fan noise. I tried to capture it on video with Vampire Survivors. The first part of the video uses the old fan settings. The second part uses updates. (sorry for the terrible cinematography) pic.twitter.com/SxIsHMgrg0
— Jay Peters (@jaypeters) May 27, 2022
In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at settings pushed to the max, the fan is still audible, although it’s generally much quieter compared to the old fan behavior, which you can revert to in the settings menu if you wish. With the new update installed, I also didn’t hear the fan idling on the Steam Deck menu screen, which was one of my biggest pet peeves with the device.
SteamOS 3.2 also lets you change game framerates on the fly right from the three-dot menu button. “The default is 60Hz (which can be limited to 60, 30, and 15fps), but now you can drag it up to 40Hz (with frame limits at 40, 20, and 10fps)” , says Valve. Reducing the refresh rate is a lever you can pull if you want to improve battery life.
You can read the full patch notes here. And thanks to an update to the Steam client, Steam’s Remote Play Together feature, which lets you play local multiplayer games over the internet, is now “fully functional” on Steam Deck.
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