Here’s some more good news to ward off battery life concerns recently aired over the steam deckas it looks like another feature is slated to come to the handheld to increase battery longevity.
Notably Variable Rate Shading (VRS), which made the cut to be included in the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver, and how Phoronix reports, which should be released around May or June.
It should then find its way to SteamOS 3.0, the Steam Deck operating system – remember, Vulkan is the API of choice with Valve’s Linux hardware (DirectX games will use a translation layer) – and subsequently benefit games on the portable PC by reducing its power consumption.
What VRS does is adjust the game’s shading rate to use less GPU resources (and therefore less power – which means more battery life when playing any game). The idea with VRS is that shading is minimized in areas of the screen that aren’t important, like the far edges you’re not really looking at, reducing overall rendering demands without making any noticeable impact on image quality.
Theoretically, this feature could alternatively be used to increase frame rates, but as PC player points out, Valve’s Samuel Pitoiset previously said that VRS will aim to control power usage on the device. Dynamic VRS will work perfectly in the background, kicking in if the Steam Deck’s internal temperatures start to rise too high (or perhaps as a battery saver mode when the battery is low).
Whatever the case, this technology is intended to increase battery life and not frame rates for the Steam Deck.
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VRS isn’t the only Steam Deck feature that aims to preserve battery life, no doubt to the relief of those who read recent reports and longevity concerns stemming from early tests with the Steam Deck.
We also just heard about the system-wide FSR that can be applied to any game – that is, even those titles that don’t support AMD’s rival DLSS technology – and this can help reduce demands on the GPU, allowing you to render at a lower resolution and then scale up. Again, this doesn’t affect the image quality that much – or shouldn’t, but again, system-wide FSR is more problematic than game-specific implementations when it comes to upscaling UI elements like icons and HUD text.
However, even with a few caveats, the global FSR seems to be a very useful way to apply battery life-saving tweaks. And when it’s backed up by more work by Valve to optimize overall longevity, and then this VRS tech that should arrive mid-year – note, we’ll have to wait for that – then there’s definite cause for optimism in terms of getting more uptime. game on the go.