Mad Steam Deck upgrade makes it over 10x more powerful than Nintendo Switch

But it's lost a lot of portability in the process

Steam Deck handheld console running The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(Image credit: Future)

There's no doubting that, right now, the Steam Deck is the world's most powerful handheld gaming console, beating off the likes of the Nintendo Switch comfortably.

And, while there are rumors of a Nintendo Switch Pro console incoming, right now the Steam Deck is completely unchecked as the king of the gaming handhelds in terms of pixel-pushing power.

Which is why it's hilarious that a talented modder has just gone and upgraded a Steam Deck so it's even more powerful, modding in a full-blown desktop GPU that means the handheld delivers up to 10 times better gaming performance.

10 times the gaming performance is truly mad, too, and especially when you consider the Steam Deck was already more powerful than Nintendo Switch with its stock Aerith APU.

As detailed by the ETA PRIME YouTube channel, the upgrade was achieved by using the Steam Deck's M.2 PCIe connector along with an adaptor to hook up a series of external GPUs, including a very powerful (and very expensive!) AMD RX 6900 XT.

You can watch the modded Steam Deck get made in the video below:

What's interesting about ETA Prime's findings is that while the Steam Deck can deliver up to 10 times better gaming performance over stock, it is still largely limited by the power of its CPU, which definitely is found to hold back the GPU in multiple games.

Regardless, though, the upgraded Steam Deck does still deliver massive performance improvements over stock, with the console's 3DMark Time Spy score leaping from 1,722 to 10,395 with the GPU upgrade. Games like The Witcher 3 are shown running at over 100 frames per second at 4K ultra settings.

Of course, the trade-off to all this extra power is the handheld nature of the Steam Deck console gets completely obliterated. But at the end of the day, as the modder himself says, this is just a fun experiment that he completed because he could.

And, well, it's still mouth-watering to see what could be possible in the future for handheld consoles. If Steam Deck is a big success, maybe we will see an upgraded Steam Deck 2 being offered, although we imagine if that ever happens it will be a ways off as Valve is still struggling just to make original Steam Decks, with many pre-orders still not delivered.

The far more likely next-gen handheld console we'll see is the Switch Pro, footage from which might already be out in the open according to experts.

Robert Jones

Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys (specifically Lego and board games), smart home and more for over 15 years. As the editor of PC Gamer, and former Deputy Editor for, you can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket his two favourites.