Elden Ring Steam Deck Performance Review
Left: Elden Ring on custom Settings. Right: Elden Ring on high settings.
Early on in Elden Ring, the potential of 60 frames per second is nearly in sight. But as the world opens up and becomes more populated, that idea perishes as much as the player.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Elden Ring on Steam Deck is best played at 30 frames. After 60 frames slowly fades, the next option is attempting to get a steady 45 frames. This, again, wasn’t possible, no matter what I did.
Some indoor areas can nearly hit 60, some outdoor areas can hit 40 to 45. But none of it is stable. Move down a path and the frames plummet before stabilizing, before once again plummeting. It’s not fun.
You could hypothetically play like this, but the constant fluctuating makes for a miserable experience. Even more so given this is a game where every frame counts and the intricacies of combat are something you learn on a subconscious level. Learning the game at 30 frames per second is much more enjoyable than learning it at sometimes 30, sometimes 40, and sometimes 55.
Here’s the kicker, though: Even playing at 30 frames, Elden Ring looks and plays fantastically. The world still feels morbidly alive, combat still feels weighty, and thanks to the Steam Deck’s smaller screen, the 30-frame lock doesn’t feel too bad.
Elden Ring Steam Deck Settings
As you can probably guess, the goal with my settings is to create a smooth experience capped at 30 frames. I normally despise locking a game to 30, but this is the best way to play Elden Ring on Steam Deck.
The upside to going lower is you can get away with dropping the TDP down to 10, which keeps the fan nice and quiet.
On the smaller screen, keeping texture quality at medium also helps to free up some processing power elsewhere. It’ll still look crisp, just slightly less crisp. Plus if you decide to play in docked mode, FSR can make up the difference fairly well.
Just don’t try playing on high. It’s not worth the effort. The game looks great, but frames will be in the 20s and it’s not fun at all.
|Elden Ring (In-game Settings)|
|Depth of Field||Off|
|Water Surface Quality||Low|
|Global Illumination Quality||Low|
|Steam Deck Settings (Quick Access Menu)|
|TDP: 10 (30 frames)||Estimated Battery Life: 120 Minutes|
|Docked Mode Resolution: 1280×720||FSR: On (Docked Mode)|
|GPU Usage: 90%||Temperature: 66 degrees|
|Performance Rating: 3/5|
Elden Ring Issues
Aside from having to drop the settings down, Elden Ring runs beautifully for the most part. Cranking the settings up causes the frame counter to drop drastically. It’s also not able to fill the screen correctly, resulting in the black bars at the top and bottom of the picture. I was able to install a mod to mostly fix this, but doing so means you can’t play online.
The Steam Deck is a powerful handheld gaming PC, but it has its limits. As we saw with Cyberpunk 2077, part of running high-end AAA games in this format is the need to compromise. If you want to play Elden Ring on the go, sacrifices must be made.
This brings me to the question that matters: Is Elden Ring worth playing on the Steam Deck? The answer is an easy yes. Sure, Elden Ring may not look or feel as great as its PC or console counterparts, but it’s still an amazing game that’s a joy to play in handheld mode. Even in docked mode it’s a blast, despite the lesser graphics.
The main thing here is that the combat is still very playable at 30 frames per second. If the original Dark Souls was playable at 30, there’s no logical reason Elden Ring can’t be as well.