Starfield on Steam Deck Performance Benchmark Guide

The gaming world has been abuzz with excitement following the release of Bethesda’s latest title, Starfield, a sprawling space exploration game that promises hours of interstellar fun. Equally exciting is Valve’s handheld console, the Steam Deck, which aims to make PC gaming portable. Naturally, one question arises: how well does Starfield perform on the Steam Deck? To answer this burning query, I ran a comprehensive performance benchmark, examining everything from fps during combat to the effects of different resolutions on playability. Here’s what I found.

Initial Impressions: 720p Low Settings

First things first, I decided to start my benchmark tests on a realistic note. Considering that the Steam Deck is a portable device and not a high-end PC, I opted for the “low” preset settings on 720p resolution. While the game initially appeared to hold a consistent 30 fps, this performance was short-lived. In some segments of the game, fps plummeted to as low as 20.

Combat and Frame Rates

Things took a turn for the worse during combat scenarios. When I engaged with enemies, the frame rate dropped dramatically, hitting a dismal 18 fps at its worst. Even with such low fps, the FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) implementation was a silver lining; it worked phenomenally well, offering excellent visual quality with fewer artifacts. But alas, the poor fps made combat less than enjoyable.

Starfield looks impressive even on the low graphics preset

Space Travel Performance

While traveling in space, the fps did manage to hit close to 30, but it was still baffling why it couldn’t go higher, especially considering that there’s not much to render in the depths of space. Even here, engaging with enemy spaceships led to fps drops, bringing the experience down a notch.

Tweaking the Settings: 640p and 500p

In hopes of improving performance, I reduced the resolution to 640p and then 500p. The fps in combat improved to 40 plus, particularly in indoor settings. However, open-world performance remained largely the same, with fps dropping to the near 20s. The game was slightly more playable at 500p, although text readability and detail took a significant hit.

A Closer Look: Exploring Planets

I tested planetary exploration at different resolutions and discovered some troubling news. The fps was around 23-24, barely scratching playability. Indoor environments fared better, but again, the fps wasn’t consistent enough to offer a smooth experience.

The Verdict: Playability on Steam Deck

If you’re considering purchasing Starfield solely for the purpose of playing it on your Steam Deck, I’d advise against it, at least for now. While lowering the resolution improved the fps somewhat, the game requires a much greater performance boost to be genuinely enjoyable on this device.

Starfield during outer space combat


As of now, Starfield struggles to perform adequately on the Steam Deck. Although reducing the resolution does bring some improvements, the overall experience remains far from ideal. Future updates might improve Starfield’s compatibility with the Steam Deck, but as it stands, playing this highly-anticipated title on Valve’s handheld console is a bit of a letdown. So, for now, it’s best to stick to playing Starfield on more powerful machines.

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