The Steam Deck’s fan quietening, refresh rate customising OS update is out now
Beta-tested SteamOS 3.2 improvements hit the stable branch
Valve have wheeled out another major Steam Deck software update, featuring some tasty changes that have been available to try on the SteamOS beta branch for a few weeks. Namely, SteamOS 3.2 tweaks the Deck’s fan curve to make it quieter (especially under light load), and adds the option to set the screen’s refresh rate anywhere between 40Hz and 60Hz – potentially saving battery life in exchange for a lower frames-per-second ceiling.
The refresh rate slider – which lives in the Performance tab of the Steam Deck’s Quick Settings menu – functions pretty much as it did in beta. You can adjust it on the fly, including while a game is running, and is useful for games that don’t run at up to 60fps anyway. Lowering the refresh rate for these won’t lose you any performance, but it will reduce the screen's power-hungriness.
The fan curve change went back and forth a couple times in its beta phase, but the current settings have evidently been deemed ready for prime time. With SteamOS 3.2 installed, the Deck is indeed a lot more hush-hush when simply navigating SteamOS, and to my ears it sounds a wee bit quieter while running games as well. According to my laser thermometer, the rear casing gets a couple of degrees hotter, but that’s not a physically uncomfortable increase, and games performance doesn’t seem to have suffered for it.
SteamOS 3.2 also raises the maximum volume of the speakers, and adds quick formatting for microSD cards. Which would have been helpful when I was putting together that best Steam Deck microSD cards guide, Valve, but whatever.
Lastly, the update coincides with a main Steam Client update that enables the Remote Play Together feature on the Deck. If you haven’t tried this on desktop, it basically allows you play certain local multiplayer games with friends online, by way of them dialling in over Steam Remote Play.
Valve keep a list of all Remote Play Together games here, and there’s a full list of SteamOS 3.2 changes here.