Steam Deck Performance Overlay: How to Use and the Best Settings

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The Steam Deck performance overlay menu allows you to adjust the graphics and quality of games on your Deck. Getting the right settings will extend your battery life without impacting the quality of graphics as you view them on the 7-inch screen.

In this guide, I’ll go over the performance menu in full detail, including:

  • The difference between the simple and advanced views
  • How to access the menu
  • The best performance settings for the Steam Deck

These performance settings, like adaptive brightness, let you extend the battery life of the Deck if implemented right.

If you prefer other settings that are different than mine, comment down below and let me know! You might be able to help others out too.

What is the Performance Overlay Menu?

The performance overlay menu is a special settings screen that gives you granular control over your Steam Deck graphical settings. Once you know how to access it, you can view either the simple view or a more advanced view.

Simple View

By default, you will see the simplified performance menu on your Deck. The simple menu shows you two pieces of information:

  • The current battery level percentage and the project battery life you have remaining
  • The current performance overlay level which is a universal setting for how much information you want displayed in the top-left corner while you are playing games.

At the bottom, there is also a button labelled Advanced View which is what you press if you want even more options to configure and view.

steam deck performance overlay simple view

Advanced View

If you click on the “Advanced View” button, a number of extra options will become available to you, including:

  • A toggle for per-game profiles
  • Framerate limits
  • Half rate shading
  • Thermal power (TDP) limit
  • GPU clock control

Below, I’ll go over each of these options in a lot of detail

steam deck performance overlay advanced options

How Do You Access the Steam Deck Performance Menu?

Valve wanted to give you ultimate access over your Deck, so they made the performance menu really easy to access. To open it up, you press the three dots button on the right side of the gamepad. 

Simple!

Steam Deck Performance Overlay Recommendations

For each of the advanced options, here are my recommendations for what to do with them.

Performance Settings

The first option on the screen is called “Performance Settings” and this is an information message about the entire screen that reads:

Default and game specific settings

Steam Deck allows you to adjust individual performance settings (like refresh rate, framerate limit, TDP, etc) for the system as a whole, as well as on a per-game basis.

If a title doesn’t have a game-specific performance profile, or it’s not toggle on, ‘Default Settings’ will be used.

The message is pretty self-explanatory and it goes with the next option below for per-game profiles.

steam deck performance overlay settings message

Use Per-Game Profiles

This is a toggle button that only appears when you are in a game that supports a per-game profile. If you see this toggle, turning it on allows you to use a profile that is optimized for the Steam Deck’s screen and power.

If the game you are playing has this toggle, I recommend turning it on. Someone else has taken the effort to optimize the graphics settings for the Deck and you will get to benefit from that!

Steam Deck Per-Game Profile Advantages

Using per-game profiles has a few advantages:

  • Longer battery life
  • Less framerate drops
  • Optimized graphics for the screen

Over-the-top graphic settings designed for hardcore PC gamers will be turned off because you are playing games on a 7-inch screen.

Framerate Limit

The framerate is how many frames per second (fps) are rendered on the screen. Your eyes can only process images at 30 frames per second, but a lot of modern games are rendered at 60 frames. This gives a smoothing effect and less blurriness during high speed scenes in a game.

If you don’t care about this, you can limit your frame rate here to 30 fps and save a lot of battery life.

The options for framerate limit on the deck are:

  • 15
  • 30
  • 60
  • Off

Half Rate Shading

This is a toggle button that applies variable rate shading to the game you are playing on the Deck.

A lot of processing power is used up rendering shadows and smaller object details in the games you play. Because the Deck has a 7-inch screen, you won’t notice a lot of these details anyway. By turning this toggle on, Steam will simplify how it renders shading in your game in order to save you battery life.

You don’t want to turn this on if you are playing desktop games because of the bigger monitor size, but it’s a good option on the Steam Deck.

If you want to see the difference between half rate shading off vs on, you can look at the pictures below.

Thermal Power (TDP) Limit

This toggle button allows you to adjust the maximum number of watts that your Deck processor is able to draw at a time. The default option is 15 watts.

Turning this number down will save you battery life, but it will limit how well your Deck is able to process the game you are playing. You will experience quality loss playing a AAA game title with a limited TDP.

GPU Clock Control

 The GPU clock control is a toggle button that allows you to adjust the frequency of your GPU, in hertz (HZ). The default option is 1600 Hz.

If you turn this number down, it will lower the amount of times your GPU can process graphics each second. Again, you will experience quality loss if you are playing a high quality game. However, turning this number down will extend your battery life.

Scaling Filter

Scaling filter is an AI algorithm that allows you to upsize your graphics to a higher quality. This is equivalent to DLSS on an Nvidia graphics card. It’s a cool feature that allows you to get 4K graphics quality on a game that was never designed to be that high of quality.

Your four options for scaling filter are:

  • Linear: 1:1 graphics quality, no scaling
  • Nearest: 1:2 upscaling, but pixels could be distorted if they are non-integer
  • Integer: 1:2 upscaling using integers to increase image quality without any pixel distortion.
  • FSR: Full AI upsizing

For the most part, you should your scaling filter at Linear setting. An advanced trick would be to lower your game resolution down to 480p or 540p and then turn your scaling to FSR and upscale the graphics to 700p. This will get you a similar quality of game, but save on graphics power.

Show Perf Overlay in Steam

This is a toggle button which allows you to view the current framerate and GPU usage live while you are playing your games. This is helpful to determine how well your Steam Deck is running the game you are playing, but is also distracting!

I recommend only toggling this on temporarily when you are curious to see how things are running. This toggle, plus the Performance Overlay Option at the top of the screen, determines how much information is shown to you.

When it is on, here’s what the performance overlay looks like in the top left corner.

steam deck performance overlay turned on

Best Steam Deck Performance Settings

If you are going for a good mix between battery life and graphics quality, these are the performance settings I recommend:

  • Enable per-game profiles
  • Put your framerate limit to 60
  • Turn on half-rate shading unless you notice adverse effects
  • Turn your scaling filter to Linear

Conclusion

As you can see, you can adjust the graphics and performance of your Steam Deck in a lot of ways. All of the options in the menu can impact your battery life and make it longer or shorter.

Per-game profiles are optimized for the Deck and I recommend using them in most cases. Otherwise, there are a few simple tweaks that you can make to extend battery life without impacting the quality of the graphics.

Check out the Steam Deck performance overlay yourself and let me know what settings you would recommend to others.

About Ryan William

Ryan researches and provides new content to the website. He has written over 2,000 blog posts for various websites around the internet. Ryan is an avid traveller and sports fan. His favorite VR headset is the Oculus Quest 2 and he has played over 75% of all Quest games ever released.

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