With the release of the Steam Deck OLED this week, Valve has greatly improved on the “ho-hum” screen that was our biggest complaint about the original Steam Deck. But Valve hasn’t forgotten about the users who are still stuck using that old LCD display. Thursday stable release of SteamOS version 3.5.5 offers a suite of free, system-level updates to improve and tweak display performance on the original Steam Deck.
The release notes for the new SteamOS boast of much-needed improvements to the “default color rendering” on the Steam Deck LCD, which should help the older hardware “emulate the sRGB color gamut, resulting in a slightly warmer and more vibrant color appearance,” writes Valve. Even better, the new “adjust display colors” option in the settings menu now lets users easily adjust both color vibrancy and temperature color to better match their preferences. And the games they play. Before the new update, these types of options were only available to users who go to the trouble of installing third-party plug-ins. Now, Valve has finally brought these basic fixes to the Steam Deck-owning masses.
The results, as you can see in the gallery of off-screen photos above, can have a dramatic effect on the look of in-game visuals. You can see a noticeable difference going from the “Native” color vibrance (which Valve describes as “the color rendering for the Steam Deck prior to this update”) to the new “default” sRGB rendering. There’s an even bigger change when you turn the vibration slider all the way to “Enhanced,” which Valve says should “simulate the appearance of a wide gamut display, making the vibration more apparent.” “
That “Enhanced” setting might not be worth it in every situation because Valve warns it “may result in gradient clipping” (which you can see some signs of in the photos above). However, that may be a small price to pay for oranges and reds that pop out way more than they do on the Steam Deck LCD (although it’s well below what you’d see on a native HDR display). A separate slider to change the screen color temperature can also help with the “washed out” look you get on some Steam Deck games, letting users set a warmer or cooler visual style to match the game they are playing.
Software alone can’t raise the Steam Deck LCD’s visuals to the level of the new OLED display, of course, or improve the relative contrast and brightness limitations inherent in the older screen. However, it’s good to see that Valve didn’t immediately abandon the owners of the original Steam Deck and is doing what it can to improve their viewing experience through software.
Elsewhere in the update notes, Valve points out that the Steam Deck LCD can output full HDR and variable refresh rate content to an external monitor, although those features aren’t supported on the portable screen itself. The newly updated graphics drivers also promise “improved performance for Starfield“One of the few Steam games that Steam Deck has struggled to work with so far.