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Thoughts on the official Steam Deck Docking Station

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After having and playing with the official Steam Deck Docking Station, here's some thoughts on the experience. Note: personal purchase.

Released earlier in October, along with the Steam Deck itself no longer having a reservation queue, I was very keen to see what Valve would give us officially. Especially since JSAUX and ivoler already provide great docked experiences for a lower price (since they don't give you a charger too).

For the basic design it's perfectly fine. All the ports are on the back out of the way, so you only see the short lip at the front when you've docked your Steam Deck. No ethernet wire poking out the side like with JSAUX (although ivoler don't have this issue). There's no problems with the design or build quality at all, except for those of you keeping thicker protective cases on where it won't fit in. It also has a nice non-slip cover on the bottom so it won't move around.

A reminder on what it has available: 3 x USB-A 3.1 Gen1 Ports, Gigabit Ethernet, DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, USB-C Power Delivery pass-through input and an included charger.

When you first get it, you'll likely need a firmware update before you really use it. A big benefit of it, is that Valve provide firmware updates directly, so there's no messing with anything external. You either get a pop-up telling you one is available, or you can go into the settings and check for updates to have it appear. It probably won't be updated often but it's still a nice touch.

So it looks nice and it can get easy updates — how is the overall experience? Well, that's where things aren't so good in this case. I've now used 4 or 5 different JSAUX docks (I've lost count) and one from ivoler, I use my Steam Deck docked all the time and have done since before the original release (since I was an original Steam Deck reviewer) via two different USB-C Hubs, so I think I have a fair amount of experience here.

The problem is that the official Steam Deck Docking Station has its quirks with actually connecting to external displays, tested by connecting to multiple TVs and PC Monitors all from different vendors. Sometimes, it works right away. Most of the time though, I have to do a little dance between powering the Steam Deck down and on again, turning screens on and off and so on. Unfortunately, for me, the official Docking Station is very much not a plug and play experience. Sadly, I am apparently in a long list of people having issues with it. Looking on the Steam Forum, there's a great many posts of people seeing the same or just not seeing a signal on their external screen at all. A few in our Discord have also reported such issues too.

At 4K, the Steam Deck UI acts a bit weirdly too. Things don't always match up on the screen and the UI doesn't perform well. Thankfully, Valve added external screens settings so I can put it into 1080p and it works fine while still looking good overall. Not a big issue but one I hope they sort too.

Since Valve has put a lot of work into the docked experience, overall once it's actually setup correctly it works quite nicely. I have no big main complaints about the main docked experience right now. Bluetooth controllers both PS4 and Xbox work just fine, as do controllers plugged in via USB. Honestly, playing with the Steam Deck while docked is a really fun experience and really continues to show how versatile the Steam Deck is as a gaming device. However, I really do hope Valve add an easy way to deal with external drives as more people wish to use them to expand their storage even more. It's possible to do, like with the JSAUX M.2 SSD Dock, but the setup is annoying to do. They have the functionality there for SD Cards, so it's not a stretch to say they could expand that for other external drives too.

If Valve manage to sort out the issues with it connecting properly to external screens, which is the main function, it might turn around into a recommendation. For now though, I would suggest going with JSAUX or ivoler instead and if you already have a spare charger, you'll be saving money too.

You can buy it on Steam.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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24 comments
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On the other hand, the dock has worked great for me so far!
Julius 27 Oct
Really a missed opportunity for Valve to not include a stand-alone Steam Link in the docking station. Price-wise it would have probably not made a big difference either.
Goggo66 27 Oct
Quoting: JuliusReally a missed opportunity for Valve to not include a stand-alone Steam Link in the docking station. Price-wise it would have probably not made a big difference either.

You can use the Steam Deck to stream from your desktop, but IMO there are two important features missing for a console-like couch gaming experience:
- HDMI CEC control
- activation of the Steam Deck via external controller

Both features are present in the Steam Link, so it shouldn't actually be too difficult for Valve to integrate them into the Steam Deck.
mr-victory 27 Oct
Quoting: Goggo66activation of the Steam Deck via external controller
I have seen sb turning on Deck via Steam controller.
MayeulC 27 Oct
Quoting: JuliusReally a missed opportunity for Valve to not include a stand-alone Steam Link in the docking station. Price-wise it would have probably not made a big difference either.

Oh wow great idea!

Like the Wii U, but placing the smarts in the tablet :P


Last edited by MayeulC on 27 October 2022 at 2:31 pm UTC
Multiple displays seem to be a problem for Linux in general. I've been wanting to add a second monitor to my setup for a while, but it would require a lot of hand editing of configuration files, and even that doesn't provide a guaranteed "it just works" solution.
Quoting: Mountain ManMultiple displays seem to be a problem for Linux in general. I've been wanting to add a second monitor to my setup for a while, but it would require a lot of hand editing of configuration files, and even that doesn't provide a guaranteed "it just works" solution.
Huh?

I've been using two monitors now for as long as I can remember, on Linux. With AMDGPU it's pretty much plug and play, a desktop environment like Gnome, KDE, XFCE etc will for the most part do the heavy lifting for you.

With nvidia, as always it was a little more complex the last time I used it (around 2-3 years ago), but even then the binary blob used to (and probably still does?) provide a graphical interface for configuring monitor layouts and generated an xorg file for you.
tgurr 27 Oct
I had to play with the options of the HDMI ports on an Android based TV (Sony) where I had to switch the one the Steam Deck Dock is connected to from compatibility mode into "4k optimized" or "VRR gamemode" else it didn't show any video signal at all. I did not have to do this when using an Anker USB-C "dock" I bought and used with the Steam Deck before. Hope they'll sort out the compatibility issues with future updates but at least I was able to get it working anyways.
slaapliedje 27 Oct
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Quoting: BlackBloodRum
Quoting: Mountain ManMultiple displays seem to be a problem for Linux in general. I've been wanting to add a second monitor to my setup for a while, but it would require a lot of hand editing of configuration files, and even that doesn't provide a guaranteed "it just works" solution.
Huh?

I've been using two monitors now for as long as I can remember, on Linux. With AMDGPU it's pretty much plug and play, a desktop environment like Gnome, KDE, XFCE etc will for the most part do the heavy lifting for you.

With nvidia, as always it was a little more complex the last time I used it (around 2-3 years ago), but even then the binary blob used to (and probably still does?) provide a graphical interface for configuring monitor layouts and generated an xorg file for you.
It's plug and play with everything... with a small exception of if you have something like an nvidia/Optimus laptop. This is a hardware issue though, not software, as some laptops don't like to let you use the external displays unless you're forcing them into Discrete graphics mode. Other than that, Linux has handled multiple monitors for decades just fine. I run two 2560x1440 and a 3840x1200 monitor as my desktop setup, and it's amazing.
Quoting: Mountain ManMultiple displays seem to be a problem for Linux in general. I've been wanting to add a second monitor to my setup for a while, but it would require a lot of hand editing of configuration files, and even that doesn't provide a guaranteed "it just works" solution.
What setup are you using, out of curiosity? I've run dual monitors with Cinnamon (on an nVidia GPU) for years and it's always been pretty much plug'n'play.
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