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Steam Deck gets a fix for one of its biggest problems with Windows 11

Photo of Steam Deck handheld console playing God of War
(Image credit: Future)

Steam Deck owners who want to install Windows 11 on the portable, rather than running with SteamOS, will doubtless be pleased to hear that Valve has fixed one of the major problems with going this route – namely the audio side of the equation.

As we’ve seen with many complaints from folks adopting Microsoft’s OS on Valve’s compact gaming PC, there has been an issue with sound drivers which means that with Windows 11, you don’t get audio – not unless you use Bluetooth speakers (or a USB-C headset).

But now, Valve has provided Windows audio drivers (two of them) which cure the problem, so you’ll now get sound via the Deck’s built-in speakers (or you can use headphones with the audio jack, rather than relying on a Bluetooth pair).

Instructions are provided along with the drivers on Valve’s Windows resources page (opens in new tab), and note that there’s an APU driver here which you must install first to get audio support working.


Analysis: A step in the right direction – but it is just one step

It’s obviously good to see that Valve is not just pushing forward with work on the Steam Deck as-is – doing plenty of tinkering to add useful features like the recently implemented per-game performance settings – but also considering those who might want to take an alternative route like installing Windows 11 on the handheld (or even Windows 10 for that matter).

That said, if you’re mulling over sticking Windows on the Steam Deck, even with one of the rougher edges now smoothed out in the form of audio drivers, it’s still a rather suspect proposition to install Microsoft’s OS on the portable gaming PC.

Why? For starters, it’s still in the very early stages of development, with Windows support only having officially arrived for the Steam Deck a few weeks ago – so there will doubtless still be driver and other technical issues floating around (indeed, it’s possible that these newly released audio drivers could still be glitchy for some).

Plus as we’ve pointed out before, SteamOS is purpose-built for a slick and streamlined experience with the Deck, but if you venture into Windows territory, that’ll be a very different matter. Furthermore, installing Windows on the Steam Deck is not a trivial exercise for the less tech-savvy – but if you do want to give it a whirl, we’ve got a full guide on how to install Windows 10 and 11 on a Steam Deck.

Via Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).