Is Windows on Arm the Future of PC Gaming? An Analysis of Valve’s Steam Deck Competition

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The recent Microsoft Build conference provided some interesting insights into the potential of Windows on Arm for PC gaming, especially for laptops and handheld devices like the Steam Deck. While Microsoft and Qualcomm have not explicitly confirmed this direction, there are indications that both companies are working towards it.

Qualcomm previously hinted that most Windows games would run smoothly on Snapdragon X Elite laptops. Microsoft showcased games running on the platform, with titles like Borderlands 3 showing a 60% performance boost thanks to Microsoft’s Auto Super Resolution technology. This technology, similar to Nvidia’s DLSS, utilizes the NPU for enhanced visuals. Microsoft also revealed a website listing compatible games for Arm-based Windows laptops, with over 1400 games tested and 700 confirmed to run smoothly at 1080p and 60fps. This bodes well for emulated games on portable laptops.

The shift to Windows on Arm could significantly enhance PC gaming on laptops by overcoming compatibility issues. However, the Steam Deck, running on Linux, may not receive the same level of support, despite its history with Arm.

At Build, Steven Bathiche from Microsoft demonstrated over 40 AI models running concurrently on a Snapdragon X Elite laptop without utilizing the GPU. This included tasks like image generation and background effects, with a new AI feature cataloging everything. This efficient use of resources could lead to a future where background tasks are handled by the NPU, freeing up CPU and GPU resources for gaming.

Looking ahead, rumors suggest next-generation Qualcomm and Nvidia chips entering the market in 2025, potentially revolutionizing handheld gaming devices. With the possibility of Arm PC chips dominating the market, 2025 could be a pivotal year for these advancements. As Windows-based devices based on Arm technology strive to outperform the Steam Deck, the competition in the PC gaming industry is set to intensify.