Steam Deck gets a new challenger with Nintendo Switch Linux mod

YouTube channel Geekerwan has modded the Nintendo Switch, turning it into a PC gaming handheld akin to the Steam Deck, capable of playing PC games.

An image of the Nintendo Switch console with a screenshot from the Steam Deck game library on the screen.

The Steam Deck has something of a stranglehold on the handheld scene, with its more affordable price putting competing options to shame. However, a new Steam Deck challenger approaches, after modders have worked their magic in transforming the Nintendo Switch into a portable PC of sorts.

YouTubers Geekerwan have modded a Nintendo Switch to run Linux, opening the device up to the possibility of playing PC games. On top of this, they also managed to overclock the console in order to improve performance.

Natively, the Switch CPU runs at 1GHz, but Geekerwan were able to more than double clock speeds up to 2.3GHz. The Nvidia Tegra X1 GPU also received similar attention, jumping from a lowly 460MHz to a whopping 2.0GHz.

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After successfully installing Steam on the device, Geekerwan ran ‘Big Picture Mode’, transforming it into a Nintendo Steam Deck of sorts. Sure, it isn’t running SteamOS, but this is certainly close enough.

Although the idea of playing PC games on the Nintendo Switch is undeniably cool, it’s less than impressive in practice. It’s understandable that games would struggle to run on the device, but games like Grand Theft Auto 5 seemed unplayable because of the constant frame rate drops that Geekerwan experienced.

While it’s amazing to see what the modding community can make the portable console do, I’m pretty okay with keeping mine at stock settings. In fact, I recently upgraded to the Nintendo Switch OLED, and while it still isn’t as strong a pixel-pusher as the Steam Deck, it’s an undeniably beautiful console. Here’s hoping that the Steam Deck 2 follows suit with a display upgrade, and perhaps some limited edition models.

Check out our list of the best Steam Deck games, to find out what you should be playing next. Don’t forget our list of the best Steam Deck accessories, too, so you can make the most out of your favorite PC gaming device.