Mesa 23.1 Graphics Drivers Slash Shader Caches and Stutters: Why You Should Be Looking Forward to the SteamOS 3.5 Update for the Deck
Those looking for more space and smoother performance will want to pay attention to this Mesa update.
For people like me who load up their Steam Deck with more games than they can realistically play, storage space is a premium on the Steam Deck. This goes double if you happened to buy the fantastically priced 64GB model. While trying to reduce used space on your Steam Deck, you might have noticed that the shader caches for games take up a substantial amount of space.
Those shader caches, while large, do help cut down on in-game stutter like we saw with the pre-compiled shaders for Elden Ring. This however is a double-edged sword as we see with the space these shader caches take up. Without compiled shaders, players can experience in-game stutter as the games will compile shaders while the game is being played.
The upcoming Mesa 23.1 looks to be killing two birds with one stone as Valve confirmed to PC Gamer the graphics update will reduce the Steam Deck’s shader cache by around 60%. This in of itself would be impressive but what’s more is originally reported by Liam Dawe on GamingOnLinux there will be a notable improvement to stutter for games compiling shaders during gameplay.
Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais confirmed this to PC Gamer along with tweeting out back in February there will be performance increases around games that benefit from Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) disabled.
One such use case for disabling SMT has been to boost performance in emulators such as the Wii U emulator Cemu and the Switch emulator Yuzu. As of writing you need the Decky Loader plugin PowerTools to be able to disable SMT, but Valve will incorporate that feature directly into the power option menu. The Mesa 23.1 driver update is set to be released in early May however us Deck players will be waiting for the SteamOS 3.5 update to receive it.
So are you excited about the space savings and stutter reduction in Mesa 23.1? Have there been games where stutter has dampened your enjoyment on the Deck? Are you not worried about storage because you shelled out for a 1TB SSD or Micro SD card? Let us know in the comments below!