The latest Steam Deck client update has added Valve’s local network game transfers feature – previously only available in beta form – to the Stable branch, marking a full launch for one of the most useful Steam Deck feature upgrades in months.
If you missed the local transfers beta release last month, know that the name is quite literal: it lets you transfer Steam game installs between your PC and your Steam Deck over a local network, rather than having to re-download them onto every device you own. It also works when transferring between a Steam Deck and another Steam Deck, or between two PCs. Valve have a little explainer herebut it’s simple enough that – for example – hitting the Install button for a game on your Steam Deck will automatically detect if your PC is on the same network, and start transferring as much as it can from the desktop instead of downloading the whole thing from scratch.
You can even opt into sending/receiving game data from PCs and Steam Decks owned by other people, so long as they’re also connected to the same local network. The biggest benefit seems to come to those with monthly data caps (morning, Yanks), as these transfers won’t usually involve any extra downloads. Even so, it’s a helpful addition for anyone on all-you-can-eat data as well, since local transfers are much faster than old fashioned installs.
In my case, the absolute best download speed I can get on Steam – and this is on an Ethernet-connected PC – is about 19MB/s. Using this feature to install games to my Steam Deck via Wi-Fi, I typically get transfer speeds between 27MB/s and 30MB/s, with peaks up to 37MB/s. Nearly twice my maximum download speed, then, and Valve reckon you can hit 100MB/s with higher-end connections and hardware.
If you’d prefer to keep your connections locked down, you can opt out of tranfers in the Downloads section of Steam’s settings, though I do heartily recommend this feature to Deck owners and/or anyone who happens to own multiple PCs or gaming laptops. It’s the latest in a string of substantial feature updates Valve have pushed out since the handheld’s launch, something they seemed pretty pleased about when I interviewed them for the Steam Deck’s first anniversary.
This client update also makes a bunch of smaller additions and fixes to SteamOS, Steam Input, and the Deck’s desktop mode. patch notes over yonder.