MacOS comes to Steam Deck PC gaming handheld (sort of)

Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve)

There are plenty of portable Macs to choose from, but none are quite as portable as this Steam Deck running macOS Catalina.

Valve's portable PC is built with gaming in mind, but there are ways to install Windows if that's something you really want to do. But someone has taken things a step further, upgrading their Steam Deck to run macOS Catalina with surprising success.

macos_catalina_on_steam_deck_steamos_virtualbox from r/SteamDeck

This particular brand of dark magic came after Reddit user Lampa183 managed to get Apple's 2019 macOS Catalina up and running. They say that it does actually work and have provided a screenshot of the desktop, Dock, and more. That doesn't mean that it works well, however, with four-minute startup times likely to put plenty of people off. As if the hoops this person surely jumped through to get this far wasn't enough.

Once the Steam Deck is powered on though, we're told that "performance is normal," although we don't know what method of reference is being used here. Is it normal for an Intel Mac from 2019, or are we talking Apple Silicon snappiness here? Either way, the fact that this works at all is a testament to the Steam Deck, but also to the people who work to make these things happen.

While we don't know exactly which version of the Steam Deck is being used here, the gaming portable features a 7-inch screen and AMD APU chip. It's worth noting that it comes with 16GB of RAM, which is more than the M2 MacBook Air has as standard. Perhaps that's helping performance somewhat.

At seven inches this is definitely the smallest machine we've seen macOS running on in a good long while, and it's definitely smaller than Apple intends it to be used. But if you want the ultimate in portability and don't mind getting the magnifying glass out every once in the while, this could well be the best Mac for you.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.