Sat. May 18th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Bazzite offers a SteamOS-like experience on Windows handhelds, with features like Proton for Windows game compatibility.
  • Installation process varies by device, backup save data before trying. Check YouTube for guides before installing Bazzite.
  • Key Bazzite features include game suspension, TDP tuning, per-game power profiles, gyro-aiming, and paddle remapping support.

Windows handhelds like the ROG Ally have specs that put the Steam Deck to shame, but are let down by Windows being terrible as a handheld operating system, but what if you could have the best of both worlds?

Bazzite Brings a SteamOS-Like Experience to Windows Handhelds

Bazzite is a special version of Linux that was designed from the ground up for gaming. It’s based on Fedora Linux, and uses the Universal Blue platform to manage, update, and distribute the operating system images.

Bazzite has the Steam client pre-installed as part of the image, and also comes with Lutris—an open game management platform. There are numerous gaming-focused tools and tweaks baked into Bazzite, such as a special CPU scheduler that ensures games always get the highest CPU priority and adds quality of life features such as HDR support for AMD GPUs, which dominate handheld PC gaming right now. Thanks to the inclusion of the Heroic Game Launcher, you can integrate the games you own from different PC storefronts into a single front-end.

Just like SteamOS, Bazzite uses Proton to run Windows games and, as such, the compatibility list is identical. If it works on a Steam Deck, it will likely work on Bazzite. In fact, you can install Bazzite on an actual Steam Deck! There’s also a great fallback system in case an update breaks something, since you can always roll back to the previous Bazzite image after an update.

The Bazzite Installation Process

Since Bazzite can be installed on a wide range of handhelds (and laptops and desktops) such as the ROG Ally, Lenovo Legion Go, or any number of handheld PCs with compatible hardware, we can’t provide universal installation instructions here. In fact, what I recommend is that you search YouTube for a video of someone installing Bazzite on the exact handheld you have, so that you can see the entire process play out before attempting to install it yourself.

Bazzite is an entire new operating system for your handheld, so it stands to reason that any saved games or other data you can’t afford to lose should be backed up before attempting this.

While there are many great video guides to installing Bazzite, here are a few excellent examples to get you started. Again, watch the entire video at least once before you start!

First, a guide by Cyber Dopamine on installing Bazzite on the ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go:

Here’s a guide by Aru on Bazzite for the GPD Win 4:

When you do look up a video guide to installing Bazzite, make sure you’re looking at the latest videos, since Bazzite is updated frequently and some things may change from one version to the next.

Key Bazzite Features You Should Know About

Once you’ve managed to install Bazzite onto the handheld of your choice, there are a few key features you should keep in mind to get the most out of your new software:

  • You can now suspend your games properly, unlike Windows where the closest solution is hibernation.
  • The TDP (Thermal Design Power) can be tuned in 1W increments, so you can find the exact TDP for a given game optimized perfomance and battery power.
  • You can set per-game power profiles, so once you’ve tuned a game’s power allocation, that setting sticks to it.
  • You can set separate power profiles for games when connected to AC power.
  • You can now use gyro-aiming on handhelds that have a gyro sensor.
  • Support for paddle remapping if your handheld has them.

Of course, the list of neat features goes on for much longer than this, and it’s really worth the time to dig through Bazzite’s documentation to find some gems that will benefit the way you play specifically.

Remember You Can Dual-Boot!

As I noted in my ROG Ally review, the current Windows experience on handheld PCs isn’t great. However, one major advantage of running Windows is that you have perfect compatibility with every Windows game made for that operating system. Likewise, if you want to play Game Pass games, or you want to play online games that use anti-cheat systems, Linux won’t work for you.

The good news is that you can set up Bazzite to dual-boot with Windows, and then easily switch between operating systems so that you can still play games that absolutely must have Windows to work correctly. Most video guides include instructions on dual-booting, which involved manually tweaking your drive partitions to make room for both systems. It’s a little trickier, but well worth it unless you know all of your intended games will work through Proton. Bazzite is just one small example of how PC gaming is awesome because of the freedom you have to tweak and customize the experience. I can’t wait to see what else the community comes up with!

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By John P.

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