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How to make the most of your Steam Deck's battery life
The Steam Deck is a powerful piece of portable gaming hardware, but if it had one weak point, it would be the battery life. By Valve’s own admission, playtime with the Steam Deck ranges from two to eight hours and can be even less when playing graphic intense AAA games. Maybe that will improve with the Steam Deck 2, but for now, you’ll need to know what kind of battery the Steam Deck has, how you can improve the battery life, and the best power banks to buy. This is your landing page to answer all those questions and more.
The Steam Deck's battery life can last between two and eight hours, depending on the game you are playing. For maximum longevity on the go, it is recommended to use an external power bank.
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How long is the Steam Deck battery life?
The Steam Deck’s battery life is not exactly one-size-fits-all. While it’s equipped with a relatively impressive 40Wh battery, the demands of the powerful AMD APU inside can vary widely depending on the game being played. Valve’s initial claim of a 2-8 hour battery life can be a bit misleading. Yes, it’s possible to reach that 8-hour mark, but it’s also entirely feasible to drain the battery in less than two hours with the right (or wrong, depending on your perspective) kind of game.
The truth of the matter is the more a game pushes the CPU and GPU, the shorter your battery life will be. High-intensity titles like “Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered” and “God of War: Ragnarok” are particularly power-hungry, especially if you push the hardware to its limits. Much like a traditional laptop, the Steam Deck’s battery life is directly proportional to its workload.
The challenge here is that the Steam Deck is expected to run a library of games initially designed for consoles and gaming desktops, platforms with a constant power source, not a limited battery. Even though the Steam Deck boasts a sizable 5,313-mAh battery (compared to the Nintendo Switch’s 4,210-mAh cell), it’s up against AAA titles which can quickly consume power due to their complex rendering demands. Still, simpler games with less demanding graphics and engines can run for several hours.
How to improve battery life on your Steam Deck
With these considerations in mind, you may wonder how to get the most out of your Steam Deck’s battery. Here are some effective strategies:
- Choose wisely: It may be tempting to launch into the latest graphics-intensive blockbuster, but if longevity is your goal, consider opting for less resource-intensive games, especially during long gaming sessions.
- Frame rate adjustment: Trimming the frame rate can be a significant power-saver. Even though the Steam Deck can handle up to 60 fps, not all games require those refresh rates, and many players may not even notice a drop to 30 fps. The Steam Deck offers convenient tools to adjust this setting, giving you more control over your device’s energy usage.
- Dim the lights: Simply reducing the screen brightness can also contribute to battery preservation. Like any smartphone or laptop, the brighter your display, the more energy it consumes.
- Tweak graphics settings: The ability to adjust graphics settings is a unique advantage of PC gaming, and since the Steam Deck is essentially a compact PC, you have the same level of control here. Opting for medium or low graphics can significantly prolong your battery life.
- Limit thermal power: The Steam Deck’s settings menu offers an intriguing option to restrict the device’s power usage. It’s a somewhat blunt solution that can drastically affect gaming performance, but it can be a lifesaver if you’re in desperate need of conserving power.
- Keep a power bank handy: Despite your best efforts, there may be times when you simply need more power. Having a portable battery at the ready can ensure that your gaming sessions continue uninterrupted. Aim for a battery pack with close to a 45W output, mirroring the Steam Deck’s charger, for optimal recharging speed. See the next section for the best options you can buy.
What’s the best power bank for your Steam Deck?
If you’re a heavy user of the Steam Deck, chances are you’ll need a backup power source at some point. A power bank is the perfect solution if you choose one that suits your needs. Here are some of the best options available in 2023:
- Anker 747 Power Bank ($119.99 at Amazon): This power bank from Anker stands out with a 25,600 mAh capacity and multiple PD charging ports. Despite a slightly higher price, it comes with a charging brick, a cable, and a carrying pouch and will work with laptops such as the MacBook Pro.
- Shargeek Storm 2 Power Bank ($230 at Amazon): A premium pick, the Shargeek Storm 2 offers a unique style with a transparent shell and supports 100W fast charging — a rare feature amongst power banks.
- Baseus Power Bank ($60 at Amazon): This Baseus power bank offers the best value for its price. It features an LED display to monitor the charging status, holds up to 20,000 mAh of power, 65W charging, and packs plenty of ports.
- Krisdonia AC Laptop Power Bank ($150 at Amazon): This hefty power bank allows you to use the AC charger that came with your Steam Deck, supporting up to 130W. That’s enough juice to power multiple devices, such as laptops and phones, at the same time as well, making it a versatile option.
- Anker 733 Power Bank ($99 at Amazon): This power bank from Anker supports 65W charging and comes with an integrated 10,000 mAh battery. With two prongs on the back, it lets you plug in anywhere and power up your Steam Deck while out and about.
The Steam Deck’s battery life varies from 2 to 8 hours, depending on usage intensity and settings. However, that time can be less when playing graphic-intense AAA games.
The Steam Deck’s sizable 5,313-mAh battery is bigger than the Nintendo Switch’s 4,210-mAh cell. However, the Nintendo Switch averages three to six hours of battery life due to the less demanding games it plays.
Yes, you can play the Steam Deck while it is charging.
Like all lithium-ion batteries, the Steam Deck’s battery may degrade over time, but this process will be slow and gradual.
Keeping the Steam Deck’s software up-to-date, reducing screen brightness, closing unnecessary applications, and using Wi-Fi instead of mobile data can help maintain battery health.
The Steam Deck should automatically stop charging once it reaches 100%, protecting the battery from overcharging.
While the Steam Deck has protections against overcharging, it’s generally better to unplug it once fully charged to maintain battery health.
The Steam Deck does consume some battery in sleep mode, but it’s significantly less than when the device is in use.