How to Improve Battery Life on Your Steam Deck

Steam Deck Featured

You can play video games at home, but if you want a handheld console to game on the go, your options are relatively limited. Nintendo’s Switch is arguably the most popular device for that, but game developer Valve also stepped into the ring in 2022 with its Steam Deck. However, as a handheld and portable gadget, Steam Deck relies on a rechargeable battery that might not last as long as expected.

Tip: check out some of the best games for your Steam Deck that you just can’t miss.

The Steam Deck's Battery Life

The Steam Deck is a powerful handheld computer that lets you play all your Steam library games whenever you want. But the built-in 7-inch display, trackpad, and speakers drain the battery relatively quickly. Under normal circumstances, Steam claims the 40-watt-hour battery should get you between two and eight hours of gaming.

Steam Deck Controller
Image source: Valve

Naturally, all sorts of factors come into play that determine how long your Steam Deck can go before needing to be recharged. For example, it uses more power when you turn the volume up rather than using earbuds at a regular volume.

However, the less-than-optimal battery life has been the subject of many complaints online. Some users recorded as little as one and a half hours of battery life while playing the latest "God of War" game.

Good to know: battery life isn't the only consideration for Valve's portable gaming device. Learn everything about the Steam Deck to maximize its performance.

How to Improve Battery Life on Steam Deck

If you're used to the Nintendo Switch's battery life, you'll probably be disappointed with the Valve Steam Deck. However, you can do many things to extend your Steam Deck's battery life without sacrificing game quality when you're on the go.

1. Reduce the Brightness

An effective technique that also works for mobile phones is reducing the brightness of the Steam Deck’s display. Try the two settings on the console to see which one gives the best results.

Steam deck schematic

First, turn off "Adaptive Brightness" to enable the Steam Deck to adjust the brightness according to your surroundings. Tap "the Steam button -> Settings -> Display," and toggle the switch.

Adjust the brightness of the Steam Deck manually. In the same window, move the slider under Brightness to where you are most comfortable.

2. Reduce the Framerate

Another option to increase your Steam Deck’s battery life is to reduce the framerates for video games. This will affect the game’s smoothness and general quality, but it’s worth it if you want to squeeze in a few extra hours. Tap the Quick Access button, and scroll down to "Battery icon -> Performance -> Performance Settings -> Framerate Limit."

a guy playing Steam deck

Choose between 15, 30, and 60 frames per second, or turn it off for unlimited frames per second. The best for increasing battery life is to reduce it to 15 or 30 frames per second.

However, there is another setting underneath that’s linked to the framerate. The refresh rate determines how often the Steam Deck produces a new image. When you lower the refresh rate, you can reduce the framerate accordingly.

Tip: not sure what the big deal is with framerates? Check out our framerates explainer to learn more.

3. Change Graphical Settings

The Steam Deck is essentially a computer in a handheld form, so you can enable in-game graphical settings just as you would on a PC.

another guy playing Steam deck

It’s no secret that a more resource-intensive title will use more battery, so lowering the graphics in a game can increase the battery life. While it may differ for each game, the steps usually involve tapping the Menu button, going to Settings, then Graphics.

4. Lower the Thermal Power Limit

The Steam Deck has a few options and settings you won’t see anywhere else on consoles or computers, such as the Thermal Power Limit. This setting lets you reduce how much power the processor can use, which lowers the drain on the battery.

Steam deck top button

Tap the Quick Access button, scroll down to "the Battery icon -> Performance -> Performance Settings." Toggle the switch by "Thermal Power (TPD) Limit." When enabled, you can adjust the processor’s wattage from 3 to 15 watts, with the lowest wattage the best choice to conserve battery.

Also helpful: if none of these suggestions work, look into Steam Deck alternatives that could offer a better battery life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the game being played influence the battery?

Yes, in most cases, it does. Games with ultra-realistic graphics and complex shaders use more processor power to render the visuals. This requires more battery power and eventually drains it much faster. If you want to conserve battery power, play a game that doesn’t need a powerful graphics card.

Can you charge a Steam Deck with a power bank?

Yes. The USB-C charging port is on the top of the Steam Deck, so you can use it as long as you have a compatible cable. It's also good to remember that a powerful power bank will charge it faster, so you should use a gadget that outputs at least 45W on a single port.

Image credit: Unsplash

Charlie Fripp
Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp is a technology writer with a strong focus on consumer gadgets, video games, and cyber security. He holds an undergraduate degree in professional journalism and has worked as a journalist for over 15 years. In his spare time, he enjoys playing various musical instruments and gardening.

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