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The Steam Deck battery life guide: games tested and how to extend it

Taking charge

In the few short weeks since I put this Steam Deck battery life guide together, Valve have been at work on stretching out the handheld PC’s longevity. The most recent SteamOS updates have added various ways to tweak the Deck’s performance settings, with more options to limit pure speed in exchange for a longer-lasting charge.

You can find more details on these below, along with a guide to how quickly specific games will sap the Deck’s charge. You can get involved directly here: I want your suggestions on which games I should test next, so this page can be a better resource for RPS readers in particular. Got game in mind? Let me know in the comments.

It doesn’t have to be a Valve-Verified game, or one of the outright best games to play on the Steam Deck – anything that’s simply compatible is on the table. Or, you can just skip to the tips on how to extend the Steam Deck’s battery life.

Steam Deck battery life: games tested

The absolute most I’ve wrung out of the Steam Deck's battery is 9h 17m (in Super Meat Boy, with Airplane mode and minimum screen brightness), while the shortest I’ve seen is a scant 1h 17m (Horizon Zero Dawn with everything running at max). For this list, I’ve stuck with more ‘normal’ usage conditions, like setting screen brightness to 50% but leaving Wi-Fi on. You can see the full test settings on the right.

I’ve added a bunch of games to this list since I first published it, the positive highlights being Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and RimWorld, which broke four and five hours respectively. Death Stranding Director’s Cut was back at the lower end of the scale, with only enough time for a handful of Kojima-specification cutscenes. Again, feel free to suggest games in the comments, as I’ll be adding more to this list in the near future.

  • Albion Online - 1h 45m
  • Apex Legends – 2h 28m
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - 4h 09m
  • Death’s Door – 2h 34m
  • Death Stranding Director's Cut - 1h 28m
  • Elden Ring – 1h 33m
  • Fallout 4 – 1h 48m
  • Forza Horizon 5 – 1h 37m
  • God of War – 1h 29m
  • Grant Theft Auto V – 2h 54m
  • Hades – 3h 27m
  • Hitman 3 – 1h 41m
  • Horizon Zero Dawn – 1h 31m
  • Portal 2 – 4h 03m
  • RimWorld - 5h 17m
  • Team Fortress 2 – 2h 16m
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 1h 44m
  • Total War: Three Kingdoms - 2h 09m
  • V Rising - 1h 32m
Two Steam Decks, one recharging and the other running a battery benchmark with Elden Ring.
The high-tech RPS Steam Deck battery testing lab, which is also my kitchen. Using an RTX 3070 to weigh down string isn't a flex, it was just the heaviest object I had to hand. Honest.

How to extend the Steam Deck’s battery life

As rapidly as most games guzzle charge, the Steam Deck is flexible enough to give you a few different options for making that battery juice go further. In fact, almost all of these can be found in one place: the Performance tab of the Quick Settings menu. To find this, press the Quick Settings button (the three-dottted one just below the right trackpad) and select the battery icon. Lowering brightness can also help – there’s a slider for this in Quick Settings too, accessible via the gear icon. Here's what you can try:

Lower the display brightness – A classic battery life extension trick dating back as long as adjustable backlighting has existed. Dropping the screen brightness might leave you at the mercy of reflections, especially on the 64GB and 256GB Steam Deck models (which don’t have the 512GB model's matte display finish), but it can definitely help net you a few more minutes of play. Be sure to turn of dynamic brightness while you’re at it, to make sure you have full control.

Limit the frame rate – The Deck has a universal frame rate limiter built right in, and lowering it from 60fps to 30fps will reduce system strain to grant a modest battery life boost. I slapped a 30fps cap on Forza Horizon 5 and got 2h 03m out of it, adding an extra 26 minutes (or a 27% improvement).

Reduce the refresh rate – As of the SteamOS 3.2 update, you can set the screen’s refresh rate anywhere between 40Hz and the default 60Hz. Dialling this down will reduce power draw, as the screen isn’t updating its image as often, and is perfect for games where you want smoother performance than 30fps but either don’t need or can’t reach 60fps. Setting the refresh rate to 40Hz or 45Hz – essentially capping the frame rate to 40fps and 45fps respectively – would be a good middle ground between 30fps efficiency and 60fps slickness.

A Steam Deck showing its Performance settings menu.

Manually set the TDP limit – This requires a bit of trial and error, but can prevent the Steam Deck from using more power than it needs. While in game, open the Performance tab and turn on the performance overlay so you can see your current FPS. Then, toggle the TDP limiter, set the slider all the way to the right, then lower it one step at a time until your FPS starts to drop. Slide it back up one step, and the Deck’s APU won’t draw more power than it needs to maintain that performance level.

Manually set the GPU clock speed – Similarly to the TDP limiter, you can downclock the graphics processor until it’s only just fast enough to deliver the performance you need – and no more. Again, you’re best off doing this on a per-game basis, using the FPS counter as a guide, as some games need a faster GPU than others.

Disable wireless connectivity – The Deck’s setting menu provides am easy toggle for Airplane mode, which disables Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and thus helps stretch out battery life a little. There are also individual toggles for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in the same place, so you can – for instance – shut off Wi-Fi but keep using a pair of wireless headphones.

I also tried the Deck’s baked-in AMD FSR upscaling, on the grounds that rendering games at a lower resolution might reduce system load and therefore power usage. It didn’t really help, though: Fallout 4 with FSR emptied the battery in 1h 51m, just three minutes more than without it. Stick with the five steps above. There's a relatively new Variable Rate Shading (VRS) option in the Performance tab as well, though this can make textures look less detailed and make objects appear overly pixellated. Try to stick to the less adverse settings in the list above.

For more on getting the most out of your Steam Deck, you can also check out our guides on how to install the Epic Games Launcher, how to play Game Pass games through Xbox Cloud Gaming, and the best microSD cards for the Steam Deck.

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About the Author
James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James had previously hung around beneath the RPS treehouse as a freelancer, before being told to drop the pine cones and climb up to become hardware editor. He has over a decade’s experience in testing/writing about tech and games, something you can probably tell from his hairline.

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