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

Taking charge

A Steam Deck OLED showing the battery indicator in its Performance settings menu.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

The Steam Deck’s battery life depends largely on what games you’re playing on it, and if you own one of the original models instead of the newer, longer-lasting Steam Deck OLED, you’d be forgiven for looking at the latter with a covetous eye. Some games, after all, can drain a 100% charge on an original Deck battery in less than a couple of hours.

Fortunately, there are more than a few tricks you can employ to extend your Steam Deck’s battery life. Some have been nestled in its settings menus since launch, others have been added as part of SteamOS updates, but pretty much all of them are worth trying if you’re unhappy with how quickly your handheld PC is conking out. This guide will explain how and, to sate the curiosity of prospective Steam Deck buyers, list the actual battery test results I’ve recorded with various games.

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Don’t see a game you want in the list? Let me know by emailing me, at james dot archer at rockpapershotgun dot com, and I'll see about trying it out on your behalf. It doesn’t have to be one of the outright best games to play on the Steam Deck – as long as I can get it running, I can test it out and add it to the board.

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 what you might call '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.

Steam Deck battery life results

  • Albion Online - 1h 45m
  • Apex Legends - 2h 28m
  • Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon - 1h 42m
  • Assassin's Creed Mirage - 1h 23m
  • Baldur's Gate III - 1h 28m
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - 4h 09m
  • Dead Island 2 - 1h 30m
  • Death’s Door - 2h 34m
  • Death Stranding Director's Cut - 1h 28m
  • Diablo IV - 1h 47m
  • 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
  • Redfall - 1h 24m
  • Resident Evil 4 remake - 1h 30m
  • RimWorld - 5h 17m
  • Starfield - 1h 23m
  • Team Fortress 2 – 2h 16m
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 1h 44m
  • Total War: Three Kingdoms - 2h 09m
  • Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection - 1h 31m
  • V Rising - 1h 32m

Steam Deck OLED battery life results

  • Assassin's Creed Mirage - 2h 12m
  • Horizon Zero Dawn - 2h 15m
  • Planet of Lana - 3h 40m
  • Portal 2 - 5h 48m
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 2h 16m
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 Steam Deck models that lack an anti-glare screen coating (that's the 64GB and 256GB original models, and the 512GB Steam Deck OLED), 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 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 frame limit – On both the Steam Deck and the Steam Deck OLED, you can adjust the maximum display framerate and refresh rate simultaneously, using a unified slider in the Performance menu. Dialling this down will reduce power draw, as the screen isn’t updating its image as often, and is ideal for games where you either don't need or can't reach the full 60fps/90fps.

The updated frame limit slider setting on the Steam Deck.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun

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.