Steam Deck battery life: How to get more charge from Valve’s handheld

Valve’s Steam Deck is an incredible machine with the ability to play thousands of PC games in handheld form, not to mention a wide-open system that allows users to do all sorts of crazy things with it. But if there’s one area where the Steam Deck could use a little help, it’s battery life.

Playing system-intensive games on your Steam Deck can drain your battery in an instant, and the thing uses so much juice that many of your existing chargers probably can’t power it fast enough to keep the frags going. Thankfully, there’s no reason to lose hope. There are many steps you can take to bring more life to your Steam deck.

Check your performance settings

First, let’s get the complex stuff out of the way and dive into your deck’s performance settings. With the game open, press the Fast access Menu button (the one with the three dots under the right trackpad) and navigate to performance settings (the battery icon). By default, only the performance overlay slider appears in this menu, which gives you control over how much performance-related information you can see on screen. Play around with it if you want, but more importantly, get into the extended view Menu.

This is where you’ll find most of your performance settings. Note that if you scroll all the way down, you’ll see your battery’s current capacity, as well as an estimate of how long it will take to run out with your current usage and settings.

Enable profiles per game

The first thing to understand is that your results will vary greatly depending on the game. Most of the titles you play on your Steam deck were not designed or optimized for a handheld system. In some cases, you might take every possible step and still find that they make little to no difference, or that the game performs so poorly on lower settings that the compromise isn’t worth it.

With that in mind, take a look at the Use profile per game Attitude. If this option is disabled, your game will use your universal default settings. If the setting is enabled, any changes you make will be saved in the currently open game’s individual performance profile. Since every game works differently, this is an incredibly useful tool.

The next settings as you scroll down are frame rate limit and refresh rate. The first controls your game’s frames per second (fps), while the second determines how often your screen refreshes to display a new image. These settings are linked: for example, if you limit your deck’s refresh rate to 40, your framerate limits will change from 15/30/60 to 10/20/40.

The Steam deck's performance menu shows frame rate reduction options.

Image: valve

Limiting how many frames your game displays and how often your screen refreshes can affect battery life, but these settings can also have a significant impact on a game’s performance. Some games only run at 30 fps anyway, while others default to 60 fps. Even then, you can often drop the frame rate in small increments (e.g. from 60 to 40) without noticing a huge difference. In return, you gain significantly more playing time.

Consider these additional options

Below the refresh rate slider are more options. Half rate shading or variable rate shading reduces the number of screen pixels that your game has to calculate shading (color) for, which can give you some battery life, although it can also noticeably affect the appearance of your game by making it appear like it is runs at lower resolution.

Below you will find Thermal Performance Limit (TDP)., which allows you to set a physical limit on how many watts your Steam Deck’s processor can draw from the battery to run games. By default, the battery outputs 15 watts. You can reduce this to 3 all the way, but that can result in a massive drop in performance depending on how much power each individual game is using – a metric driven by myriad factors, from graphics intensity to a game’s age. If you’re using a lot of power on certain games, try to see how low you can get that setting while still maintaining acceptable performance.

The Steam deck's performance menu shows options for extending the machine's battery life, including Half Rate Shading and Thermal Power Limit, manual GPU clock control toggles.

Image: valve

The same goes for the Manual GPU clock control Option that allows you to set a similar limit but for the GPU instead of the CPU. Play around with it again per game. Notice if these changes actually have a positive effect—for example, capping CPU and GPU usage Deep Rock Galactic produced remarkably shaky gameplay but had little impact on actual battery life.

Last the scaling filter The slider lets you choose a level of resolution enhancement with four options: linear, closest, integer, and FSR. These have very different effects depending on the game, although you’re probably better off simply capping each game’s resolution.

Limit your game resolution

Your Steam deck’s screen has a resolution of 1280×800 pixels, so why are you running games at 1080p or even higher? When you first start a game on Deck, go into the graphic or display settings menu and check what resolution it is running at. If it’s higher than 1280×800, lower it until it’s at that or lower (then, if you want, go back to the upscaling settings from the previous point).

Look in your game settings for other ways to reduce processor load while maintaining performance. This can be as simple as toggling a single general graphics quality setting from high to medium, or as complicated as adjusting individual options like shadow or particle quality. Again, you’ll need to experiment with each game individually, as these settings vary greatly from title to title.

Lower the brightness

You might be surprised to see such a simple option so far down the list, but it’s worth mentioning: if you’re in a low-light environment like an airplane or your bedroom, turn down the brightness of quick settings Menu (also accessed via the three dots button on the right). The Steam Deck’s nifty little screen uses a lot of power to display all those pixels for you.

You can also enable or disable automatic brightness adjustments, but you’ll need to dig a little deeper into the settings. Press the steam button on the left, then navigate to the Display section of the General Settings menu. You will see them Enable adaptive brightness attitude there. Having the deck automatically dim the brightness when it detects a dimly lit environment can help conserve battery life.

Disable ancillary features

Many games today require an internet connection. However, many of the single-player games you’re likely to play on Steam Deck don’t. If your current activity doesn’t require you to be online, try turning Wi-Fi off. you will find it airplane mode in which quick settings menu, but toggling turns off both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Of course, if you’re not using a Bluetooth device like a keyboard, headset, or controller, there’s no reason to keep it on, and you might be able to conserve your battery even further by strategically switching to Airplane mode.

Stream your games instead of running them natively

Here’s an option that’s surprisingly easy to overlook. It’s not always applicable, like taking your Steam Deck out into the world. But let’s say you just sit at home and want to play some PC or console games lying on the couch. If so, try streaming your games from another platform instead of playing them natively on deck.

With Steam games, it’s easy. Make sure your gaming PC and Steam Deck are on the same network, then click drop-down list button next to a game To install or To play button on your deck. You should see your gaming PC there. Select it and then press electricityand voilà – you play on your Steam deck and use significantly less processing power.

This can be more difficult if you want to stream non-Steam games or even console games. For non-Steam PC games, you can use a program called moonlight to access your desktop PC’s game streaming capabilities via GeForce Experience, as long as you have an Nvidia graphics card. You can even use your Steam Deck to access the PlayStation console remote gamewith an app called Chiaki. Either way, you’ll need to enter the deck’s desktop mode to set these up and likely read a guide for the exact features you’re looking for, but it may be worth it.

Get a powerful charger

Whether you’re traveling with your Steam Deck or you just want it to be playable in every room of your house, you’re going to want to invest in some powerful chargers. Even power bricks and portable batteries that can easily charge other, weaker handhelds – say, a Nintendo Switch – while you play don’t necessarily have enough power to do the same for the deck. Luckily, your Steam Deck will helpfully let you know when you’ve plugged in a charger that can’t keep up with its power consumption.

Whether you’re buying an external charger or just a wall-plug charger, you’ll want to make sure it’s Steam Deck-ready. This 65-watt Baseus charging brick is often recommended by users on the Steam Deck subreddit, while any power bank that can output at least 45W from a single port should work. Check recommendations on Reddit and other online forums you frequent and read product reviews wherever you decide to make a purchase. If you’re considering a specific charger for your deck, chances are someone else has already tested it to see if it’s powerful enough and left a note somewhere on the internet about their experience.

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