The Steam Deck battery life guide: games tested and how to extend it
The Steam Deck’s battery life isn’t one of its best qualities. While this weakness is outweighed by the pleasures of playing PC games in bed or on the bus, most such games will drain the Deck quickly, requiring a degree of foresight if you want to entertain yourself on a long trip away from mains power. At the same time, different games will drain at different speeds, with some allowing Valve’s handheld to last hours longer than others.
Ultimately, I think the only truly accurate way to measure and judge the Steam Deck’s battery life is to test a bunch of different games to see how long it lasts with each. So I have! Here you’ll find a list of games with how long they took to empty the Deck’s battery from full. I’ll be coming back and adding more to the list as I test them, so you can see for yourself what uptimes to expect from your favourites.
I’ve also thrown in some tips on how to extend the Steam Deck’s battery life, which is possible even when running the thirstiest AAA games. Also, if you want to know how long a certain game will last and it isn’t yet on the list, let me know in the comments – it doesn’t have to be one of the Steam Deck Verified games, but as long as it’s compatible enough to run, I may well be able to test it and add it.
Steam Deck battery life: games tested
Valve say the Steam Deck should last between two and eight hours, but depending on the game – as well as certain hardware settings on the Deck itself – battery life can vary even more. The absolute most I’ve wrung out 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.
For now this is a hodgepodge of some of the most popular games on Steam by player count, and a few that I happened to have installed already, but the plan is for it to grow. Like a beautiful tall sunflower, made of numbers. I’ll therefore be adding games (both new and old) on a regular basis, so again, do shout if there’s one in particular you’d like to see.
- Apex Legends – 2h 28m
- Death’s Door – 2h 34m
- 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
- Team Fortress 2 – 2h 16m
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 1h 44m
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).
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.
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 and how to play Game Pass games through Xbox Cloud Gaming.