Battery Life Could Be The Steam Deck's Biggest Weakness

It looks like the settings you play games out on the Steam Deck could have a bigger impact than previously expected. While Steam Deck reviews are looking good so far, the device's battery life may be something you want to pay attention to. Valve says that the upcoming handheld PC will offer between two to eight hours of battery life, depending on just how demanding the games you play are. However, early testing from several YouTubers has showcased an even shorter amount of battery life. If you thought two hours was bad, just imagine running out of battery a little over an hour and a half into a gaming session, or even 30 minutes after you turn on a game.

YouTuber Gamer Nexus ran a myriad of tests to check the Steam Deck, including battery life tests at different settings. During the testing phase, Gamer Nexus found that the Steam Deck died after only 87 minutes of gameplay when running "Devil May Cry 5" with an uncapped framerate and VSync disabled. That was with brightness set to 50% and the audio turned to zero. When running the same game with VSync enabled, lower game settings, and a framerate cap of 60 FPS, the Steam Deck was able to run for two hours before it died.

How to get the most of our your Steam Deck's battery

With battery life results being so low, especially with games on higher settings, it's going to be important to find ways to maximize performance and pull more juice from your Steam Deck. After all, what's the point of a portable gaming system if you constantly have to keep it plugged in to play games on it. Luckily, these tests have given us a good idea of what kind of settings you'll want to tweak in order to make the most of your Steam Deck's battery life.

First, you're going to want to focus on bringing the maximum FPS down. The Steam Deck only supports up to 60 FPS, which means you'll want to cap the framerate to that at the most. There's no point in running a game at a higher FPS if the display doesn't support it. All you're doing is wasting precious battery life. You'll also want to turn down game settings, as running games at the highest settings will always pull more power through the Steam Deck. As such, play more intensive games at lower settings. Indie games, or games that don't have as intensive of graphics can probably be played at higher settings, just pay attention to how long the battery is lasting when you do so.

Of course, the Steam Deck will also support AMD's FSR feature, which could help you increase battery life by lowering your game resolution and then upscaling it for better image quality without a kick to performance.

Eight hours of battery life might be impossible

Whether or not users will actually be able to get up to eight hours of battery life remains to be seen. However, much of the early testing we've seen so far shows a maximum of five to six hours of battery life in games like Dead Cells. Of course, the stated results are always based on closed testing, and never on real world application.

There are also a lot of different factors to take into consideration with the battery life of a device like the Steam Deck. The brightness of the display, the audio levels, and even whether it's connecting to online services or completely offline can affect how much draw the device puts on the battery, so try to keep that all in mind when planning how to play your Steam Deck.

Battery life was always going to be a concern with the Steam Deck, as it has been with any mobile device since we started manufacturing them. However, seeing the Steam Deck pull such low hours of juice is a bit disappointing. It's also worth noting that all of these battery results we're seeing so far are from using SteamOS. There's no telling just yet how much using other operating systems on the Steam Deck will affect the battery life, so we'll just have to wait and see.