10 Tips to Improve the Battery Life of Your Steam Deck and Extend Gaming Time 

The Steam Deck, Valve’s handheld gaming device, has been one of the most anticipated launches in recent years. While the device has impressed gamers with its powerful hardware and sleek design, it has been criticized for its less-than-stellar battery life.

With a 5,313 mAh battery, the Steam Deck may be unable to sustain intensive gaming sessions, making the portability factor suffer. However, there are ways to extend the battery life of your Steam Deck. In this article, we explore ten tips that can help you improve the battery life of your Steam Deck and extend your gaming time.

How to Install Non-Steam Games on Steam Deck

Tip 1: Adjust the Screen Brightness

One of the easiest ways to extend it is to adjust the screen brightness. Brightness is one of the biggest culprits for the battery drain on the Steam Deck, so turning it down can help. Here are some tips:

  1. Lower the brightness to 60-70%: This can add a few extra minutes to your battery life.
  2. Use adaptive brightness: Enable it in SteamOS settings to adjust the brightness based on the room’s lighting.
  3. Manually adjust the brightness: You can use the slider in the display settings to control the brightness.
  4. Hold the three-dot button beneath the right trackpad to adjust brightness and flick the left joystick up or down. To enable adaptive brightness, press the Steam button, go to settings, and select “Display”. Then, turn on “Enable Adaptive Brightness.” By implementing these simple steps, you can extend the battery life of your Steam Deck.

Tip 2: Turn Off Non-Essential Features

You can also try turning off non-essential features like Bluetooth to extend your Steam Deck’s battery life during gaming. While you shouldn’t turn off Wi-Fi since games and the console rely on it, you can easily turn off Bluetooth by following these steps:

  1. On your Steam Deck, press the Steam button.
  2. Go to the settings menu.
  3. Select “Bluetooth” from the left sidebar.
  4. Turn off the Bluetooth toggle.

Once you have turned Bluetooth off, you can conserve battery life on your Steam Deck.

Tip 3: Adjust Graphic Settings In-Game

Modern video games use CPU and GPU power to create stunning visuals, but this high usage also demands more power from the system, especially on a battery-based handheld device like Steam Deck. To extend your gaming sessions and conserve battery life, it’s recommended that you adjust the graphic settings in-game. Here’s how:

  1. Lower Graphics Settings: Most games have graphics settings that can be adjusted to improve performance. Reduce settings like shadows, particle effects, and graphics fidelity to medium or lower. This will reduce the load on the console and help preserve battery life.
  2. Adjust Anisotropic Settings: Anisotropic settings impact the clarity of textures from different viewing angles. Reduce the setting to 2-4x to improve performance.
  3. Keep Texture Settings High: Texture settings determine the resolution and clarity of game textures. You can keep these settings high without affecting the battery life.

In addition, the Steam Deck community has shared recommended settings for various games, which can be found by searching online. Following these suggestions can help you get better performance without sacrificing battery life.

Tip 4: Adjust Steam Deck Frame Rate

You can adjust the frame rate if you want to save battery life on your Steam Deck without sacrificing too much of your gaming experience. Here are the steps to do so: 

  1. Press the quick access button (three dots button) on the Steam Deck and navigate to the “Performance” section.
  2. Turn on the “Use per-game profile” option to make changes specific to each game.
  3. Locate the “Refresh Rate” slider and adjust it to your desired frame rate. Setting it to 30Hz or 40Hz for less-intensive games to save battery power is recommended.
  4. Save your settings, and you’re good to go! Your Steam Deck will now have a different frame rate option apart from 15, 30, and 60 FPS.

However, remember that each game has its requirements, and you may need to adjust the frame rate accordingly. For instance, if you play Grand Theft Auto 4, locking the refresh rate to 40FPS could give you around 3.5 hours of battery life and adjusted graphic settings. So, play around with the settings until you find the optimal frame rate for your game.

Tip 5: Enable Half-Rate Shading

To save battery life on your Steam Deck, you can turn on Half Rate Shading, which reduces the shading quality of games while maintaining the same visual settings and resolution. Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Go to the “Performance” menu.
  2. Scroll down until you find the “Half Rate Shading” toggle.
  3. Turn it on.

However, keep in mind that enabling Half Rate Shading can significantly lower the visual quality of games, making them appear blurry and pixelated. This can make in-game text difficult to read. It’s best to avoid using this option with most games, except for 2D pixel art games or 3D titles with an old-school look like Cultic, Dusk, A Short Hike, or Prodeus.

Tip 6: Adjust the TDP Limit Per Game 

You can also adjust the TDP requirements per game to improve the battery life on your Steam Deck. Thermal Design Power (TDP) is a crucial metric that reveals the amount of heat generated by the CPU and GPU, providing insight into the power consumption of the device. Higher TDP is required to play games that need more power, but it also results in lower battery life.

Valve has given users the option to adjust the TDP, which is a notable way to improve battery life. Here are the steps to adjust the TDP requirements per game on your Steam Deck:

  1. To access the Steam Deck’s performance overlay during gameplay, ensure that the “Use per-game profile” option is enabled. This allows you to set a different TDP limit for each game. 
  2. Once the performance overlay is turned on, you can check the average TDP the game is using. 
  3. To adjust the TDP limit, scroll down to the toggle on the “TDP Limit” option and use the “Watts” slider. 
  4. For games released around 2012-2013, a TDP of 10-12 watts is ideal. 
  5. However, be careful not to set the TDP too low, as it can result in frame drops and choppy gameplay. 
  6. If you want to extend the battery life, you can adjust the GPU clock speed, but it should be done with caution. Setting the GPU clock frequency too low can make the game unplayable.

Tip 7: Stream the Game Using Steam Link 

If you want to further extend the battery life of your Steam Deck, you can use the Steam Link streaming option to play games on your PC instead of playing them natively on the handheld device. 

By using the Steam Link streaming option, the game will utilize the hardware of your desktop instead of your Steam Deck, which helps to extend your Steam Deck’s battery life. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to stream games using Steam Link:

  1. Turn on “Remote Play” on both your gaming PC and Steam Deck.

   – On your PC, go to “Settings > Remote Play” and check “Enable Remote Play.”

   – On your Steam Deck, go to “Settings > Remote Play” and enable the Remote Play toggle.

  1. Open the game you want to stream on your Steam Deck from the library.
  2. Click on the arrow next to the “Install” button on the game page and select your desktop PC from the menu that pops up. This will switch the “Install” button to “Stream.”
  3. Make sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection to stream the game without lag.

Tip 8: Utilize AMD’s FSR In Performance Settings

One great tip is to take advantage of AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) technology. Unlike Nvidia’s similar technology, FSR is open-source and available to all users with compatible hardware, like the Steam Deck’s AMD APU. 

FSR uses AI upscaling to enhance the image quality of low-resolution graphics without sacrificing frame rate. This can be especially useful for rendering games in 4K and improving battery life on the Steam Deck. Here’s how to enable FSR on your Steam Deck:

  1. Press the Quick Access button (the three-dot button) to access the Performance menu.
  2. Look for the “Scaling Filter” option and use the slider to select “FSR.”
  3. Adjust the FSR Sharpness setting to your liking to fine-tune the image quality.

While FSR may not be ideal for spotting finer details on the small screen, it can be a great function to utilize when using your console in docked mode. So why not give it a try and see how it can enhance your gaming experience?

Tip 9: Avoid Using External SSDs 

To maximize battery life on your Steam Deck, avoid using external solid-state drives (SSDs) as they consume a lot of power (7-9W), which is a significant amount compared to the maximum 15W used by the CPU and GPU. Instead, opt for a microSD card to expand your storage capacity. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Avoid using external SSDs to maximize battery life on your Steam Deck.
  2. External SSDs consume a lot of power (7-9W), which can significantly reduce the battery life of your Steam Deck.
  3. The CPU and GPU inside the Deck use a maximum of 15W of power, which is much less than what external SSDs consume.
  4. To increase your storage capacity, use a microSD card instead of an external SSD.

Tip 10: Try Battery-Saving Shipment Mode

If you’re not planning on using your Steam Deck for a while, it’s a good idea to enable the Battery-Saving Shipment Mode to prevent the battery from discharging. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn off your Steam Deck by pressing the “Steam” button, entering the “Power” menu, and selecting “Shutdown.”
  2. Press and hold the Volume Up and Power buttons until you hear a sound and enter the BIOS.
  3. Use the D-pad to move around and the “A” button to select options. Select and enter the “Setup Utility” menu.
  4. Scroll to the “Power” submenu and select “Battery Storage Mode” to turn it on.
  5. Confirm your choice by pressing “Yes.”

Note: The battery must be below 80% to enter Battery Storage Mode, and you won’t be able to turn on your Steam Deck while in this mode until it’s connected to its charger.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can the Steam Deck battery last?

The battery can last for 1.5-2 hours on average, but this can be increased by following simple methods to improve battery life. If you want to play games at maximum performance without compromising image quality, carrying a power bank or high-powered charger is recommended.

Is it safe to play Steam Deck while charging?

Yes, playing games on the Steam Deck while it’s charging is perfectly safe. When the battery is fully charged, the Steam Deck will switch to the power adapter, which helps maintain the battery’s health and allows for extended gaming sessions.

Can I charge my Steam Deck to its maximum capacity of 100%?

Yes, it is safe to fully charge the battery. Nevertheless, if the console is left plugged in for a prolonged duration, it may display less than 100% charge as the battery gradually discharges to enhance the battery’s overall lifespan.

Final Words 

So, these were the different techniques to extend the battery life of the Steam Deck— a powerful handheld device by Valve. By adjusting certain settings, you can optimize its performance and make the most out of its capabilities. Although the Steam Deck is already impressive, fine-tuning the settings can unleash its full potential. If you have any other tips, do share them with us in the comments below!

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