In context: So far, reviewers and customers alike are having fun with Valve’s handheld Steam Deck console. It’s each a gaming powerhouse — relative to some opponents — and a full desktop PC rolled into one, with a customized Linux distro optimized for PC gaming. However, it is not an ideal machine by any means, and battery life is without doubt one of the huge considerations Deck house owners have proper now.
Playing full-fat PC video games at 60Hz can drain the Steam Deck’s battery considerably — PC Gamer’s Wes Fenlon managed to go from a full cost to a measly 20 p.c simply over an hour right into a Deathloop session. Since the Steam Deck is being marketed as a transportable gaming console, it might be perfect if it lasted somewhat longer.
As it seems, you can squeeze some additional battery life out of the machine, however it requires some doing. YouTuber The Phawx found that hard-capping his Deck to 40Hz improved gameplay smoothness and body pacing whereas nonetheless netting him a pleasant bump to battery life — similar to 30Hz. In different phrases, 40Hz is true within the candy spot.
There are a couple of downsides, although. First, the Steam Deck’s SteamOS doesn’t natively help refresh charge adjustments as a result of excessive “display blanking time” when switching.
We’ve been actually excited to carry refresh charge switching to Deck to ship clean body pacing in arbitrary FPS restrict situations, however the present display blanking time when switching is a bit a lot. We’ve been doing work behind the scenes to enhance it, coming quickly!
— Pierre-Loup Griffais (@Plagman2) April 18, 2022
That performance is “coming quickly,” however within the meantime, you may have to put in Windows on the machine as an alternative. That may not look like an enormous deal, however Windows shouldn’t be in nice form on the Steam Deck, as Linus Tech Tips explains within the video under.
Second, 60Hz panels do not sometimes help the 40Hz refresh charge by default. You normally have to make use of third-party utilities like CRU to realize that performance, and the Steam Deck’s show is not any totally different.
Finally, lowering your recent charge globally will have an effect on completely all the pieces you do in your machine, together with merely dragging home windows round. In different phrases, count on Windows to really feel a bit extra sluggish on the Deck in the event you implement these strategies.
Even so, the advantages will in all probability be well worth the ache for a lot of. As The Phawx factors out, a 40Hz-capped Steam Deck goes to make use of round 20 watts of energy, versus an uncapped Deck’s 25 watts. The YouTuber claims this 25 p.c distinction will increase battery life to roughly the two-hour mark below load, which is a large soar from the hour-and-change you’d get with an unaltered machine. Of course, this assumes you are utilizing a full 100% cost each time you boot up your Deck, which will not be the case for many customers.
The Steam Deck is receiving lively help from Valve, so we will count on to see a few of these janky workarounds carried out natively down the road. We hope Valve additionally manages to optimize energy draw a bit extra because the Deck’s battery life is fairly mediocre in comparison with a few of its opponents.