Early Steam Deck previews are out – and battery life is causing concern

Steam Deck console from Valve
(Image credit: Valve)

For anyone eagerly awaiting Valve’s upcoming Steam Deck handheld console, which launches on February 25, the range of early previews that just popped up will likely make the wait even more agonizing – while also maybe causing a bit of concern as well.

Several YouTube channels got a chance to look at the Steam Deck ahead of its release, and so far the majority of the coverage appears to be very positive, with Valve apparently making a gaming device that brings some of the best PC games ever made to a handheld machine.

However, there have been reports that while Valve has been promising around two to eight hours of battery life, depending on use, it seems the battery can dip faster than Valve’s claims.

GamersNexus found that when playing Devil May Cry 5 with an uncapped framerate and Vsync disabled, the Steam Deck lasted just 87 minutes.

ThePhawx YouTube channel also found that playing Control with similar settings also depleted the battery life in just 85 minutes.

Both YouTube channels also stated that they never were able to get eight hours of battery life, as Valve had promised. This news could come as a blow, then, for anyone who had been hoping to play the Steam Deck on long journeys, for example.

Analysis: Don’t panic!

So, should we be concerned about the battery life of the Steam Deck? While those numbers don’t sound great, as the Steam Deck is essentially a PC, there’s plenty of options that could help prolong battery life when playing games.

For a start, both YouTube channels found that by enabling V-Sync and capping the framerate at 60fps, battery life gets a boost by around 30 minutes. As the Steam Deck’s screen is 60Hz, there’s no point in having games try to run at higher frame rates.

You should also be able to tweak graphical settings to be less taxing on the hardware. While these graphically-impressive games will likely drain the battery quickly, more simple 2D indie games, for example, won’t drain the battery life as fast.

So, with a bit of fine-tuning, you should be able to prolong the battery life of the Steam Deck. Bear in mind that these are early previews with software that hasn’t been finalized, so we may seem Valve push future Steam OS 3.0 updates that further improve battery life.

However, investing in a portable charger may be a good plan as well. We’ll be putting the Steam Deck through its paces in our upcoming thorough review, and we’ll definitely check out how the battery holds up.

Via PC Gamer

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.