Why do Gaming Laptops have Terrible Battery Life?

If you own a gaming laptop, you know how poor the battery backup is. These bulky machines have always been infamous for their weight and short battery life. Most Gaming laptops won’t last more than 2 hours on battery if you play games on them.

Why is gaming laptop battery so bad?

Gaming is a very resource-intensive task. So it’s normal for the battery to drain quickly when gaming. But gaming laptops tend to die fast even under moderate load. Why is that? To answer that question, we need to understand what makes a gaming laptop a gaming laptop.

Gaming laptops are optimized for performance

When designing laptops, manufacturers have to make a trade-off between performance and battery life. You can’t always optimize a set of hardware for everything. For example, optimizing a component for better performance can reduce its energy efficiency. So they generally use more power, thus reducing battery backup.

This is what happens in a gaming laptop. Since they are expected to perform at the highest level, all the components are tuned and optimized in a way that favors performance over energy efficiency.

GPU: the hungry dude

The most power-hungry component is the Graphics Processing UnitGPUs consume more power because they have a huge number of transistors switching at high frequencies. Most GPUs in gaming laptops are rated 100W+. This means that, under high load, they can use as much as 100 watts of power.

Image Credit: Tom’s Hardware

The big problem with GPUs is that they tend to use considerably more power when idle. But nowadays GPUs have a built-in power-saving feature that reduces power consumption when running idle. Many latest Nvidia GPUs also come with a feature called “Advanced Optimus”. This feature turns off the dedicated GPU when idle. This hugely helps in reducing power consumption.

Superfast display

The refresh rate of a display is the number of times it can draw a new image on it. A high refresh rate is important for a fluid gaming experience, so gaming laptops usually have screens with a minimum 144Hz refresh rate.

But higher refresh rate means the display has to draw new images faster, so screens with higher refresh rates tend to consume more power compared to a standard 60Hz or 90Hz display. This is another reason why gaming laptops have a lower screen-on time.

High-speed SSD

These days, almost all gaming laptops use very high-speed NVMe SSDs. These superfast storage devices are big power hogs.

Most high-speed SSDs use as much as 10 Watts of power. And some high-end ones can consume as much as 15 Watts.

Does SSD Improve Laptop Battery Life? - SSD Sphere
Image Credit: SSDSPHERE

Always play games on AC

Gaming on the battery regularly will shorten the battery’s lifespan quickly. That’s because gaming puts huge pressure on the battery, draining it quickly. This type of fast discharging is detrimental to lithium-ion batteries.

Besides, Lithium-ion batteries have limited charging-discharging cycles, 400-500 cycles on average. So frequent gaming on the battery will reduce its lifespan very quick,

Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus technology

One of the main reasons for poor battery backup of gaming laptops is that the GPU runs always, even when you aren’t doing any graphics-intensive tasks. GPUs suck at reducing power usage when idle.

To solve this issue, Nvidia has been working on a feature called Advanced Optimus, which enables users to switch between low-power integrated graphics and high-power dedicated graphics. For example, you can turn your dedicated Nvidia card off and use integrated Intel HD graphics when in the office. This feature can greatly increase backup when not gaming.

Should I keep my gaming laptop plugged in at all times?

A laptop is designed to continuously run on AC power. When gaming you should keep the power cable always attached. But do discharge it sometimes if you never need to unplug the power.

Should I charge my laptop to 100?

Charging the battery to 100% isn’t essentially harmful. The internal circuitry of a laptop is designed to protect the battery from any sort of overcharging.

That said, keeping the battery fully charged for very long periods may also degrade it. So if you rarely use the laptop on battery, discharge it fully once a week.

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