Steam Deck 40Hz Mode Is Coming Soon To Save Your Battery
Expect a great balance between performance and power, when 40Hz mode eventually arrives on SteamOS.
The Steam Deck is a great gaming system for playing new games while on the go, but its high-performance hardware is notorious for draining its battery quite quickly. YouTuber The Phawx has found a great balance between performance and power by capping the Steam Deck's display to 40Hz, increasing the battery life to around two hours.
Using Sekiro for testing, Phawx discovered that running the game at its full 60Hz without limiting the framerate drained the battery far quicker. Some tinkering to reach 40Hz saw the Steam Deck battery drain about 20W when playing Sekiro, theoretically giving the system two hours worth of power to play the game. As Phawx added, the Steam Deck simply doesn't have enough power to run Sekiro at 60fps properly, as there was a constant battle between the CPU and GPU for available resources.
Modifying the screen provided a best-of-both-worlds scenario, with increased battery power for the Steam Deck and gameplay still managing to be smooth at 40fps as opposed to the more cinematic approach of 30fps. The catch here is that applying a 40Hz mode to a Steam Deck requires you to have Windows 11--which doesn't play too well with the system--installed on it, as well as the Custom Resolution Utility tool.
Valve is paying attention to modifications like this though, as Steam Deck developer Pierre-Loup Griffais commented on the feature being added in the near future. The current hurdle preventing FPS limiting on SteamOS when switching refresh rates is screen blanking time, but this issue is being worked on.
We've been really excited to bring refresh rate switching to Deck to deliver smooth frame pacing in arbitrary FPS limit scenarios, but the current screen blanking time when switching is a bit much. We've been doing work behind the scenes to improve it, coming soon! https://t.co/gkmxWKfov4— Pierre-Loup Griffais (@Plagman2) April 18, 2022
Since the first batch of units shipped, Steam Deck owners have performed a number of experiments with Valve's mobile gaming PC, while other potential owners have gone to amazing lengths to figure out when their unit will ship out. One modder discovered how to make the Steam Deck more powerful with an external GPU, a new firmware update has made offline mode more convenient, and Xbox Cloud streaming is kind of supported through the Edge browser on the system.
In GameSpot's Steam Deck review, Alessandro Barbosa called the device a "wonderfully constructed and powerful portable PC." Preorders of the Steam Deck are currently going out in waves, with the second wave slated to begin rolling out in April.
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