Should I Leave My Gaming Laptop Plugged In All The Time? [EXPLAINED]

Should you leave your gaming laptop plugged in while gaming? Can keeping your laptop plugged in while gaming overcharge, damage, or cause your battery to explode?

Chances are, you are asking these questions because you’ve noted a performance drop whenever you unplug the power cord. This leaves you to wonder whether you should just keep it plugged in.

The other reason may be because you are getting a very short battery life from a single charge and have to keep plugging in your charger every time the battery drains. This can get quite annoying when you’re in the midst of a gaming session.

Failing to plug it in on time puts you at risk of losing your game progress and you may have to replay a level again. 

Is It Bad To Leave Your Gaming Laptop Plugged In All The Time?

It’s okay to leave your gaming laptop plugged in all the time. Modern gaming laptops use either Lithium-ion (Li-ion) or Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries and have an internal circuit that stops further charging once the battery is 100% fully charged. Therefore, you cannot overcharge the battery.

Charging only resumes once there is a voltage drop in the battery.  

In fact, it is recommended to keep your gaming laptop plugged in for optimum performance. This is because they come with high-speed processors and graphics cards that use up a lot of power and drastically reduce battery life. 

Some gaming laptops, such as the Alienware Area-51M gaming laptop, need two power adapters to keep them running.

Does Leaving My Gaming Laptop Plugged In All The Time Damage The Battery?

Once your battery charges to 100% and is kept plugged in, charging stops and your laptop continues running off power from your external source. Damage to the battery is eliminated by only resuming charging once a certain threshold of self-discharge or laptop use has been reached. 

This leads to minimal wear on the battery and allows you to game for hours without having to plug in and out all the time. The lifespan of Lithium and Polymer batteries is mainly caused by the following:

Charging And Discharging (Cycling)

Laptop batteries have a limited number of charge cycles, usually about 500 cycles. One charge cycle is equivalent to a full discharge from 100% charge to 0% charge, followed by a full charging back to 100%. 

Frequently charging and discharging your battery will bring your battery to its end a lot faster. According to a study by battery university, you can potentially get more charge cycles and prolong your life by lowering the voltage per cell (see the chart below). 

battery charging and discharging effects on battery life

Even though the study found that keeping your battery fully charged causes some voltage stress, gaming laptops are quite different from normal laptops, they need a continuous flow of power if all components are to perform at their optimum. 

Therefore, there’s not much you can do other than to keep them plugged in if you want to game continuously without interruption.   

Excess Heat

Heat is a major cause of premature hardware failure, and laptop batteries are no exception. According to the same study by battery university, subjecting your battery to a temperature of above 30°C (86°F) for extended periods of time is more damaging than cycling. 

Heat reduces the number of charge cycles and can cause irreversible damage. According to the chart below, the study concluded that having your battery charged to 100% while exposing it to high temperatures damages it a lot faster.

temperature effects on battery life
via: Battery University

If your laptop has a removable battery, it’s a good idea to remove the battery to avoid exposing it to heat produced by your laptop’s internal hardware. If yours comes with a built-in battery and runs hot while gaming, investing in a cooling pad will help lower the temperatures a bit.

Periodic cleaning of fans and heat sinks, as well as the overall interior, also helps keep temperatures under control. Dust and other particles are notorious for blocking air vents and preventing fans from spinning freely, causing heat build-up. 

Placing your gaming laptop on a soft surface such as a blanket or duvet on your bed also blocks the air vents located at the bottom of your laptop. Gaming on a flat hard surface allows your laptop to remain raised and draw-in air freely. 

Should I Leave My Gaming Laptop Plugged In When It’s Not In Use?

leaving laptop charger plugged in all the time

It is best to unplug your gaming laptop when it’s not in use because keeping the battery at 100% charge only causes unnecessary voltage stress on the battery which depletes it. 

If you ever need to store your laptop, store it in a cool dry place with the battery charged to 40-60%. This prevents excessive self-discharge and maintains the expected lifespan. This explains why most laptop manufacturers ship their items with about ~60% charge. 

Charging and discharging your stored battery every month or so will help calibrate it and extend its life. Recalibrating also fixes the problem of your battery gauge failing to display accurate readings. 

Will Leaving The Laptop Plugged In Cause The Battery To Explode Or Catch Fire?

Laptop batteries are very unlikely to explode from normal use. Explosions usually occur when they are subjected to direct fires or have their terminals short-circuited.

Poor battery design is also another reason why they may explode, but most reputable manufacturers have a quality control team that checks for defects before products leave their factories.  

Do I Need To Fully Charge The Battery Before Playing Games? 

You don’t need to wait until your battery is fully charged to resume playing. You can safely charge your battery while gaming, however, it will take a bit longer to get the battery fully charged.

Conclusion- Should I Keep My Gaming Laptop Plugged In?

Whether to leave the laptop plugged in or not is a common concern amongst gamers. Considering how power-hungry gaming laptops are, it’s almost impossible to get more than 3 hours of playtime while running purely on battery.  

Fortunately, gaming laptop brands such as Dell, HP, Asus, MSI, Acer, and Lenovo all have built-in internal circuits that prevent overcharging of Lithium-ion or Lithium-polymer batteries when they are left plugged in. 

This makes it perfectly okay to leave your laptop plugged in while gaming or even downloading large torrent files overnight. Leaving your gaming laptop plugged in also improves gaming performance and allows you to have a more immersive experience. 

Always remember to keep your laptop cool and clean as this reduces the temperature of its interior and prevents unnecessary damage to your battery. This is especially important for laptops with built-in non-removable batteries.

Eustace is a technology enthusiast and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts so that they can make better decisions.

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