Gaming laptop battery life is usually a big concern for any gamer who needs the flexibility of gaming from anywhere without having their laptop constantly plugged-in to a power source.
This is especially true for gamers who travel a lot and those in college. In an ideal scenario, a gaming laptop with a good battery life would allow you to take notes in class and enjoy local multiplayer games like Rocket League with friends without worrying about battery life.
Gaming laptops have bad battery life because they have high-performance parts such as the GPU, CPU, and high-speed fans that are quite power-hungry. Therefore, they drain the battery a lot faster than normal laptops.
Do Gaming Laptops Have Good Battery Life When Not Gaming?
When used for normal tasks such as browsing the web and word processing, some gaming laptops can last up to 6 hours on a single charge. But when GPU or CPU-intensive games and programs are run, the battery discharges a lot faster.
Why Do Gaming Laptops Have Bad Battery Life Compared To Normal Laptops?
At a glance, gaming laptops and normal laptops look similar, however, internally, they are not built the same. Gaming laptops are built for high performance since the demands of gamers are quite different from those of normal users. You can think of gaming laptops as portable gaming rigs.
Hardware in gaming laptops tends to be more power-intensive than that found in normal laptops. Also, gaming laptops have additional features that are rare in normal laptops which contribute to bad battery life.
Let’s look at hardware and features in gaming laptops that contribute to their low battery life:
1. Dedicated Graphics Card
Normal laptops have an integrated graphics card (iGPU) built into the CPU which serves the same purpose as a video card. It is perfect for handling basic everyday graphics such as images, videos, and general word processing.
Integrated graphics cards are less expensive, generate less heat, and use significantly less power than dedicated graphics cards. This improves the overall battery life of regular laptops.
The only downside is that integrated graphics cards struggle to perform graphically intensive tasks such as gaming and professional graphic design.
Gaming laptops, on the other hand, have a dedicated graphics card on top of the iGPU. The dedicated graphics card is usually devoted to processing detailed images and complex textures that are common in most modern graphically intensive games such as Far Cry 5 and Metro Exodus.
With a dedicated graphics card, you get much smoother gameplay without lags, stutters, or frame rate drops. VR (Virtual Reality) gaming and 4K gaming is also made possible by the graphic processing power of dedicated graphics cards.
Despite improving graphic processing performance, dedicated graphics cards are not without their drawbacks. They are not only more expensive than integrated graphics cards but are also notorious for draining the battery and generating a lot of heat.
This consequently decreases the battery life of gaming laptops.
2. High-speed Processors
Normal laptops have low-performance processors such as Intel processors U(ultra-low power) and Y(extremely low power) series. Examples include the Intel Core™ i5-6300U and Intel Core i7-3689Y processors.
These processors are built with power efficiency in mind rather than performance.
Power restriction in these processors greatly extends the battery life of normal laptops but makes them inefficient at handling CPU intensive tasks and multi-tasking. They are only good for normal everyday tasks and running light applications.
Gaming laptops have less power restricted processors such as Intel Core i7-4700HQ and Intel Core i9-9980HK. The ‘H’ suffix at the end of these processors stands for high performance.
High-performance processors have a higher maximum clock rate that increases the processing speed and this leads to a smoother gaming experience. On the downside, this results in more power usage, more heat generation, and consequently bad battery life.
In addition, these processors usually have more cores (6 to 8 cores) which are perfect for multitasking and gaming. For example, you can game and stream on twitch simultaneously without experiencing undesirable effects such as lagging.
Processors with more cores need more power to operate as compared to those with lesser cores. This ultimately reduces the battery life of gaming laptops.
3. Multiple High-speed Fans
Laptops have a very small chassis in which all interior components such as the motherboard, heat pipes, RAM, etc. must fit. Cramming components in such a small space heavily restricts airflow and makes it hard for heat produced by the CPU and GPU to escape.
Therefore, fans have to be installed to improve air circulation and cool the interior. Fans in normal laptops spin slowly, and usually, there’s only one fan needed because most of the heat is generated by a single component, the CPU.
One fan spinning slowly and less often consumes little power and hence extends the battery life of everyday laptops.
For gaming laptops it is different. Fans have to drive away the heat produced by both the CPU and GPU in order to prevent thermal throttling. Thermal throttling reduces performance which can result in a bad overall gaming experience.
To improve internal airflow and performance, gaming laptop manufacturers result in installing two or more fast-spinning fans. When gaming or performing CPU and GPU intensive tasks, heat is generated constantly and these fans have to spin fast non-stop to cool the interior.
When a battery has to power two or more fans that spin fast and often, battery life is obviously going to be greatly reduced.
4. Backlit RGB Lighting
Many games love to game in the dark or in low light. To make life easier, gaming laptops have backlit keyboards or backlit RGB keyboards that are rare in normal laptops. They make it easy to position your fingers on the right keys and less likely to press the wrong keys.
Even though the backlit keyboards are not power-intensive, they still have to be powered and contribute to reduced battery life.
5. Louder Speakers
To fully immerse yourself in a game, great sound quality is just as important as graphics. Quality speakers help you capture all kinds of sound effects that game developers add to make games more exciting and fun to play.
Normal laptops generally come with average performance speakers that aren’t always very loud. While such speakers are okay for everyday use they are not ideal for gaming.
Gamers need louder speakers that can produce a wide range of crisp base tones and frequencies. This means you should expect to find larger, louder speakers that are of better sound quality in gaming laptops.
Louder speakers also help mask fan noise that can become annoying when it gets too loud. Bigger louder speakers need more power and therefore reduce battery life.
It is important to keep in mind that although gaming laptops speakers offer better sound quality, they still can’t match the sound quality of a dedicated surround sound system or a good pair of gaming headphones.
Other Reasons For Bad Battery Life In Gaming Laptops
Size Of The Display And Screen Resolution
Most gaming laptops have a screen resolution of 1080p and a display size of 15.6 inches. But it is not uncommon for high-end gaming laptops to have a screen resolution of 1440p or 4K and a display size of 17.3 inches.
Higher resolution displays offer more crisp and vivid images than low-resolution displays. A larger display also offers a better gaming experience because it reduces eye-strain.
If you compare the power consumption between a 1080p LCD display and a 4K LCD display, the 4K display will consume more power. This is because the 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) display needs to power more pixels than the 1080 display (1920 x 1080 pixels).
A 17.3-inch display with a 1080p screen resolution will consume more battery power than a 13.3-inch 1080p displays because it needs to illuminate a much larger surface. Therefore, having a gaming laptop with either a high resolution or a large-sized display contributes to low battery life.
Number Of External Peripherals Attached
Gaming laptops come with lots of ports to attach other supporting devices such as hard-drives, gaming keyboards, VR headsets, cooling pads, gaming mice, external monitors, etc.
While these devices improve your productivity, they reduce battery life because they need to be powered by the battery and also put an extra strain on the CPU GPU, leading to more power consumption. This also leads to poor battery life.
Multitasking And Programs Running In The Background
If none of the reasons above explain why your laptop battery discharges so fast, the other reason could be that you have lots of programs running in the background.
Multitasking uses more of your laptop’s CPU resources and causes a lot of heat to be generated. Closing programs that you’re not currently using from the windows task manager helps reduce the stress on your processor and improves battery life.
Conclusion- Why Gaming Laptops Have Bad Battery Life
Powerful processors, dedicated GPUs, backlit RGB keyboards, high-resolution displays, and bigger speakers all consume more power and result in the bad battery life of gaming laptops.
When gaming or doing CPU or GPU intensive tasks you will get a much smoother experience when plugged in because your laptop will not be as power restricted as compared to when it‘s running on battery.
Considering that gaming laptops are designed to rival the performance of gaming desktops, there will always be a tradeoff between battery life and performance.