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Do Gaming Laptops Always Need To Be Plugged In?

Modern gaming laptops offer you portability, longer-lasting batteries, and outstanding performance compared to standard business laptops. But will your gaming laptop’s capacity or battery life be affected if you keep it plugged in all the time, and is it even really necessary?

Gaming laptops don’t always need to be plugged in. Modern laptops come with lithium-ion batteries and power settings that preserve battery life. However, for the best experience, you should keep it plugged in while gaming. Your laptop will draw power from the adapter directly instead of the battery.

Gaming laptops are designed to perform at their peak when fed a steady stream of power. Read on to learn why it’s in your best interest to keep your gaming laptop plugged in, how lithium-ion batteries work, and how to extend your laptop’s battery life.

Why You Should Keep Your Gaming Laptop Plugged in When Possible

It’s frustrating when you notice a drop in performance when the laptop’s unplugged. And constantly plugging it in and unplugging it can get tedious, especially if you’re worried about losing your game progress. 

Gaming laptops reach peak performance when plugged in, and many of the most powerful gaming laptops have a relatively short battery life.

Thankfully, it’s totally fine to keep your laptop plugged in for long periods. But how come, considering a phone’s battery suffers if you do the same? To understand why, it’s essential to know a bit about the kind of batteries that laptops (and many other household appliances) use to power them.

Previous generations of laptops used nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. NiMH batteries in laptops had a high self-discharge rate, meaning they lost a lot of charge fast.

They also had issues with “battery memory,” so they were less effective at regulating their charge cycles. It was difficult to tell how much charge NiMH battery was left in them without fully discharging and recharging them.

In contrast, lithium-ion batteries have an excellent memory for a laptop’s charge capacity. So, you don’t need to worry about over-charging or over-heating your laptop’s lithium-ion battery. Once a battery is fully charged, it’ll stop drawing power.

Most modern electronic consumer products use this type of battery due to their power and reliability. 

Additionally, when your gaming laptop is plugged in, it draws energy from its AC adapter, not the battery. This means it’s not damaging the battery through overuse. 

Next, I’ll explain how lithium-ion batteries work. Whether your laptop’s using its battery power or AC power, you needn’t worry too much about battery degradation.

How Lithium-Ion Batteries in Laptops Work

All batteries have a certain number of cycles before the battery’s maximum potential starts diminishing. A complete cycle is when the battery drains completely to 0% and is recharged back up to 100%. The more rounds it goes through, the less capacity it has over time.

To better understand why this happens, it’s handy to know a bit about the mechanics of lithium-ion batteries. According to a Wired article, they have one layer of lithium cobalt oxide and one layer of graphite. 

Power is generated from the lithium ions shifting from the graphite layer to the layer of lithium cobalt oxide. This process gives your laptop its energy.

So, how does charging work? The process involves those same lithium ions returning from the lithium cobalt oxide layer back to the graphite layer. Unfortunately, too many of these charge cycles eventually cause the structure of the layers to degrade over time.

But what does that mean for your new gaming laptop? 

Your fancy new laptop comes with full battery capacity, but its maximum charging potential slowly diminishes after charging it many times. After six months of continuous use, it might only be able to reach 95%.

Keeping your laptop plugged in prevents the battery from draining down to 0% and needing to be fully charged again. This is super handy for powerful gaming laptops that often don’t have the best battery life.

But is it okay to leave your laptop plugged in all the time with a fully charged battery? This is a hotly debated topic, and opinions vary!

In fact, the batteries in all smart devices have more juice in them than the percentage displayed suggests — manufacturers design products like this to avoid rapid diminishing of battery life. If you used up all that “hidden” juice, your battery would die sooner. That’s why your smartphone won’t give up when it’s sitting at 1%!

How To Extend the Battery Life on Your Gaming Laptop

If you’re concerned about always leaving your fully charged laptop plugged in, feel free to unplug it or turn it off. Generally, it’s a great idea to keep your battery neither fully charged nor fully drained for an extended period.

The following suggestions will give your laptop’s battery the best shot at a long life: 

  • Set your laptop’s battery charge limit to 80%. Most tech enthusiasts recommend maxing out your battery charge to only 80% and allowing it to drain down to only 20–40%. 
  • Change your power consumption settings or plug/unplug the cable. Adjust your laptop’s battery conservation settings to achieve a battery limit of 80%. Or you can manually plug and unplug the cable.
  • Download battery-limiting software. Check out this page for a few recommended programs that limit your max battery charge.
  • Decrease your laptop’s screen brightness. A brighter screen uses up a lot of juice, so you should try lowering your brightness setting to preserve energy.
  • Turn off the backlight on your keyboard. Yes, these lights look really cool and can add to the game’s atmosphere, but they do eat up energy.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you’ve got no use for them while gaming, it’s best to switch these features off to preserve battery life.
  • Reduce your laptop’s volume. While it can be fun to play with loud music, a louder volume means more power drained by your computer. Try wearing a headset instead, like the Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset from Amazon.com.
  • Avoid overheating. Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to heat damage, so make sure you power off your device to protect it from overheating.

Conclusion

It’s totally fine to keep your gaming laptop plugged in all the time. By following the power-saving strategies in this article, you can feel confident that your battery will last for ages. 

Remember that it’s best to keep your battery neither fully drained nor fully charged for too long, as this can impact its overall longevity. You can solve this problem by capping your battery’s charge to 80% and avoiding draining it below 20%. 

Gaming laptops are designed to perform at their peak when plugged in, so keep yours plugged in as much as possible for the best gaming experience! 

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