Is It Safe To Play Games On A Laptop While Charging?

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Is It Safe To Play Games On A Laptop While Charging?

Most of us get this thought in our minds at least once in our lifetime—Is it safe to play games while the charger is plugged in? The simple answer is, YES, it is safe to play games on a laptop while charging. In fact, you should be playing games ONLY while the charger is plugged in. Playing GPU-intensive games on battery power damages your laptop in the long run. Read on to find out more about it.

Why you should NOT play games on battery power

Playing most games on battery power could cause severe damage to the battery and also the inside components of your laptop. When you play graphics demanding games on battery power, the game demands more resources from the laptop, but because your laptop runs on battery power, it fails to provide all the required resources. This often results in low FPS in games & overheating of your laptop.

You get lower FPS in games because the GPU does not perform at its optimal capacity. Laptop manufacturers as well as the operating system put a cap on the resources a component can use while on battery power. Sure, you can change the Windows power options settings and force the system to run at its full potential, but you would see a massive and fast degradation in the battery power percentage of your laptop. Your battery power would deplete tremendously from 100% to 0% in very little time.

On the other hand, overheating is caused due to the limit in RPM (rotations per minute) of the fans made to keep the internals of your laptop cool. Again, laptop manufacturers and your operating system put a cap on how fast the fans could run on battery power. If your laptop has software that allows you to control the fan speed, you can set it to run to its full potential. But again, you would be doing more harm to your battery than any benefit to your laptop. In this case, too, you will see a fast degradation in the battery power.

Apart from that, since the internal components experience a lot of stress (because of running at battery power), their potential performance decreases with time. You could hurt your CPU, GPU, and inevitably your battery if you keep running high-taxing games on battery power frequently.

Will your laptop battery overcharge when plugged in for a long time after 100% charge?

No, your laptop battery will not overcharge when plugged in after reaching a 100% charge. These days laptops (and almost everything with a battery) come with an auto-cut mechanism that stops the battery from overcharging. Most laptops use lithium-ion batteries with this mechanism already built-in.

Many lithium-ion cells (and battery packs) contain fail-safe circuitry that disconnects the battery when its voltage is outside the safe range of 3–4.2 V per cell. (Source: Wikipedia)

When is it safe to play games on battery power?

As discussed earlier, playing games on battery power is not good for the longevity of your laptop battery. But there are certain situations you can play some games while on battery power.

If you are playing a competitive multiplayer online game like Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Fortnite, etc., and suddenly a power outage occurs. In such a case, if the game is important and would affect your rank if you closed it, then it is perfectly fine to finish that game. After you’ve finished your game, it is highly recommended to close the game immediately to help reduce the stress on the battery and other components in your laptop. It will also help cool down the system which is important because heat is the worst enemy of your system components.

Other situations that are safe to play games on battery power are when the game itself is not a AAA title, or in other words, if the game does not require the full potential of your GPU, CPU, and RAM. It is okay to play such games because it does not put a lot of stress on your laptop components. Some examples of such games include, Among Us, Fall Guys, Age of Empires, Web-based flash or HTML5 games, etc.

[Bonus] How to increase the battery life of your laptop

Here are some tips to help you increase the battery life of your laptop:

Short-term battery saving tips

Lower your screen brightness

This one seems obvious but screen brightness is arguably the most power-hungry enemy of your laptop battery. You don’t have to keep your brightness levels at 100% all the time. It is better to keep it at most 80-90% while gaming or watching your favorite movie or tv series. On the other hand, if you are not doing something important on your laptop, it is recommended to keep the brightness levels as low as possible. Try keeping it at 30-20%.

Method 1: Most laptops come with Fn (function) keys + hotkey mapped for controlling the brightness. If you can’t figure it out, a quick Google search will help. Ex: “Keyboard shortcut to control brightness in [Your laptop name]”.

Method 2: Click on the Notification area button present on the taskbar, usually beside the Date & Time view, then you’ll see a horizontal slider that can be used to increase or decrease the brightness of your laptop.

Method 3: You can go to Settings > System > Display and find the brightness controls there as well.

It might feel a bit odd at first but you will thank your eyes and the battery for pushing it even longer than before.

Turn OFF or lower your keyboard backlight

Like the laptop display, the keyboard backlight is another power-hungry source. Try to keep it turned off when on battery power. In case you absolutely need it, maybe you are writing an important paper for your school at night with your room lights turned off. In such cases try to keep the brightness as low as possible.

To control the keyboard backlight brightness,

Method 1: Look for an Fn + hotkey combination on your keyboard. If you can’t find it, maybe your laptop manufacturer has not put it there. In this case, try the next method.

For example, in Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020), there are dedicated buttons to adjust the keyboard backlight brightness.

Dedicated Fn + hotkey buttons on Acer Predator Helios 300 (2020) to control the keyboard backlight brightness

Method 2: Click on the Start button in the taskbar > type “Windows Mobility Center” (without quotes) > Click on the first result or hit enter to open Windows Mobility Center > Find keyboard brightness option and start adjusting it.

Method 2 of adjusting keyboard backlight with Windows Mobility Center

Method 3: Use your manufacturer’s native utility application. Almost all gaming (and non-gaming) laptops have their own utility application to control various components and features of the laptop like cooling fan speed, CPU & GPU clock speeds, RGB lighting, etc.

Here’s a screenshot of Acer’s PredatorSense™ application for adjusting the keyboard backlight brightness.

Screenshot of Acer’s PredatorSense™ application for adjusting the keyboard backlight brightness

Turn OFF Wi-Fi & Bluetooth

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and hotspot are radio devices present inside your laptop that require some power to run. Consider turning them off when not in use. You can save a significant amount of battery power by turning them off.

Remove external peripherals when not in use

Removable hard disk drives, external mouse, and keyboard, etc. should also be removed when not in use.

External HDDs have one or more rapidly rotating platters that require a significant amount of power to spin. This could make your laptop battery run out faster.

Similarly, a mouse, keyboard, high fidelity headphones, etc. could take a lot of juice out of your laptop battery very rapidly. So plug them all out when not in use.

Use Windows Power plans

Use Windows’ built-in power plans feature to save battery power. Windows OS comes with a nifty feature that could help you save your battery power.

Here’s how you can change your power plan:

Click on the Start button > Type “choose a power plan” > Click on the first result or just hit enter.

Start > Type “choose a power plan” > Hit enter

Now choose from the options as shown:

Windows power options

NOTE: You can also create a custom power plan according to your needs.

Turn ON battery saver even if the battery is fully charged

If you don’t have access to the charger, this trick could come in handy. You can turn on the battery saver and could easily extend your battery life by a few hours (if you use it for lighter tasks and not gaming, etc.)

Here’s how to turn on the battery saver in Windows 10:

Click on the battery icon present on the right side of the taskbar > Click on the Battery saver tile as shown in the image below

Turn on battery saver

Look for battery usage by app and make decisions accordingly

It is a pretty good feature by Microsoft to help you make decisions about apps that suck up most of your battery power. It has also been on newer versions of Android as well.

You can get insights about the apps and use them efficiently or limit the usage for that particular app.

Here’s how to check battery usage by app:

Click on the Start button > Type “battery saver settings” > Click on the first result as shown below

Start > Type “battery saver settings” > Hit enter

Scroll down a little bit and you will see Battery usage per app.

You can get insights about the apps and use them efficiently or limit the usage for that particular app.

Use dark mode with dark wallpapers

Making your display as black as possible is an excellent way to save power. As mentioned earlier, your laptop screen is a significant source of power drainage. It is because there are pixels that need to be illuminated to show the required display elements on the screen.

The brighter a pixel glows the more power it consumes. Therefore, by using a darker wallpaper and using dark mode on Windows 10, you can save a lot of battery power.

Here are a few websites you can download dark wallpapers from:

Turn on dark mode:

Click on the Start button > Type “dark mode” > Click on the first result or hit enter (as shown below).

Start > Type “dark mode” > Hit enter

Now under Choose your color option, choose Dark from the dropdown menu.

Turn on dark mode in Windows 10

Long-term battery saving tips (Increase the longevity of your laptop)

The 80-20 rule

You should avoid charging your laptop above 80-85% and plug in the charger again if the battery falls below 15-20%. I call it the 80-20 rule so that I could remember the numbers.

Lithium-ion batteries have a specific number of “cycles” that are units used to measure the longevity of the batteries. Now, I’m not an expert on this subject so I won’t go deep into this but just know that you can delay the completion of “cycles” by not letting the battery fall below 20% and charging it up to 80%.

Consider undervolting

Undervolting can help lower your laptop temperatures and keep the internal components cool. This helps in the longevity of not just the battery but also the CPU, GPU, and other internal components.

I have an in-depth tutorial that will teach you about undervolting and guide you through the undervolting process from scratch.

Here’s the article: How to Undervolt a Gaming Laptop! [Ultimate Guide]

Consider re-pasting

Re-pasting is another great solution to increase the performance of your laptop while reducing the temperatures significantly. Freshly manufactured laptops coming out of the factory does not have a great thermal paste solution.

Here’s a good video explaining what thermal pasting is and how to re-paste:

Final Thoughts

Let’s look at some key takeaways from this article:

Key Takeaways:

  • It is perfectly safe to play games while charging.
  • Try to play GPU-intensive games ONLY while charging
  • Playing games on battery power
    • reduces its longevity
    • reduces in-game FPS
    • generates more heat
    • discharges the battery rapidly
    • damages the internal components in the long run (mostly due to stress and the heat produced)
  • You cannot overcharge the batteries beyond a 100% charge.
  • It is okay to complete a competitive multiplayer game (but close the game after that to release the stress on the battery)
  • You can play less demanding games like Among Us, Age of Empires, web-based flash or HTML5 games, etc.
  • To increase the longevity,
    • charge only upto 80-85%
    • avoid discharging below 20%
    • try undervolting
    • try re-pasting
    • get a cooling pad

Hope you got some value from this article. Feel free to share it with your gamer friends or anyone who could use the information. Also, check out more posts that you may like below. See you in the next one! 😊

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