Tested: How the Epic Games Store can reduce your laptop’s battery life

As laptop performance improves over time, you may be excited to discover that the PC you reserved exclusively for Excel and Zoom calls now can serve as a gaming PC, too. But beware: Leaving a game store app like the Epic Games Store open may significantly slice into your laptop’s battery life.

Consider Intel’s latest Tiger Lake H35 announcement. The new CPUs enable a class of ultraportable laptops that wield office apps and Zoom calls by day, then play Destiny 2 or Valorant by night. The problem is that if you buy a game via, say, the Epic Game Store, the EGS app must be running while you play the game. The app remains active once you quit the game, too. As we found, simply leaving the store app in place when you’re not gaming can reduce your battery life by as much as 20 percent, cutting hours off of your laptop’s longevity off AC.

What we found appears to be specific to the Epic Games Store and Intel’s Tiger Lake platform, though the time required for battery rundown tests and the available equipment we had on hand limited our tests. We can say the battery hit that our Tiger Lake platform experienced in conjunction with the Epic Games Store did not extend as significantly to Steam, and we could not reproduce it as extensively on a laptop powered by AMD’s Ryzen processor.

epic games store taskbar Mark Hachman / PCWorld

Normally, these taskbar icons are hidden on the Windows 10 Taskbar, and they’re easy to forget. What we wanted to know was whether the Epic Games Store, even while hidden, was the culprit behind our lower battery life. It was.

How this all came about

Our discovery was a by-product of testing the Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ tablet, which uses a tablet-class Intel “Tiger Lake” Core processor inside. Who games on a tablet? Good question. As processor and GPU performance increases, more and more platforms are becoming hybrid productivity and gaming machines. Tablets are simply an extreme example.

Because of the incredible leap in graphics performance engendered by Intel’s new Iris Xe GPU, we wanted to test its capabilities in a few games. But we ran into an odd anomaly while testing: The battery life tests we ran didn’t deliver consistent results.

To be clear, the first two results were consistent. PCWorld has traditionally used a video rundown test, where we loop a video over and over until the battery expires. In the case of the Surface Pro 7+, the first two test runs provided consistent results; the third did not.

So we ran another. And another. And another, each requiring hours at a time. Somewhat exasperated at this point, we reset the PC—and our battery test finally again generated a score consistent with our earlier results.

What had changed? None of our benchmark software, or even the games, ran in the background when not in use. But the Epic Games Store, the service by which we downloaded our games and the service those games required to run, had remained hidden in the taskbar the entire time. Could that have made a difference? As we discovered, yes.

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