Epic's game launcher is a battery hog on some platforms, especially Ice Lake

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,042   +817
Staff member
Bottom line: If you download and play games from the Epic Games Store on a laptop, you might want to keep in mind that your battery is getting drained faster than you might expect. Tests show that the battery drain from Epic's launcher consumed up to 20 percent more battery life than Steam.

It is understandable when playing a game from a launcher like Steam's or Epic's, the resources required to keep the store app running will be more than if you just ran the game natively. But how much more do launchers need, especially when only running in the background?

The answer depends on what store app you are using. PC World ran some limited tests comparing the Epic Games Store (EGS) app to the Steam launcher. They used a Surface Pro 7+ with an 11th-gen Ice Lake processor and a Ryzen-based Surface Laptop 3.

On both platforms, running the Steam app in the background had little to no effect on battery life. Testers set a baseline of 603 minutes by draining the battery on the Surface Pro 7+ after a factory reset. Running the Steam launcher hidden in the taskbar lowered battery life to 587 minutes, an insignificant loss of 2.7 percent. Running EGS hidden dropped run time to 482 minutes. That is 20-percent decrease from a clean run and a 17-percent deficit versus Steam.

On the Ryzen laptop, the differences were less pronounced but still noticeable, especially between the two stores. A clean run depleted the battery in 472 minutes. Steam running hidden was had no effect on run time. Epic's launcher, however, lowered battery life to 434 minutes, an eight-percent drop. Clearly, both apps ran more efficiently on the laptop than the tablet, but EGS was still the energy hog.

When contacted about the issue, Epic said it was constantly improving its app's energy efficiency.

"In general, we are actively working to improve the performance and reduce the power consumption of our launcher. The power consumption varies based on whether the launcher's window is open."

Indeed, running with the EGS app active on the Ice Lake platform reduced battery life slightly more than when hidden (449 vs 482). However, it appears that just having the EGS app installed even when not signed in had a marked effect, dropping run time to 514 minutes, which is marginally better than the test with it running in the taskbar but still about 12.5 percent less efficient than Steam.

It's important to note that although PC World ran the tests multiple times to prove consistency, It only used two OEM platforms. Mileage will vary depending on hardware configuration and other factors. Just be aware that if you use Epic's launcher, you are likely consuming more battery than is necessary.

Image credit: Fortnite by Dennizn, Battery Life by PC World

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MaitieS

Posts: 96   +114
Yet another reason to buy games from GOG. All these game clients and backgroung processes are pointless junk 99% of the time.
The **** is this comment supposed to mean? It is not like they will keep it that way forever... just a bug which will get fixed soonTM
 

terzaerian

Posts: 960   +1,399
Yet another reason to buy games from GOG. All these game clients and backgroung processes are pointless junk 99% of the time.
All these game launchers are wasting our precious, precious finite carbon credits just sitting there running in the background. They probably consume as much energy annually as Hoboken, NJ! It's time to ban gaming.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,531   +3,827
The **** is this comment supposed to mean? It is not like they will keep it that way forever... just a bug which will get fixed soonTM
Indeed, what the **** could that comment mean? Could it be that these backgroudn processes use up resources while serving no purpose for the consumer, in the background, 99% of the time, while being detrimental to system resources and battery life? I wonder how that could be deduced. It's a total mystery.

And before you comment "well well well ITLL BE FIXED AND ITS JUST EPIC" like some smartarse, steam running in the background reduced battery life by 3%. The only reason it is running at all is DRM. Background software is detrimental to system performance and battery life, that is an objective fact. Games purchased froma DRM less platform do not have this issue (GOG galaxy is OPTIONAL).
 

hypertotoro

Posts: 20   +79
The only reason I use the Epic's launcher is that they give away games for free each week. Otherwise it would be useless. It doesn't even have a possibility to mark games as completed, abandoned and so on! So it's even worse than the Ubisoft's one, which allows marking games as favorites.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,867   +2,072
TechSpot Elite
The **** is this comment supposed to mean? It is not like they will keep it that way forever... just a bug which will get fixed soonTM

"Soon" has been 2 years now. I keep logged out of the Epic Games client for this exact issue. It's a CPU hog but maybe this time if they get enough bad press, they'll actually fix it!

Anyone got an over/under between this or 7nm supply issues getting fixed first?
 

MaitieS

Posts: 96   +114
"Soon" has been 2 years now. I keep logged out of the Epic Games client for this exact issue. It's a CPU hog but maybe this time if they get enough bad press, they'll actually fix it!

Anyone got an over/under between this or 7nm supply issues getting fixed first?
I just tested it by myself and it is a total trash. Steam is sitting on 4-5% on store page meanwhile epic 15-20% O.o
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,430   +2,763
TechSpot Elite
I mean, this has been know for a while. EGS is a resource hog compared to other stores (mainly compared to Steam). It was one of the arguments against EGS when the pro-EGS propaganda was full swing.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 434   +581
I already saw a reverse engineering for Epic client and store and this is just a pure myth (meme, joke at this point).
If they reverse engineered it, they found the reason to it using this much processing power, even when it isn't even supposed to be running. What did they find? If they didn't find anything substantial, I think it's still a bit more than a myth.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 248   +231
They are too busy plotting and fighting with Apple that they failed to address this issue. Good thing I've removed EPIC launcher on all my systems. Free games or not, I am not enticed to use their service.
 

Nicromancer

Posts: 24   +30
I already saw a reverse engineering for Epic client and store and this is just a pure myth (meme, joke at this point).
Are you sure the reverse engineering you saw is not sponsored by Tencent? I mean, I am pretty sure they have tons of money to spend on "marketing".
 

Nicromancer

Posts: 24   +30
They are too busy plotting and fighting with Apple that they failed to address this issue. Good thing I've removed EPIC launcher on all my systems. Free games or not, I am not enticed to use their service.
So the software engineers in Epic Games also need to fight Apple and they don't have time to address the issue huh? I wonder what weapon do they use. XD
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,714   +3,570
TechSpot Elite
I already saw a reverse engineering for Epic client and store and this is just a pure myth (meme, joke at this point).
I'm sorry but since when does the client itself send the data to Tencent? You send the data to Epic and then you don't know anything about how it will be used and who will get it. They have a 40% stake in Epic.

FYI as a barebones store client, the only way it can drain the battery so much is by accessing the internet often, too often, in the background.
 

8600M GT

Posts: 20   +11
FYI as a barebones store client, the only way it can drain the battery so much is by accessing the internet often, too often, in the background.

It's not network traffic that's draining the battery; it's CPU usage. At some point in Q4 2020, I noticed my CPU usage (on a quad-core) was hovering around 20-25% when I didn't think I had anything running that should be eating CPU. Took a look at Task Manager, it was the Epic Game Store. Exited it, and the CPU usage went down close to zero.

I've got 25 tabs, Steam, GOG, an IDE, and about a dozen other programs up right now, and they all add up to about 10% CPU usage on average, or about half of what EGS consumes all by itself. I don't know what sort of bug they have to cause this sort of CPU usage, but they haven't been in a hurry to fix it and it's probably affecting a lot more people than the number who've noticed it.

I'll leave Steam or GOG (or sometimes even Origin) up, but not EGS after discovering it was raising my electric bill and heating my apartment for no reason whatsoever. I probably would have been more upset had I realized it at a coffee shop while wondering why my battery was low, but didn't have many chances for that in 2020.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,714   +3,570
TechSpot Elite
It's not network traffic that's draining the battery; it's CPU usage. At some point in Q4 2020, I noticed my CPU usage (on a quad-core) was hovering around 20-25% when I didn't think I had anything running that should be eating CPU. Took a look at Task Manager, it was the Epic Game Store. Exited it, and the CPU usage went down close to zero.

I've got 25 tabs, Steam, GOG, an IDE, and about a dozen other programs up right now, and they all add up to about 10% CPU usage on average, or about half of what EGS consumes all by itself. I don't know what sort of bug they have to cause this sort of CPU usage, but they haven't been in a hurry to fix it and it's probably affecting a lot more people than the number who've noticed it.

I'll leave Steam or GOG (or sometimes even Origin) up, but not EGS after discovering it was raising my electric bill and heating my apartment for no reason whatsoever. I probably would have been more upset had I realized it at a coffee shop while wondering why my battery was low, but didn't have many chances for that in 2020.
Network traffic can raise CPU usage by quite a lot depending on what the application is doing and the response it is getting.
For example, the Autocad service that is checking for the license validity on the internet can go up as much as 20-30% CPU usage sometimes.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,042   +817
Staff member
FYI as a barebones store client, the only way it can drain the battery so much is by accessing the internet often, too often, in the background.
It's not network traffic that's draining the battery; it's CPU usage. At some point in Q4 2020, I noticed my CPU usage (on a quad-core) was hovering around 20-25% when I didn't think I had anything running that should be eating CPU. Took a look at Task Manager, it was the Epic Game Store. Exited it, and the CPU usage went down close to zero.

I've got 25 tabs, Steam, GOG, an IDE, and about a dozen other programs up right now, and they all add up to about 10% CPU usage on average, or about half of what EGS consumes all by itself. I don't know what sort of bug they have to cause this sort of CPU usage, but they haven't been in a hurry to fix it and it's probably affecting a lot more people than the number who've noticed it.

I'll leave Steam or GOG (or sometimes even Origin) up, but not EGS after discovering it was raising my electric bill and heating my apartment for no reason whatsoever. I probably would have been more upset had I realized it at a coffee shop while wondering why my battery was low, but didn't have many chances for that in 2020.
Correct. It is not network usage causing the drain. All tests were conducted in airplane mode.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,714   +3,570
TechSpot Elite
Correct. It is not network usage causing the drain. All tests were conducted in airplane mode.
Airplane mode would cause even higher CPU spikes because the application will be trying multiple times to connect to the internet while getting timed-out (not just when it is trying to send info, but for everything it does), although it depends sometimes on the application and how aggressive it is with trying to connect to the server.

It's not just the act of sending something short on the internet that can drain your battery, trying to establish a connection can be just as if not more intensive. You'll notice sometimes this happening with some windows services too when the internet is down.

This is just speculation on my part, but I'm assuming that the Epic client is trying to phone home more often and is more aggressive when it can't connect than other clients.
 
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Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,042   +817
Staff member
Airplane mode would cause even higher CPU spikes because the application will be trying multiple times to connect to the internet while getting timed-out (not just when it is trying to send info, but for everything it does), although it depends sometimes on the application and how aggressive it is with trying to connect to the server.

It's not just the act of sending something short on the internet that can drain your battery, trying to establish a connection can be just as if not more intensive. You'll notice sometimes this happening with some windows services too when the internet is down.

This is just speculation on my part, but I'm assuming that the Epic client is trying to phone home more often and is more aggressive when it can't connect than other clients.
You make a good point. Although, it doesn't change the comparison to Steam since tests running both clients in the background were in airplane mode. But as you mention, perhaps the EGS client is more aggressive in trying to get a connection.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,867   +2,072
TechSpot Elite
Just did a simple test. Intel NUC 4c8t Core i5-8259u. A few things open including Steam and an active VPN connection:

~2W average, ~4% CPU, idling at 38°C

Open Epic, put it on my game list, let it settle down:

~7.5W average, ~9% CPU, idling at 50°C

Quit Epic:

~2W average, ~4% CPU, idling at 38°C

EGS is crap.