I own an old Game Gear from the early 90s, and have been curious for years as to why it's such a power hog. It takes six (SIX!!) double-A batteries, all of which can drain within an hour or two of playing.

The original GameBoy only used 4 AA batteries and it certainly did not drain as fast as the Game Gear.

I understand that they are from different companies and used different concepts, but what exactly was the Game Gear doing that used so much power? I know it has color, would that make a difference?


According to Wikipedia: "[Game Boy's] monochrome screen, lack of a backlight, and less powerful hardware" is at the root of the problem.

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    As an extra, while the resolutions were the same, the Gear had a bigger screen (3.2" vs 2.6"), which probably contributed as well. Jan 3 '12 at 3:22

The poor battery life on the Sega Game Gear is caused by the backlight in the screen. It is a fluorescent tube which eats the batteries up at a rapid rate. Recently several people have experimented with replacing the fluorescent tube with LEDs, this dramatically increases the battery life, thus proving that the main power drain comes from the back light.


My understanding is that essentially the color LCDs of the time were big energy hogs. All the other color handhelds competing with the original Game Boy suffered from the same issue. The ones that offered backlighting also suffered from similar power drain there.

I can't comment on the issue of the power consumption of the chipsets, but that was likely an issue as well.

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    The backlight was the biggest culprit, I think.
    – Shinrai
    Aug 25 '12 at 2:34

I think that the battery life is about the game cartridge memory allocation: it's really large sometimes, but very rarely while playing (for example, Sonic the Hedgehog).

In addition, the color and the battery lasting more than 5 hours is a joke.


What I mean is that, in some games, it uses a lot of memory from the cartridge and if theres a lot of colors, it drains the batteries quickly: it's all a matter of how many pixels, colors, and memory is loaded. This is easily noticeable when the game slows down.

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    I've tried reading this answer a lot of times, but I still can't understand what do you mean by "the battery life is about the game cart memory allocating is really large sometimes, but very rarely while playing" Jan 2 '12 at 0:11
  • What I Mean Is That In Some Games sometimes it loads allot of memory from the cartridge and if theres allot of colors it dranks batteries quickly!Its a matter of fact how many pixels,colors and memory are loaded.The Easiest noticing example is when the game slows down and is very slow!PM me now if you dont understand! EDIT:About slow downs youre gonna see them very often in sonic 1 for game gear!According to AllieRX87 its called collision detection! Jan 2 '12 at 21:09
  • I'm quite sure this answer is incorrect. The amount of ROM memory won't matter for power drain. If the volatile memory was DRAM, then again the power consumption is unrelated to the amount of memory the game used. If it was SRAM, then the consumption would be a function of how many times each bit changes. But, still, it is not the main reason for big energy drain. I believe the digital circuits drained relatively little current, while the LCD and backlight drained much more (resistive load). Jan 8 '12 at 22:54
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    Your answer don't make sense. Your edit aswell. Apr 28 '20 at 14:56

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