In one of our last posts, I shared some of my favorite tips on how to save battery life. Those, in combination with the following steps, helped me extend my machine’s battery life by 50%! Read on to learn how you can do the same:
4. Fine tune the “Power saver” plan
- Battery gain while working: +15 minutes
- Battery gain while watching an HD movie: +13 minutes
Windows Vista and 7 allow you to customize the “Power saver” plan in detail. I always make sure that this plan is actually saving more than only a couple of minutes of power. To access the settings, click on the battery icon, and select “More Power Options”. Click on “Change plan settings” under the “Power saver” plan, and open “Change advanced power settings”. I recommend that you change the following:
- Hard Disk – If you’re watching a DVD, Windows does not need to access the hard disk all of the time. Click on the plus sign next to “Turn off hard disk after”, enter the number “1″ (Minute) for the “On battery” setting. That will make your hard disk spin down after one minute of inactivity! Be aware that this might not be an efficient method when you’re working with Office programs; instead, enter a value between 5 and 10 minutes for business work.
- Wireless Adapter Settings – If you need your Wi-Fi on the go, and did not disable it (see step 2 ), you might want to make sure that it runs in a battery friendly mode. Click on the plus sign next to”Power Saving Mode”, and make sure that “Maximum Power Saving” is active! Although this is the default setting, I recommend checking it; in some cases, third-party power management tools or Wi-Fi programs tend to change these settings!
- Battery – When there’s only 5% of battery left, Windows automatically goes into hibernation—a bit too early in my opinion. For example, on a netbook with a 10 hour battery life, 5% equals about 30 minutes worth of work. Make sure your laptop shuts down (or goes into hibernation) when there’s 1% of battery left. Open “Critical battery level”, and enter “1″ (%) under the “On battery” setting.
- Processor Power Management – Your processor supports different clock settings. For example, a 2.6 GHz processor under Windows Vista or 7 is usually able to clock down to 0.8 GHz. If an application needs more power, it automatically increases the power of the CPU. However, when you’re on “Power saver”, Vista and 7 let the processor clock up to 50% of its regular speed! This might be convenient, but if you need to squeeze every minute out of your laptop, it might be counterproductive. To ensure that the processor clocks down to its lowest possible setting, open “Minimum processor state” by clicking on the plus sign next to it then enter the value “0″ (%) for the “On battery” setting. Then go to “Maximum processor state”, and do the same thing!
This forces your processor to use its lowest performance setting. On modern laptops, you might notice a bit of a delay when starting or switching between applications. I am willing to sacrifice performance if it allows me to work longer or finish a three-hour movie.
5. Use the latest drivers
- Battery gain while working: +5 minutes
- Battery gain while watching an HD movie: +4 minutes
Drivers control how devices in your laptop work, and one big part is energy management. In general, if you’re using the latest drivers, you might save a bit of battery time. I saw an increase of about five minutes when going from the original Windows drivers to the most up-to-date for my chipset, sound, and graphics cards and WLAN adapter. (Also refer to our Ultimate Drivers Guide!)
6. Turn off bells and whistles
- Battery gain while working: +10 minutes
- Battery gain while watching an HD movie: +7 minutes
Modern operating systems, such as Vista or 7, come with a new, 3D-like user interface. However, all of these transparency and font effects can take their toll on your system, especially if it’s not a fully equipped powerhouse. Disabling this eye candy can save you a couple of minutes: right-click on your desktop, and select “Personalize”. Go to “Window Color and Appearance”, click on “Open classic appearance properties” for more color options. The “Appearance” window is then displayed. Select the “Windows Standard” setting under “Color scheme”, and click “OK”. Visually, you’re back in 1999, but it will be well worth the extra battery life.
7. Keep your system optimized
This is a rather easy task. Make sure there’s almost no background activity. To do so, turn off unnecessary services and startup programs. Keep your hard disk defragmented at all times (Check out this previous TuneUp Blog post). The less strain you put on your processor, memory, and your hard disk, the less energy your laptop will consume.
Wow, 50% more battery life!
With all of these tips and settings, I was able to squeeze 108 more minutes out of my laptop while on the road, working with Office. I was also able to get an extra 81 minutes of movie playback and enjoy the final, tear-jerking scenes of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Typically, my laptop would have simply turned off right before the climax.).
These steps will allow you to save a huge amount of battery life. Be aware that your mileage may vary! On an 18″ Core 2 Duo Extreme laptop with two graphic cards, you might only get 30–45 minutes more out of the system, whereas on a netbook, you might get 3–4 more hours. Hope all you road warriors out there can benefit from these steps!
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