The common feature of smartphones, tablets or laptops is that they always come out so they work less than we would like. Manufacturers are doubling and tipping into new enhancements, and users are effectively reducing the battery life of their devices with a growing number of frequently unnecessary programs.
Today’s processors have very advanced power management techniques, but even the most advanced solutions are not able to optimize power consumption for every possible operation. Often minor errors, be it user or in the application itself, cause the processor not to go into idle mode, still taking in significant amounts of power despite the fact that it is running idle. So we connected our test laptop with Windows 10 to the power meter and started a comprehensive power analysis based on user actions, running processes, services or applications.
Our test computer was a very old Lenovo Thinkpad X201 with Core i5-520M processor. However, its choice was deliberate, as most users interested in maximizing the battery life are holders of slightly older devices. In the case of completely new units, few will even bother their heads with a drop in battery power unless they are unloading irritably quickly.
Let’s get back to our Thinkpad X201. This computer in case of total idle gets about 13 W. Few, but unfortunately, this is a rare situation. Just a little bit of CPU usage (from one to five percent) results in an increase in power consumption of up to 20 W. In practice, we’ll be dealing with a little more wear than the total idle state. With Windows 10, there are plenty of services in the background: antivirus, firewalls, prefetching, automatic updates, telemetry and much more.
1. Get rid of telemetry
After the first ten minutes of running the test computer, the average power consumption was 16.2 watts, allowing the Thinkpad X201 62-hour battery to deliver power for 3:53 hours. We started by shutting down services that, on the one hand, would interfere with our measurement to identify the most energy-intensive applications and processes, and on the other hand were not needed at all (eg collecting telemetry data from the operating system and sending them to Microsoft). For this purpose, we used Spybot Anti-Beacon software. This program is available both in Windows and in the portable version, which works without installing it.
Closing all Windows telemetry services detected by Spybot Anti-Beacon reduced the average power consumption in the first ten minutes to just 13.1 watts. This implies an increase in potential battery life by 22 percent (4:48 hours). After the Windows 10 telemetry has been immobilized, we took to testing the “energy efficiency” of the software.
2. Efficient Energy Efficiency in Windows 10 Creators Update
It is worth noting that with the introduction of Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft has significantly improved power management. As soon as the computer’s battery power drops below a certain threshold, the Microsoft operating system can automatically and effectively reduce many background operations. It is up to the user to set this threshold for energy-saving features.
By default, the Windows 10 operating system is set to activate energy-saving features at 20 percent of the remaining power. If we often work on battery power and we want to maximize our working time, we should increase this threshold to 80-90%. To do this, go to Settings> System> Battery, and then slide the slider in the Battery Saver section.
3. Get rid of the blinking cursor
A program that does nothing can not cause CPU load, is it? Unfortunately not. This theorem is true only for very simple code. Such as, for example, Notepad. Indeed, the operation of Windows Notepad, in which we do not perform any operation does not consume practically any energy. When running Notepad, the average power consumption of our test laptop was 13.1 watts.
When you run the Microsoft Word 2016 editor, where Microsoft uses a more fluid cursor animation, the processor load increases and stays around two percent, even if the only symptom of Word is the cursor in question. The effect is easy to predict, power consumption up to 15 W.
The most common web browser is Google Chrome. Running this app on a blank page (about: blank) resulted in an increase in power consumption of up to 17 W. Empty Google Docs document, in which the only active element is a blinking cursor, is a further increase in power consumption to 19 W. As you can easily count, Google stands for 45 percent more energy than a blank document in Windows Notepad! Of course, we do not encourage you to leave functional editors in favor of Notepad, but just turning off the cursor in these programs causes a 2 watts power cut. For MS Word and other locally installed applications, the cursor flicker can be disabled using the Windows Control Panel.
When you call the Control Panel, on the right side of the window, type the keyboard word in the search box, and you will see keyboard options for the keyboard. Click the Change Cursor Frequency button and you will be able to completely turn off the cursor.
You should also keep in mind a certain regularity. When we compared the performance of locally installed applications (such as Word) and the cloud (for example, the Google Docs editor), we came to the following conclusion: If you care about maximum energy savings, you should not rely on cloud applications, but locally installed programs to be configured under. energy efficiency.
4. Remove unnecessary hardware
Every component of your computer needs energy. To fully utilize the energy in the battery, disconnect all unnecessary devices. What may devices be unnecessary? An example from our test laptop. The USB port was connected to a 4-gigabyte USB flash drive and a mouse with an impressive looking LED. The first device (pen drive), even when not used (did not perform any file operations) increased the power consumption by 1 W. In turn, the flashing mouse diodes is the consumption of 0.5 W. Maybe not much, right? Still, the two devices reduced the overall battery life of the notebook battery by up to 24 minutes.
The potential for savings is also to adjust the brightness of the display. Reducing the total brightness of the display to 50% resulted in an extended battery life of approximately 42 minutes. Of course, remember that the times given here are mathematical extrapolations. Actual working time may be shorter, as it is difficult to predict what every computer user is doing on it. However, regardless of the number of computer scenarios, reducing screen brightness or removing unnecessary equipment will always bring us energy gains.
What else can you save? For example, turning off wireless communication with a hardware switch (many laptops allow you to disable these interfaces from the keyboard) will reduce the power consumption by another watt on our laptop. Of course, this only makes sense if we do not need access to the internet or the local network. But even if you can not imagine working without internet access, you might want to switch to WiFi on a cable connection. Using a LAN instead of a WLAN should increase the working time by at least a few minutes.
5. Software: The devil is in the details
Properly configuring the system and software used, we can really get a good deal of battery life. As a rule, the most commonly used applications are the browser, media player and office software. Therefore, we have looked at these types of programs in the context of practical energy-saving tricks.
Even simple scrolling of a web page’s content in the browser can cause more than necessary power loss. Everything because of the animation accompanying this process. Our test system, when loaded in the Firefox browser, downloaded 17 watts. During slow scrolling through the mouse wheel and smooth animation, the power consumption increased to 24 watts. Without smoothing, the scrolling animation was only 19 watts, and when we completely abandoned the mouse scroll or a touchpad, and we chose to scroll the page using the spacebar or cursor keys, the power consumption returned to the 17W output.
Especially cost-effective – in the sense of energy consumption – is the latest Microsoft browser. When running Edge and displaying a static page, the power consumption was as much as in the “bare” system without any running applications: 13 W. Even when scrolling smoothly, the power consumption increases to 18W, which is a much better result than Firefox.
To turn off window and scroll animations, not on Firefox browser, but also in MS Office documents and other a the plications that use the Windows interface, go to Settings> Accessibility> Other Options and then turn off the Play Animations option in Windows..
In case of video playback, we tested a lot of different applications, and on our test laptop running Windows 10, the best programs were VLC media player, MPC HC (Media Player Classic – Home Cinema) and standard Windows Media Player. During video playback, each of these programs increased the power consumption to 24 W.
Bonus: Power saving on Android
Most of our material is focused on saving energy in a Windows-based laptop, but we also do not forget about mobile hardware running under the control of the world’s most popular operating system: Android.
For smartphones, we recommend setting the brightness automatically. The appropriate switch is located on the Settings screen , but in addition to turning on the Auto Brightness option, you also need to call up the popup control panel and move the screen brightness slider to the smallest value, where the screen content is still readable to us in that light. In the end, it is not about saving energy at the expense of sight.
Another important point is the identification of “energy-intensive” applications. For details, go to Settings> Power> Battery consumption . Here, Android will show us the list of apps that use the most power. If there is anything in this list that we do not use, then the application should be removed from the system. In the location settings, we’ll find a list of apps that use location. We suggest an app that we do not want to share location with. We then take her access to location services.