By default, all Windows 7 (and Vista) notebooks come with three power plans: High Performance, Balanced, and Power Saver. Some manufacturers, such as HP, Samsung, and Toshiba, include custom power profiles, and may provide proprietary programs for controlling them. Nevertheless, administrator-level users can always tweak a power profile for better performance or more battery life.
The path to the advanced power settings is a twisty one: Control Panel > Power Options > Change Plan Settings > Change Advanced Power Settings. Once you’ve reached the center of this labyrinth, you’re faced with a list of options that would have daunted mighty Theseus himself. Many are intuitive and easy to understand, though it’s not always clear how changing them will impact performance.
To help you out, we’ve put together this in-depth guide to Windows’ Advanced Power Options and included descriptions, tips and recommendations for all of the default options on Windows 7 and most Vista systems. The majority of these menus offer separate settings for whether you’re drawing power from the battery or while you’re plugged in. Depending on the manufacturer and your hardware (hard drive vs. solid state drive), your notebook may include settings not listed here. Understanding the defaults will make it easier to tweak any others you come across.
Spinning the hard disk doesn’t consume a lot of juice. Plus, the power saved by turning off the drive varies depending on the manufacturer. For extreme battery savings, set the idle/turn off time to 10 or 20 minutes. Keep in mind that this time limit should be shorter than that set for putting the machine to sleep; otherwise, you’ll see no change in battery life.
Windows 7 allows users to set multiple background images that change after a user-defined interval. On battery power, set the slideshow to Paused instead of Available if you want to get the most out of your battery. The power drain might not be much, but you’ll miss that extra juice once you’re down to 10 percent.
Here you’ll find four choices: Maximum Performance, Low Power Saving, Medium Power Saving, and Maximum Power Saving. The amount of power you’ll conserve with these settings varies by wireless card manufacturer. Performance generally goes down the higher the savings, meaning Maximum Power Saving mode could cause wireless downloads to take longer than usual. If you need a speedy Internet connection, set this to Maximum Performance or Low Power Saving, and then turn your Wi-Fi antenna off when you don’t need it.
Page 1: Hard Disk, Desktop Background Settings, and Wireless Adapter Settings
Page 2: Sleep and Hibernation Settings
Page 4: Display and Multimedia Settings
Page 5: Battery Settings