Software

How to get more battery life with Windows 10's new Power Throttling feature

Do you have a modern Intel processor in your laptop running Windows 10 Fall Creators Update? If so, you'll want to learn more about the Power Throttling feature.

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Image: iStock/peshkov

If you have a laptop running on a 6th, 7th, or 8th generation Intel Core Processor and you have upgraded to the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, your system will automatically begin taking advantage of the new Power Throttling feature. This will enable you to get roughly 10% more life out of your laptop's battery.

Microsoft has said it plans to expand support to other processors in the future. But for now, let's take a look at how the Power Throttling feature works.

How does it work?

Prior to the Power Throttling feature, the CPU was always running all apps at full capacity all the time, regardless of whether they were in the foreground or background. Windows reduced power to all apps only after periods of inactivity, i.e., when the laptop was idle. Thus the power savings was either all or nothing.

With the Power Throttling feature, when an application is relegated to the background, Windows will put any CPU resources dedicated to that application into a low power state. The app is still running, but only using the most energy efficient operating mode of the CPU. In this way, the app can operate, but with minimal drain on the battery.

SEE: Windows 10: Streamline your work with these power tips (free TechRepublic PDF)

Windows 10's Power Throttling feature also incorporates a sophisticated detection system that can differentiate between those apps running in the background that are important to you and those that aren't. To do so, Windows 10 monitors app usage and bases its decisions on the demands of running apps and the apps you regularly interact with even though they're in the background. It will then make sure that apps that are important get the power they need, while apps that aren't don't.

For example, if you are listening to music and relegate your music app to the background, Windows will determine that even though that app is in the background, it is still performing a task that is important to you and will make sure that app receives the power that it needs to perform its task. On the other hand, a word processing app that is relegated to the background isn't doing any real work, so power to that app will be throttled back. Even so, a power throttled app will still be able to perform necessary tasks such as an automatic save operation for a word processing app.

SEE: Microsoft quietly announces end of last free Windows 10 upgrade offer (ZDNet)

Taskbar Notification Area

If your laptop meets the requirements and you are running on battery power, you'll find that you can adjust the overall level of Power Throttling that Windows 10 will employ system wide from the Taskbar Notification Area via the Power icon. Just click the Power icon and you'll see the power mode slider, which has four positions, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Figure A
The power mode slider allows you to determine how aggressively you want to apply the Power Throttling feature.

This slider lets you determine how aggressively you want to apply the Power Throttling feature. The four positions range from Battery Saver, which provides the maximum power throttling, to Best Performance, which disables Power Throttling. In between, you'll find the Better Battery and Better Performance positions.

When you plug in your laptop, you'll see that the power mode slider shows (plugged in) and automatically jumps to Best Performance, which again disables Power Throttling. You can see this state in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure b
When your laptop is plugged in, Windows 10 disables the Power Throttling feature.

Viewing Power Throttling

Of course, if your laptop is using the Power Throttling feature, you'll want to see it in action. You can do so in Task Manager after you add the Power Throttling column. To begin, right-click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager. When the window appears, select the Details tab, right-click on the Name column header, and choose Select Columns. Then, select the Power Throttling check box, as shown in Figure C, and click OK.

Figure C

FigureC
Select the Power Throttling check box.

Once you do so, the Power Throttling column will appear in the Details tab's display. As you can see in Figure D, I moved Power Throttling to the left and positioned it next to the Name column. I also moved the Status column down. I then sorted the display by the Power Throttling column.

Figure D

Figure D
You can see Power Throttling in action by enabling the column in Task Manager.

If you look at the Windows Store app process (WinStore.App.exe), you can see that Power Throttling is enabled for the app and its Status is listed as Suspended. This status indicates that the Windows Store app is minimized in the background and is drawing minimal battery power. Looking at the File Explorer process (explorer.exe), you can see that even though Power Throttling is enabled for it, File Explorer's Status is Running because it is still in the foreground and I was just using it.

Disabling the Power Throttling feature

By default, Windows 10 will enable the Power Throttling feature for every app it can. However, you may find that certain apps don't work well with the Power Throttling feature. If so, you can disable the Power Throttling feature for that app.

Of course, you can disable the Power Throttling feature system wide using the power mode slider. But to disable the feature for a single app, access Settings and select System | Battery. Then, select Battery Usage By App. When you see the screen shown in Figure E, locate and select the app to expand the Battery Usage panel. Then, clear the Let Windows Decide check box.

Figure E

Figure E
You can disable the Power Throttling feature for a single app.

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What's your take?

Does your laptop's CPU support Windows 10's new Power Throttling feature? If so, have you noticed better battery life? Share your experiences and opinions with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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