Comparing to previous versions of Microsoft Windows, Windows 7 offers significantly expanded power management for portable computers. Features that Toshiba previously had included in the Toshiba Power Saver utility are now an integral part of the Windows 7 operating system.
This document describes the Windows 7 Power Options system of power plans -- including how to edit them and how to uncover some of their very useful advanced features, including how to reduce fan noise, what happens when you close the display lid and what happens when the battery reaches a critically low level.
Selecting a power plan
To open the Windows 7 Power Options:
- click the Windows "Start" button
- Enter "Power Options" in the Search field and then click on "Power Options" in the Result list
- A window similar to the one below will appear.
Another way to access Power Options is to right-click the "Power" icon in the Notification Area of the Task Bar, and then click "Power Options".
The standard Windows 7 power plans are shown in the screen shot below:
- Balanced: Good performance balanced with good battery life (moderate power consumption).
- eco: Energy saving prioritized over performance (low power consumption).
- High performance: Performance prioritized over battery life (high power consumption).
- Power saver: Battery life prioritized over performance (low power consumption).
Click the corresponding 'radio button' to select one of these power plans.
Power plans can also be selected by clicking the Power icon in the Notification Area of the Task Bar.
In the left pane of the window shown above are direct links to commonly useful settings, including what happens when the computer's display lid is closed. These settings and others are covered in detail in the remaining sections of this document.
Editing a power plan
To edit one of the default power plans listed above, click the Change plan settings link for that plan. The Edit Plan Settings window will appear, looking similar to the window below (for the Balanced power plan). You can change any of the power setting in this window, or simply review them without making changes.
From several settings that comprise the power plan, only three are offered in the window above. Many more settings are accessible via the Change advanced power settings link.
Power plan settings occur in pairs, as in the window above, consisting of an On battery setting and a Plugged in setting. This provides great flexibility and allows you easily to establish exceptions to a given plan.
In the Balanced plan shown above, for example, you could maximize the display brightness setting when running from the computer's battery, as well as when the computer is plugged in to its AC adapter -- even though the overall character of the plan remains balanced power consumption / performance.
Advanced power settings
From the window shown above click Change advanced power settings which will open a window similar to the one shown below.
Click the plus / minus indicators to expand and contract the entries in the list above (two have been expanded already). To change a setting that is grayed out, click Change settings that are currently unavailable.
Most of the advanced settings are described in the following list. As noted above, the settings are listed as pairs, consisting of an On battery setting and a Plugged in setting. Many settings can also be disabled, by selecting "Never" (for example), instead of a time value.
These settings may vary over time, and new ones may appear, as newer versions of 7 are released and pre-installed by Toshiba, and as Service Packs for 7 are installed:
- Require a password on wake up
Determines whether or not you must enter your Windows password when the computer wakes up from Sleep mode.
- TOSHIBA Power Saver Settings Vxxxxx
- Cooling Method
Specifies a CPU cooling method for either maximum CPU performance, or better battery life with reduced CPU performance. If the sound of the CPU fan seems too loud, a setting that optimizes battery life will also cause the CPU fan to turn on less frequently.
- Optical Drive power management
The ODD power management specifies whether the drive is powered on or completely disabled. By setting the power management to "Off" the drive will be completely disabled to conserve battery capacity. However, if the drive was disabled, it becomes unusable until the option was set to "On" again.
- Turn off Hard Disk After
Specifies how long after the most recent access before the hard disk drive turnes off. Setting a lower timeout value will save more power. Once the hard disk has turned off, there will be a slight delay with the next access, as it 'spins up' to full rotational speed. Software that runs automatically 'in the background' (search indexing, for example) may prevent the drive from turning off, by accessing it at frequent intervals.
- Dektop background settings
- Slide show
Windows 7 allows users to set multiple background images that change after a user-defined interval. To reduce power consumption on battery power, the setting for slideshow should be changer from "Available" to "Paused" which reduces power drain. The difference between these two settings will be at least noticeable when the battery is low on capacity.
- Wireless Adapter Settings
- Power Saving Mode
There are four power saving / performance settings. If your Wi-Fi connection is unstable or slow, try selecting a higher-performance setting.
- Sleep after
Specifies the number of minutes of inactivity (no usage of mouse or keyboard) before the computer drops into Sleep mode. A short timeout interval can save lots of power if you frequently stop using the computer, without turning it off. Sleep mode preserves the state of open programs and documents. It continues refreshing the computer's memory, while turning off the screen, the hard disk drive, and most of the other computer components. When the computer comes out of Sleep mode, the programs and documents re-appear, just as they were when the computer entered Sleep mode. Waking up the computer from Sleep mode is much faster than starting the computer, starting the operating system, launching programs, and opening documents.
Save open documents frequently to protect them from loss of battery charge during Sleep mode. Sleep mode consumes some power from the battery, but less than the normal On state. If the computer is in Sleep mode while being powered from the battery, and the battery charge runs low, the computer will turn completely Off, and will lose the open programs and documents in memory. In this case, any changes to documents that are not saved yet disk will be lost.
- Allow hybrid sleep
Instructs Windows to use Hybrid Sleep mode, whenever Sleep mode is activated. Hybrid Sleep mode not only saves the state of open programs and documents in the computer's memory, it also saves their state to the hard disk drive (as with Hibernation mode). Hybrid Sleep offers an additional measure of convenience. If the computer's battery becomes fully discharged while the computer is in Hybrid Sleep mode, the saved state in the computer's memory will be lost, but Windows will be able to retrieve the saved state from the hard disk drive though somewhat more slowly.
Be sure to save your documents and other files frequently as you work on them, to create permanent copies of them on the computer's hard disk drive. Saving the state of documents with Sleep, Hybrid Sleep and Hibernation modes does not create permanent copies of them; it is just a way to save power as you pause in your work, and then quickly pick up where you left off.
- Hibernate after
Specifies the number of minutes of inactivity (no usage of mouse or keyboard) before the computer enters Hibernation mode in which the state of open programs and documents is saved to the computer's hard disk drive. The computer is shut OFF in Hibernation mode, so that very little power is consumed.
Be sure to save your documents and other files frequently as you work on them, to create permanent copies of them on the computer's hard disk drive. Saving the state of documents with Hibernation mode does not create permanent copies of them; it is just a way to save power as you pause in your work, and then quickly pick up where you left off.
- Allow wake timers
A program or scheduled task might be waking your computer. By default, Power Option settings do not allow scheduled tasks to wake the computer from sleep or hibernate. However, some programs might awaken the computer if these settings have been changed. Set this option to "disabled" to prevent programs waking your computer.
Intel(R) Graphics Settings
- USB selective suspend setting
Prevents or allows idle USB devices and ports to be shut off to conserve power. Some computers include built-in devices that are connected internally via USB.
Power buttons and lid
- Intel(R) Graphics Power Plan
The "Intel Graphics Power Plan" determines the performance level of the integrated Intel graphics device. Depending on the setting, the overall display quality will be degraded. This includes e.g. reduced color schemes, reduced hardware acceleration with 2D/3D, degraded video playback performance and no font smoothing.
- Lid close action
Specifies the computer's response to closing the display lid: enter Sleep mode, enter Hibernation mode, shut down (turn off), or do nothing. This option provides a very convenient way to put the computer to sleep before boarding a plane or leaving the office for a meeting.
- Power button action
Specifies the computer's response to pressing the power button: enter Sleep mode, enter Hibernation mode, shut down (turn off), or do nothing.
- Sleep button action
Specifies the computer's response to pressing the Sleep button: enter Sleep mode, or enter Hibernation mode. Most Toshiba computers do not have a Sleep button, but there are many other ways to place the computer in Sleep or Hibernation mode, including closing the display lid (see setting above), or selecting Sleep or Hibernation from the Windows Start Menu.
- Start menu power button
Specifies the computer's response to clicking the on/off icon on the Start Menu : enter Sleep mode, enter Hibernation mode, or shut down (turn off).
Processor power management
- Link State Power Management
Specifies no (off), moderate, or maximum power savings for PCI Express devices, at the expense of perfomance.
Search and Indexing
- Minimum processor state
Specifies the lower limit of CPU performance, as a percentage of the full potential performance of the CPU. Higher values promote higher performance (depending on CPU utilization), at the expense of greater power consumption.
- Maximum processor state
Specifies the upper limit of CPU performance, as a percentage of the full potential performance of the CPU. Higher values promote higher performance (depending on CPU utilization), at the expense of greater power consumption. The minimum and maximum processor state values are essentially percentage of the maximum clock rate for the CPU, though other factors may be involved. For further details, see Microsoft's document Processor Power Management in Windows 7.
- Power Savings Mode
Specifies the prioritization of search-indexing that runs 'in the background' (when the computer is not busy with standard applications such as e-mail and web browsing). Options are: performance, power saver, and balanced. Selecting "performance" allocates the highest priority to these background tasks, speeding up their execution -- at the expense of power consumption.
- Dim display after
Specifies the number of minutes of inactivity (no usage of mouse or keyboard) before the display is dimmed. Since the display and its backlight represent a large percentage of the computer's total power consumption, selecting a relative low timeout value can allow the computer to run from its battery much longer than it would otherwise (if the computer is not being used continuously).
- Turn off display after
Specifies the number of minutes of inactivity (no usage of mouse or keyboard) before the display is turned off. Since the display and its backlight represent a large percentage of the computer's total power consumption, selecting a relative low timeout value can allow the computer to run from its battery much longer than it would otherwise (if the computer is not being used continuously).
- Adaptive display
Turns the Adaptive Display feature on or off. When on, the Turn Off Display After timeout (above) is lengthened if the computer is frequently 'active' shortly after the display is turned off (if you move the mouse or tap a key to turn the display on again immediately after it goes off).
- Display brightness
Specifies the default brightness of the display when running from battery power and from AC power -- as a percentage of the maximum brightness of the display panel. On many Toshiba portable computers, Fn+F6 and Fn+F7 key combinations may be used to decrease or increase the display brightness.
- Dimmed display brightness
Specifies the default brightness of the display when turning into the dimmed display mode -- as a percentage of the maximum brightness of the display panel.
- When sharing media
Specifies whether the computer will enter either Sleep mode or Away mode when it receives a request to enter Sleep mode. There is one exception to this rule: when the request to enter Sleep mode comes from the Sleep -> Sleep After timeout (see the description above), the computer will enter Sleep mode, even if Away mode is selected in this setting. Requests for the computer to enter Hibernation mode are not affected by this setting. Away mode causes the computer to appear to be Off (or in Sleep mode) while it is still capable of processing background media tasks such as recording television content or streaming media to other devices. For more information about Away mode, see the Microsoft white paper Away Mode in Windows 7.
- When playing video
This option sets the video quality to either degrade to provide more battery time, or high performance to view videos at full quality at the cost of a faster draining of the battery. When viewing videos, the CPU, GPU and HDD do a lot of work. The video option optimizes the computer's video playback pipeline to provide you either optimized video quality or more battery time. Video quality doesn't take that much when set to power savings, but it is somewhat noticeable depending on the video you view.
- Critical battery action
Specifies what should happen when the battery's charge reaches a critical low level. Options include Sleep mode, Hibernate mode, and Shut down, and also Do Nothing (the default, if the computer is plugged in to AC power).
- Low battery level
Specifies the percentage of battery power considered to be 'low'.
- Critical battery level
Specifies the percentage of battery power considered to be 'critical'.
- Low battery notification
Specifies whether or not a pop-up message is displayed when the battery reaches the low battery level setting.
- Low battery action
Specifies what should happen when the battery's charge reaches a low level. Options include Sleep mode, Hibernate mode, and Shut down, and Do Nothing (the default).
- Reserve battery level
"Reserve battery level" configures the percentage of battery capacity remaining before displaying the "reserve battery warning" message.