The autonomy of an electronic product is a highly valued section in an era of mobility where we use a large number of devices everywhere and cannot afford to be â¤½tied to a plugâ¤, which, moreover, is not always available in all places of use. The autonomy of smartphones has long been a debated issue and the same can be said of laptops, the best sellers among the large group of PCs.
The situation has (relatively) improved in recent years. The improvement in battery capacity and efficiency of the latest generations of laptops; the use of low voltage processors; solid state drives for storage; new low power states or the improved power management of the latest operating systems, has made it possible to achieve the dream of obtaining âautonomy for a whole day’s workâ without having to use additional batteries or connect them to power grids.
However, batteries integrated in all products have become the norm, complicating their replacement by the userpC manufacturers are paying special attention to the autonomy section of their mobile devices, aware of its importance. Especially for mobility professionals, but in general for any user. There are devices specially prepared for this, such as ultraportables, Chromebooks or others based on low-power ARMs that can offer 12, 14 and up to 16 hours of autonomy.
How to improve the autonomy of a notebook
In addition to specialized hardware and software work, it is also important that the user himself practices a minimum maintenance of his equipment in a few simple steps that can make the difference in preserving and prolonging the autonomy. We remind you of them in case you need them, and we are sure you will, because here the ‘Murphy’s Law’ is usually fulfilled the more you need it, the more you run out of battery.
– Battery status. The battery is obviously the most important component in this matter and before trying to maximize its power the first thing to do is to determine its condition. There are free tools that can check it, providing information on its charge and recharge cycles, capacity, temperature, age or voltage.
– Battery maintenance. The battery is a consumable material that we will have to replace at some point, but a good maintenance can help to improve its useful life before it penalizes our autonomy. One of the fundamental steps is the calibration of the battery, a function that resets the charge indicator so that it displays the values correctly.
– Power saving options. Just as important as having a healthy power store, is controlling its consumption. All major operating systems offer â¤½Power Optionsâ¤ that allow you to set up a series of parameters to manage the way a laptop uses this power. There are special low-power modes that save a lot of power and allow you to increase the autonomy when necessary.
– Display. As with other devices such as smartphones, this component is by far the most consuming in a laptop. Decreasing its brightness and/or contrast level through the ‘Display’ options of the operating systems control panels or from the physical buttons on the keyboard that many of them include is a direct and forceful way to increase the autonomy.
– Networking and connectivity. Radio modules are one of the components that consume power permanently. In such a connected world it will be difficult to do without these options, but if at any given moment you do not need to connect to the Internet, activating “airplane mode” can add extra power to complete an urgent job. â¯Another module that can be disabled to save battery power is Bluetooth. Related to the above, but done via software, turning off services such as network discovery or file and printer sharing on occasion is another power-saving measure.
– CPU and GPU. There are laptops such as gaming laptops that are focused – usually – to replace desktop machines and therefore to use them always plugged in. But many of us use our laptops for various purposes and when it is not necessary and we are working on the move, we can manage the processor to run at the lowest frequency or the graphics subsystem to use the integrated and not the dedicated one. An example of management is offered by NVIDIA’s Optimus function that allows us to run one or the other GPU depending on the task to be performed.
– Peripherals and disks. Do not leave SD memory cards or USB flash drives inserted in their locations beyond their intended use. They will increase the consumption and reduce the autonomy. The same goes for other media. Connected network drives or disks in optical drives such as DVDs also consume power, so it is a good idea to remove them when they are not in use.
– âTurn off the lightsâ. Dimming or turning off the keyboard backlight is another power saving method. It is also a good idea to turn off the screen saver.â¯After setting the power saver to the default setting, the screen will turn off so there is no need to activate the screen saver which continues to consume power.
– Other connections. It is also advisable to block incoming connections to prevent certain applications from â¤½waking upâ¤ the computer and running in the background and consuming battery power. Pausing backup and synchronization services are important tasks and it is worth thinking about when we can do without them, but temporarily it can free up other energy.
– Monitor your laptop. Some out-of-control processes can drastically reduce battery life. We can see them in the task manager and resource monitor in the advanced tools of the control panel of systems like Windows. Usage details such as using pre-downloads instead of streaming is key. The consumption of multimedia content via streaming is brutal and will drain the battery quickly. If you plan to watch videos better pre-download them if you have the chance.
And enjoy your computer.. The above maintenance and care will improve the autonomy and extend the useful life of the battery, but will not work âmiraclesâ. The battery is a consumable material that does not last forever. It has a limited number of charges and recharges and there will come a time when its useful life will end or its efficiency will be so low that there will be no choice but to replace it. Take advantage of the capabilities of your mobile laptop and when the day comes, you will have to buy a battery to ensure capacity, efficiency and safety of use.