Use the Windows 10 power slider to save battery or increase performance

Microsoft designed a new way to approach battery savings in Windows 10, starting with Fall Creators Update (build 1709), which was released in October 2017. It adds new power saving algorithms and technologies, on top of the classic power plans that most people do not change. Windows 10 now uses the modern power saving features and performance throttling mechanisms that exist in the latest processors. Here is how the new power slider works in Windows 10, and how to use it to increase battery life or performance, depending on what you want:

How to use the power slider in Windows 10

You can access the new power saving features in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update or newer, on laptops, tablets, and convertible devices that run on battery. To access the power slider, click or tap the battery icon in the system tray.

A pop-up is shown, where you see details about how much battery is left, and the active “power mode.” There is also a slider with three or four positions. If your Windows 10 device is disconnected from the power plug and runs on battery, the slider has four positions: Best battery life, Better battery (or Recommended), Better performance, and Best performance. Move the slider to the desired position, to improve battery life or system performance, depending on what you want.

If your Windows 10 mobile device is connected to the power plug, the slider has three positions: Better battery, Better performance, and Best performance. You may ask: Why Better battery when connected to a power plug? A good question, with no answer on Microsoft’s part. :)

What does the power slider do when you change its position?

We said that the power slider has three or four positions, depending on whether you are connected to a power plug. Here is what each position does:

  • Best battery life - conserves the most power when your Windows 10 device is not connected to a power source. When this mode is used, and the battery saver is activated, some Windows 10 features are disabled, throttled, or behave differently. Screen brightness is also reduced significantly, to lower energy consumption.
  • Better battery - delivers longer battery life than the default power plan settings on previous versions of Windows, but less than the previous power slider level. It does not decrease the screen brightness, and it does slightly less power throttling. In some cases, users see this mode labeled Recommended, rather than Better battery, in their power slider.
  • Better performance - it is the default power slider mode that slightly favors performance over battery life and is appropriate for users who want to trade power for better performance when using their apps.
  • Best performance - favors performance over power savings. It is targeted at users who desire the best performance possible for their games and apps. If you want battery life, this is the worst power slider level to use.

How is the power slider different from power plans?

In older versions of Windows, the power settings were configured only through power plans or power schemes. A power plan is a collection of hardware and system settings that manage how your computer or device uses power. For example, the power plan sets how the following elements behave when on battery and when connected to a power source:

  • The screen brightness, when the display dims and turns off
  • When the computers sleeps
  • When the hard disk turns off
  • How fast Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge render web pages
  • How often the desktop background changes
  • The performance of your wireless network card
  • How fast USB devices are suspended when they are not used
  • How much power is used by the graphics card
  • What happens when you close the lid on your device or when you press the Power button
  • How much power is used by the PCI-Express cards in your system
  • The processor’s (CPU) active power management features
  • How multimedia is rendered on the screen (video playback quality, and so on)
  • The notifications you get depending on your battery level and the battery use

The power slider is an overlay on top of your power plan, with additional features that do not exist in traditional power plans. Here is what the power slider level manages:

  • The operating mode of the processor (CPU) to enhance battery life or performance, depending on what the user wants
  • The priority of background apps and Windows processes, so that they are used in the most power-efficient manner when you want to save as much battery as possible
  • The screen brightness

In technical terms, the power slider only handles how power throttling algorithms work in Windows 10. It does not change your power plan and its settings. It is a layer that comes on top of the active power plan.

The power slider is missing from Windows 10. Why is that?

The power slider is not available on all systems with Windows 10. First of all, it was first introduced with Fall Creators Update (build 1709), which was released in October 2017. If you use an older version of Windows 10, you do not have this feature. Also, the power slider is available only for mobile Windows 10 devices that have a battery, not for desktop PCs and other computers that are always plugged into a power source.

The power slider works only on systems with AMD and Intel processors, that have the Intel Speed Shift technology or similar technologies. For example, it works with Intel's 6th generation Skylake processors that were released in August 2015. Newer AMD Ryzen and Intel processors all support this feature.

Another issue is that the power slider works only when using the Balanced power plan that is the default in Windows. If you change your power plan to High Performance or something else, the power slider is no longer available.

Make sure to change the active power plan to Balanced, or the default provided by your system’s manufacturer. On some mobile systems, there is only one power plan available, created by the manufacturer of the device.

If you did all this, you have a compatible processor, and you still do not see the power slider, then you are out of luck. It seems that there is a bug in Windows 10 that makes this issue appear on some systems, and nobody has found a fix yet. If you did, let us know in the comments below, and we promise to update this article so that we can help others having this issue.

Do you use the power slider? How satisfied are you with this feature?

Microsoft claims that the power slider and the power throttling that was introduced in Windows 10, can deliver up to 11% in energy savings. Try this feature, see how it works and let us know whether or not you agree with Microsoft’s claims. Is this what you are looking for when working on mobile devices with Windows 10? Comment below and let’s discuss.