Green thinking: the effect of Windows power profiles

Performance of AMD and Intel processors in various power-saving modes



After the AMD Ryzen processors were introduced, the power settings of Windows started getting more attention again. While trying to figure out why the Ryzen CPUs performed badly in games, it was mentioned that the power plans may be the culprit. This is reason enough for us to take a look into how the power plans influence performance of processors in 2017.

First off, let’s try to remember what the power plans are. Laptop users come in contact with them much more often and are probably well-versed in the Power Settings within the control panel. There, you can select various profiles that change the underlying settings to different levels of power consumption. Standard plans are: Balanced, High performance and Power saver. If you get an out of the box PC, you may encounter the manufacturer’s own power settings as well. Each plan has settings that apply to everything in the system that can affect the power consumption.

Many of those settings are primarily for laptops as the power consumption is clearly visible in a device with a battery. Power saving plan will after a while dim the display and turn off the hard drive if it is not being actively used. Each of the plans has its own times for the same settings establishing how long it will wait before turning off components to save energy. All of the provided settings are easily adjusted.

The three default power plans in Windows.

As the focus of the power savings lies with the laptops, for desktop users the power profiles are like an appendix - not quite doing anything. This isn’t quite correct though as through those settings, you can adjust how fast the processor and system go into stand-by, for example. From our earlier poll among the readers, we see that half are using the High performance plan and only a quarter each use Balanced and Power saver. So, does this really make a difference or is this all just in our head? Surely, if AMD in their presentation of Ryzen mention that you should use it with High performance power plan, it must mean that there is a difference. We decided to test it and see.

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