The Best Power Settings for Laptops

By Rebecca Mecomber

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It is essential that you manage the power options of your laptop. Windows operating systems give you many options to manage your laptop's power settings. You can set power options to a pre-configured Windows settings, or customize your settings according to your needs. Depending on your operating system, your choices may be: Hibernate, Sleep or various custom settings. You can also specify these settings for times when your laptop is on battery or is plugged in and using AC power.


Windows XP provides the Hibernate setting, but this option is missing from Windows Vista and Windows 7. Users complained of numerous computer “freezes” and problems with Hibernate; often, Windows had difficulty starting up after being in the Hibernate mode. Instead, Vista and 7 offer the Sleep setting, which is much like Hibernate but is more reliable.


The Sleep setting enables your computer to save all your work to your computer's RAM memory. When your computer wakes from Sleep, your computer is restored to your work session that was saved. It is not necessary to restart your computer and reopen all your programs after rousing your computer from Sleep mode. Windows gives you the ability to choose when you want your computer to go into Sleep mode, or you can set it to the default Windows settings.

Custom Settings

The best power settings for laptops provide a balance between providing sufficient power for your needs, yet save energy and prevent your laptop from overheating. The laptop's display monitor uses a great deal of battery power, so turning down the brightness of the screen is the best choice in saving power. There are other ways to save energy and to keep your laptop a little cooler when idle, such as specifying when your laptop goes into Sleep mode or shuts down after the hard drive is idle. Windows allows you to tailor your power settings to configure a power plan that best suits your style. The options for customizing your Windows power plan are found in “Power Options” in the “Control Panel.”

The default “power saver” feature of Windows power settings is a good basic plan. However, you may want to experiment with these settings; for example, the default custom setting for the display on battery power is 50 percent brightness. This may be too dark for you. You can adjust the brightness, but doing so will use more battery power. Alternatively, you can set Windows to reduce hard drive idle time: for example, configure the hard drive into Sleep mode if the computer is idle for longer than 10 minutes.

The best power settings balance energy use and productivity. When on battery, configure the laptop power to reduce display brightness and to go into Sleep mode when idle. For best results, it is advised to shut off the display after idle for 15 to 20 minutes, and shut off or set Sleep mode for the hard drive after idle time reaches 20 to 30 minutes.